Meridian Energy

Finalist
2015
A powerful partnership - KidsCan

Meridian Energy’s support for KidsCan has helped the charity deliver more than 65,000 raincoats, 24,000 trousers, and 35,000 pairs of shoes to some of the country’s most disadvantaged children.

The company signed on as the programme’s principal sponsor in 2013 – a bold move given the contentious nature of child poverty. Since then the relationship with KidsCan has matured into the company’s largest sponsorship.

Where Meridian previously tended to support initiatives near its regional assets, the KidsCan move was Meridian’s first national campaign.

The company says it wanted a simple and effective campaign connected with its purpose to “create a better energy future.” It also wanted an initiative that would provide a genuine connection with the company, and not just a marketing plan.

The goals of the sponsorship are to raise awareness of KidsCan and help raise funds for the charity. It is also intended to raise awareness of Meridian’s support for KidsCan, to show there is more to a power company than just price rises and outages, and to help build a preference for the Meridian brand.

Meridian’s backing for the programme in 2013 allowed more than 60 schools to immediately come off the waiting list and receive support from KidsCan. Since then the charity has delivered more clothing and more than two million food items.

Advertising has been a significant part of the initiative with Meridian airing television commercials and creating installations at Wellington and Auckland airports to get the message out there. Every time a commercial airs there is a spike in donations, with more than 3,000 hits on the KidsCan page on the Meridian website the first time the company’s commercial aired.

Though some Meridian staff initially found the issues confronting, many have been actively involved as volunteers. Staff events and fundraising has also raised more than $22,000 for the charity. Engagement has also improved with almost 90 per cent of Meridian’s employees saying the partnership with KidsCan makes them feel better about the company.

A Colmar Brunton survey found that six months after the launch of the partnership, 50 per cent of customers had a prompted awareness of KidsCan and 50 per cent felt that the sponsorship made them feel more positive towards Meridian.

As well as highlighting the issue of child poverty, practical benefits for the participating schools include reduced absenteeism and teachers being able to spend more time teaching children instead of managing antisocial behaviour.

KidsCan founder Julie Chapman says the team at Meridian has a genuine passion to deliver brighter futures for New Zealand’s most vulnerable children. She says the company’s support has helped expand the programme, particularly its health and hygiene initiatives, and 468 low-decile schools are now participating.

The Community Initiative of the Year award category is sponsored by PEPANZ