Volunteering is often approached by the hour or the day, and Compeer Rochester needed to show volunteers that they can have a profound impact on someone’s life — and change their own in the meantime. The Cause Collaborative helped Compeer rebrand volunteering as friendship, with strategies and campaigns that got the word out about their programs, closed the gap in mentorship, and aligned internal and external forces around their mission.



Compeer provides healing friendships and mentoring for community members living with mental illness, while working to eliminate the stigma that surrounds them and increase understanding and support. In 2016, Compeer was struggling to sign up volunteers and needed to increase awareness in the community. They approached The Cause Collaborative for help telling their story and expanding their volunteer base.



We started our partnership by assessing Compeer’s identity and digging into their data to understand where their programs needed assistance. In doing so, we uncovered a gap — they lacked volunteers who could mentor young males, kids with anything from depression to ADHD.

Our recommendations included a branding campaign all about friendship, brought to life through marketing and advertising, and supported through internal and external communications. We gathered “match” stories featuring the connection between mentors and their mentees and launched the Be a Friend campaign, along with a social media strategy that put Compeer Rochester on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the first time. Through video, social media, and public relations outreach, we shared heartwarming stories of friendship that earned coverage in local print, radio, and TV outlets.

In addition, we provided fundraising appeal strategies, along with a strategy for outreach to new community partners and sponsors. We developed a Compeer Annual Report to thank donors, highlight success stories, and extend the Be a Friend campaign. We also helped Compeer think through a staff and board alignment strategy, so everyone was rowing in the same direction.

continuing the collaboration

Throughout our partnership, we’ve recommended that Compeer put on more mission-driven events, named and branded by The Cause Collaborative. Comic Relief, A Night of Laughs Benefiting Compeer Rochester, raised funds for their mentorship programming and educated attendees about Compeer’s mission, while treating guests to a red carpet event with live comedy, hors-d’oeuvres, and wine tasting. Strides Against Stigma, taking place in late July, 2018, will mark 45 years of stamping out the stigma and build awareness among Bishop Kearney High School students, who will march side by side with Compeer in this first-ever friendship walk.


While volunteering has its own stigma as a “one day” effort, friendship is forever. The Cause Collaborative’s work with Compeer Rochester continues to change minds around mental illness, spread awareness about Compeer’s programs, and build lifelong friendships. Our plans for the future include rolling out additional campaigns that turn more volunteers into friends and eliminate stigma for good.



press clips

Local organization working to 'stop the stigma' of mental illness,  Good Day Rochester

Local organization working to 'stop the stigma' of mental illness, Good Day Rochester

Compeer seeks friends in mental-illness stigma battle , CITY Newspaper

Compeer seeks friends in mental-illness stigma battle, CITY Newspaper