"We want to get more people involved": Brand Action team unveils fundraising plans
Members of the volunteer team provide an update on how the organisation is evolving and what the trademark community can do to get involved.
Brand Action launched in April 2022 with the goal of raising funds to provide meaningful on-the-ground help to the people of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country. At the following INTA Annual Meeting, the founding volunteers organised a fundraising event that raised over $80,000 for World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Support Hospitals in Ukraine.
Another fundraising event was held at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Singapore to benefit not only those in Ukraine but also those impacted by earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. In the run-up to that event, Brand Action ran a bracelet colour challenge, with supporters encouraged to post pictures of themselves wearing their bracelets, in a bid to drive further engagement and help raise more money for the designated charities.
In the time since, attention has turned to the future of the organisation. This summer, two milestones were reached. One was the registration of BRAND ACTION as a trademark in the United States. The other was the incorporation of the entity as a non-profit organisation.
The trademark application for BRAND ACTION was filed on 12 April 2022, with four of the founders of Brand Action named on the registration (Phil Cox, founder of Phil Cox – Business Development for IP Attorneys, Taras Kulbaba, managing partner at Bukovnik & Kulbaba IP Guardians, Jackie Stelling, owner of JMS Legal, and Alexis Winslow, founder of Twill Creative). The mark was registered on 26 September 2023, with ownership immediately transferred to the Brand Action non-profit corporation.
For Stelling, the formalisation of the entity’s status was an important step. “It gives us more legitimacy and staying power,” she stresses. “When we started, it made sense that it was a few individuals because of the urgency [of the cause]. But when, for example, we conducted a raffle in Singapore, some of the brands we reached out to who said they would love to be able to provide products weren't able to because we were not an official non-profit corporation. Similarly, we’re reaching out to venues now for our annual fundraiser at the INTA Annual Meeting next May, and many have confirmed that they give discounts for non-profits. So, there's a reputation, function and financial benefit for us to have that status.”
With those milestones reached, focus has turned to November’s INTA Leadership Meeting in Houston, and the opportunity that it provides to work with the trademark community.
A sporting (t-shirt) endeavour
Houston will play host to a casual get-together of previous Brand Action sponsors and supporters, where they will be informed of current and future fundraising efforts. The gathering will also be used to distribute t-shirts to those who have ordered them as part of the ‘S(up)porting People in Times of Crisis’ fundraising campaign.
The campaign invites people to order a sports-themed t-shirt from a selection designed by Winslow. For a minimum donation of $50, purchasers can choose between running, volleyball, football and yoga-themed shirts. “Anyone who wants one needs to place their order before 20 October because we're printing to order and we need to have them in time to bring them to Houston,” Stelling urges.
Proceeds from the t-shirt sales will go directly to WCK’s climate disaster fund. “We already know that WCK is doing amazing work, and they are on the ground almost as soon as a disaster happens,” Stelling explains. “The fund is used by WCK to ensure that vulnerable communities have access to nutritious food immediately following natural disasters, in all parts of the world. This initiative fits perfectly with Brand Action's mission of supporting people in times of crisis. It was an easy decision for us to direct current sales of bracelets and the t-shirts to this charity.”
To maximise the funds going to the cause, two sponsors – BRANDIT and Inventa – have stepped in to cover all the t-shirt printing costs.
Jesper Knudsen, CEO and founder of BRANDIT, told WTR: “When you meet the people behind Brand Action and see the difference they make and the effort they put into it, it’s an easy choice to support. I will say we are obliged to support them in their cause. Every person has once in their life been in a dark place. We all know that it takes good friends and support to get out of the dark. So we need to give people hope; we need to help people to see the sun. To be able to have the biggest impact, it’s important people are aware and are supportive. With the t-shirt challenge, we have the opportunity to get more ambassadors and reach a wider audience. Together we are stronger and together we can make a difference.”
Daniel Reis Nobre, managing partner at Inventa, adds: “The t-shirt challenge means a double win-win situation, a ‘s(up)porting’ event raising funds for such a great cause while gathering the whole IP community playing the sports they like. It couldn’t be a better match. Joining and supporting Brand Action’s initiatives always reflect into doing good things for a better world. There’s a lot of people in need thanking all of us right now – and that’s truly rewarding.”
The focus now is on maximising orders before the 20 October deadline. This should then heighten visibility in Houston. Stelling expands: “It is not tied to any official event or sporting group, but our hope is that, if you’re going for a run, planning to play some football or volleyball, or do some yoga while you are in Houston, and you bought one of our shirts, you’ll wear it. If we could see people walking around in Houston with those on their backs (and posting pictures on social media), I think that would get some great exposure for Brand Action and help to spread the word even further.”
The bracelet fundraiser is also running, and serves a similar purpose. Stelling observes: “We're getting some fantastic photos, some with eight or 10 people wearing the bracelets. There is just something very powerful and communal about that.”
From the United States to the world
As well as fundraising to coincide with the INTA Leadership Meeting, planning is already underway for activities around the 2024 Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Brand Action is currently inviting sponsors to supports its effort, which Cox hopes can build on the successes of its predecessors: “If we walk away with the same results as the last two years, we’ll be happy. But if we could take this up a level, that would be really something.”
The ultimate aim is to make the Brand Action event a regular fixture in the diary. This year’s fundraiser is being planned for Monday 20 May 2024. “Our goal is to keep the Monday evening timeslot going forward so that people can block it on their calendars well before the meeting and reception invitations start coming in for the Annual Meeting, and have this great event to look forward to, year after year,” Stelling notes.
As to the charities selected for support in 2024, Cox explains: “Our intention is to continue with WCK as one of our two receiving charities for the Annual Meeting, and we will ask them to target the money for that depending on what crisis is happening at that time. They have been really great about us being able to say that, in year one, we would like the money to go to Ukraine, then, in year two, to Turkey and Syria. So we want to be able to do that. It's October now and by May there will, unfortunately, be a pressing crisis somewhere.”
“We really feel that our whole mission is helping people in times of crisis. And those crises are what's imminently happening,” he continues. “So we're kind of going to wait at least until January or February to decide what that second charity should be.”
To date, fundraising efforts have been focused around INTA’s two biggest events, as they see a concentration of trademark professionals from around the world gather in a single location. However, Brand Action is also looking at other places that it can make a difference, and WTR understands it is reaching out to other IP associations.
There is also a desire to host fundraisers in other regions. Perhaps, in future, local volunteers could organise fundraising events when the need arises? As Brand Action considers the future, everything is on the table. Cox concludes: “As we grow, we want to get more people involved. We are in this transitional period, where we are asking ‘what could we be?’ We’ve come to where we are, and now are looking at where we are going.”
Brand Action started as a rapid fundraising response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In two years it has become an IP-owning non-profit, which regularly raises funds for people in need around the world, backed by sponsors and donors from the global trademark community. And it has ambitious plans to continue responding to crises in the coming years. To do so – whether through sponsorship, fundraising events, or the sale of t-shirts and wristbands – continued support from the trademark community is essential.