From the Nominator
Portland State University’s Simon Benson Awards Dinner is an annual celebration of the transformational power of philanthropy at PSU and across Oregon. Key components include an award for philanthropy, an award for alumni achievement, a national keynote speaker, and a featured student story. Since 1999, the event has raised nearly $15 million to support teaching and learning at Oregon’s public access university.
This year’s virtual celebration was a COVID-times reimagination of a 20-year-old exclusive gala into an inclusive multi-channel celebration designed to reach new audiences, deepen key relationships, showcase and support alumni businesses, and net critical unrestricted funds. Themed around the university’s new brand campaign “Come to Change,” the celebration leveraged particularly relevant messaging to provide a meaningful experience for all audiences.
We bookended the Oct. 9 streamed virtual program with a two-week engagement campaign intended to broaden content distribution, enhance value for sponsors, and create pre- and post-show virtual gatherings to cultivate important stakeholders. Memorably, the program itself was filmed just as an historic firestorm circled Portland, and our keynote speaker outran a hurricane in Florida.
In the final analysis, the event was an unexpectedly marvelous success, exceeding all goals, gaining new engagement ground, and netting more than usual because expenses were kept low.
From the Judges
Excellent messaging and great fundraising outcomes.