Runner Up of Event Innovation Award of the Year 2009 - New York Action Center
NOMINEE : NEW YORK ACTION CENTER
Event: CRY Children's Fair
- Innovation (successful implementation of a new event idea). Yes
- Impact (# of participants, revenue generated, new volunteers obtained, publicity for CRY America, impact on the local area (Indian & non-Indian)). 200 mostly non-Indian, with high awareness about CRY; at least 35 new volunteers
- Scope for replication by other ACs. High.
- New event idea/event: Yes. Children-focused, tied to CRY’s cause
- # of participants/attendees 200, ages 3+, including parents and grand-parents
- Type and diversity of attendees Mostly local Americans
- Revenue generated approx. $1000
- Degree of replicability (1-5) – how easy would it be for others to organize this event? 4
- Media coverage (# of articles) 5 + online promotion via social networking, portals etc.
Concept : This event was conceptualized by New York Action Center in order to tie the cause of CRY with children. Especially in a NY market full of festivals and fairs, it was necessary to create a unique opportunity and more focus on what CRY does. We were also very keen to spread our cause to a diverse population and reach beyond the community.
Challenges: Despite early conceptualization, this being our first outdoor event, we ran into lots of challenges like
- volunteer attrition
- last minute reassignment of responsibilities due to unavailability of event lead and other volunteers
- lack of our credibility and experience with stringent NY Parks and Recreation and multiple other authorities and departments
We had originally planned a large scale event with vendors for food and products and other artists, and had also started recruiting more volunteers to help with the event. But because of not being able to finalize a place and date in the absence of a permit, we were almost on the verge of dropping the very idea. We received the permit 4 days before the event but did not receive the permission to have vendors, to put any advertising material or decoration on the park property. In short, nothing that would naturally attract children was allowed.
Execution: We decided to move forward and consider the event as an outreach rather than a fundraiser for this year; and as a foundation for upcoming events like our first Walk and for the years to come. It also became necessary to keep the volunteer morale up. Most volunteers, not having kids of their own, decided to take a plunge.
The only thing we could sell was products and services ourselves for which a huge volunteer base was required within this limited time. We chose to pick low cost games and activities that could be handled with children with relative ease e.g. face-painting, henna, sack-race, water balloon challenge etc. We partnered with other like-minded organizations like NetIP to obtain additional volunteer support.
Media: We started advertising and sending out invites. We got coverage in a lot of American publications like Timeout NY, NY Times etc. and then posted on several other sites like NY Parks and Recreation.
In addition, we tied My Vision Campaign to this event to painting and slogan contest to involve other age groups.
Overall, a children specific event tied to CRY’s cause, we pulled a mostly local non-Indian crowd of about 200 people in few days of intense media publicity. The funds raised were about $1000 because we had decided to keep the prices low to attract the crowd. Our volunteers were very highly fulfilled because this was the first event that brought them closer to the kids and more connected to the cause of the organization. We believe that Children’s Fair holds a lot of potential for growth and replication.