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How the James Beard Foundation Achieves Its Mission with Visual Content [VIDEO]

Whether the James Beard Foundation is celebrating the world’s top chefs or fundraising to make the culinary community more diverse and sustainabl...

Whether the James Beard Foundation is celebrating the world’s top chefs or fundraising to make the culinary community more diverse and sustainable, imagery is always the hook that draws audiences into the conversation.

“It’s certainly critical to us achieving our mission at the James Beard Foundation,” says Kris Moon, the nonprofit’s Chief Operating Officer.

Watch the video to see how the James Beard Foundation uses visual content to thank donors, change perceptions, chronicle the careers of celebrated chefs, promote the philosophy of “good food for good,” and – not to mention – achieve their goals and grow their programs along the way.

Behind the Scenes with the Storytellers

The James Beard Foundation has a small but mighty team of 40 full-time employees. Together, they run 300 events a year, engage food lovers around the globe, and power programs that make the culinary community more inclusive and sustainable.

What’s their secret? COO Kris Moon says the key is efficiency.

Let’s take a closer look at how the media department powers everything from real-time coverage of the organization’s traveling Taste America event series to editorial storytelling around chefs who are having a profound impact on our culture.

Photo by Clay Williams, James Beard Foundation

Maximizing the Value of Events for Supporters, Sponsors and the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation touches thousands of food lovers through events every year, ranging from the world famous James Beard Awards to intimate dinners at the James Beard House. But each one can have an exponential impact when the organization and its supporters have easy access to photos from those events.

Take, for example, the kickoff for the traveling event series, Taste America. More than 500 New York City food lovers came together to taste dishes created by chefs from across the country – and photographer Clay Williams captured it all. Throughout the event, Clay uploaded his images to PhotoShelter for Brands so the James Beard Foundation team could access them in real time. Seconds after images were created, the team could download and share them using the PhotoShelter FileFlow app.

“Live coverage has been extraordinarily useful for us,” says Maggie Schoenfarber, Content Manager for the James Beard Foundation. “It’s also super great for sponsor activations.”

The Taste America series is sponsored by Capital One, and the James Beard Foundation team is able to share beautiful images of the activation immediately after an event.

“These days, being able to tell the story of what you’re doing in one second with an image is perhaps even more important for our corporate partner who’s fighting for share of voice in the marketplace,” says Kris.

Photo by Clay Williams, James Beard Foundation

Sharing beautiful event imagery that highlights the partnership allows the James Beard Foundation to engage partners and demonstrate how their investment is making a difference.

“We want our partners to be happy and we want them to feel the impact of their relationship with us and be able to tell that story to their audience,” says Kris.

Plus, imagery is key to attracting new partners like Capital One and helping them imagine what an event will look like.

“The conversation just progresses so much faster when you’re able to use imagery to paint a picture,” says Kris.

After an event, the team also sends images to attendees, both to say ‘thank you’ and to encourage them to share their experience on their own social media channels.

“It’s a beautiful opportunity for them to publicly display their connection to the James Beard Foundation, which furthers our mission and our goal of having broader reach and awareness of what we’re trying to do across the country,” says Kris.

Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING / Patrick McMullan, James Beard Foundation

Celebrating Chefs and the Stories Behind Them

Today, the James Beard Foundation has a new philosophy: “good food for good.”

“Our visual imagery strategy is really about that sweet spot between pleasure and purpose,” says Maggie. “We have really shifted our focus within the media department to allow our images to show our values.”

On social media, the organization shares a mix of visual content. Whether they post a photo of melting butter or a picture of a chef celebrating on stage at the Beard Awards, the message always reinforces that the James Beard Foundation is invested in the food and the people who made it.

“Most chefs have this feeling that they want to make a difference in some part of their community because they’re so tied in with the people that live around them, that come to their restaurant,” says Maggie.

Over the years, the James Beard Foundation has fostered the careers and told the stories of hundreds of up and coming chefs – many of whom are now household names.

Maggie can run a quick search in PhotoShelter for “Tom Colicchio” and find photos of the chef from every step in his career.

Having a bank of images of chefs engaging with the James Beard Foundation helps the team bring new members of the culinary community into the fold – whether they’re encouraging chefs to share their own stories or asking donors to support programs for the next generation of culinary stars.

Daniel Boulud at the Beard House. Photo courtesy of the James Beard Foundation.

30 Years of Celebrating Culinary Excellence

Now, the team is getting ready for the 30th annual James Beard Awards.

As they prepare to look back on 30 years of celebrating the best in the culinary industry, the team is digitizing the nonprofit’s archive of print imagery.

“It’s really cool to have that historical record that allows us to share with our audience the breadth of people we’ve touched, or who have been associated with the Beard Foundation,” says Maggie. “And it’s never-ending! We always have new photos coming in.”

The digitized images are now easily accessible to the whole team in PhotoShelter, which will make it easier for the team to share the legacies of 30 years of celebrated chefs.

“Without having PhotoShelter, we would be scrambling for figuring out what that content is, and now it’s nice that it’s all in one place and it’s all getting organized,” says Maggie.

Photo by Ken Goodman, James Beard Foundation

The Incredible Impact of a Smart, Efficient Content Strategy

Thanks to an efficient content strategy, Maggie and her team have been able to use more of the organization’s rich visual assets to engage their audiences, while cutting back the time it takes them to search for and create content.

The nonprofit’s demand for imagery is massive and widespread. Internally, everyone from the fundraising department to the social media team needs instant access to photos. Beyond their own organization, the team needs to send images to sponsors, chefs, donors, news outlets and more. With PhotoShelter, everything that should represent the James Beard Foundation lives in one place.

“What I’ve always really liked was the nuance of the permission structure,” says Maggie. “You can decide who gets access and how they have access. It allows us to maintain control and organization over our archive, but also give people access to the photos they need to see.”

Not only does it save time for Maggie and other people across the team, it allows them to share the James Beard Foundation story more quickly and easily than ever before.

“For us as a nonprofit, and working in the industry that we do and with the constituents that we do, investing in this is a must,” says Kris. “There’s huge ROI as far as I’m concerned.”

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