From Reservations to Facebook Live: Adapting the Oasis Center’s Landmark Event

Over the years GS&F has had the honor of partnering with the Oasis Center, one of Nashville’s leading youth-serving nonprofit organizations. When the center’s landmark fundraising event, Only in Nashville, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, our team was challenged to help the organization pivot its strategic approach.

 Every year Only in Nashville brings together Oasis staff, generous donors, and local songwriters for a fun, inspiring night of music and great food to celebrate the work Oasis does in the city to support its young people. The event also represents a key time of giving that enables Oasis to continue its powerful work. But in early March the event went the way of nearly every other gathering—it was canceled.

A Lofty Challenge

Only in Nashville’s 2020 goal is to raise $90,000 for the Oasis Center’s emergency shelter, a unique space for young people to come when they need healing, hope, and a way forward. The shelter offers youth a place to stay and a chance to focus on school, participate in counseling, and approach their futures through a new lens. When coupled with more than 20 additional Oasis programs for positive youth development, there’s no place like it in Tennessee.

When the event was canceled and stay-at-home guidelines became the norm, the Oasis Center’s team challenged us to find a way to adapt and help them meet their needs. The original event may have been canceled, but the organization’s need for support certainly was not. In fact, it was perhaps greater than ever.

Agile Thinking

Though we were disappointed that Oasis wouldn’t be carrying out their original event plans, our work for the center had already begun. With a quick pivot in mind, we tapped into our best creative thinking to showcase Only in Nashville in a new light and help Oasis achieve their original goals.

We gathered what was still available to us—momentum and creative assets from a recent successful video shoot, songwriters interested in performing in support of the Oasis Center, and access to social media and email. Then, we considered how we might use our resources to deliver a powerful plan that would do justice to the need. And that’s how the 90 in 90 challenge came to life.

Putting a Plan in Motion

 The 90 in 90 digital giving event challenges donors to help raise $90,000 over 90 hours (April 20–24). Instead of live concerts, the event features the original performers in digital shows hosted on social media throughout the week to bring the spirit of Only in Nashville to homes all across the city—and beyond. (One big benefit of an online event? It can reach far more people than an event held in one physical location can!)

To bring our vision to life, we brought together a team that included touchpoints from account management and creative to transmedia, production and PR. The time from creative brief and pitch to the day the first piece of creative hit inboxes was a lightning-fast two weeks. We had a few late nights, some quick turnaround times, and a lot of spontaneous calls to review everything from email subject lines to b-roll content in a video cut. But as we saw engagement with our content on social media, enthusiasm from the Oasis team and a renewed excitement for the event, we knew it was all worth it.

Supporting the event with social media, email, video and more, we increased awareness about the Oasis Center’s offerings and drove engagement throughout the month of April. With video content that offered a never-before-seen look inside Oasis we highlighted the variety of programs the organization offers, focusing on the emergency shelter.

We interviewed the center’s staff, who shared stories about young people they’ve seen grow and change through their involvement at Oasis. By sharing those videos through email, Facebook and Instagram we made sure the real stories of the Oasis Center’s participants remained front and center, hoping for the same level of inspiration and giving.

The Right Response—at the Right Time

 While the Oasis Center’s 90 in 90 digital giving event is still going strong, we’ve already seen positive impact and we’re confident that impact will only continue to grow. We took a chance—it’s in our DNA, after all—and that helped us to earn trust with a client we love. And we were grateful for the opportunity to serve our city during a time when holding a typical fundraising event isn’t possible.

We couldn’t have anticipated Only in Nashville looking like this when we were designing printed invitations in early 2020, but pivoting like we did helped us realize that COVID-19’s got nothing on a great team, an impactful organization, and a city that loves to support those in need.

We’ll keep working with the Oasis Center to adapt, alongside our other clients, and we can help you, too. Check out a few tips for continuing to look toward the future during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to read more about the Oasis Center and support its work, check out the organization’s mission, vision, outcomes and more here.

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