Our current environment and the challenges facing our industry have forced many of us to rethink our business operations. We've seen many inspiring stories from our friends who have "pivoted" over the past year. Some of these stories come from planners who have used their creative production expertise to imagine new events, and some of these stories come from suppliers who have changed the way they do business to showcase what they have to offer!
We decided to sit down with these individuals to discover what’s in everyone’s creative corner. This post we are sitting down with Tiffany Cannava of GKollaborative and an event she produced for a non-profit organization, Guitars Over Guns.
Patrick Crosson: Tell us about Guitars Over Guns. What does the organization do?
Tiffany Cannava: Guitars Over Guns is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers students, from our most vulnerable communities in Miami and Chicago, a powerful combination of music education and mentorship with professional musicians to help them overcome hardship, find their voice and reach their potential as tomorrow’s leaders.
This year we celebrated our 7th Annual Choose Your Sound Benefit Concert, a night filled with incredible performances from Guitars Over Guns mentors, alumni and special guests, not to mention interactive conversations, a jaw-dropping auction, and exciting prizes. This event celebrated Guitars Over Guns’ 12 years of making music and changing lives. Cuts in funding for the arts and after-school programs mean our students have fewer opportunities than ever, and as the students and families we serve face the many challenges of a post-COVID world, we are reminded every day that this type of work has never been more important.
Patrick: How did you implement this fundraiser in 2020? What was the creative process thinking about all of these ideas?!
Tiffany: When the decision was made to bring our in-person Choose Your Sound Benefit Concert to a virtual platform, I analyzed the event components to figure out how to replicate the guest experience. I experienced the Zoomzilla concept being used for virtual events, which allows hundreds of guests to have an interactive intimate experience and I wanted to see how this could work for Choose Your Sound. Ultimately we decided to keep the event as easy as possible on the user side by encouraging guests to pull the event up on You Tube on their TV and then log into the zoom room on a second device.
We implemented this with a few pieces that tied together to create one overall cohesive experience:
Award winning chefs prepared 360 meals that were delivered with wine to our sponsors and their guests as well as upgraded ticket holders.
Event “wow” boxes were also delivered that included limited edition concert t-shirts, wine tumblers, shot glasses, Tito’s minis, a lighter (for the slow songs), the program guide and more to create the event experience at their homes.
The main event was broken into a cocktail party hour with pre-recorded musical performances to set the mood, a “LIVE” component broadcast from a production studio with hosts and short pre-recorded pieces telling our story and finally a dance after-party with pre-recorded musical performances that made people want to dance.
We had pre-party and post-party zoom rooms in which people were unmuted to hang out with our music mentors who work with the students.
We also had an online auction that was open for the week leading up to the event. This allowed us to continue our fundraising aspect, which is important for all non-profit events.
Patrick: What surprised you about everything you implemented for the event?
Tiffany: Ultimately, the event was a HUGE success. Although a lot of work went into implementing this event, everyone involved was super pleased with the final product.
We raised $435,000 gross and netted $150,000 more than in 2019. General tickets were free but our sponsorships came through at $300,000.
People had a great time! We could see guests dancing in the Zoom rooms and others hanging out in their homes with a couple of people to a small group of people watching outside. We estimate 500 people joined us for the event.
Our post-party Zoom room with our music mentors was scheduled to end at 11pm but it stayed open until 2am with impromptu performances and laughs.
We are discussing keeping the event on a virtual platform because of the number of people we were able to reach, while re-implementing in-person experiences for our sponsors.
Patrick: Love the idea of these post-party Zoom entertainment rooms. Have you implemented elsewhere?
Tiffany: YES! Leading up to the event, we had a number of music showcases on Zoom in which our mentors and students performed. This allowed us to promote the event months in advance while highlighting our Choose Your Sound sponsors.
Patrick: Tell us about another key component that led to the success of Choose Your Sound.
Tiffany: All of our event links were found on our event dashboard so people only needed to go to one place to access everything event related. We opened the dashboard a week in advance of the event so guests were able to see they could access the auction, tech help, recipes to make the meals, the program guide, Zoom hang out rooms, the main event and more from one location. We tried to think of everything to provide our guests a wonderful night “out”.
Thank you so much to Tiffany for sharing her creative corner story! If you’d like to learn more about GKollaborative, feel free to contact Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the recording of Choose Your Sound, please click here.
Creative Solutions for Nonprofits
Photos Courtesy of Isaac Rodriguez - Entertainment Images