How do you capitalize on people’s love of food, fun, and fantastic music to benefit those in need — as well as charities that work tirelessly to help them? According to Jimmy Buckner, the secret is providing “Entertainment with Purpose,” such as with the upcoming Hip Hop for Hunger benefitting Mobile Meals.
Buckner is a newly minted Account Executive with Rewards Network and owner of restaurant Latitude 35 in Knoxville. He founded The Scarecrow Foundation 4 years ago after being inspired by the hunger he saw in his own community.
“My wife motivated me to deliver food,” said Buckner. “I did that twice a month for 7 years. I’d go to five, six homes each time I’d do it, and see a lot of families and a lot of kids that struggled just getting basic nutrition.”
Although he witnessed a great deal of what he calls the “three cousins” of this social issue —hunger, homelessness, and poverty — Buckner also saw a new and innovative way to help.
“There’s plenty of food pantries and hunger agencies, and they do great work, they do all the heavy lifting,” he said. “But typically, these organizations are not marketers. And they’re constantly looking for volunteers and they’re constantly looking for donations to help them do their good work.”
The Scarecrow Foundation: a not-for-profit dedicated to helping existing food pantries and hunger organizations by providing them marketing opportunities above and beyond what they may be able to achieve on their own.
Help Through Hip Hop
Hip Hop for Hunger is one of four major events — among many smaller occasions throughout the year — that help The Scarecrow Foundation and its countless volunteers.
Combining two popular concepts into one, Hip Hop for Hunger serves as the final event of the Scarecrow Bracket Challenge, a nearly month-long competition held during March Madness.
Starting March 17, participants fill out their free-to-play Scarecrow Bracket Challenge brackets. Their picks will be pitted against each other to win a final prize — provided by Rewards Network — awarded at the Hip Hop for Hunger event, April 11 at The International in Knoxville.
The event is funded by several nationwide sponsors, including Bud Light, Alsco, Svedka, and Rewards Network, as well as smaller donations from local businesses. Hip Hop for Hunger is actually several events in one, featuring live music, dancing, local artists, and more in various locations around the city.
This years’ events will do more to advertise Mobile Meals than any Hip Hop for Hunger before it — something Buckner and his team have been working toward for a long time.
Although 100% of the proceeds for each event go directly to the charity, it’s often this brand awareness that becomes the greatest benefit — something Buckner has found true with his own organization.
The Foundation in the Future
Although still young, The Scarecrow Foundation has been chosen as the benefitting organization for ClubCorp’s Charity Classic twice in the last 3 years. According to Buckner, his team’s many relationships and marketing prowess have driven this recognition.
“It’s because we’re very socially connected with our relationships,” said Buckner. “They had their biggest invest Charity Classic this year, thanks to my team.”
But it’s not just Buckner’s roster of social connections with restaurateurs and business owners in the Knoxville area that drives his success. It’s also his no-nonsense approach to helping each and every charity.
Buckner hopes to capitalize on his relationships to expand the reach of The Scarecrow Foundation — by establishing a headquarters and a small staff to support even more events.
“Our mission is to help end hunger in America,” said Buckner. “We’ll hopefully have enough credibility so when we do ask for money to be able to grow our programs and better our [impact on] existing hunger agencies and food pantries.”