The 24 Foundation is responsible for a long-standing, grassroots Charlotte tradition – a 24-hour cycling event called 24 Hours of Booty. This family-friendly event takes place on a 2.4 mile loop in the Myers Park neighborhood. The route has long been popular with the cycling and running community, who nicknamed it ‘The Booty Loop.’ The event raises more than $1.4 million each year, driven by a vision to see cancer navigation and survivorship available to all.
A New Plan for a Long-Standing Tradition
Until March 2020, planning was in full swing for the 19th annual event. The 24 Foundation team was focused on registering riders, planning events and supporting riders as they raised money for programs at the Levine Cancer Center, among other beneficiaries. As the effects of COVID-19 made their way across the region, it became clear that a 1,200 rider event wouldn’t be possible. The team engaged Next Stage to help shift their plan and develop a sponsorship and communication strategy.
24 Foundation was challenged to create a virtual plan for an event that is rooted in a community experience. They needed a plan that would create engaging, online content, maintain a community feel and help them continue to activate event sponsors. Next Stage led a series of four virtual whiteboard intensives to help the 24 Foundation team shift their event to an online experience that would resonate with their constituency.
The first meetings focused on distilling the ‘magic’ of the 24 experience into specific elements that most resonate with participants. Rather than force the event into an online format, the sessions focused on building a plan that would allow their constituents to maintain as much of the ‘24 experience’ as they could.
The 24 Foundation team called the experience ‘UnLooped’ and produced a series of virtual challenges leading up to event weekend that would create online chatter and begin to engage participants. The activities were family-friendly and often mission-driven, such as making signs, chalking sidewalks or completing physical challenges. These challenges led up to what would have been event weekend, when participants were encouraged to create as much of 24 Hours of Booty at home as they could. Many teams did smaller group rides, camped in their backyards, added luminaries to their driveway, wore their event t-shirts and more.
By building an event that made the most important 24 Hours of Booty elements possible at home, 24 Foundation was able to grow event registrations in a year where many events were forced to shut down completely. Approaching event weekend, the team logged more than 1,500 registrations, an all-time high for the organization. While fundraising was lower than a typical year, riders contributed more than $750,000, far exceeding expectations and enabling the organization to continue funding programs at the Levine Cancer Institute and other beneficiaries.
Overall, the 24 Foundation team views this year’s shift as an opportunity. The lower barrier to entry and virtual event introduced 24 Hours of Booty to participants who may not have considered participating in a normal year, which will enable the 24 Foundation team to expand their constituency moving forward.