CRAVE: How can a small congregation do fresh, meaningful, and effective outreach?


CRAVE was a series of micro-granting dinners supporting creative projects for the greater good.

From 2014-2016 Convergence partnered with the Torpedo Factory Arts Center, a well-established arts destination and studio space in Old Town Alexandria, to host a series of 5 micro-granting dinners that engaged community members, artists and funders in conversations about the value of art while raising money to support creative initiatives to benefit the community.

At the dinner, artists took four minutes each to pitch their project.  Attendees were asked to make a $15 donation and received a tasty, simple meal (made by volunteers from Convergence) and a vote! During the meal, participants discussed the merits of each proposal with the artists and one another. Afterward, all votes were cast and the “micro-grant” of between $750 and $1500 was awarded to the artist with the winning proposal. The event helped raise the profile of both organizations by pooling our strengths.

Our Approach:

Rather than following typical church models for outreach which often have an overtly evangelistic emphasis, Convergence looked to the field of “art as social practice” and audience engagement strategies which focus on building mutual relationship toward a shared goal or felt need. Convergence staff spent time developing relationships with key staff members at the Torpedo Factory in order to better understand their goals. The Torpedo Factory wanted to reach a younger audience; while Convergence wanted to reach a broader audience. We were able to meet around a shared passion and vision for empowering and funding artists doing new work in our city. We built trust for future engagement with people who might otherwise have been skeptical of our motives because the event was designed with their comfort level and needs in mind.

In less than two weeks following the CRAVE dinner, JOY TO THE KIDS became incorporated!  If I had not ever written that proposal for CRAVE, and given my presentation to such a warm reception that night, I don’t know if I would have had “all my ducks in a row”.  So THANK YOU to Convergence and CRAVE for giving me a stepping stone!

— Rachel Gray, Joy To The Kids

By merging the high profile and a large number of artists and patrons of The Torpedo Factory with Convergence’s emerging artists and dedicated team of volunteers, we increased both organization’s exposure to new audiences and hosted a highly successful event.

Together, we were able to:
  • Impact the city of Alexandria by pooling resources and partnering with a larger organization that shares similar values.
  • Broaden the vision of our congregation and give them confidence in their ability to participate in the mission of Convergence.
  • Increase our visibility in the community by introducing Convergence to over 400 people in an experiential way.
  • Open doors for Convergence artists to pursue creative projects with new partners and funding opportunities.

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