Entry Category: Special Event Planning, Special Event Series
and Organization: Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala, Atlantic Cape Community College
Award Received: Gold
Description: Since its inception in 1984, the Restaurant Gala’s goal has been to raise scholarships. Nearly 1,000 community and business leaders, casino industry executives, food industry personnel, government officials, friends of the college and food enthusiasts attend annually. The formal dining event celebrates food by featuring hors d’oeuvres prepared by culinary students and showcasing the specialties of more than 50 of southern New Jersey’s top restaurants. It has become the leading charity fundraiser in the region, raising nearly $3 million in its history for scholarships and Foundation operations.
Strategy: A volunteer committee of community members, college supporters, business people and college personnel meet regularly, June through March, to spearhead the annual fundraising event. The committee establishes realistic but energetic goals to raise as much revenue as possible by creating new sponsorship opportunities,
inviting celebrity guest chefs or community honorees to the event, and exploring inventive ways to gain as much media exposure as possible to help accomplish these goals. New segments were added during the last few years to help promote the Gala throughout the year and to give the college and sponsors added exposure. These elements include a signature dish, a quick response (QR) code, 50/50 raffle, Taste of the Gala cooking demonstration, Bernie Robbins jewelry drawing, “Gala Getaway” package, email invite and social media promotions, including Facebook and Twitter promotions and Flickr photo sharing.
Results: The 2013 Restaurant Gala attracted nearly 1,000 guests and raised more than $145,000 for student scholarships and Foundation operations at Atlantic Cape Community College—an increase of $5,000 in revenue from the previous year. The event received more than 110 media placements including securing a “Ya Gotta Try This” food segment on Fox Philadelphia’s “Good Day Philadelphia,” news articles, radio interviews, advance coverage on the local NBC affiliate, an entire episode of the 30-minute Pinky Kravitz Show on NBC 40 and local, regional and statewide calendar listings. Post-event coverage included a variety of feature pieces and a segment on NBC 40. Additional coverage included placements in local journals, newsletters and weekly newspapers.
Related Link, If Any: http://www.atlantic.edu/gala