Covenant House can­dle­light vigil

Exhibited by
Dr Judith Nichols CFRE.
June 10, 2010
Medium of Communication
Face to face
Target Audience
Awareness, volunteering, corporations
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, poverty/social justice
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
November, 2007

SOFII’s view

Fundraising is at its best when it mobilises large numbers of people to take action for a cause that will bring about change. In addition to the obvious fundraising potential, getting so many people onto the streets in prominent locations across North and South America is a real achievement by Covenant House.

Creator / originator

In 1990, Covenant House held its first Candlelight vigil for homeless Youth.

Summary / objectives

  • To rapidly grow the number of vigil sites in 2007 from under 20 to more than 1,000
  • To create a ‘blaze’ of concern at the start of US National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to reach local and national government officials.
  • To create partnerships in the nonprofit, government and corporate communities.
  • To raise $10-12 million dollars in sponsorships to fund Covenant House programmes.


For the past sixteen years, Covenant House has used a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the needs of homeless and street youth. Our ‘corporate’ vigil is held at Times Square with surrounding billboards lighting up with advertisements and information on our organization and the youth it serves. The most recent vigil was held on 16 November 2006 at 17 locations in North and Latin America with audiences as large as 750 attendees. The event itself is a simple half hour programme: a proclamation and/or greetings from local government individuals, inspirational messages from street youth themselves and a short address by a distinguished member of the community. All vigils include the lighting of candles as a symbol of caring

Special characteristics

Covenant House believes it is time to take the candlelight vigil to a different level. Candlelight vigil 2007 will take place on 15 November 2007. We propose using it to frame a fundraising campaign and increase awareness around the 90 days of warmth (winter). Using this theme as an umbrella, Covenant House and its partners will be able to place under it elements of:

  • Advocacy.
  • Public Awareness.
  • Volunteerism/Participation.
  • Financial Support.

Influence / impact

In addition to raising awareness, this event also raises funds for Covenant House programmes, including crisis care, community outreach, NINELINE youth crisis hotline and others. Through the generous support of sponsors and individual donors, these programs provide vital services such as shelter, counselling, transitional living, health services and educational/vocational training to homeless youth under 21 years of age.


Even before going public we have commitments for more than 100 satellite vigil sites. We are involving schools, community organisations, corporate and workplaces as well as expanding the concept of ‘virtual vigils’ (held on our website).


Demonstrates how to reposition an event that is ‘tired’ and make it work on multiple levels.