Creating solutions to boost how our clients tell their story, driving engagement and revenue.
At AVTS, we don’t just work on events, we see deeper than that. We enjoy serving our clients and their events, creating an unforgettable experience out of nothing — it's our bread and butter — but we find purpose in serving their mission and amplifying their story.
Part of our job, well, most of our job really, is to identify the story someone aims to tell and help them tell that story in the form of an exciting and unforgettable live event — engaging audiences and creating connection (we’ve even seen how this elevated level of audience engagement translates into an increase in monetary support for our client’s mission). Yeah, sure, we're a live event production company, so we do this through things like carefully hung swag, projection mapping, and creative content on LED walls, but we are telling a story nonetheless. We are helping people connect, and we ourselves are also connecting.
As an event production company, AVTS sees past all the glitz and glamour, and we commit. The connection between event and cause goes even deeper — we become enrolled in our client’s purpose in mission to see their cause move forward far past their fundraising event. We become an extension of our client’s team, extending past the traditional vendor relationship. We use our years of experience in the event production industry to guide and steward our clients through the process of creating an unforgettable experience to drive audience connection and engagement, even if this means we reach past the normal responsibilities that fall on our plate. You need a linen vendor? We have references. You want to use an event management tool? We know a guy. Removed from all of the cliches, we truly see our clients as partners, and ourselves as an extension of their team. We show up and we support their endeavors — and their stories — not just their events.
How we do this:
For the past decade, AVTS has been an active participant in our local United Way campaign. We participate in this giving campaign in San Antonio (where our corporate headquarters is located) annually as a way to invest in the growth and progression of our city, #SanAntonioShoutOut. And, long story short, many of the benefitting organizations from this campaign are also AVTS clients. This is not a coincidence. Drilled down deep into the very essence of our company's DNA is community involvement, and this means for many of our non-profit clients, being involved in their programming and fundraising efforts. This is actually an example of audience engagement — as we learn more and more about our clients' stories (their mission and purpose) we get more and more involved — just like your audience at your live event. Engaged audiences often take the next step and become enrolled/invested in your cause — the result of great stories being told in a way that captures their audience.
In 2018, The United Way of San Antonio raised $5.1 million. As a collective staff, 82% of the AVTS team gave towards this campaign out of their personal income, along with a significant contribution from the company. During campaign months, our staff rallies together to give back to the clients we serve. We know first hand the impact these organizations make, as we work to help them tell their stories every year through their events. We serve their cause through event production, and we serve their cause through monetary support because together, we believe in their mission.
We recently participated in the 2019 campaign, and are awaiting a new record of giving from our generous staff who love working with these organizations who make our community better.
And We Grow.
Our longtime client, the Center for Child Protection (CFCP) of Greater Austin, hosts a fundraising event, Dancing with the Stars - Austin, every year. Last year was the 12th year for this event, and our client really wanted to drive this home and perform a creative overhaul on an event that had been doing well, but could do better, after a decade of existence. So out with the old and in with the new! New venue! New day! New planner! New creative director! New look and feel! From the stage design to the printed materials and floral, all was new and we were on board.
With this kind of rapid change, there are challenges that arise for vendors like us -- the creative team aiming to tell our client's story bigger and better every year in order to help their event be more profitable for their cause. This isn’t easy - to keep outdoing yourself year over year. As we work to help our clients tell their story in more and more compelling ways (which drives increased fundraising), we're challenged with things like: 1) telling the same story in a way that will produce a new or deeper impact on its audience, 2) maintaining the same level of expectation as the year prior with both the audience and client, 3) generating new ideas that will attract a larger audience (and in turn more profit) and, 4) keeping that larger audience engaged in the cause.
So, what’s really going on with these successful fundraisers and gala events? What are the practical adjustments and changes that can be made to elevate their audience engagement?
Let's break it down and get a little real: what’s really causing this success is connection. People want to hear great stories. They want to be moved, touched, and evoked to open their finances to an organization's cause.
No one walks away from a gala event saying to themselves "Man, that was really good cheesecake! I think I'll donate $25,000 more this year." Or "Weren't those chair covers spectacular? I can probably muster up another 5k!" An engaging, attention-grabbing story will make anyone sit up and listen, and in story-telling, timing is everything! That's where AVTS comes in. When you can capture and align both entertainment and brand storytelling, that's where the magic happens.
The event vision we co-created with CFCP’s event team worked just like that — magic. Their story and mission connected deeply with returning and new attendees, and the event raised a record amount of $1.6 million. It was no small feat, but we were able to nail it, maintain the local buzz, and breathe new life into an event that was over a decade old, and subsequently the event rose to the ranks of one of the top grossing fundraising galas in Austin. Did we directly contribute $1.6 million to the Center for Child Protection? No. But what we were able to do together was help grow this gala's total revenue through new, fresh and creative live event production that connected attendees deeper to the Center’s cause of being the first stop for victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse and for children who have witnessed a violent crime. CFCP’s cause is not our expertise, but connecting people to it through production is. This is what happens to AVTS when we begin to work with our nonprofit clients. We hear their story, it touches us - both as a company and as the individuals that make up our team - and we want to be a part of telling that story and indirectly moving their cause forward. We know storytelling and connection drives audience participation and increases fundraising success. If we can drive this home by exercising our expertise and doing what we love — it’s a win for AVTS, a win for our client, and a win for our community. It doesn’t get much better than that.