Bianca Hadzic , founder of Books Over Bombs, is breaking the mould of guilt-driven marketing to inspire young people to help educate Syrian refugee children.
Many of us are familiar with the Syrian refugee crisis but not its extent; last year, the United Nations estimated that 3.5 million Syrians had fled their country and were living in refugee camps in countries such as Lebanon and Iraq. About half of these refugees are children.
As a mother, Bianca Hadzic from Perth, Australia was motivated to start Books Over Bombs, a nonprofit to help get refugee children back into schools and away from violence. Bianca uses Piktochart to pitch to companies and charities, as well as make engaging graphics for social media campaigns. Since July 2014, she has made more than 200 graphics to promote her cause without the help of a professional graphic designer.
“The biggest misconception people have about the Syrian refugee crisis is that the children are okay. We might think that because these children are so far away, that somebody else – their parents, the UN – are taking care of them, but they’re not getting the money. So every child is our responsibility.”
BOB works with the Kayany Foundation in Lebanon to provide aid and education to three refugee schools. All of the proceeds from the BOB website go toward supplying children with school supplies, school fees and uniforms.
A refreshing marketing strategy
Having grown up watching guilt-driven advertisements for charitable causes, Bianca wanted to portray a different message with her nonprofit. The majority of BOB’s social media graphics are inspirational quotes that she finds through Google. By focusing on content that uplifts and empowers, she has been able to engage her target audience and inspire change.
“The refugees should be celebrated. We shouldn’t sympathise with them, we should empathise with and really admire them. With BOB, we want to show how resilient these kids are because that message empowers other people like you and I to want to do something.”
“I have zero graphic design experience.”
With no training in graphic design, Bianca was thrilled to be able to use Piktochart at a price point that was right for her: “As a non-profit organization, it’s important to be as resourceful as possible. I had considered other design solutions before, such as Adobe, but they were too expensive and I always found myself coming back to Piktochart.”
When asked about her graphics, she quickly pointed out the importance of using an engaging font and the right picture to tell a story. Besides Piktochart, Bianca uses Squarespace to design her website and royalty-free photos from pixabay.com.
“The templates on Piktochart are so easy to use but they allow you to come across as if you’re quite professional. When people see my work, they ask, ‘Who does your graphics for you?’ And I say, ‘I do.’”
She keeps track of her engagement on social media by using HootSuite and the tools provided by the social media platforms themselves. She likes comparing her page’s performance against other pages and has learned that the most engaging posts are both informational and inspirational.
Fashion for funds – #ResponsibleFashion
To increase their reach, Bianca is busy building #ResponsibleFashion, a campaign that will get fashion labels to design apparel with positive messages and donate the proceeds to BOB. In April, she also plans to launch BOB’s online store, which will sell organic, fair-trade and GMO-free clothes. She believes that fashion is an effective way to get her target audience of 15- to 35-year-olds on board with BOB’s cause.
“Living in a very materialistic culture, people don’t just want to give money. They want to see something. That’s why fashion comes into it, because people are purchasing something and they’re getting something immediately in return.”
Advice for budding nonprofits
Bianca spent three years as a marketing manager in Dubai and currently tutors indigenous children in Perth. Though starting a nonprofit from scratch was challenging, she encourages those who want to do so to take the first step.
“Get over your fears; just because you don’t have a background in business management or communication doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. If your heart is in the right place, with access to so many tools today you can honestly do anything.”
To learn more and support BOB, visit their website.
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