The Extraordinary Banquet
Developing an innovative charity gala

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Overview
We broke the mould of traditional charity gala events with an innovative menu and line-up at the inaugural Extraordinary Banquet. Our brand concept of ‘see things differently’ and the life and principles of Linda McCartney were inspiration for this charity fundraiser. The experimental menu presented courses as edible habitats. An unprecedented fusion of opera, ballet and a choir provided another wow factor.

We achieved increased reach and awareness of Friends of the Earth. Of 200 guests, 190 were new to the organisation: wealthy individuals now more open to providing support in the future.

Impact
Internal measures: reach, awareness, consideration:
• 190 (of 200 guests) were new to Friends of the Earth
• Over 25% identified as prospects and being followed-up
• Internationally renowned celebrities helped to raise profile
External measures: feedback and coverage:
• I’m still raving about the edible soil and sand and thought the entertainment was quite beautiful and very fitting.
• I shall read more about Friends of the Earth and make contributions.
• I’ve been to hundreds of charity events and this one outshone the others and was truly extraordinary with some very special food. (Clive Anderson – MC)
• Coverage in glossy, social magazines and food blogs.

Innovation
Charity gala events tend to follow a standard food and drink model and are often celebrity-led. Our aim was to differentiate Friends of the Earth’s inaugural event from other charity galas and access a new audience.

An innovative menu and line-up were critical to success (not least because we lacked a celebrity ambassador early in planning to be a ‘hook’ for the event). Many within our target audience are familiar with charity galas. As a first interaction with Friends of the Earth – they were attending because of the event, not the cause – a positive brand experience was essential.[/one_half_last]

Insight
Charity gala events tend to follow a standard food and drink model and are often celebrity-led. Our aim was to differentiate Friends of the Earth’s inaugural event from other charity galas and access a new audience.

An innovative menu and line-up were critical to success (not least because we lacked a celebrity ambassador early in planning to be a ‘hook’ for the event). Many within our target audience are familiar with charity galas. As a first interaction with Friends of the Earth – they were attending because of the event, not the cause – a positive brand experience was essential.

Inspiration
• Find a USP: Audience research identified the traditional charity gala model as ‘tired’. The Extraordinary Banquet concept has flexibility and longevity; we can retain the title but take a twist on the cuisine, reinforcing our brand concept of ‘seeing things differently’ while establishing an event identity.
• Aim high: We aimed high with celebrity endorsement and number of guests. We secured support from Sir Paul McCartney and Dame Vivienne Westwood which was key to raising the profile of the event and encouraging attendance.
• Networks: Access to new wealthy individuals who are open to introducing us to their networks.[/one_half_last]

Speaker
Beth Crackles
Business Development Manager
Friends of the Earth

Beth Crackles joined Friends of the Earth as Business Development Manager in 2011. Working within the fundraising department, she is responsible for innovating and developing new income streams, often targeting new audiences. Prior to this Beth was Fundraising Strategy Planner at RNIB where she successfully worked across a broad range of fundraising initiatives providing strategic advice and direction. Beth’s professional interests lie in fundraising and communications. Passionate about the third sector, she is also studying for an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management.