Special Events Campaigns of the Year: MIND Research Institute and Avow Hospice
Calling All Superheroes Awards Gala
Submitted by MIND Research Institute
Recipients: 2.900 save-the-date cards
4,000 superhero-themed invitations
500 special-themed co-chair letterhead
400 superhero-themed gala programs
300 comic book-themed table favors
Total cost of campaign, including postage: $16,335
Income Generated at Gala: $448,000
Average Gift: $5,600
Cost to Raise a Dollar: $0.04
Our judges, who must all be big kids at heart, really fell for the fun, comic-book feel of the creative for this event. It's got a bright-on-black color palette and superhero graphics, and it's peppered here and there with Batman-esque bursts with "WOW!" written in them. MRI's Peggy Lamberton said that was the idea. The 2011 gala was the first themed gala that MRI had ever attempted, and it was a huge change from what its donors were used to. Namely, it put a whole lot more fun into the annual event and recognized its donors for the superheroes that they are.
Lamberton said the true success of this event, however, came from the fact that the organization's staff was re-energized as well, and the fun new concept engendered a renewed sense of teamwork and camaraderie that is continuing in the everyday culture of the organization. For the gala, MRI's engineering department (which writes the programs it uses to forward its mission of supporting math education in schools) became the in-house art department and collaborated with the development team on the copy for gala materials; its marketing and printing partner became active as a marketing and event decor advisor; 50 percent of the organization's home-office employees volunteered to staff the gala; and the board of directors supported the gala's auction with donations and high bids.
"The amazing experience our employees and supporters had has inspired us to continue our creative path," Lamberton wrote. "More than 80 percent of our donors were introduced to MIND's mission at a past awards gala. We are able to bring in student and teacher honorees to meet the donors. It is a major education and fundraising tradition."
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