It was April when A21, a global organisation that fights human trafficking, faced a massive challenge.

Over six years, it had built its annual Walk for Freedom event.

Each October in cities across the globe, participants would walk in a single line, all wearing the same shirt. As they passed through crowded public spaces, they would hand out fact sheets about human trafficking.

In 2019, the walk was held in 500 communities across 52 countries, with 65,000 people showing up to walk for the cause. It raised vital funds for A21’s programs at 18 sites across 13 countries.

Then the global pandemic hit.

A21’s Chief Advancement Officer Bill Clark says his organisation realised “there was a good chance that some communities would still have restrictions on large gatherings.

“How could you pull off that event when in certain communities you can’t hold a walk at all? And what would it be like to have a walk in some communities and not others?

“But we also had concerns about moving to an entirely online event. It’d be odd to have an event that’s about fighting human trafficking that was passive, where you’re just watching something instead of doing something.”

A new opportunity emerges

A21’s solution was to “ride the wave of disruption” and launch a new hybrid online/offline event called the Global Freedom Summit.

The core of the event was a one-hour global broadcast. It included a TED-style talk about the issue, first-hand accounts from people on the front lines of the fight against trafficking, and a short film detailing the experiences of survivors. This was followed by meaningful actions people could take through canvassing, advocating and learning.

Along with the webcast, television networks in a number of countries decided to air the broadcast as well. This gave the event a potential audience of up to 100 million people.

In communities where people could gather, participants were encouraged to organise gatherings where they would watch the broadcast, then discuss the issue of human trafficking. 

Supporters organised these gatherings in homes, schools, workplaces, community groups and places of worship around the world.

For people who still wanted to engage in a physical challenge, A21 held an event called 21K in 21 Days. Participants could walk, run, bike or swim the equivalent of half a marathon (21 kilometres) during the 21 days leading up to the summit.

Meanwhile, in communities where lockdown restrictions were still in place, people participated in the discussion online.

A huge technical challenge

Launching a global hybrid event in just a few short months posed some major technical challenges. 

To host the event, A21 needed a stable technology platform that could scale to support thousands of gatherings and participants in cities around the world. The technology they chose had to be an integrated, all-in-one solution that could be tailored to the unique needs of the summit.

A21 had to market the summit to supporters across a range of channels. It then needed to manage the registrations of all the participants and gatherings. 

The sheer volume of communications with participants was immense. There needed to be an automated solution in place to handle the whole supporter engagement lifecycle. 

It was critical to have a robust and user-friendly website in place that could manage a surge of global traffic during the summit. This was especially important for the participants from cities that were under lockdown during the event. 

Most important of all, A21 needed to raise funds. This meant being able to accept, manage and report on a large volume of donations that would be coming in from across the world.

The solution to pull off a global summit

There was one solution that addressed all of A21’s technical needs: Clarety.Community.

A21 are real innovators. They’re passionate about their mission and get big results because they invest deeply in digital engagement and process automation. They’re a small team with a punching above their weight and having a global impact”, said Jeremy Horn, Solutions Director at Clarety.

A global success

Thanks in no small part to Clarety.Community, the Global Freedom Summit was a success. 

Despite a global economic downturn, the forum raised around the same amount of money in direct donations as the Walk for Freedom in 2019. Because the video remains online until December, there’s the additional potential of ‘long-tail’ donations.

Best of all, participant numbers were up significantly compared to 2019. In total, the summit attracted 2,136 gatherings in 71 countries. Around 126,000 people participated in the gatherings, with millions more tuning in for the broadcast on TV and the web.

Clarety.Community a gold sponsor of EventRaise2, where you can learn more about how A21 launched the Global Freedom Summit.

Find out more about how Clarety.Community can help you manage your fundraising events.