Remember looking out of the window of your family car as a child, or walking down your town street and being able to read for the first few times? Though often taken for granted, reading is a privilege: currently, 750 million people are illiterate around the world today, with 250 million youth lacking literacy skills. Not only does illiteracy make individuals more susceptible to unemployment and lack of access to opportunities for success, but it can affect a society’s overall GDP. Thus, literacy is key for eliminating poverty, and promoting a more educated world.
Each year on September 8, UNESCO celebrates International Literacy Day to fight this problem. Based on an annual theme, the holiday is meant to raise awareness about the importance of literacy around the world. This year’s theme is: “Literacy and Skills Development.” It explores literacy’s relationship to other technical and vocational skills.
By celebrating International Literacy Day, helping to raise awareness on this issue, you and your business will be doing something good in the world. Participating in the festivities doesn’t have to be a one time event. There are several levels of engagement your business could adopt. Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate:
Create digital awareness
Just like we celebrate World Mental Health Day or Women’s Equality Day, celebrating holidays on the internet is standard practice. Creating and sharing a digital campaign can be easy. Using creative assets you already have on hand can greatly contribute to raising literacy awareness.
Craft a literacy social post
Create slides in an Instagram Gallery that includes a quote from your favorite author, and some statistics (like the ones above). Caption it “Celebrating #literacyday.” Share this post on other social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Write a blog post
Craft an easy blog post on the topic of International Literacy Day — why it is important to your business, how it supports your values, and why you thought it was important to call out. Publish it, and promote it on your social media platforms!
Send an e-mail blast
Encourage your audience to “Read Today” in honor of International Literacy Day with a cute bookworm graphic or GIF found on a free open source site like Pixabay.
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Actively support literacy~root~>
If reading and literacy are close to your heart or the values of your business, use the holiday as an opportunity to generate a cause marketing campaign and actively give back. Global organizations like help2read and READ Global have high ratings for their trustworthiness, and might be a good option for donation. To support a USA focused literacy organization, check out your local library, Reach Out and Read or Open Books. These more active efforts would require a bit of planning and advertising on social and e-mail platforms beforehand.
Offer a discount or promotion
Offer a discount or promotion on your products and/or services, donating a 10% of profits to a literacy organization.
Collect books from your community
Hold a gently used book drive during the month of September, and donate the books to a community center, a school, or a library. Don’t forget to take pictures!
Host a literacy donations event
Sponsor or host a suggested donations event at your business location, donating 100% of the books you receive to a vetted literacy organization.
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Keep it local~root~>
Literacy is a global issue, but supporting the cause and raising awareness doesn’t have to go far outside of your community. Raising local awareness is just as important, so if you have a strong local community help promote literacy right in your backyard.
Invite a speaker
Invite a local professor, teacher, or author to give a lecture or interactive talk at your office or business location. While it doesn’t have to be “why reading is important” it could be something related to what’s important to read in your industry, or a lecture on a literary topic.
Create a reading minutes program
For the month of September ask children and their families to track the number of minutes they read each week. Encourage them to “turn in” their minutes for discounts or rewards at your business.
The goal of International Literacy Day is to raise awareness. By educating your community or audience about this holiday and the issues that surround it, you’re already contributing. Participating in philanthropic endeavors like this one can help to create an authentic brand identity, and can build trust between you and your customers, increasing their lifetime value. It is easy to do, and can be as fun as you make it!