PACE Awards – Edge Partnerships
Michigan Harvest Gathering
Client: Food Bank Council of Michigan
In 1991, Bill and Cynthia Schuette began a statewide campaign that raises food and funds for Michigan’s emergency food response. Since that time, Attorney General Bill Schuette and his wife have partnered with the Food Bank Council of Michigan to help strengthen the capacity of the state’s emergency food response. In the first 24 years, the Michigan Harvest Gathering’s (MHG) campaign raised over 54 million meals to help those in need.
The Food Bank Council of Michigan continues to serve as the primary proponent for the state’s emergency food resource and retained Edge Partnerships in 2015 to help elevate funds and the event to a more prominent stature for its 25 year anniversary.
Research was conducted of Michigan’s population and the impact of hunger by socioeconomic and geographic factors. This extensive research identified targeted audiences to solicit funds, defined key messages and indicated awareness of the issue among Michigan residents.
In addition, Edge reviewed and analyzed past sponsors and identified new prospects in order to maximize fund-raising efforts.
For the 25th anniversary, Edge brainstormed unique ideas to make this year memorable and effective. A statewide, kickoff bus tour was planned with stops in the key urban cities of Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids and Detroit.
Both Michigan’s attorney general and secretary of state served as campaign chairs, significantly raising awareness of the annual campaign. These high profile leaders called on the public and donors to show their support.
The campaign ended with an awards luncheon and celebration.
Edge worked closely with the Food Bank Council, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office to develop a plan for media, bus tour and the luncheon. A work plan was developed to keep all of the offices on schedule. The main objective was to raise more money and garner more media attention for the 25th year anniversary.
Objectives: Increase sponsorship and media attention
This campaign launched in July 2015 and ended in November with the official kick off dates in September. For the bus tour kick off, Edge secured a bus sponsor. The bus transported state officials, Food Bank Council leadership and volunteers to the state’s eight food banks for regional media events.
Once all details were secured, media advisories were sent out to launch the public relations strategy for the Michigan Harvest Gathering bus tour. Throughout the tour, Edge maximized social media and earned media to maximize coverage.
To secure donors, sponsor letters were sent to prior and new sponsors. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Food Bank Council Director Phil Knight made personal phone calls to specific organizations to raise funds. These personal touches significantly increased funds.
The week leading up to the celebratory luncheon, solicitation phone calls increased to garner final donations. Harvest Gathering campaigns at the State of Michigan, Greenstone Farm Credit Services and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association had wrapped up as well. Volunteers and executives from food banks and sponsor organizations were invited to a celebratory luncheon to present awards and announce campaign results.
Michigan’s major newspaper and media outlets carried Food Bank Council’s media advisory and opinion columns. In addition, large corporations and the state government ran mini campaigns to significantly increase the funds and food gathered during the Michigan Harvest Gathering.
Donations totaled $400,000, along with $100,000 in-kind sponsorships and 300,000 pounds of food. The donations collected provided 2.1 million meals to Michigan families.