Cooke School and Institute
Food for Thought Gala
Event marketing that connected the dots between mission and event.
More than 30 years ago, Cooke School and Institute set out to create a community where students with special needs are inspired to reach their potential and valued for who they are. Showcasing this mission in their annual, premiere fundraising event, Food for Thought, has always been a challenge. And the challenge only got bigger when Cooke asked us to integrate their capital campaign case into the event communications. But that’s exactly what we did.
HOW WE HELPED
We partnered with Cooke to plan a multi-year evolution of their annual event communications. Each year, we focused on highlighting the priorities of their capital campaign case statement and timeline. Our goal was to create an enhanced user experience from invitation to live event.
First, we focused on creating excitement around a new building — the focal point of their capital campaign. But it was more than a building. It represented a centralized location where students and their families would come together as a community. The aesthetic for the event played off the idea of blueprints and architecture, featuring recolored renderings of the building, and we created custom typography and animations to incorporate playfulness and the jovial feel of children. The invitation was constructed as a pop-up cube, another architectural component, and featured the renderings around the outside and joyful students on the inside. The new building’s facade was awash with angular sail-shaped windows, so the reply device was cut on an angle and when folded it displayed this part of the building along the top.
The second year prioritized the students’ futures: an investment into enhancing their post-secondary, life-skills program and alumni network. Entitled Building Futures, we transitioned from blueprints and buildings to recent and historical colorized images of students and faculty. Images were decorated with on-brand block shapes to connect with the this year’s theme.
Each year’s communications could stand on their own, with distinctive award-winning visuals. Yet each year complemented the next, and reflected the core priorities of their capital campaign communications. This created a truly holistic communications strategy. Each theme was featured in the signage at the event, table and lounge decor, and post-event communications. It was also carried through on their website, emails, and social media outreach. The suite of event materials for the culminating third year was left incomplete due to a COVID-19 related delay in the event.
Each year was a record-setting number for money raised. In year two, Cooke had to close event registration early, as they had maxed out the capacity of both indoor and outdoor space of their venue.