Working with charitable non-profits is one of the most fulfilling and exciting forms of marketing work—you can create so much positive global change! Naturally, one of our favorite events allows us to work with a local charity to help them find new ideas for raising awareness and acquiring funds to continue their important work. Toss in some delicious appetizers, local beer, a beautiful (and accessible!) venue, and a mix of some of the brightest creative minds in Winnipeg, and you’ve got Brainstorm for Good.
A Meeting of Minds… and Malt Beverages
This was our third year planning and hosting Brainstorm for Good, and we had a blast from start to finish. We held it in December, right before leaving for Christmas break. Sometimes during the flurry of holiday shopping and crushing those last-minute deadlines, it’s nice to get away from the computer screens and kick back at a local brewery, meet new people, and work on something creative together. Plus, we had the help of our two RRC Polytech student interns—Emma Harbottle from the Creative Communications program and Balint Szekely from Graphic Design. It’s always a joy having two emerging professionals on our side, with plenty of fresh ideas and eagerness to tackle a real-world project with a major positive impact.
The brewery in question was Nonsuch Brewing Co.—a gorgeous downtown Winnipeg venue with delicious local beer (try the Raspberry Kettle Sour!) and an inclusive, accessible space. Venue accessibility is a huge thing to consider when planning an event—you don’t want anyone feeling left out or unwelcome. We made sure to have lots of good food options to accommodate those with dietary restrictions. No boring finger sandwiches or carrots and ranch dressing—we’re talking beef tartare, eggplant canapés, house-made chips with garlic dip, and plenty of fancy fixings.
We sent out invites to our fellow marketing pals, clients, creative professionals, and other folks in our circle who’d be interested in joining us for a beer and some brainstorming. It’s certainly a lot more fun than eating microwaved leftovers and doomscrolling in the lunchroom!
Reaching Out Winnipeg
Our chosen charity for this year’s event is a grassroots organization doing remarkable work for the global 2SLGBTQ+ community, but with a limited budget and small team. Reaching Out Winnipeg (ROW) strives to sponsor and resettle 2SLGBTQ+ refugees escaping persecution in countries where homosexuality is criminalized. So far, they’ve brought five people to safety in Winnipeg, but to continue this work, they need more sponsors and supporters to join them in their fight. The approximate cost of bringing in one asylum seeker is over $20,000, so some solid fundraising efforts are necessary! The ideas generated at Brainstorm for Good could help to dramatically change the course of peoples’ lives across the globe, and we were so excited to help make that happen.
Our main objective was to increase awareness of ROW’s activities and supports for 2SLGBTQ+ refugees seeking permanent asylum. Our target audience is the 2SLGBTQ+ community, in addition to potential sponsors, community members, and organizations. To spark conversation among strangers at tables, Emma created prompt cards relating to the initiative, such as “What does “home” feel like to you?” We printed out this map of the world that indicated the degrees of illegality and persecution 2SLGBTQ+ people face in different countries and placed one on each table. Seeing it illustrated so clearly helped drive home to the importance of ROW’s work.
Once everyone was settled in and had some snacks and a comfy seat, we introduced the folks from ROW and briefed everyone on our brainstorm plan. We assigned a notetaker to every table and encouraged participants to shout out ideas for fundraising and awareness tactics. We gave everyone ample time to discuss ideas and explore different marketing directions, then got one presenter from every group to share what they wrote down.
It Starts with an Idea
Once those creative juices got flowing, we saw some stellar ideas get tossed around! From partnerships to PSAs, guerilla marketing tactics and community events, there was certainly no shortage of inspiration and innovation. Here are some of our favourite ideas that came up in the session:
– Rainbow Airplanes
– Install the 2SLGBTQ+ Criminalization map in bus shelters and public spaces
– Tap pay-friendly booths at Pride events
– A drag race competition and fashion show with community engagement
– Partnerships with SkiptheDishes or other food courier services, so you can round up the tip toward a ROW donation
– An empty chair at community events emblazoned with a QR code, linking viewers to an explanation of ROW’s work and how this seat is waiting to be filled by a 2SLGBTQ+ refugee seeking asylum.
– Big Gay Brothers/Big Gay Sisters mentorship programming
– A friendship matchmaking service linking 2SLGBTQ+ Winnipeggers and newcomers
– A rainbow brick road with a donation call-to-action
– A donation “thermometer” breaking down exactly where money is going and what they’ll achieve if ROW hits their target fundraising goals.
– Start making TikToks—it’s a powerful tool for engaging the local community
– A Nuit Blanche art installation featuring the 2SLGBTQ+ Criminalization map
– A documentary short film or miniseries produced by Wookey Films highlighting the journey of asylum seekers sponsored by ROW.
The UpHouse team and the extraordinary folks at Reaching Out Winnipeg were so grateful for everyone who came out to support our event. Great ideas are immensely valuable, and Brainstorm for Good offers people the opportunity to make meaningful contributions that could help change lives—all while enjoying some of the best beer, snacks, and friendly company that this city has to offer.