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‘UK's largest Curry Night’ PR campaign

‘UK's largest Curry Night’ PR campaign

Best Practice from Chazbrooks Communications


Background

When the Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh in November 2007, more than 10,000 people were reported dead and thousands more were affected. As soon as news of the incident reached the UK, the Bangladeshi community started collecting money to help the people in Bangladesh through a number of small, individual projects.

Challenge

Shah Malik, the General Secretary of the Bangladesh Catering Association, UK Surrey Region, had the idea to combine the efforts in Surrey with a bigger project, and to organise a countywide Curry Night.

This was the first time within the Bangladeshi community that such a big fundraising project had been pulled together. The challenge was not only to organise the Curry Night but also to coordinate between the restaurants and to get the public involved in the project as much as possible.    

Strategy

Although Shah had organised other fundraising events, on this occasion he sought advice from Chaz Brooks, who has been involved with many large-scale charity projects. Together they created a plan on how an event like this could be set up, and also how to increase the success of the project. Shah contacted Curry Houses throughout Surrey, and amazingly more than 50 restaurants joined the venture.

The idea was to set up a fixed price menu, £20 for a 4-course banquet, with all proceeds to be donated to charity by all participating restaurants. In addition, customers could donate extra money on the evening, at the restaurants.

To avoid "charity overload", it was decided not to arrange any extra fundraising activities on the night, but to make sure that everybody had a relaxing and enjoyable evening.  As such, there were no speeches about the cyclone and its impact, but customers were offered informative leaflets in case people wanted to know more.

Implementation and Results

To spread the news posters and leaflets were handed out in participating restaurants and local shops in order to inform people not only about the fundraising night, but also about the disaster in Bangladesh.

Chazbrooks Communications voluntarily managed a regional press campaign with impressive results. Articles and reports about the "UK's largest Curry Night" were not only published on websites, in the local press, and on local radio, but also on regional TV news broadcasts.

To involve even more people, and to spread the idea to other counties, Chaz contacted the trade magazine Masala Monthly and the Editor has now begun a campaign to replicate the evening in other areas of the UK.

As a result, two more counties have already run similar evenings to raise funds for the communities hit in Bangladesh.

“We had a great response from the media who showed real interest in the event,” says Chaz Brooks. “But the great news is that other areas of the UK are now replicating our charity Curry Night and raising valuable funds for a terrific cause."

All of these efforts have resulted in an initial result of £55,000 raised from the night in Surrey, with more still to come – a figure that represents over £1,000 for each participating restaurant.

The event was supported by regular curry-goers and others from all sectors, both inside and outside the Bangladeshi community, who came out to have a fantastic evening.

“The support from the whole Bangladeshi community was overwhelming and we would like to thank them for their help, “says Shah Malik. “As the project was organised by Bangladeshi for Bangladeshi, I think that members of the local community put even more heart into the project.”

The money raised is not going to be donated to a recognised charity.  Instead, Shah and a delegation from the Bangladesh Catering Association will fly to Bangladesh to make sure that the money will go to the people that need it most. Two particular villages in Bangladesh will be supported with the money.

“It is very important that we give sustainable aid to the region, and that we help people to resume their livelihoods by providing them with boats, fishing nets, and livestock,” says Shah Malik.

To make sure that 100% of the raised money goes to the people who really need it and that none of the money is taken for administrative costs, Shah and other members of the community will pay for their flights and other travelling costs out of their own pockets when they go to Bangladesh.

AJR
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