takes users to their own doorstep to confront poverty - McKinney takes users to their own doorstep to confront poverty

November 23, 2015

Brief digital experience for Urban Ministries of Durham by McKinney leaves lasting impression

Durham, NC November 19, 2015 — If a man dressed in ragged clothes who says he’s been living in the woods rang your doorbell, would you let him use your shower? Make him a snack? Recommend him at work? That’s the situation users of a short and powerful interactive experience at face. Visitors are prompted to answer a ringing doorbell and asked several yes-or-no questions about their response to the homeless man at their threshold. The final page of this experience built by McKinney reminds them that Urban Ministries of Durham says yes to every question, every time their doorbell rings.

Jenny Nicholson, group creative director and creator of, says the goal is to remind people why a place like UMD is necessary and why people should give to it. “It quickly makes us realize what we’re willing to do for people in need, and, at the same time, it makes us thankful that a place like UMD exists,” she says.

UMD Executive Director Patrice Nelson agrees. “It’s powerful because it’s such a deep emotional experience, even though it just takes a minute or two. Even for good people who wish to do the right thing, sometimes doing that right thing is far more complicated than it first seems,” she said. “I hope that this sparks a few moments of self-reflection or conversation about what help really looks like for a person in need.”

This is the latest project between McKinney and UMD since 2008. The 2011 online game SPENT and the 2014 website Names for Change, where naming rights to 169 items UMD uses every day are sold, have raised more than $155,000 for UMD. “Like with many great relationships,” explained Nelson, “I think McKinney and UMD just really get each other. We see the power in helping to connect people who are financially stable with neighbors whose socio-economic circumstances are precarious if not downright life threatening. All of these online projects show us that despite our incredibly different experiences in life, our common humanity is right there beneath the surface waiting to be discovered. Our lives and stories do all interconnect in this community, and these online experiences enable people to understand and deepen that connection.”

Nicholson, the co-creator of the multi-award-winning online game SPENT and Names for Change, explains further: “UMD is so brave. They have an amazing trust in McKinney and our desire to use our powers for good. They support our ideas for creating things that make people feel something in ways that TV spots or print ads just can’t do.”


A doorbell rings when the home page at loads, and two words slowly come into focus. When users click “Answer it,” they will hear birds chirping, neighborhood sounds or crickets, depending on the time of day.

Then they’re asked eight decreasingly difficult questions, starting with, “Would you let him stay at your house until he gets back on his feet?” and ending with “Would you let him sit on your porch while you fix him a sandwich?”

The final page reminds users that UMD says yes every time and asks users to make a donation, the amount varying depending on how you answered the questions, or shop from UMD’s Amazon wish list.


About Urban Ministries of Durham
The mission of UMD is to connect with the community to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need. Since 1983, UMD has partnered with caring individuals, companies, civic groups and diverse religious congregations to serve people in need. With the help of more than 4,000 volunteers and donated goods and services, UMD provides more than a quarter-million meals per year in its Community Cafe, serves 480 poor households per month with its Food Pantry and Clothing Closet, and shelters 900 homeless people each year — ending homelessness for 237 of them in the past year.

About McKinney
Founded in 1969, McKinney focuses on delivering influence through creativity. The agency’s work has been recognized by Cannes, Effie, The One Show and The One Show Interactive, ANDY, Art Directors Club, CLIO, D&AD and the IAB MIXX Awards. An Advertising Age 2015 Agency to Watch and one of the Best Places to Work in Marketing and Media, McKinney works with the following clients: Samsung, Nationwide Insurance, Nationwide Financial, ESPN, Sherwin-Williams, CarMax, Crocs, Sennheiser, Mentos, Big Boss Brewing, Dognition and Urban Ministries of Durham. The agency is part of Cheil Worldwide, one of the world’s leading marketing communications networks with 44 offices in 37 countries. Operating as one agency with two doors, McKinney has offices in Durham, North Carolina, and New York City. To learn more, visit and follow @mckinney. Most recently, McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude was named to Adweek’s Top 50 Vital Leaders in Tech, Media and Marketing.