What do you get when you cross do-gooding geeks of Toronto with the ubiquitous power of Twitter? Why, you get @hohoto, natch!
Hohoto was an idea conceived last December when a group of brain trusts from the technology, marketing and visual thinking communities in Toronto got together and decided to throw a party and, oh, raise some money for the needy while they were at it. Hohoto was organized and promoted almost exclusively on Twitter for the Daily Bread Food Bank, Toronto’s organization de rigeur whose aim is to feed hungry people across the GTA. The hohoto organizers sold more than 600 tickets, rallied over 60 sponsors, and actually planned the event within 13 days. All told, they raised $25,000 for the food bank — all utilizing Twitter and all in less than two weeks. Not too shabby…not too shabby at all.
Over the summer, the group decided they’d have a second hohoto event, but this time as a “Christmas in July” event, which turned out to be in August. I started seeing tweets with the #hohoto hashtag a couple of weeks before the event and wanted to be part of the magic. I reached out to the “camp leader” to ask if I could help and was welcomed with open arms. Planning was in full force and once again, the Toronto geek community jumped at the chance to share knowledge and help the needy.
On August 18, more than 500 people from across the GTA gathered at Wetbar in the Entertainment District for some Hohoto goodness. Some of the creative things that were done incldued being able to “tweet” song requests to the resident DJs; a raffle with everything from sports paraphernalia to gourmet cakes from Cake or Death; a “photobooth” by Rannie Turnigan of photojunkie.ca fame (see photo of me on this post — clearly taken by a professional photographer as I *never* normally look that good. See? Hohoto even makes you glow.); $15 chair massages; a cotton candy (candy floss in Canada) stand run by RogersHelps; and best of all, the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of Toronto geeks. We ended up raising over $12,000 at the summer event, and in addition to the $25K raised in December, contributed more than $35,000 in less than a year to help end hunger in Toronto. All on Twitter. And all done in just a few weeks. Pretty amazing what people can do when they set out to do some good.
Aprés Hohoto, we had a few items left from the raffle, so the geniuses that run this shindig came up with the idea of having an eBay-style auction on Twitter. So two days later, in the midst of a wicked bad thunderstorm, we held what I believe is one of the few Twitter auctions to date! I was an “auctioneer” and let me just say that I have a new found respect for *real* auctioneers — that was hard and fast work! Anyone who wanted to bid would send a tweet with #hohoto, the lot number and their bid. I was responsible for managing all the bids, posting them back on Twitter so people would know where the bids were, and responding to DMs since we allowed people to bid privately! it was the most I’ve ever tweeted at once (um, obviously!) and the most exhausted I’ve been in the span of a single hour. We ended up raising another $650 for the food bank!
There was a tremendous amount of goodwill and support for Hohoto and I felt privileged to not only be part of the madness, but to get to work so closely with such dynamic, smart, incredible people. We received quite a bit of press, and a group in Vancouver wants to have Hohoto-style event they’ve called Ghoulash Bash for their food bank. They’ve contacted our team for help and are already going around saying they’re going to surpass our $25K, but as per usual, Toronto will reign supreme. I know it will hurt, but they can handle it. 😉