Overcome outdoor technical hurdles to turn event attendees into active supporters

Every year, the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund puts on Israel in the Gardens, the biggest Israel event in Northern California. Nearly 20,000 people flock to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens for a day of performances, exhibitions, and Israeli cuisine and culture. In past years, the San Francisco-based Federation asked visitors to provide contact information at their event booth. That meant a lot of work for already-busy booth staff – and they sometimes had trouble with laptops, wifi connections, or even illegible handwriting. They needed a way to eliminate all the mess and fuss, while still signing up the maximum number of attendees.


An easy-to-use text message signup – with enticing incentives

This year, the San Francisco-based Federation partnered with Mobile Commons to create the simplest possible system for gathering addresses. They just asked visitors to text in GARDENS from their mobile phone.  And they added a terrific incentive – the text would enter people in a drawing to win a trip to Israel. The drawing was announced on signs and by the performance emcee over the course of the day, while booth workers handed out free coffee to anyone who texted in to enter the giveaway. The conversation went like this:

  • User: GARDENS
  • Response: Thanks for coming to Israel in the Gardens! To enter the Israel Vacation Drawing reply with your full name and email….Reply STOP to quit Msg&DataRatesMayApply
  • User: NAME + EMAIL
  • Response: Thanks for entering! The drawing will take place June 20. Good luck and enjoy the rest of the day!


A bigger, better contact list that was easy to gather at a live event

By the end of the day, the San Francisco-based Federation had collected hundreds of mobile contacts from an event where most people are not yet ongoing supporters of the organization. The new contacts will receive monthly or bimonthly event alerts, concentrating on events of interest to a wide segment of the community. Eventually, the San Francisco-based Federation will segment the list to more targeted events and fundraising.

“Mobile Commons solved a big problem for us – how to collect contact info from hundreds of attendees at a public event,” said the Federation’s Ari Chasnoff. “It was very easy to use and we definitely plan on using this tool in the future.”

By making contact gathering easy and fun, the San Francisco-based Federation built their base and turned a one-day event into a lasting relationship.