When the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) decided to switch things up after 11 years of holding its annual fund-raising banquet, the transition was spearheaded by Jeremy Burton, president of product sales and marketing at EMC. One company quickly came to mind to help the EMC event team produce the unique evening: VDA Productions and its director of creative services, Bob Russo.
Bob has a reputation for innovative and avant-garde event design, so it was no surprise that he was tapped to work with the Greater Boston Food Bank board to revamp the event. “By rethinking the program, the flow, the use of the space, I was able to provide a design that was more in line with the end goal,” Russo said. “When working with a nonprofit, keeping cost down is important. By hosting the event at the GBFB, we were able to avoid the additional cost of finding and renting a venue. The space was free! So I started having a lot of conversations with past attendees to get feedback, what worked, what didn’t, and honed in on the key attendee demographic. What I found helped me shape the design of the evening, showcasing the facility and pushing exploration and education.”
A street festival theme was adopted in order to maximize the venue and at the same time educate the attendees about the building and the work that gets done within the facility. The traditional sit-down dinner was replaced with food stations and the party was moved to vignettes and lounges within the food racks, creating an atmosphere and experience that really connected attendees to the mission of the evening.
The event was crafted to highlight the warehouse space where 52 million pounds of food a year is distributed in the food bank’s network of 550 member agencies throughout the 190 cities and towns throughout eastern Massachusetts. The event design had guests walking around to experience the space, which was complete with well-positioned factoids, while mingling and networking, enjoying entertainment by jugglers, magicians, a singing quartet, and artists and sampling a variety of food, including a build-your-own-burger, Asian noodle, tossed salad, and mini-pizza stations. As guests walked among the warehouse racks, lounges dedicated to the evening’s sponsors served as private settings for interactive fund-raising activities.
“The event was a huge success, setting a new record and raising $1.22 million! The festival format was such a hit that I am now working with the GBFB to provide some permanent design solutions for their space. Keep the experience a lively, educational one for all visitors and volunteers.”
For more information or to speak with Bob Russo at VDA Productions about your next event, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org