It’s no secret that major gifts are the lifeblood of foundation fundraising and they are based on the connections to major donors. Dinner with Scientists is a unique, annual fundraising gala that introduces high profile donors to the brilliant minds and work of the Lunenfeld Tannenbaum Research Institute.
Mount Sinai needed to focus on new areas of importance to appeal to major donors and to also create a sense of community among a group that is usually approached in isolation.
To raise money, it was decided to put major donors and top researchers in a room together for dinner. The problem was that historically, researchers are not able to simply articulate their work to a lay audience, which resulted in glazed looks and little support.
We realized we had to take the pressure off the researchers and tell the story in an engaging, emotional way, to connect with major donors.
We began by branding the evening as a black tie affair to raise the perceived level of importance. Second, and most importantly, we conveyed the idea of the work being done in documentary style. This allowed the scientists to tell the story of their work in a relaxed interview format that relied on the best short performances of all the key scientists, while also wrapping it around dynamic imagery and music.
The videos were created to run throughout the evening, the first one talking about the research institute itself, the second about the work around stem cell researchers, and the third about the impact of their work.
The result was one of Mount Sinai’s most successful fund raising efforts – an evening that raised close to $1 million.