Covid presented unique challenges for the country’s leading non-profit organizations - among them, the fact that in-person gala events, significant drivers of awareness, attention, and donations, were no longer viable.
March of Dimes was contending with this very problem when it engaged OBERLAND in the summer of 2020. Its yearly gala, “Signature Chefs,” had been planned for that November - but as the date approached it was clear that an evening of in-person dining, wine, entertainment, and auctioning was not going to be feasible.
How could March of Dimes reinvent one of its most celebrated and important fundraising events - one that typically generates as much as 15% of annual revenue for the organization - for a changed world?
OBERLAND turned a challenge into an opportunity, leveraging the virtual format to expand the reach and meaning of March of Dimes’ yearly gala.
For one, the agency established a new visual identity and a new name - “Feeding Motherhood” - that more closely connected the work and impact of March of Dimes with the event, driving interest to participate and donate. Then, it turned what was a single evening into a multi-component online extravaganza that spanned a number of weeks. The many virtual program elements included:
An interactive, follow-along cooking class with celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and LaLa Anthony, that inspired engagement and connection at a time of isolation; A bespoke online auction that involved exclusive virtual previews of key items for top bidders in distinct Zoom calls; Emotionally riveting, real stories - captured through videos - of the mothers and babies directly impacted by the work of March of Dimes.
Simultaneously, OBERLAND built a comprehensive social media toolkit to help the organization’s local chapters promote the event on their social channels. This strategy helped expand the reach of “Feeding Motherhood” - transforming the annual gala from a local, New York City-based event to an event that could be experienced nationally.
Renewing energy around the work and impact of March of Dimes, “Feeding Motherhood” helped the organization raise over $9 million within just a few months - generously surpassing yearly donation goals despite the event’s occurrence at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis.
Not to mention, it set up the organization to continue its efforts to measurably improve the health of mothers and babies throughout the country.