Remember the Harry Potter Alliance? It's the offbeat nonprofit that taps the activist spirit of Potter fans to combat "dark arts'' such as human rights abuses and illiteracy.
The alliance launched a campaign this spring around the blockbuster "The Hunger Games," hoping to harness that same philanthropic drive with a new wave of fantasy film fans.
Fans were encouraged to bring petitions to the theater to support an Oxfam America food aid project. Their "Hunger is NOT a Game'' campaign is the latest example of nontraditional ways of mobilizing youth activism and fundraising.
"We are always looking for new avenues to get people interested in addressing hunger and poverty,'' said Ben Grossman-Cohen, an Oxfam spokesperson. "We're happy how it went.''
At first, it could have gone better. Lionsgate Entertainment, the producer of "The Hunger Games," charged in March that the campaign was damaging its marketing efforts, and asked the alliance to stop using fan websites to promote its cause.
"So we released it to the press,'' said Andrew Slack, executive director of the alliance. "Lionsgate called me a couple days later and apologized.''
The campaign kicks off the alliance's plans to add new films, new audiences and new causes to its activist network, said Slack, whose group has done things such as sending cargo planes of aid to Haiti and 90,000 books across the world.
It is planning to focus on films likely to be part of the "migratory patterns of Harry Potter fans,'' said Slack.
The alliance's work will continue with new causes, such as child trafficking, he said. Meanwhile, it has collected 6,300 signatures for Oxfam's GROW pledge, which calls on Congress to spend food aid dollars more efficiently. It also donated more than 2,000 items to local food shelves.
Slack looks forward to the release of the next film in "The Hunger Games" trilogy, "Catching Fire." "The campaign is going to get even bigger then.''
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511