Fundraiser benefits survivors of human trafficking

Eat Up! Columbus, a dinner party catered by up-and-coming chefs, helped raise awareness and funds for a catering social enterprise that employs survivors of human trafficking.

Client: Freedom a la Cart (Columbus, Ohio)
Agency: Belle Communications (Columbus, Ohio)
Campaign: Eat Up! Columbus
Duration: August 1 – November 15, 2014
Budget: about $15,000 (pro bono)

Eat Up! Columbus, a November 15 dinner party catered by up-and-coming chefs, helped raise awareness and funds for Freedom a la Cart, a Columbus, Ohio, catering social enterprise that employs survivors of human trafficking.

Local agency Belle Communications worked on a pro bono basis to help Freedom a la Cart devise and promote the event.

"This was our first big fundraiser, and we set a lofty goal of 300 guests," says Freedom a la Cart’s director Keturah Schroeder. "We needed to get the word out." 

Strategy
"There was low awareness of Freedom a la Cart and the work it does," explains agency CEO Kate Finley. "It’s kind of gritty work, but it’s important work. The opportunity we saw with this campaign was to collaborate with community restaurants and seven young gun chefs and use the theme of collaboration, community, and cuisine to increase awareness." 

Edible media kits helped Eat Up! Columbus stand out amid numerous other holiday fundraising events. Social media outreach, a website, and newsletter also drove messaging.

Tactics
The edible media kits included food that represented the styles of six of the seven participating chefs as well as information about the event and Freedom a la Cart. They were hand-delivered to 15 local broadcast and print media outlets. Three signed on as event sponsors.

Local foodie bloggers and community event calendars were pitched.

Email blasts announcing ticket sales and menu details were sent to Freedom a la Cart's newsletter subscribers. 

The agency and Schroeder created posts for Freedom a la Cart’s Facebook and Twitter pages and encouraged supporters to share with their social audiences.

Participating chefs got messaging about the organization and were asked to promote the event on their own social channels. The restaurants they work for also promoted the event to their customers and social media audiences. 

Results
Tickets sold out two weeks ahead of the event, and the campaign raised $100,000 for Freedom a la Cart – double the goal.

Eight total corporate and media sponsors signed on, which Schroeder notes is the most sponsors the organization has ever gotten for any event.

"The two headline sponsors – IGS Energy and Volunteer Energy – are competitors, which is unusual and illustrates the spirit of collaboration and community behind the campaign," Finley adds.

Freedomalacart.org got 3,500 visitors between October 1 and November 15, up from a monthly average of about 850.

Facebook likes and Twitter followers increased -- from 1,932 to 2,258 and from 826 to 962, respectively. Between September 1 and November 15, average post reach on Facebook increased 84% compared to average reach between June 1 and August 31.

Twelve earned stories ran in local outlets.

Future
A second annual Eat Up! Columbus event is in the works for 2015, and the agency will continue to support Freedom a la Cart on a pro bono basis.

Schroeder says the money raised from the campaign will help fund a café.

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