On Thursday, October 17th, Washington, DC’s art enthusiasts packed the offices of Hickok Cole for its 2019 Art Night fundraiser in support of and in partnership with Washington Project for the Arts (WPA). All proceeds from the curated art show benefit WPA’s mission of providing essential resources to support the success of artists in the region and are split evenly between the artists and the organization. Over 19 years, Art Night has raised over one million dollars in support of WPA, cementing its position as a must-attend event for DC’s art and real estate communities.
This year, the team challenged itself to improve the Art Night experience for sponsors, whose financial commitments accounted for 75% of funds raised in 2018. This included the addition of a new $5,000 Art Devil sponsorship level to help expand the event’s fundraising capacity and complement existing Art Angel ($2,500) and Cherub ($500) programs. For their increased commitment, Art Devils received personal support from the curator, including a private tour of the collection and help selecting their piece(s) prior to the event. All sponsorship levels received personalized VIP packages, and Art Angels and Cherubs enjoyed a dedicated Hickok Cole staff member to assist with the purchase of their artwork at the event — resulting in a strategic business development opportunity for the firm. By reallocating budget and resources to improve the event experience for Art Night’s biggest supporters, we were able to raise a record-breading $147,485 for WPA and DC’s art community.
This year marked the transition from print to digital invitations for our general guest list of 3,000 clients, partners, and friends of the firm. The campaign included 5 separate emails distributed over the course of 10 weeks: Save The Date, About Art Night/WPA, Meet the Curator, Sponsor Spotlight + Event Reminder, and a Event Recap + Thank You. Designers took advantage of the medium to incorporate a wide variety of pop art-inspired imagery in the form of playful animated GIFs created to make each digital touchpoint unique. RSVPs were collected through Eventbrite.
VIP Invite Package
- Increase support and promote awareness of the DC arts community
- Explore ways to expand the event’s fundraising capacity beyond $110,000/year average
- Raise ≥ $60,000 in pre-event art sales through sponsorship programs
- Improve and personalize the sponsor experience
- Optimize budget and simplify RSVP process with digital invitations
- Garner client-facing local press coverage
- 6-month planning process, 2-month campaign, 1-night event
- $40,000 event budget
- Results measured by art sales and fundraising dollars
Hickok Cole is committed to keeping creativity alive in our communities, partnering with like-minded colleagues, friends, and neighbors in support of WPA’s mission to stimulate public dialogue around art and design culture and to support artists at all stages of their careers.
- Fundraising: Generated $147,485.20—exceeding goal by 34%
- Attendance: 774 RSVPs / 664 guests
- 3 Art Devil, 33 Art Angel, and 7 Art Cherub sponsors generated $86,000 in advance sales—$15,000 from Devils alone—exceeding goal by 33%
- Relocated VIP reception, assigned Art Runners, and pre-loaded debit cards added personalization and removed stress from sponsor buying experience
- Event coverage equated to ~$5,000 worth of ad placement
- Exceeded budget by $3,000—catering costs continue to grow, plus added expenses due to new Devil experience
- Drove record new Instagram followers (+71) and impressions (16,828), and 66% increase in website visitors