Insights to Power Social Good

The Youth on Record Block Party

Posted by Ethan Kotel on May 15, 2017 11:16:30 AM


4 Best Practices Spotted in the Wild


This weekend, one of our favorite local Denver charities, Youth on Record, held their second annual block party, and were met with a rousing success. 

Youth on Record's slogan is "Empowerment Through Creative Education." They work to help end the cycle of poverty and gang life by teaching kids how to play, write, and produce music. Throughout this experience, they earn high school credit, helping to increase the graduation rate across Colorado.

Sounds like a pretty worthy cause, right? Well, as we all know, the cause alone is not enough to inspire community support, or to ellicit donations. There are a whole host of other factors that go into making an event successful, and Youth on Record put many of them into practice.

You might even say best practice.

Throughout the event, I noticed a few things working in Youth on Record's favor, that could be implemented by any other nonprofit looking to make their events more successful.


1) Signage

Signage is first on the list because it was the very first thing I saw as I approached the venue. 

Greeting me as I walked up the street were multiple, gigantic banners loudly proclaiming exactly what event I was at. There was no questioning if I was lost, no confusion over what was and wasn't part of the event. All of the major event locations were heavily branded, helping to create a very cohesive feeling to the entire atmosphere.


I've brought up signage a few times before, because it's so important when it comes to making your message stick.

I didn't have to look at this picture in order to remember Youth on Record's slogan. I was able to write it off the top of my head; because, throughout the entire event, everywhere I looked, I was met with their logo and slogan.

Inundating your supporters with your brand is powerful. Even since Saturday, I've run across an orange circle on a sign in the distance. Now, it turned out just to be a sign for Little Caesar's (pizza, pizza), but my first thought was, "wow, how did Youth on Record get a sign all the way on the other side of town?"

Great signage increases long-term brand awareness, which will snowball naturally towards more first time and recurring donors. Don't underestimate the impact of a good sign!


2) Community Support

You may have noticed that the stage in the last photo was not a Youth on Record stage, nor a permanent installation. Rather, it was carrying its own branding, supplied as it was by Groove Auto, a car dealership conglomerate with a presence here in Colorado.

One thing that really blew me away at the Block Party was the enormous show of community support. The stage was not the only evidence of Denver seeking to help out Youth on Record (and help themselves a little bit, too). 

The most obvious example was, again, seen upon approach to event itself. The roads surrounding the event were closed to road traffic, creating a genuine festival feel. In addition to the road barriers, there were a couple of uniformed police officers in attendance at the event, lending an increased air of security and professionalism. 

This type of community infrastructure support is easier than you might think to add to your event. Simply get in touch with your local city hall, and inquire about what process you need to fulfill in order to add such measures to your next event.

Also in attendance were several food trucks from local community companies. In addition to providing much needed refreshments to the event-goers, the trucks added extra "festival-feel" to the event, making the music festival vibe much more authentic for both the attendees and the youth performing throughout the day. 

Elliciting the support of food vendors is also rather simple, and simply requires showing an indication that the event will be a sound fiscal investment for the proprietor. 

That wasn't all, however. Also also in attendance were several tents from local publications, companies, and other nonprofits seeking to raise awareness for their own events; and, in so doing, drive additional attention and attendance to Youth on Record. Since each tent in attendance had some sort of nonprofit element, they did nothing to detract from the cohesive "benefit" feel of the event as a whole.


3) Their Cause in Action

I won't go into any more detail than this in order to protect my professional integrity, but my band was initially slated to play at the Block Party.

Why didn't we? Simple. There were too many kids who wanted to perform.

I can't ask for a better reason to lose out on a gig. You see, Youth on Record helps teach these kids how to perform; so, to get to show up and actually see it in action is no less than exhiliarating. 

This is the best way I can think of to make your cause the center of your event: to literally make your cause the center of the event. 

Throughout the day, the crowd transitioned between two stages, set up 180 degrees opposite one another, to watch all of the children enrolled in Youth on Record's programs show their stuff. The skill levels fluctuated with the genre and intensity of the music, but each performer looked proud and pleased to get to strut around on stage and perform for their friends, neighbors, and community neighbors.

I mean, just look at the results Youth on Record is showing to the world. Here's a short video of singer-songwriter Bailey Elora, 17 years old, performing an incredibly heartfelt version of Nina Simone's Blackbird.


Seeing a young performer like this, who has learned at the hands of the charity I'm currently supporting, made me feel as though my money was going towards a program with a real and tangible impact. I know the other donors in attendance felt this way, as well.

Showing your supporters the real-world impact of their dollars will help them to feel secure in giving money to you, and will make them more likely to continue supporting you in the future. Remember, it's all about those recuring donors!


4) Prominent Mobile Calls to Action

It always warms my heart to see a nonprofit utilizing Text to Give out in the wild. It's even better when I see them utilizing the best practices I'm always gabbing on about

Youth on Record relies on their mobile subscriber list in order to keep their volunteers notified about upcoming events and opportunities to donate. They also use polling keywords to learn about their supporter base, and carrier-billing-style donation keywords to provide an easy method for their supporters to donate to the cause.

However, as anyone who's used Text to Give can tell you, it's not enough to simply have Text to Give. You must make it easily visible, and provide a solid call to action to make people aware of it.

Again, this is another item that I noticed immediately upon entering the event. I walked into Youth on Record's main building, where an open house awaited me with refreshments, custom T-shirts, and even more signage. 

However, as I turned to the right, I saw something even more effective. Located at the front of the room, well-lit, and clearly visible, was a massive TV displaying a prominent mobile call to action. 


As you can see, it works! There's a fellow on his phone right in front of the TV.

All of the necessary compliance language was included, the image itself is well branded, and it even includes an image of a cell-phone texting in the keyword, so there's no doubt for the donor about what to do.


Wrapping Up

Youth on Record was able to make their event successfuly simply by following some very common-sense best practices. By utilizing well branded signage, garnering the support of the community, turning their cause into the focus of the event, and displaying prominent mobile calls to action, Youth on Record was able to attract a ton of people to their event, both current supporters and new donors alike.

I won't pretend like setting up a large event is easy. It is a simple thing, however, to turn an event from being merely fun to being powerful and effective.

I'll be catching up with the director of marketing from Youth on Record soon to get her take on the event, and to learn about what she thought went well, and didn't go well, over the weekend. Check back later to hear from the lady herself!

Until then, be well, and keep changing the world. I'll see you next time.


Yours sincerely,



p.s., if you'd like to chat about how to strategize your next event, please don't hesitate to contact us today!

Topics: text to give, Mobile Fundraising, Mobile Engagement, Fundraising, Events, Event Planning, community

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