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Polish Red Cross Lets Diners Help Feed Hungry Children By Crossing Their Cutlery

The campaign partnered with restaurants to add a charity tip with the subtle signal.

Charitable giving is often something people do a few times a year, but rarely is it a regular habit. The Polish Red Cross by agency Cheil Poland aimed to change that with its "Very Good Manners" campaign, to raise awareness and money for malnourished children. One in four Polish children can't afford a regular hot meal.

The organization partnered with restaurants to use placemats that showed diners how, simply by arranging their cutlery into a cross on their finished plate they could add 1.5 euro to their bill, which would be donated to the Polish Red Cross.

Simple and effective, the campaign increased donations to the aid organization by 65%. Cheil Poland creative Wojtek Kowalik says the goal was to make donating a habit because one-time fundraising too often results only in one-time relief. "Most Poles support charities only once or twice a year, it’s not we do something every day," he says. "Malnourishment among children is a social issue, thus the solution has to lay within the social fabric too. So to make people want to donate we turned donating into a rule of good conduct. And because the cause was all about food it seemed perfectly natural to focus on restaurants, which is where good manners and eating come together."

But Kowalik and creative partner Maciek Kozina also wanted to make the act of donating as simple and easy as possible. "We had to remove barriers to make donating as effortless as possible—bank transfers, SMS campaigns, downloading apps, registering or logging in require additional actions and tend to distract from the real issue," he says. "We needed a seamless way of getting people involved, so it was necessary to tap into something that customers do anyway—use cutlery to communicate with the waiting staff. And The Red Cross logo fit just perfectly there."

There are now plans in place to introduce the idea in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.