By Charles Evans, Georgia R3 Coordinator
Recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) have certainly become a hot topic as of late. The real question is how to navigate the process and end up with a successful initiative in your area. We are certainly taking a stab at it with the Georgia R3 Initiative (GRI), but only time will tell if we are on the right path.
We went through quite the process to put a strategic plan in place and are moving forward with committees to tackle many of the big-ticket items. One of the many successes to come out of this process was a fundraiser geared towards supporting the GRI.
David Smith, Founder of the Foundation for Outdoor Kids, attended the 2016 Georgia R3 Summit. He immediately jumped in with excellent feedback on the Georgia Hunting Action Plan, brought forward many ideas about how to further the GRI, and agreed to serve on the GRI Marketing Committee. David hosts an outdoor summer camp for youth from urban areas and traditionally used an annual fundraiser entitled the Wild Game Feast (WGF) to help support the camp. In recent years, his camp has become self-sufficient and he expressed interest in using the funds for tasks identified by the GRI Marketing Committee.
The 2017 WGF was hosted in downtown Atlanta at the SweetWater Brewing Company. With a mouthwatering menu stocked with actual wild game, the event sold out quickly. The menu consisted of:
Durango stew with deer and elk tenderloin
Duck heart poke
Venison sliders with brie and BBQ portabellas
Deep fried Georgia alligator with sweet chili glaze
Upland Thai rice bowl with quail, pheasant and wild turkey
These items were prepared by professional chefs, paired with local beer, and enjoyed while listening to live music. The raffle tables were filled with donations from many local businesses and GRI supporting partners. David had a rolling screen of supporting partners, played the R3 & CAHSS video, and made a special announcement to inform everyone about R3 and where the funding from the night was going. Everyone had a great time in a unique setting, quite a few tried wild game for the first time, and money was raised for marketing efforts in Georgia. The 2017 WGF was definitely a unique experience providing food for thought (pun intended) on fundraising for R3.
This event definitely left me thinking about possibilities for the future. We are currently piloting programs to encourage people from nontraditional audiences to participate in hunting, yet we do not have a place for them in the fundraising realm. These audiences will likely not be receptive to the traditional banquet funding model. Is there room for a new NGO focused on hunting for sustainability? Conservation field days in place of endless banquets? Occasional fundraisers with wild game meals and raffle items such as meat grinders and cast iron pans? Whether it is a new organization or a pilot branch of an existing one, we certainly need to create a place for these new audiences.