Case Study: Pickin’ for Donations

By mid-day Saturday, six bands had committed to the Labor Day concert and neighborhood preparations began in earnest for the four-hour benefit. Tracy Edwards’ plan was to have Yadkin Green house the concert stage, a 26-foot trailer donated for the occasion, and block Yadkin Street to vehicular traffic. To help prepare the concert space, seven neighborhood residents were out in force that Saturday afternoon, mowing and trimming Yadkin Green, while other families began a cookie-baking marathon.

By noon on Monday, the stage was moved into place and decorated, and several tents were erected for food (the homemade cookies as well as hot dogs and drinks donated by local retailers who heard the Friday stream or saw the Saturday email list), face painting, craft sales, and the sound booth. As the word spread, a local TV station called to say it would do a live shot on the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, and a local company dropped off donated portable toilets.

The second use of digital media began when the concert kicked off on Labor Day at 4 p.m. While the Friday evening event had been streamed live, the Labor Day event had to be pre-recorded due to bandwidth limitations in the neighborhood. Both a SonicFoundry MediaSite recorder and an Accordent CaptureStation were used to capture high-bandwidth video from local cameras and audio from the sound board. These clips were later posted on the same Web site and included ways to contact the Red Cross for those who weren’t able to attend the live event.

During this first hour of the concert, a remote truck from the local TV station, WCYB, set up for the 5 p.m. live shot. A reporter interviewed Tracy Edwards about the preparations and three neighborhood children about the cookies, face painting, and handmade necklaces on sale. The reporter, whose image was simultaneously being encoded and streamed live at the TV station, noted that several hours were left in the concert but also visually provided an alternate way for those who could not attend to donate to the Red Cross by asking several concertgoers to hold up a sign with 1-800-HELP-NOW emblazoned on it.

So how did this rapidly implemented concert fare? About 250 people attended the event, sitting on the grass of Yadkin Green and on the screened-in porches of Yadkin Street houses that faced the green. Several concertgoers noted that they’d heard about the event through the emails and streams—including the 5 p.m. live shot stream—and were attending because of the "buzz" created by word of mouth and non-traditional marketing.

Proceeds from donated crafts and food, as well as other monetary donations from the crowd, were given to a Red Cross representative who attended the event. When the donations were tallied, over $5,000 was raised on Labor Day evening, with almost an additional $1,000 coming in the following day thanks to the archived video.

Labor Day in the White City neighborhood normally involves an ice cream party, but the Edwards’ idea expanded that community event beyond the boundaries of Yadkin Green – giving anyone from the Kingsport area the opportunity to donate to a worthy cause, watch a little technology in action, and have fun doing it.

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