What sets apart for-profit and social cause events? They both require creativity, people power and a set of goals. Social cause events, however, deviate from traditional venues because they often require grass roots efforts, passion, creativity on a budget while incorporating anyone and everyone to participate and effect change.
Below are several examples of how companies with a social mission generated awareness and buzz for their cause, and what made them successful.
Have fun – Ben & Jerry’s “Random Acts of Cone-ness”
Ben & Jerry’s is most known for their Chubby Hubby and Cherry Garcia, but their social arm has been a staple of the company nearly from its inception. Although the “Random Acts of Cone-ness” event was intended to promote the company’s new waffle cone, there was a sense of giving as well. The ice creamer recruited “Cone Samaritans” to give out 150,000 full-size ice cream samples to Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Not all ice creams were given out for free, however. Some wanting urbanites had to hula hoop for their sweet treat. Ben & Jerry’s “Random Acts of Cone-ness” blended fun (hula hooping), the brand (“Cone Samaritans”) and the product (free samples) to generate a successful event campaign.
Make it experiential – TOMS Shoes’ “Day Without Shoes”
TOMS Shoes is among a new type of business that integrates social giving directly into the business model. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. The raw energy of its founder, Blake Mycoskie, and its rather eccentric core brand ambassadors, make TOMS a bona-fide creative, grass roots movement. It’s fitting then that TOMS would host a Day Without Shoes. The campaign sought to make TOMS followers understand what it is like to live in the “shoes” of those the company supports. All over the country, TOMS asked its followers to go about their day without shoes. By making the event experiential, the campaign was successful and likely brought brand patrons closer to the cause while activating new followers.
Activate influencers — TrickorTweet
Often known as a night for demon spirits and debauchery, Halloween is not the time you normally think of giving. The TrickorTweet movement aimed to change that. Signing on social media guru, Chris Brogan, the TrickorTweet event aimed to spread giving, in a viral way. Participants would tweet Trick or Tweet. If they said Tweet, you must recommend several people they should follow and use the hashtag, #TrickorTweet. And if you didn’t provide them with someone new, then you have to send a trick. The trick was a link to a donation page, where they were asked to donate up to $20. The campaign enlisted the help of influencers to push the message out.
Mash it up — Timeraiser
Non-profits are often challenged by limited budgets, which renders many creative, eccentric ideas impossible. Try taking existing, inexpensive ideas and blending them with a social mission. Timeraiser paired a form of speed dating with its mission to help non-profits find skilled volunteers. Business professionals seeking volunteer work would simply go up to a booth of an organization they were interested in and discussed the needs of the organization. If there was a good fit, you would write down the agencies you’d like to work for. You bid your volunteer hours on art purchased from local artists. The more hours you were willing to donate, the better chance you would have of winning the art piece. It was a perfect venue for non-profits to find skilled volunteers that meet their unique organizational needs, while also benefiting local artists and gave the volunteer a reminder of their hard work (the art piece). Instead of big money being thrown around, it’s volunteer time. Which goes to show, charity events aren’t always about the money.
Have a theme — The Elephant Parade
Themes tie events together. Take for instance, the charity event to support the protection of Asian elephants, which are threatened by extinction. The event featured 250 fiberglass elephants that were decorated by artists and displayed around London. The elephant theme promoted awareness of the charity mission while supporting the event and providing London some tourist appeal. The elephant installation is the largest art exhibition in London history.
Whether it’s a large-scale art exhibition or holiday-themed donations from social networks or a day without shoes, social cause events require the help and participation from individuals across multiple networks in an effort to enact change. And when you blend creativity with passion, you have a better chance of activating your support base.