HoHoTO: “The Party That Twitter Built” Raises $25,000 for Food Bank

by Adele McAlear on January 7, 2009

Working from inspiration for a shared tech holiday party in Montreal, the Toronto technology, marketing and PR community used Twitter to build momentum for their landmark HoHoTO event.

From the first tweets on November 27th to the event on December 15th, Twitter was used to build consensus, assemble an organizing team, find sponsors, sell tickets, solicit donations, and build buzz that helped the event exceed all expectations.

At the first meeting held on December 2nd, a small group agreed on a name (the early name suggestions including  EggNogCamp, MistletoeCamp, SantaCamp, and JingleCamp didn’t stand a chance against HoHoTO – T.O. being the abbreviation for Toronto, Ontario),  a non-profit group to support (The Daily Bread Food Bank was selected due to recent news about a 13% increase in demand), and a fundraising goal ($10,000). They had 13 days to make it happen.

The results were astounding:

More than 600 tickets were sold, which translated to a sell out in only 9 days. Using an incentive system, tickets started at $10, and as of December 9th, the price rose by $5 per day, pushing the event to sell out quickly. By December 10th, their news release announced that $12,000 had been raised.

Funds were also raised from a raffle, direct cash donations, p#hohotobooth, a CafePress store, and the event venue The Mod Club agreed to sell drinks at cost, donating the mark-up to the food bank.

In the end, $25,000 was collected and over two tons of canned goods were brought to the event. There was so much food, the Canadian army was called in to pick it up the next day.

More than 60 corporate sponsors pitched in and over 100 prizes were donated.

An event for “geeks, phreaks, webheads, twitterfiends, techies, media, marketing, and PR types” wouldn’t be complete without a strong interactive component. Therefore, giant screens displayed the Twitter stream of #hohoto tweets and party goers could make a DJ song request by tweeting #hohotodj.

On the big screen, video greetings were submitted from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone , Cluetrain Manifesto authors Dave Weinberger and Rick Levine, Boing Boing co-founder and Toronto native Cory Doctorow, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, Whuffie Factor author Tara Hunt, Toronto Mayor David Miller, and others. In fact, anyone could add their video beforehand to the HoHoTO YouTube Group and possibly see it show up on the big screen during the event.

And of course, there was a Flickr Group and the event was streamed live on Justin.tv.

Mark McKay gives us a great snap shot of the party and how Twitter played a central role:

Co-organizer Rob Hyndman gives a wrap-up of the event and Michael O’Connor Clarke sums his post-event afterglow.

If ever there was an example of how Twitter can work very quickly on a local level to raise funds, build community and have fun, this is it. Congratulations to the organizers and everyone who supported HoHoTO. Through your efforts you helped a lot people this season and that is the essence of community.

{ 4 trackbacks }

HoHoTO: “The Party That Twitter Built” Raises $25,000 for Food Bank
January 8, 2009 at 1:16 am
Twitter Becomes the Life of the Cutting-Edge Party - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com
April 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm
SpinTO | Toronto Uncovered
May 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm
HoHoNoGo | The Happiness Experiment
December 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie Crosby January 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Not only was it a great fundraiser and an example of amazing community teamwork via Twitter, but also it was a really, really fun time. My congratulations to the organizers who helped steer everyone!

Thank you Adele and Pistachio for spreading the word about how an event like this can successfully take place.


Maxine Appleby January 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm

What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing. Awesome power of our twitter community!

What else can we do?


Ryan Taylor August 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm

And another $10,500+ at hoHOTo this summer the story continues on #hohoto & http://hohoto.ca

Adele McAlear August 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Congratulations to you and your team! You are certainly showing us all how to do it right.

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