Light Up Dr. Bear

Light Up Dr. Bear

An IoT Interactive Fundraising Campaign

The Tribe

  • Children’s National Medical Center (children’s hospital)
  • GRYYT (digital agency and SMS provider)
  • Autonomy (design and engineering firm)
  • SmithGifford (branding, advertising, and interactive agency)
  • the FALCON lab (creative, digital, and print agency)
  • LMO (marketing & communications agency)
  • Ketchum (pr agency)

Campaign Highlights

  • The "Light Up Dr. Bear" campaign invites you to “Show you care and light up Dr. Bear” to brighten patients' days by giving.
  • The campaign features 316 bears placed around the D.C. metro area and at Children's National Medical Center, its community clinics, and outpatient centers (see map below).
  • With every donation, all 316 bears light up simultaneously; brightening patients' days, assuring families of community support and reminding donors that their gift makes a difference.
  • Modeled after Children's National's iconic mascot, Dr. Bear, the bears represent the 316 patient beds at Children's National Medical Center.
  • The campaign ran from November 23 to December 31, 2018.

The Background

Children’s National Medical Center has been a great partner and is one of our first partners to pioneer the U.S. Text to Give space with us.
Autonomy was tasked with building the IoT Bears for the campaign and reached out to GRYYT and mGive directly as the leader in SMS fundraising.

The Challenge

As a nonprofit hospital, Children's National Medical Center and its patients depend on generous support from the community. Children's National cares for more than 230,000 kids annually and donations help ensure each child, from every background and walk of life, receives exceptional care, regardless of illness, injury or ability to pay.

As Washington, D.C.'s only hospital specializing in kids, Children's National Medical Center treats the whole child and their family with a child-centered focus. This approach includes medical equipment and facilities that are specifically designed for kids. Care teams with specialized training for kids' healthcare and emotional needs, unique programs for play (including art and music therapy), a library and reading room, Seacrest Studios and the Healing Garden, are all an integral part of what Children’s National offers.

Philanthropic support from "Light Up Dr. Bear" will go towards helping children like Priest, a patient featured in the campaign. Born extremely premature and weighing just ounces, Priest was transferred to the Children's National neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) shortly after birth and has spent the first 16 months of his life there. Read more of Priest’s story here.

The Solution

Both Text to Give and Text to Donate workflows were created for testing opportunities. Text to Give donations are added to the cell phone bill, also known as “carrier billing.” Text to Donate donations are completed via a web-based credit card donation form.

In addition to providing the SMS gateway, GRYYT also consulted on the SMS donor onboarding messaging, cross-channel marketing conversion tracking and best practices, call-to-action optimization, and ultimately a donor cultivation series.

Together GRYYT, Autonomy, Children’s National Medical Center, and SmithGifford built workflows that would light up Dr. Bear each time a donation was made, and collaborated on the marketing materials and donor onboarding.

When a Text to Give donation is completed over the cell phone bill, the mGive API is triggered by Autonomy to light up Dr. Bear. For Text to Donate, when the web-based donation is complete via credit card, the Autonomy workflow lights up Dr. Bear.

To make a donation or find a bear near you, visit or text LIGHT to 50555 to add a $10 donation to your cell phone bill.* You are also invited to share photos and videos on social media to encourage donations and spread awareness using #LightUpDrBear.

The Impact

The campaign runs from November 23 to December 31 and supports Children's National Medical Center in its efforts to find cures, fuel innovation, and provide world-class care to every child, regardless of illness, injury, or ability to pay.

“We are asking you to show you care and ‘Light up Dr. Bear’ with your donation this holiday season,” says DeAnn Marshall, MHA, president of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Your generosity will have an immediate impact on a patient’s day and make a lasting difference on the care Children’s National provides children.”

“This campaign is really about the families here who depend on us. It’s about brightening their day and showing them that our community is out there supporting them” adds Marshall. “Your gifts will bring a little extra joy to Children’s National and support our work to help kids grow up stronger.”

Children’s National Blog: Your Donation Lights Up Dr. Bear for Kids in Our Care
Press Release: Children's National Illuminates the Importance of Philanthropic Support for Pediatric Care with Launch of Holiday Giving Campaign
Local News Coverage on WUSA9: Light up Dr. Bear with Children's National
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