Organizing a Media Fundraising Event That Sizzles!
Every nonprofit organization needs elements of marketing and branding to promote the organization.
According to James Heaton, president and creative director of marketing firm the Tronvig Group, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It is, in effect, a push tactic — pushing out a message to get sales results. It is not branding.
Branding is not push, but pull — the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product or service.
It is, in effect, the act of communicating characteristics, values and attributes that clarify what a particular brand is and is not. The brand doesn't say buy me. It is says, "This is what I am and why I exist. If you agree, and if you like me, you can buy me, support me and recommend me to your friends."
Marketing discovers and engages buyers while branding makes loyal customers. The Salvation Army Indiana Division recently sponsored a special event with both concepts in mind.
The 2014 Red Kettle Cook-Off was created to secure sales from the public by selling hamburgers from various Indianapolis media participants. An additional goal was to educate the public and media on the mission of the Salvation Army and what programs it supports in the central Indiana community. The 2014 Cook-Off was improved with new event leadership and greater flexibility to think out of the box. Communication and education were major event goals.
The 2013 event was relatively small and held in the center of the city with few media participants. The event generated some visibility, and the net income was approximately $7,000 from the sale of hamburgers, hot dogs and other miscellaneous items. This event had one primary sponsor. After a 2013 event critique meeting, additional improvements were targeted for 2014.
With respect to marketing and sales, the event date was focused on early May, when everything happens in Indianapolis, culminating with the Indianapolis 500 race in late May. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway provided free rides in a race car on the city streets to promote a checkered flag concept. The location of the event was moved from Monument Circle, the center of the city, to the Georgia St. location, famous for the 2012 Super Bowl in Indy.
The time of the event was set from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It was determined that a goal of at least 15 radio and television media outlets would be invited to create and sell their own unique hamburgers, sides and drinks for $10, with the proceeds going to the Salvation Army's Bed & Bread Club. The winning media team would secure the coveted "Checkered Spatula." Print media and online media were also invited to cover the event. The hope was that at least 1,000 people would attend and the event would attract media coverage by all of those participating in the activity.
Besides the variety of hamburgers being sold, the media interviewed Salvation Army leadership with live and taped feeds. There was media coverage before, during and after the event. Educational materials were present, and various Salvation Army officers interfaced with media — plus the Salvation Army's communication team promoted the brand in person, in print and via social media.
Several media that were Salvation Army advisory board members also helped promote the brand. The mayor and other local celebrities attended.
Overall, the event generated approximately $25,000, and hundreds of people have a greater awareness and appreciation for the Salvation Army. This type of event idea could be a win-win for your future marketing/branding combination efforts!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.