Another j2 event experience

SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner

Portfolio Classification

Not-for-profit

Corporate (Gala, Formal Dinner)

Conference & Incentives – Special Events

Location

Royal International Convention Centre (since 2013)

Previously held in Great Hall, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Year j2 involved annually since 2005 (current)
Client SU QLD (owner/underwriter)
Charity Beneficiary SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Program
Quick Facts

 

Up to 1,580 guests annually

Since 2005, j2 has assisted SU QLD to raise nearly $6 million for the SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Program

SU QLD is aiming to raise $1 million in 2014

In October 2013, $835,000 was raised at the SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner – a staggering fundraising result for an event of this kind

$725,000 was raised during the 2013 Appeal Dinner

Background

Australia’s fastest growing youth and children’s not-for-profit is the interdenominational Christian organisation, SU QLD. Among their many programs is the School Chaplaincy Program. Every year, more than 500 school chaplains ‘on the front line’ in Queensland state schools, provide support and care services for over 330,000 young people, their teachers and parents.

To support program goals, since 2001 SU QLD has held an annual fundraiser known as “Frontline” – SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner. Entertaining and emotive, the event premise is to motivate people of capacity and influence towards financially investing at Frontline.

By creating an appropriate ‘emotional journey’, guests are able to understand the experiences of young people through a flawless visual and auditory medium. Audience members are affected in such a way that they are compelled to want to give. They see; they believe… and on the night, they generously invest.

Event model

Frontline follows an unorthodox fundraising model: not one guest is asked to pay for their seat. Based upon a relationship marketing “table host” methodology, supporters of the chaplaincy program commit to hosting a table of ten – each person an invited friend or associate, welcomed with an expectation that they will pledge support for the cause through the evening’s appeal proceedings. In effect, this model leverages existing relationships with supporters and sees them adopt an advocacy role, securing seats for the event through their own networks and connections.

By way of supporting table hosts, SU QLD dedicates a number of resources to coaching, which ensures these crucial Frontline ambassadors are assisted with their obligations, updated with event information, and inspired to contribute to the event’s success.

J2 Services and Solutions

In 2005, SU QLD recruited the professional event management services of j2, whose expertise and resources has added ‘polish’ and ensured Frontline is more strategically appealing to assist with attracting and engaging SU QLD’s core corporate audience.

The event coordination partnership between SU QLD and j2 is founded on mutual respect and efficiency, thriving from the benefits of clearly assigned deliverables and a ‘divide and conquer’ cooperation between the two.

j2’s deliverables typically include the following shared assignment of event planning and delivery responsibilities. However, for the 2012 dinner SU QLD staffing shortages deemed it necessary for j2 to assume a greater, overall event management role for Frontline.

Research, create and deliver a theme and entertainment program (speakers, performers and multimedia) to be engaging and motivational

Develop the event look and feel to be creatively unique and inspiring, without appearing frivolous

Establish a run order for the evening that creates a strong emotional build to motivate guests and ultimately maximise support for the appeal

Support the SU QLD events team in a mentoring role and to act as a sounding board (including the review of supplier and talent contracts)

Establish and maintain a working budget to deliver the theming and production elements of the event as cost effectively as possible

Deliver the event in accordance with venue and client insurances and risk mitigation processes

Production and stage management and oversight of event from bump in through bump out

Seamlessly cue and show call the event on the evening

Level of Complexity

Frontline incorporates live entertainment, keynote speakers, fine dining and a fundraising appeal, crucial to which is a ‘production’ that ensures guests embrace the notion ‘seeing, believing, investing’. Within limited budget, j2 must employ the most creative ways and means to affect the audience’s emotive state, while ensuring overall professionalism of the event and appeal to a corporate market. Room theming and audio-visual components have to deliver genuine ‘wow factor’ without appearing frivolous or decadent.

While j2 continues working with SU QLD on the Appeal Dinner presently, this case study describes how we turned the 2012 event into such a great success.

Being the 12th annual event, in 2012 challenges existed in creating this ‘impact’ upon guest arrival and enhancing the evening’s emotive journey.

The Great Hall is an expansive space with high ceiling. An audience feeling remote to proceedings and an atmosphere too open and static would correlate to a dampened fundraising effort. Consequently, j2’s planning aimed to combat any ‘hollowness’ by creating a warm, intimate and engaging space. Implementation of a stage set that would ‘draw-in’ the audience was key. A large-scale main screen (16m x 5m) was utilised to be proportionate to the expansive space and to facilitate audiovisual chapters that would engage the audience, forming the majority of the evening’s creative direction.

Another design initiative was the hanging of white umbrellas from the Great Hall’s ceiling – reflecting that ‘not every day is a sunny day for kids across Queensland’.  Umbrellas would suspend at varying heights, framing the stage and front screen, then moving out into the void above guest tables. (Importantly, audiovisual elements and printed materials were consistently branded with the ‘umbrella’ concept through graphic elements and poignant photography.)

Bringing this idea to reality involved sourcing pristine, white, unbranded umbrellas on a short lead-time, working with BCEC to determine rigging points and altering the venue’s typical audio-visual rigging positions. j2 partnered with Iceworks Design to determine the optimum number of umbrellas and their suspension configuration – a balance between quantity, impact and cost. Iceworks Design created 3D renders featuring 180 umbrellas, also ensuring uninterrupted sightlines. Due to minimal bump-in time and limited opportunity for ‘tweaking’, each umbrella’s position was pre-determined. Preparatory work on the umbrellas, including attachment of pre-cut wire lengths, was carried out prior to bump-in.

 

Critical to the success of the suspended umbrellas was effective illumination, for which specialists, jlx, were engaged. jlx brought the umbrellas ‘to life’ programming subtle lighting changes to enhance the mood in the room at key moments. This included simulating a thunder storm during the opening sequence.

Intrinsic to the success of Frontline is the ‘right’ entertainment – evidence proving that high profile classical artists are received best by this event’s demographic. For three years, both SU QLD and j2 had attempted to engage vocal group, The Ten Tenors – their musical genre and world-renown long viewed as an ideal match. Scheduling commitments had precluded The Ten Tenors’ participation until 2012, when j2 secured them as feature act.

 

Key Achievements

The annual Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner (j2 involved since 2005) has been the result of a distinctive collaboration between SU QLD and j2 ideas & events. Frontline performs extremely well both financially and strategically, gauged on a number of measures: funds raised on the night; profitability; level of sponsorship; and opportunities for ongoing engagement. This event is an excellent example of the outcomes that can be achieved through positive teamwork, fostering relationships, professional event strategy, and emotive creative direction.

Engaging and seamless, on 22 October 2012 proceedings incorporated 60 lighting and audiovisual cues that activated audience members’ compassion and resulted in new record-high donations. At an average of $507 per guest, this was the highest fundraising outcome for Frontline in its 12-year history.

Engaging The Ten Tenors in 2012 was a coup, and one believed to have contributed to the record fundraising appeal of $725,000. There is an undeniable impact of 10 people on stage, blending their impassioned voices with such mastery. The Ten Tenors unquestionably enveloped the audience with their sound and emotion.

In October 2013, $835,000 was raised at the SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner by 1572 guests, setting a new fundraising record for the program.

SU QLD is aiming to raise $1 million at their 2014 Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner.

SU QLD’s relationship marketing (“table host”) model for Frontline epitomises a highly effective cause-related event design, which applies non-traditional marketing and pricing strategies. Ongoing benefits of the relationship marketing model also provide key learnings for the industry regarding the importance of customer relationship management and the value of being able to strategically leverage events for the benefit of future projects.

Specific to the 2009 SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner, j2's event management skill and reputation was formally acknowledged with the company winning two awards judged by independent panels:

National Cause Related Event of the Year
2010 Meeting & Events Industry Awards

This award is designed to recognise the combined team effort that is required to successfully plan, organise and manage a fundraising or a cause related event. The event must be considered significant through its multifaceted approach, in achieving objectives, through the imaginative use of resources, innovation and creativity.

Corporate Social Responsibility Award (QLD)
2010 Meeting & Events Industry Awards

In their submission to win Cause Related Event of the Year for the above SU QLD event, j2 responded to an optional Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) question. Their CSR Award application was submitted in the context of j2’s main Award submission and judged by an independent CSR expert.

Stakeholder Feedback

"Your long term support has ensured that Frontline has grown in its level of professionalism and creativity on the night. Your passion and commitment in 'going the extra mile' is obvious and something that we very much value and respect in you and your staff. We know that we can trust you to work with us to deliver an outstanding event. Thank you for your extraordinary effort of producing our event … We couldn't do it without you."

Peter James – CEO, SU QLD
(re 2013 SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner)

"Subject: Absolutely Incredibly Wonderfully Awesome Night

You did it! And we reap the rewards. No doubt you will get all the feedback as and when it comes but it is an unbelievably good result on every level. Thank you… so much."

John Scott – Relationship Manager, SU QLD
(re 2012 SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner)

"For the last six years, SU QLD has enjoyed a unique relationship with j2 ideas & events as they have partnered us in the planning and execution of the SU QLD Frontline Chaplaincy Appeal Dinner. Jo and the team bring with them a passion for the cause, extensive industry experience and creativity. Collaboration with j2 has ensured that the Frontline Appeal Dinner remains fresh and innovative, both in its marketing approach and creative concept. Their professionalism and attention to detail mean that each year, the production is carefully thought out and seamlessly executed on the night. The Frontline Appeal Dinner is critical in enabling us to raise awareness around school chaplaincy. It is also one of our essential fundraising tools, which is why we choose to work with the best in the industry!"

Tim Mander – (former) CEO, SU QLD

"j2 have been involved with the SU QLD Frontline Dinner for the last five years. This is one of the largest fundraising dinners in Queensland, with almost 2,000 people in attendance. When j2 is directing proceedings, the night is guaranteed to run smoothly, no matter how big the program. Their professionalism, attention to detail, and creative input ensures a great event. They are very focused on who we are and the message we want to convey. They have a very cooperative spirit in how they work with us and we are very happy with the partnership."

Mark Owen – (former) Director of Development, SU QLD