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On the Scene: Creating content for good

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On the Scene
Wednesday, July 07, 2010

BY EMMA HALL

Curious onlookers gathered in Pioneer Square as the bravest few couples grabbed their partners and lined up, men on one side, women on the other.  On the nearby stage, local rockabilly and swing band The Twangshifters warmed up. 

“Come on, don’t be nervous!” burlesque and variety show promoter Frankie Tease coaxed.  “Step, step, rock step.  Step, step, rock step!”

Laughing and following her lead, the dancers participated in the swing dance lesson.  Some caught on right away while others glanced nervously at the video cameras capturing their every bumbling move. 

Meanwhile, viewers gathered around their computers, iPhones and iPads watching the display live online.  This wasn’t just another YouTube video; it was the future of fundraising.

30hourday
Rick Turoczy and Cami Kaos hosting the event
The telethon was going the way of the tapedeck as a dead medium until Rick Turoczy, Cami Kaos and Mike "Dr. Normal" Gebhardt came along.  The three Portland tech gurus organized the second 30 Hour Day in less than a year on July 2, with content appearing live in Pioneer Square and streaming online from 4 PM Friday to 10 PM Saturday. 

The first 30 Hour Day was born out of an idea the three organizers had to pool together their online social networks and create an event that would help others.  This time it was a much bigger production with a live appearance in Pioneer Square rather than acts recorded in a closed studio and broadcast live online. 

“We really stepped it up a notch this time around with the appearance in Pioneer Square,” said Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist.  “But it was experimental, and made fundraising more difficult.”

Last December the event raised about $7,000 plus food and toy donations for a total of almost $10,000.  The organizers feared that holding the event outside of the holiday season would mean people just weren’t in the giving mood, and they were correct. They only raised $2,000 this time.  The money benefited the Oregon Food Bank, the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross and p:ear

By comparison, the Waterfront Blues Festival raised $622,000 and 90,000 pounds of donated food over the weekend for the food bank.

“Next time we’ll make sure to get someone from our community who knows a lot about the actual fundraising aspect, specifically live fundraising,” said Kaos.

The entire staff, including all of the acts, was made up of volunteers.  The crew of PDX.FM did most of the technical work.  Local developer Brian Enigma designed and donated an iPhone app.  A huge variety of people who may previously have only interacted with one another online came together offline to produce the event.

“We found an inventive way to give back,” said Kaos.  “As far as online fundraising goes there is a lot of simple ‘click the button’ types right now, but we are the first to actually create entertainment that charities can use.”

The livestream was available to be embedded by anyone who wanted it, “from the blog with 0 hits this month to the site with one million hits per second” as the 30 Hour Day website stated.  The content was all recorded and now is undergoing editing into segments that will be released under a creative commons license for use by charities or the various entertainers that appeared. 

Social media was important at all stages of the event planning, from the beginning with gathering volunteers through Twitter and Facebook, to the end with the very way that viewers donated, through “Causes,” part of Network for Good

So while 30 Hour Day may be reviving the telethon by making it adapt to the changing face of the web and social media, the question is whether this medium of fundraising can be effective. 

“Social media was the critical component to pulling the event off because it provided free tools to help promote, manage and fundraise for the event,” said Turoczy.  “Without social media, this kind of fundraising would be impossible and cost prohibitive.”

Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Oscar Levant
0 #1 competing charitiesOscar Levant 2010-07-07 18:09:59
I applaud any effort to give back to the community, particularly by Portland's Tech & Creative class, which too often, deserved or not, carry the sheen of giving lip service to progressive causes while actually doing not much in practice beyond a Pearl District BoHo me-first/me-onl y lifestyle. That said, I have to wonder at the wisdom of booking an event like this in Portland during the well-known and perennially successful Waterfront Blues Festival, which, as your article points out, already raises hundreds of thousands of dollars in charity plus canned goods for Oregon Food Bank. Such an action just tends to divide attention among those considering making donations and supporting such evnets — and in non-profit/char ity work, this is never a good thing. Insisting on going full speed ahead on such a project that competes, rather than compliments, an already well-known internationally renowned charity music event comes off more as trying to build personal branding of the those with the most face time involved on the backs of charities, web presence and volunteers donated time, rather than a truly altruistic action. This may not be their purpose, and it may be they have the purest of selfless intentions at heart, but that is how it reads in the aftermath. What was the thinking behind double scheduling these charity events and then wondering why success didn't build more behind the junior event? If the answer is the booking schedule of Portland's Pioneer Square, then why not put off the schedule when it would not compete so close in time and proximity to a downtown mega-charity event? As close as the week before, there were calls from the 30-hour day organizers for further help & pre-event donations from sponsors and the community, as it looked like the event might not happen due to unforseen (perhaps not well-researched ) costs regarding the insurance and security requirements of pioneer square. All this volunteered time & effort, all these monetary requests for sponsorship just to make the event happen, even before the event started, and now I think it is time to ask: was the payback to the charities worth it? If so much sponsorship money is being requested just for the event overhead to make it happen, without any of that money going directly to the charities, are those doing sponsorship and making their donations really getting the most bang for their buck? Why not contact the Waterfront Blues Festival and see if their fledgling event can be merged into the larger event, with the tech community helping to bring this "old media" event into the 21st century with social media, chat rooms with some of the blues musicians, live streaming samples of the music performances and live web interviews? If Portland's tech community truly wants to bridge the gap between old media and new, why not try and create bridges and in-roads that way, instead of what seems like outright and needless charity competition? So many other questions or creative ideas could be posed about this. For now, before even thinking about hiring on a fundraising expert (and will there be more pre-event sponsorship requestss to cover that cost?), I feel the organizers of 30-hour day need to take a good, detailed look at what their doing and ask what their real purpose here is.
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Tech Guy
0 #2 Tech Guy 2010-07-09 16:17:36
It did not feel like the emphasis of the event was on fundraising.

The event was a fundraising failure. Don't encourage events that are 'token' fundraisers.

Did they ever profile the charities? Explain the need? Or demonstrate the good work done with the funds? A telethon hits fundraising with a vengeance. This came across as a party in need of a reason to exist.

If the term "Portland Tech Community" is used to explain your event. Then your work reflects on my reputation. Take care with it.
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