Virtual Fundraising "Game-Day" with Rainer Valley Food Bank


“I think I’m gonna pass on pizza, I’m going to have something lighter, since it’s game day after all, ‘’ says Brian Marks, Zeacon’s Video Production Manager.

Three people looking at an event being produced

Kyle Ratoza, Zeacon's Senior Video Production Manager making sure the event runs smooth.

It’s 4:30pm at Jerk Shack in Belltown and after arriving hours earlier, our Production team is putting the finishing touches on preparations for a live show with Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB). As the show start ticks closer, the energy in the room is eerily similar to that of a locker room, stadium, or arena just before a game. As a former photographer for the Cleveland Indians and Browns, Brian is no stranger to the heightened pressure and atmosphere of live events. For the Zeacon team, “Game Day” is a term used to describe the focus, attention to detail, and forward-thinking attitude they must maintain during the day of an event.

Brian Marks, Zeacon’s Video Production Manager.

“It’s a game of preparation and execution,” says Kyle Ratoza, Zeacon’s Senior Video Production Manager. His lack of any visible stress is almost alarming. Doing a short practice run four days prior, along with five hours of setup and testing before the show, he feels comfortable about being ahead of any potential technical issue. No stranger to live production, Kyle does not leave anything to chance. One by one he chats with Jerk Shack and RVFB employees, constantly checking his control station to make absolutely sure everything is lined up properly. As the live band rehearses and speakers walk around getting their last bits of practice in before the show, Kyle remains at his station with a calm confidence that puts everyone at ease. A former producer for the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Timbers, and NBC Sports, Kyle is completely in his element.

Kyle Ratoza, Zeacon's Senior Video Production manager discussing the sequence of the event.

Confident all technical aspects of the show are in order, Angela Talmo has been moving around the room with a lively and purposeful pace for quite a while. Walking each speaker through every segment of the show, line by line, she has spent the last three hours going over any questions that may arise and preventing problems before they happen. As Zeacon’s Event Project Manager, Angela has a large role in each event’s success, taking on the project at its origin and working directly to aid in designing and executing the perfect show no matter what. Event days are where Angela’s skills are really put on display. She communicates with every member of the show on their exact role and lines, designs and directs the set, even adjusts cameras to make sure things are exactly as she likes. Simply put: Angela is in charge of the event as a whole. As a former co-owner of a wedding and small events company, making sure special events go exactly as-planned is a job she takes extremely seriously.

Behind-The-Scenes with Brian Marks and Angela Talmo

“I found something that I am truly passionate about early in my career. The fact that I’m able to continue doing something I really enjoy during a pandemic while helping companies of all sizes raise money for what they are passionate about…I mean what more can I ask for!? I’m very lucky.” says Angela.

With thirty minutes to live, everyone on the set is calm. Like a team in the locker room after pre-game warmups, the gang is positive they are more skilled and better prepared, so the stress is minimal.

The show went as smooth as possible and looked great. Here’s a synopsis. Following an intro from charity auctioneer April Brown, the band named The New Triumph played a few of their afro-jazz songs. After a short break, RVFB board members came on to give a few words as well as introduce Trey Lamont, owner of Jerk Shack, and Lamar Strickland, Jerk Shack’s Chef. For 30 minutes, Trey and Lamar had viewers at home cook along with them as they gave a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of their famous Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta. After cutting back to the show, the band The New Triumph came on to play another quick set. Then April came back to host a live auction with many viewers bidding for the valuable items.

"The New Triumph" band playing afro-jazz songs

Quite the pro, April was able to raise over $90,000 for RVFB, which will go directly to feeding those in need. After the auction, the show wrapped up with some closing remarks from RVFB employees and another quick set from the band. By all accounts, this gameday was a massive victory. With a completely virtual event, RVFB put on an impressive, engaging, and fun show for audiences stuck at home. With stay at home orders in place, there are less opportunities to have truly fun interactions with the people and causes we care about — but RVFB’s virtual fundraiser was just such an event.

Some things are not as simple as a win or loss. Putting on an impressive show doesn’t necessarily guarantee hitting your fundraising goals, however the correlation is definitely high. For RVFB, viewers enjoyed themselves enough to donate generously. In fact, our clients have reported that moving to livestreaming reduces their costs by roughly 60% compared to an in-person event, thereby netting more income than in prior years. The move towards livestreaming has been both gradual and sudden, with trends showing a steady rise before the pandemic caused a sharp uptick. It’s safe to say that while virtual events may be all we have right now, they are here to stay.

With many charities struggling to navigate the current climate, the team at Zeacon is eager to help nonprofits continue to hold meaningful fundraising events virtually. Since July, Zeacon has put on 24 live events with a majority being fundraisers for charity. In two recent fundraisers, Zeacon helped raise over 1 million dollars. As with most events, the formula to success is pretty simple: host an event that people enjoy. While it may be a simple task for an in-person event, creating an enjoyable, engaging, and professional event virtually is a much more difficult task. Things like set design, scripting and show design, video and audio quality, guest interaction, technology, etc. all make a difference. Zeacon’s production team are the virtual event experts you need to make your next game day a victory. Reach out to us for a free consultation on how we can help your charity or business host a livestream that will blow away expectations.