Pro-bono assignments can present a challenging predicament for any agency. On one hand, the agency team is typically very excited to lend their creative expertise to develop something truly special, often for an inspiring nonprofit cause. On the flip side, (while rarely stated) an agency must evaluate the overall pro-bono commitment and ensure the proper resource allocation is in play–after all, paying clients take precedence.
CMD was recently presented with the opportunity to help AC Portland, a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform communities through youth soccer. The specific assignment focused on AC Portland’s silent auction fundraiser, the organization’s first, held on March 7, 2013. The money raised from the fundraiser would help AC Portland continue serving 400 Portland-area students with soccer programming, creative writing, service learning and nutrition education.
Why was CMD so excited for this opportunity?
Let’s face it. We live in Portland, Oregon, aka Soccer City USA. Many CMD employees bleed green and gold for The Timbers. The Thorns of the NWSL recently took the city by storm in their inaugural home match. CMD played an instrumental part in the JELD-WEN Field sponsorship development and implementation. We then get to leverage this passion for the beautiful game and help kids in need. What could be better?
Selecting a pro-bono project team that is eager and excited about the challenge at hand obviously sets the stage for success–and that’s just what CMD did. Our team’s mindset was to treat AC Portland just like any other client that comes through CMD’s door. While this effort may have required more night and weekend hours, our intention to deliver sound strategy, creative solutions and flawless execution never wavered.
RAISE 2013 Takes the Field
So what exactly did CMD do? It started with AC Portland coming to us with a kernel of an event idea. Given this was AC Portland’s first foray into an auction-focused live event, we evaluated a series of solutions based on a variety of parameters. While we were certainly presented with challenges along the way, CMD and AC Portland remained optimistic and flexible to ensure the best possible outcome.
We worked in lockstep with the client to establish the most effective approach and lay the groundwork for the overriding fundraising theme–RAISE 2013. The theme was developed not only for this lone event, but also to serve as a rally cry for future AC Portland fundraising activities.
The RAISE campaign took shape and extended into all facets of promotion including the event landing page, posters, email and social media outreach. CMD’s approach with all event communications was to infuse a fun and energetic tone and stay away from the “tug-the-heart- strings” messaging technique. Further, CMD was heavily involved in the procurement of auction items and coordination of all event logistics.
But something was missing. The essence of AC Portland’s mission, beyond the information provided on their website, needed to be captured through an inspiring statement. CMD proposed telling this story through the voices of the children whom AC Portland impacts most. The result was a short video that was shot during a special soccer session held on the adidas headquarters pitch. Capturing this story was important, but even better was seeing AC Portland’s commitment to these kids firsthand, not to mention the ecstatic and energetic attitude of all participants. Once the kids hit the pitch, they never slowed down!
The sold-out RAISE 2013 event was held at Casa Del Matador NW, which provided an intimate atmosphere for attendees to socialize and preview the wide array of auction items. Andy Carson of Fox 12 Portland served as emcee while event-goers rubbed elbows with Portland Timbers players Darlington Nagbe, Brent Richards and Futty Danso. Also on hand were mascot Timber Joey and Portland Thorns’ local superstar Danielle Foxhoven, who played an instrumental role in helping with the auction.
In the end, the silent auction saw a lot of participation with folks bidding on everything from valuable soccer memorabilia to a variety of goods donated by local businesses. The overall result was not only a healthy financial contribution but also great awareness building of AC Portland’s mission.
The Most Important Lessons Learned?
Not to state the obvious, but the best lessons learned are simple. When taking on a pro-bono assignment:
- Commit to the effort just like an agency would for any other paying client
- Embrace the opportunity to lend strategic, creative and executional resources to an organization in need
- Give the client your best work and don’t forget to have fun along the way
Here’s what AC Portland said about the experience:
“It was such an honor to get the opportunity to work so closely with the CMD team to help RAISE 2013 be a success! As executive director of AC Portland, I have experienced the ups and downs of the nonprofit world. So often, people promise the world and underdeliver. CMD treated us like a client, and gave 110% of what was promised! For that experience alone, it restored my hope in nonprofit work.” - Ben Dudley, Executive Director, AC Portland
The results speak for themselves and in a word are…beautiful.