Want to raise hope with an awareness event? Whether your focus is one issue (e.g., food, health care, non-violence, education, civics) or many, you’ll need a village to make your event a success. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though. Here’s our “hoperaising event in a box” page – with a plan and royalty-free music and video presentation resources.

You can show one of our films or music videos. Or, if you’re very interested in films produced by student filmmakers, then we’d love to hear from you so we can work with Campus Moviefest regarding a screening.  We know the students would love to have their voices widely heard. Or, you may decide to put on a concert. Spread the word, and you will no doubt find willing musicians to join in. Our resources are offered royalty-free to those who are working “in harmony with hope,”  but do let us know about your forthcoming event, so that we can help to spread the word. Add your own marketing twist, create a little artwork (or use ours), round up some volunteers including an emcee, and get the word out… and you’ve got a cause-worthy event!

Advice from Bill Gates… 

In Bill Gates’ commencement address to Harvard students, he states “I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequalities in the world — the appalling disparities of health and wealth and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of poverty, disease and despair.” Gates goes on to logically dissect the problems that can result in despair. And he recommends a four-point methodology: 1. determine a goal, 2. find the highest-leverage approach, 3. discover the ideal technology for that approach, and  4. “in the meantime, make the smartest application of what you already have.” Using this good advice, we give you a four-point plan to make your own, plus marketing tips to soar even higher.

1. Determine Your Goal 

  • Purpose: Does your school/organization have a purpose statement, a slogan about doing the right thing? If not, why not create one and weave it into a show of cause as part of your identity. Think about where you’re located. Are you near a community that has specific need or serves a specific population such as seniors, vets, or the homeless? Can you see where there would be a need for more hopeful solutions, and awareness? For example, could the neighborhood benefit from lower crime, or childcare help? Can you reach out to neighboring like-minded groups, pooling together ideas and resources of how students can improve that community? Do you have a well-heeled connections (if a school, alumni? ) willing to be a spokesperson at the event?
  • Naming: After you identify your ‘niche’ or how your event will have the most impact, it’s time to create a name. We like “[your org. name]  Awareness Days”. It could be “Hope & Justice Awareness Days”, “Curing the Violence Days”, “Access to Healthy Living Celebration”,” Help Our Community Week”, or choose a specific title that has a special focus, just as we did with the “Concert for Hope.” Keep in mind that you have our free tools to use, so keep it simple.
  • Timing: Plan your event so that it doesn’t conflict with school holidays, government holidays, etc. You’ll need volunteers, and may rely on students. We’ve found that people are busy on Fridays and weekends and the beginning of the week is generally busy. Thursday seems to be a great day for events. Make your event short and sweet, an hour or less; there is no reason to drag it on. Plan it well and if you have speakers, be sure the speeches are short and to the point. Make it interesting with audiovisual tools like our film and music pieces that are perfect accompaniments to keep interest flowing
  • Partners/Sponsors: It’s wise to do a little research and see who is doing what out there in helping to turn the tide of hopelessness. And many of our events have featured student musicians, winners of our Elfenworks / Campus Moviefest Student Social Justice Award.  But in one of our events, students from The Bay Area All Stars performed. Awareness was raised — about the issues, our efforts, the student performers.  And our evening was made more compelling by the partnerships. Win – win.
  • Location: If you agree that music should be an integral part of your event, choose a musician friendly location such as your auditorium, or a church hall or theater. If utilizing video to visually supplement your event, you’ll need a screen.  Pick a location big enough for your expected audience, but not so big it risks feeling empty. 

2.a. Find the Highest Leverage Approach – Such as Royalty-Free Films & Scores

Ideally, you’re make an impression and inspiring action. You want people to walk away with a mission to get involved, to take action. You want to compel them to think genuinely about your cause, or just one specific cause, to which they will regularly contribute, whether it be their time, treasure, or talent. Does this mean a concert? a poverty feast? or… ?  

  • Music that’s on-point and played with passion can touch hearts and compel thoughtful action. So, we offer a number of original compositions, including classical (La Poverta, for eight strings and two voices), gospel choir, (In Harmony With Hope), Rock band (Rough Justice) and Country (Such a Crime). These songs are available to you on request, as original scores and also as reference (listening) copies  to help in your preparation and rehearsal [see bottom note]. We highly recommend live performances of these pieces and suggest that you organize volunteer musicians – perhaps from your schools music department staff or student body – to perform them.
  • Too many good cause events are simply ‘uneventful’ and leave people uninspired. Tables of info and long and boring speeches just don’t cut it in today’s entertainment-oriented society.  Seen on a big screen, movies can really compel viewers to action. They can make a difference in how your audience views your event’s purpose, and play a powerful part in creating your hopeful moment.
  • While supplies last, we’ll even spring for the popcorn (!) Send your DVD request to us using our contact page and we’ll ask a question or two and have you going in no time.

3. Discover the Ideal Technology for That Approach

  • You may need to have AV equipment.
  • You may need food (e.g., if you put on an “inequality feast.”  Such an event is as simple as 1-2-3: 1. draw lots as to how much food each person will get. 2. Sit down to break bread together. Some will have a seven-course meal, some will have a pea or potato chip.  3. discuss) 
  • You may need musicians.

4. Leverage (Working Smart) – Use What You Already Have

  • Perhaps you’re in a great location with lots of drive-by traffic. Ensure you have great signage for your event.  
  • Perhaps you’re an educator in a strong institution whose students are required to perform a certain number of service hours, and you’d like them to be more engaged and also bond with each others, while raising the profile of your school as an entity that is educating the next generation of civic-minded leaders.
  • Let’s say you’ve got loads of inspired students, or employees and let’s say it takes one person a week to distribute a few thousand flyers. Then, it should take 100 people only about an hour. This is the powerful force of volunteers (and one good manager!).
  • If you have a wealth of talent – from writers to artists, musicians and bloggers, why not use them!
  • Will you be filming your event?  Well-filmed, your event can inspire others again and again, as a documentary or simple youTube video. For best success, plan ahead. Watch our “top tips for filmmakers” and consider the following: It’s really good to set up a site survey and camera meeting for the camera operators shooting a multi-camera show, especially without a professional director. Ideally the site survey would be a week before, so if anything needs to be rented (e.g., lighting) it can be reserved. Even a sneak peek a few days prior can be a real help.  Most important is a camera meeting. This ideally should occur before the rehearsal (which should be taped as well if possible) and again before the event if there is enough time. This allows the director (if there is one) or the camera persons themselves (if there isn’t a director) to work out a strategy for dividing coverage of each part of the show to maximize shot choices later on. Coverage of an event can really benefit a lot from the third camera, but only if the camera ops can see the rehearsal and talk to each other about strategy. In a perfect world a special remote pan/zoom controller is useful, if you have one.
  • Help the Team Look Their Best. Give your speakers some “video clothing guidelines” ahead of time. That will help eliminate nightmare conditions for the cameras and lighting. The guidelines are simple and mostly common sense: avoid herringbone, tight stripes, bright red or yellow, and sharp contrasts (e.g., black suit/white shirt), including ties. Often a light grey shirt or light blue shirt will give the same formal look without problems. Avoid dangling earrings that move too much and distract from speech.  As for make-up – EVERYONE looks shiny under lights. Women should use their own powder and men should consider a powder that cuts the shine on the face (and balding spots) without making them look like they have on make-up such as Lancome Pure Focus – a clear gel and worth the investment for frequent speakers – with or without video. Women should also brighten their lips with a color lipstick and/or gloss.

4. Making it Count…  Marketing

Making an impression involves having a well-organized, well-publicized event. Start early in your planning. Choose a good time of year where attendance can be maximized. Create compelling materials that will draw people to your event and get them out early. Invite notable speakers and organization to contribute their talents. Rehearse your event at least twice. If using live musicians, create a rehearsal schedule that works with their schedules including a same day dress rehearsal if possible.

  • Tie-in your event with non-profits that are making a difference with their work in your community. Invite important people to your event…CEOs of high-profile local businesses, local government officials, including your city’s mayor and your state’s governor. Invite one or two ‘luminary’ speakers to present short compelling speeches to reemphasize your cause.
  • Keep your event ‘classy’, to the point and not more than an hour in length. Offer a take-away item to remind them of the event such as a cause bracelet.

Finally, here are some tips on spreading the word:

  • Prepare a bullet marketing plan working back from your target event date. It’s best to allow 3-6 months in order to ensure good attendance and to get the word out.
  • Announce or advertise your event/concert in your student body and alumni newsletters or magazines to spread the word (allow enough time to do it at least 2 months in a row prior to the event if possible).
  • Calendar listings: Give enough time to get your event listed on local newspaper calendars and other online event calendar services.
  • Create your primary visual that will be recognized throughout your marketing materials. Utilize student artists or hold a student artwork contest in advance to get an immediate selection of visuals to choose from.
  • Create an PDF of your artwork/advertisement that can be scaled and used easily by your schools print and web publications, the media and supporting organizations
  • Include as part of your package a postcard / invitation to hand out or post around your campus; send it to your local alumni, parents, businesses and friends in the community. Again, time it with your other marketing efforts. Use the same visual graphics you use on your flyers, posters, and advertisements.
  • Send postcards / invitations to your event/concert to community leaders, your city’s mayor and other city government officials; invite your state’s governor; invite other organizations that are involved with your specific issue(s).
  • Give your local ‘luminaries’ a second chance to come by hosting a pre-reception (by special invitation).
  • Email broadcast your event to community newspapers and your school’s email alumni / donor lists.
  • Send packets of postcards/posters/information to related non-profit organizations, retirement centers, and churches and ask that they be distributed.
  • Invite local student groups such as STOP (Students Taking On Poverty) to attend and have a table available with information.
  • Distribute flyers and posters to local grocery stores, cafes, bookstores, community centers, and other stores in your immediate area.
  • Be sure to clarify directions to the event location and parking and offer links to maps that will get people there and on time without a glitch.

Public Relations

  • For story placements in magazines allow a least 3 months prior to submit your initial announcements and artwork. Newspapers, 2 months. Online announcements, one month. Follow up with shorter lead media. You can easily search your local media online. You may have to dig deeper for the proper contact information. The fastest way to the most updated contact information is often a simple phone call.
  • Create a ‘PSA’ (public service announcement) and send it to your local public radio station. If your school has its own radio station, this is, of course, another great way to advertise. Check the station’s community calendar to see if there are any good events to piggyback with your announcement or create your own special niche and request they announce your event on the air.
  • Send out press releases to local and on-campus media. Send your first press release out 2-3 months prior and don’t forget to send reminder press releases.
  • Offer the media interviews with a key spokesperson at your school who stands by your event and its purpose. Be sure the spokesperson is properly media trained before these interviews.
  • Use a trailer video to advertising the event on local television, on campus or in local retail stores.
  • Use clips of original music scores as ‘sound bites’ for radio PSAs.
  • Find a good campus event blogger and spread the word on the Internet.
  • Elect and honor a local person or official that has made a big difference by helping hope-related issues in the local community. Create an award and honor this person at your event.
  • Follow up with news or a press release about the event and distribute it through the same channels use to promote the event. Post the follow-up press release in your student body online news or print newsletter.
  • View our press page.


Note: Recordings from The Concert for Hope are copyright © 2007, The Elfenworks Foundation, all rights reserved, and are made available for this awareness-raising purpose as a public service. The recordings of the other music videos are copyright © Elfenworks Productions, LLC, all rights reserved, and made available for this awareness-raising purpose as a public service also.