PLUS Communications & Homestretch Inc.: Events & Thought Leadership In A Virtual World

By Julia Mirich & Phalen Kuckuck

COVID-19 upended life (and all previous plans) as we know it. While this is something we cannot change, it is something we can adapt to. PLUS, alongside other vendors and consultants, helped our pro-bono client Homestretch Inc. modify a traditional in-person event to a successful virtual event in short order, raising more than $500,000.

Homestretch is a non-profit serving Northern Virginia families experiencing homelessness. Through its all-encompassing approach to homelessness, Homestretch has helped more than 2,000 families achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency since its founding 30 years ago.

Homestretch receives less than three percent of its revenue from government funding and thus relies on the generosity of its supporters. And a large portion of Homestretch funding for the year is raised during their annual benefit breakfast, traditionally hosted in-person each May and attended by nearly 600 people.

Making the difficult but necessary and safe decision, Homestretch canceled their in-person event at the beginning of April and turned to PLUS to help host a virtual event at the beginning of May instead. The goal was to not only raise resources and support for Homestretch, which is critical given the current health and economic climates, but share the stories of Homestretch clients and how countless lives have been impacted through their work.

With just a month to plan, PLUS worked with Homestretch and production and media vendors to develop the event with the goal of hitting the same – if not a greater – level of viewership, amount of donations and depth of overall impact as their traditional in-person event.

Expanding Reach
In the month leading up to the breakfast, PLUS developed social media toolkits for Homestretch supporters and allies to share across their channels to help echo the message and promote the upcoming event. Additionally, PLUS developed a social media plan for Homestretch channels, conducted strategic email outreach to Homestretch donors and supporters encouraging them to attend the virtual breakfast and urging them to invite others to join, and executed a coordinated email effort following the event to create lasting relationships and ask those that weren’t able to attend or donate yet if they would be willing to do so.

PLUS also worked with other video production and streaming vendors to make necessary changes to the Homestretch website to broadcast the breakfast on multiple platforms, ensuring it wouldn’t overload the website due to increased traffic.

Advancing Homestretch’s Personal Storytelling Narrative
PLUS worked with Homestretch to live stream the breakfast, which featured the personal stories of Homestretch staff, clients, and donors and provided strategic recommendations regarding format and logistics to achieve this. PLUS also developed pre- and post-stream graphics sharing key Homestretch messaging and data points and crafted press materials for the event to increase reach.

The Impact
At the end of the day, through the work of Homestretch, other outside vendors and media partners, and PLUS, Homestretch was able to share the stories of their clients and shatter expectations by raising more than half a million dollars to fund their important and impactful work.

To learn more about Homestretch and to support their work, we encourage you to visit Homestretch’s website HERE.

For support with event planning and thought leadership efforts, please reach out to PLUS Communications HERE.