The Standard’s Volunteer Expo: Connecting for a Cause

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October 23, 2017
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At Gard, one of the most rewarding aspects of the work is bringing our clients and the community together. Sure, much of the magic happens in the office at a desk – but every so often we get to be a part of the scene we helped create. And just recently, a particularly great scene took place at Pioneer Courthouse Square on September 7, 2017: The Standard’s 9th annual Volunteer Expo.

Oregon’s longest-running and largest volunteer expo brought 138 nonprofits together to connect with hundreds of Oregonians eager to make a difference in their community. Participating organizations represented the arts, culture, humanities, the environment, animal welfare, health, human services and more.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., attendees enjoyed speaking with nonprofit representatives and signing up for volunteer opportunities – while also getting their portraits drawn, dressing up for the camera and grabbing some delicious free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

The Standard also hosted their 7th annual Volunteer Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 13, 2017, which brought 45 nonprofits together and hundreds of attendees and was featured on local TV stations.

Both events were successful. So how did we help The Standard make this happen?

Having promoted more than 500 events over the last 38 years, we know what it takes to create awareness and engagement.

This year, we wanted to make sure we really got to the heart of the event – connecting with community, for a good cause. The Standard, a leading financial service and insurance provider, has a long history of charitable giving and efforts to help the community (for example, their Employee Giving Campaign that raises millions of dollars each year).

So, we focused on the main message that’s simple but powerful: Connect.

Aside from connecting interested Oregonians at the event, we wanted to make the connection go even further – so we went directly to the people on the channel we all use to connect: Facebook. We created a video contest for the participating nonprofits. Rules were simple: create a 30- to 90-second video describing the nonprofit’s mission and why people choose to volunteer with the organization, and post it to Facebook with a hashtag to ensure participation is tracked.

The award at stake was a $1,000 corporate contribution to the winning organization, for receiving the most views on their video. (The winner was the organization TIP, Trauma Intervention Program.) 

The contest received an incredible response:

  • 18 organizations participated
  • 44,102 unique video views
  • 964 shares

Of course, the video contest was just one tool to drive engagement. The #VExpo17 hashtag was used across other social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram, and people shared photos and support.

Like any other event we do, we also ensure placement of paid media, and we pitch stories for earned media. The result? Things like this Portland Business Journal article, and a fun video of KGW’s Drew Carney being part of a human pyramid:

In the month since the event, we’ve heard great feedback from the participating organizations about new volunteer sign-ups and how much they enjoyed the event. We have to say, we did too!

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