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How AlphaGraphics Helped Best Buddies’ Friendship Walk Shine Brighter Than Ever

Walkers and a mascot run through a large inflatable Best Buddies arch

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is more than the name implies – it’s a community celebration to spread understanding, friendship, and laughter and is more like a fair or carnival than a walk or run. Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their programs provide meaningful opportunities for people with IDD to form friendships, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve communication skills, and feel valued by society. Their Friendship Walks, which are hosted across the country, are instrumental in sustaining and growing local friendship, employment, and leadership development programs.

When Best Buddies Tennessee entered for a chance to win our largest Make It Happen Event Makeover yet, they were selected for the great work they do to celebrate and include people with IDD in their community. As the winner of our $40,000 Make It Happen Event Makeover, AlphaGraphics got to work understanding their event goals and creating signage, print, and marketing to meet them.

The Opportunity

Best Buddies Tennessee’s Friendship Walk is a beacon of community spirit and inclusivity. This year, with a new venue and its most ambitious fundraising goal to date, the organization saw a unique opportunity to expand its reach. Historically, their marketing efforts targeted existing supporters, but the walk’s free and public nature offered a chance to engage a broader audience. AlphaGraphics stepped in to help make this vision a reality, ensuring that the mission of Best Buddies Tennessee was vividly illustrated and widely shared. 

The primary goals for this year’s Friendship Walk were threefold:

1. Expand Community Involvement: Attract more participants from the broader community and introduce them to Best Buddies’ mission.

2. Exceed Fundraising Goals: Surpass their highest-ever fundraising target.

3. Enhance Mission Visibility: Clearly communicate the mission and the inclusive, celebratory nature of Best Buddies through engaging and interactive elements.

The Solution

To achieve these goals, AlphaGraphics implemented a comprehensive and multifaceted strategy:

EDDM and Digital Ads

Using Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) and targeted digital ads, we reached new audiences across the community. These ads were designed to capture attention and drive interest, highlighting the walk’s inclusivity and the critical mission of Best Buddies.

Direct mail piece advertises the 2024 Nashville Best Buddies Walk

Every Door Direct Mail® was distributed in surrounding communities to bring awareness to the event.

Fun & Interactive Elements

We developed interactive signage to boost engagement both in-person and on social media. This two-fold approach ensured that attendees were not only informed and engaged, but also actively participating and sharing their experiences online. The signage provided opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage in a hands-on way.

A girl poses with peace fingers in front of a sign with a spotlight graphic behind her that says

Designed for social media sharing, this immersive sign encouraged participants to capture and share their moments.

A man and woman with pom-poms pose in a handheld Best Buddies frame

Photo frames were the perfect prop for photos that, when shared, further told the story of Best Buddies Tennessee and the Friendship Walk.

Two women high-five in front of a large purple sign with a standout portion that says

A visually dynamic wall with three-dimensional elements provided an engaging photo opportunity.

A crowd dances and laughs, all with Best Buddies foam fingers on their hands

Promotional items like foam fingers, pennants, and stickers brought laughter and photo ops to the event, and their decorative nature encouraged conversation long after the event was over, promoting ongoing awareness-building.

Mission-Centric Design

Our design approach was centered on positivity and upliftment, encapsulated in the theme “Everybuddy belongs.” We created specific signs that outlined Best Buddies’ mission, explained how to donate, and provided links to more information. One of the standout features was a cube wall displaying key statistics and accomplishments, making the mission tangible and relatable.

A young girl and woman turn cubes that are part of a large display of cubes with graphics and facts about Best Buddies on each side

A 3D interactive wall featured stats and facts about Best Buddies.

Colorful feather flags aligned to show Best Buddies' services like leadership development and friendship

Signage like flags, arches, and banners throughout the event showcased Best Buddies’ mission.

The Results

The impact of these efforts was significant:

Fundraising Success: The event raised over $200,000 for the first time, a testament to the enhanced outreach and community engagement.

Increased Social Media Engagement: Social media interactions doubled, reflecting the effectiveness of the interactive elements and the broader community reach.

Broader Community Involvement: The event saw a marked increase in new participants, bringing together a diverse group of supporters and advocates for Best Buddies Tennessee’s mission.

AlphaGraphics was proud to partner with Best Buddies Tennessee to make this year’s Friendship Walk the most successful yet. By leveraging innovative signage, targeted advertising, and interactive designs, we helped illuminate Best Buddies' vital work and inspired the community to join in and support their mission.

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