April 30, 2015 Brian Guerrero

The Power of Storytelling in Nonprofit Events

Infographic for Beat the Streets Los Angeles - design by Brian Guerrero

It’s Event ‘Design’, not Event ‘Planning’

As April wraps up, it’s with great satisfaction that we look in review at the 2nd Annual Benefit for Beat the Streets Los Angeles, a nonprofit where I direct a lot of my creative energy at.

For the last blog post of the month, Beat the Streets LA published this infographic (above) titled ‘By the Numbers’.  As the dust settled after the April 10th Event and figures were calculated we were affirmed that non only was the Benefit successful as a quality event in telling our organization’s story, but it was equally successful in dollars raised.  The best of both worlds.  So with much pride, I enjoyed designing the infographic.  Looking at the ‘Numbers’, two things are certain… first, evidenced by so many generous donations people really believe in the Beat the Streets mission… and second, people love ice cream sandwiches! :)

Creating a successful fundraiser is as much about design and storytelling as it’s about event planning.  While there is a venue to book, vendors to hire and invitations to send out this is only a fraction of what goes into a nonprofit event.  In fact, while those first three boxes-to-check so to speak seem routine, each offer an opportunity to tell the story about an organization.  Our choice of venue in this case was no exception.  The Holding Co., an old mechanic’s shop northwest of downtown LA turned-event-space was a fantastic match for the Beat the Streets LA brand.

 

Guests of the 2nd Annual Benefit arrive through an alleyway and enter through an industrial steel door. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Guests of the 2nd Annual Benefit arrive through an alleyway and enter through an industrial steel door. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

As guests entered the space they were introduced to the first interactive component of the Benefit, a birch wood faced wall comprised of 70 individual wood plaques with CNC inscribed numbers representing dollar values. This wasn’t just a backdrop for our evening’s stage, this was a donor opportunity, The Camp Scholarship Wall.  A call-to-action which prompted guests to pledge dollar values displayed on the wood panels pursuant of one unified goal for the evening, to fund 50 Summer camp scholarships for our organization’s youth.  A tall order, but guests answered the call within 3 hours we raised $25,500.  Every panel turned over.

The Camp Scholarship Wall with a few early pledges. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The Camp Scholarship Wall with a few early pledges. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Panels with CNC cut pledge values. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Panels with CNC cut pledge values. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Founder and President of the Board Andy Barth (pictured left), congratulates fellow Board Member Jeff Newman on a very generous pledge. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Founder and President of the Board Andy Barth (pictured left), congratulates fellow Board Member Jeff Newman on a very generous pledge. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The Camp Scholarship Wall was a focal point throughout the evening and stood as center stage. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The Camp Scholarship Wall was a focal point throughout the evening and stood at center stage. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

With all 70 panels turned over, and that particular goal reached, a message affirming the achievement which will provide a life experience to boys and girls of Beat the Streets LA in the coming summer.  This shows the power of a live call-to-action made interactive.

The evening's MC, DJ Bino congratulates attendees on turning over every panel on the board, a total pledge of $25,500. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The evening’s MC, DJ Bino congratulates attendees on turning over every panel on the board, a total pledge of $25,500. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Moving to the indoor space of the venue we curated a gallery of moments and portraits of our youth.  A moment in the evening where people can pause and immerse in some highlights of the past year.

Photo gallery featuring young leaders of Beat the Streets Los Angeles. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Photo gallery featuring young leaders of Beat the Streets Los Angeles. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

A forward about the gallery of photos.  Photo by Dana Barsuhn

A forward about the gallery of photos. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The series is a collection of photographs I took over the course of this past season and in the forward, displayed above as a vinyl decal I wrote, “Individual portraits featured here include Leaderships Award recipients recognizing student athletes who exhibit traits of commitment, accountability, perseverance and respect.”

Like the vinyl decal for the Gallery description, we used the vinyl medium as an opportunity to communicate our message and identity throughout the Holding Co’s industrial space.

The Beat the Streets Los Angeles tagline "Building Tomorrow's Leaders" displayed across the mezzanine wall in vinyl, black.  Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The Beat the Streets Los Angeles tagline “Building Tomorrow’s Leaders” displayed across the mezzanine wall in vinyl, black. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

BTSbenefit2015-123

The quote from a young student athlete of Beat the Streets LA. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Using a common tool of fundraising events, we took the opportunity of a live & silent auctions to place touches of the organization’s identity and style into both the items and the setup.

The silent auction table in the foreground with the photo gallery in the background.  Photo by Dana Barsuhn

The silent auction table in the foreground with the photo gallery in the background. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Just in the Beat the Streets LA branded apparel alone we raised $1000.

Beat the Streets LA apparel custom made for the auction.

Beat the Streets LA apparel custom made for the auction.

For the fourth and final featured component of the evening, we presented our latest short film Move Your Feet.  

A story about an adolescent girl who through her mother’s guidance and the sport of wrestling overcomes her largest challenge, her past.

This four and a half minute short which I wrote and produced, and was directed by Shawn Frederick, fit perfectly into the evening’s program as it followed the opening short speeches and preceded the live auction.  You can watch the short below and read more about it in our portfolio section Short Film – ‘Move Your Feet’.

BTSLA-2nd-Benefit-01

That’s me, Brian Guerrero, standing on the right, getting ready to introduce the film. Photo by Dana Barsuhn.

Lightly applied throughout the venue we had info available about the organization to compliment speeches letting our guests know why we’ve all come together on that Friday evening in Los Angeles.

Printed program for the 2nd Annual Benefit. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Printed program for the 2nd Annual Benefit. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Beat the Streets Los Angeles door prizes for guests compliments of sponsor Elevee Lifestyle. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Beat the Streets Los Angeles door prizes for guests compliments of sponsor Elevee. Photo by Dana Barsuhn

Who doesn’t like swag? At the end of the evening, in addition to many thank you’s we provided some parting gifts.  Special thanks to élevée for sponsoring these door prizes and some of the fantastic auction items. And a special thanks to our event photographer Dana Barsuhn.

In Retrospect

From an architectural background, I think of how someone moves through a space and what that experience is.  As a storyteller I think of the narrative.  Event design is a convergence of the two and an opportunity to tell an organization’s story.

With a scholarship donation wall, a photo gallery, an auction and a film we had all the tools we needed to tell the story and captivate our audience.  They came as guests and left as ambassadors.

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