An extreme scavenger hunt charity event hosted by a Goldman Sachs partner, which last time led participants to control the light show atop the Bank of America skyscraper, is accepting applications for its next competition in the fall.
For the last “Midnight Madness” event, contestants didn’t know the start line until the day of the event, which lasted 15 hours, included laser mini-golf in an abandoned building in New York City and cost the investment bank’s philanthropic fund, Goldman Sachs’ Gives, about $270,000 to support the event.
It raised $1.4 million for Good Shepherd Services, which serves vulnerable youth and families in New York City. About 180 Goldman Sachs employees in 20 teams participated in the one-night event.
Without an entry fee, all of the money raised was given to Good Shepherd Services, for which Goldman Sachs partner Elisha Wiesel is a board member.
For the next event on Oct. 5, Wiesel said the technology constraints will likely cap the number of teams to 25. Already 19 or 20 of those spots are spoken for, but he hopes only about 15 teams will be from Goldman Sachs, with the other teams from other financial market participants.
“My goal is for this not to be a Goldman event going forward,” Wiesel said. In fact, Wiesel said he hopes someone else will eventually take the reins in leading the event so he can play.
“I don’t think it’s good for the charity or architects behind Midnight Madness to depend on one firm,” he explained.
Teams that compete should be prepared to make a minimum sponsorship contribution of $50,000 to Good Shepherd Services, but Wiesel is asking returning teams who are excited about the charity to donate more.
He hopes the donations range around $50,000 to $100,000 per team, but he said, “Our goal is not to be disciplinarians or enforcers.”
Interested teams should contact Good Shepherd Services’ director of external relations Nicole Boisvert, she said.
In planning this event, Wiesel wanted to resurrect a scavenger hunt that was started by some Columbia University students in 1996, as first reported by Quartz. The inspiration for the original event was the film, “Midnight Madness,” which is a Disney comedy film about college students competing in a puzzle race.
Wiesel recruited Mat Laibowitz, who founded Midnight Madness as an engineering major at Columbia, and Dan Michaelson, a university classmate.
Wiesel said the event could not have also taken place without professional event planning, which was led by Lindsi Shine, CEO of Insider NYC.
When asked how the event coordinators got the competitors to control the lights atop One Bryant Park with an iPhone app, Wiesel said one aspect was social networking: “getting to the right person who ultimately had access to that light show.”
The second element was technology. Fortunately, there was an existing API to do that over the iPhone.
“We knowingly take some artistic and technological risk in doing the event,” Wiesel said. “It didn’t go exactly as planned, but we were able to give the players a fun gift in changing those colors at six in the morning.”