As you know, we love events, we love purpose, and we love engagement! All of these pieces and more came together in our work with the Mental Health Foundation, which is an Alberta charity that is uniquely positioned to take a big picture view of the mental health landscape in our province and determine how to use donor funds to meet the needs of individuals mental health and well-being throughout Alberta.
The Mental Health Foundation Annual Breakfast was a hybrid event planned for March 2, 2022, with an estimated 800 people attending in person and 100+ joining us online. The venue was booked, menu selected, the in-person and virtual programs were established, fundraising plan set, decor chosen, AV and live-streaming components secured, virtual event boxes developed, sponsorship in place, tickets on sale…..and then Covid, more specifically Omicron, took another hold on the province, so we had to pivot.
In late January, the difficult decision to move to a fully virtual event experience was made, in consideration of the pressures at that time on our health care system, along with the health and safety of our community. So what did this mean? A lot of change management all at once, including:
Cancelling vendors (venue, food & beverage, photographer, decor, printers)
Finding a production team and studio to broadcast the program
AND moving from 50 virtual event experience boxes to 500!
All communications, cancellations, and ticket platform adjustments were made immediately and then the simultaneous process of booking all of the virtual production components along with sourcing and expediting a 900% increase in virtual event boxes began; all while navigating the additional challenges of covid related supply chain issues.
We worked with some incredible local companies to get everything we needed in under 3 weeks, including:
Branded coffee mugs from Elite Promotional Marketing
Instant coffee from Transcend Coffee
Mini whisks from Gifts and Gadgets
Pancake mix from Buttermilk Fine Waffles
Biscotti from Canova Pasticceria
Once we had all the contents (and filled up every last available hidden nook and cranny in our office and at The Creative Hive), we set up an assembly line of 8 people to put together all of the boxes. Then came the task of managing the logistics of delivering all of these boxes throughout the province!
Well, we did it! The number of moving parts, changing timelines, and bumps in the road were high, but we did it! The team at the Mental Health Foundation was pivotal in bringing it together, with their quick decision making and small but mighty team that stepped forward to make boxes, collect addresses, and so much more.
The day was incredible. The facility and team at Production World helped us to produce a very special and impactful program that allowed the Mental Health Foundation to beat its fundraising goal and reach hundreds of people throughout the province and across the country. Not to mention, the virtual event boxes themselves received an overwhelmingly positive response because they included very usable and local items that could be enjoyed that morning or another day of their choosing.
We want to close by shutting down a common myth. Virtual events are not easier, virtual events are not cheaper, the virtual portion of a hybrid event shouldn’t be a tack-on or an afterthought. Virtual events are their own experience and need to be well thought out and planned in advance so that you can execute them in a meaningful way for your guests. As much as folks are tired of being online for “another zoom meeting” or event, virtual experiences and events are here to stay. We can expand our reach and cater to other groups of individuals that may not get to be a part of the event otherwise and this is a huge win!