Oct 9, 2020

How Crossnore Sustains Needs & Attracts New Donors


Crossnore School & children's homeCrossnore School and Children’s Home (of North Carolina) shares how their annual strawberry sale, online shops, and giving societies continue to sustain their funding needs and attract new donors.

The following is a transcript of our Q&A conversation from our #OutsideTheRoom Fundraising Success Series – Episode 10. Watch the full episode here.

What other types of campaigns can we run using GiveSmart? And what are you seeing work these days?

Stephanie: Some other peer-peer type campaigns that we’re seeing running is simply using the champions features as far as walk run competitions. Different fundraising aspects that are outside of the normal just asking those are a lot of what we’re seeing though is those walk runs as well as the instant stores. 

Amanda, previously you mentioned the virtual happy half-hour. So during that virtual happy half-hour, how are you collecting donations? 

Amanda: So the happy half-hour is not a fundraising initiative, that’s a recognition initiative. So for that we’re inviting all of our society members as a thank you. But frequently the last time we had a recognition event. We had a couple of come up and slip checks and pockets. And so it’s m possible that after our recognition event we will also see some donations from those same donors. It’s just the way stay thankful and stay engaged with those donors.

Do you find that donors are more engaged throughout the year because you do these different types of campaigns?

Amanda: Absolutely! I think in particular strawberry season, we saw people who weren’t getting out very much but we saw them in the drive-through line for strawberries. Sometimes multiple times throughout the season. And so I do think that any time that you have an extra interaction or touch on that donor even if you’re behind a mask and they’re behind a mask in your car waving at them. I think it absolutely creates a stronger connection with that donor. And sometimes turns into a lifelong loyalty.

What were your overhead costs? What were the needs there for staff and volunteers for pick up?

Amanda: That is a great question. So, if we are talking about a strawberry season and that’s obviously got a lot of set up and one of the things that I learned getting thrown into overseeing this is that strawberry season actually starts the September before you sell strawberries. So we are looking at next month planting strawberry plants for the next season. So if we are talking about the overhead cost for our strawberry season, they’re pretty significant. I think it’s 14 or 15 thousand dollars is probably about what our costs are. And this year, a little higher because we had to hire out pickers and whatnot. For the DAR challenge our overhead costs were almost nothing whatever the cost is for the weaving. And the small prizes that are our fair market value at 30$. What  I think was really nice about both of these campaigns is that for example if nobody had purchased pre-orders we still would have been fine. There was no cost there to set it up, no cost for anything. And then my staff was the ones who were manning the strawberry cart. For the DAR challenge similarly if nobody had participated we had zero cost. So that’s kind of what I think is neat about this is that if you are a subscriber you can just throw it out there and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Whereas an event or an actual event a gala, you’ve got a ton of set up costs. And oftentimes we feel like we’ve put more time into that than necessarily we get in return so these were both very easy and zero cost to set up other than obviously the strawberry plants and labors. 

Suzzana I have a question for you. Like the canyon high school, how do I get masks to sell online? 

Susannah: You can set up online and then being able to promote it so through your regular donor database. You can always send something through GiveSmart or through the platform that you’re sending it on. But really just promotions that you would normally do but being able to customize that communication to be sensitive to the times is easier with a mask that it might be for just a donation campaign. So being able to just be specific, ask for advocacy and promote it out there and see what kind of response just like Amanda said. 

Susannah, another question about instant items. You have recommended instant buy items here and so what do I do if I don’t have a brand name that people will support? What are some instant buys that I can sell?

Susannah: I’ve seen all different kind of things. I’ve seen mass which will get through a vendor of sorts. But I’ve seen like signs, like people are putting signs in their front yard and that was a huge one and anything that can kind of show that advocacy out there. But I’ve also seen just like pint glasses or things that you can just have at home. Anything that people can do at home right now, use at home all of that kind of stuff is flying off the virtual shelves as of right now. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind.

How are instant items different than selling merchandise or something similar to that?

Amanda: We’ll I suppose it’s not terribly different. For us we actually have an online store where we sell weaving and we sell kids art, note cards and whatnot. But for our purposes for the strawberry sales, I just feel like using our website was going to be too clunky. I don’t have access to the back end and the ability to aggregate reports or to sort things that would come in through our store because I did think about that as an option. But with using GiveSmart and the instant buy items, you get to set the quantity that you want to sell. And in this case, we were very conservative about what we pre-sold just we didn’t want to disappoint our first come first serve customers because we didn’t want to be in a situation where we couldn’t fulfill orders. And so I was able to set the quantity that was our discussion with my team. What number we wanted to pick. And then when it sells out it sells out. And the sites puts up that it’s sold and show people what’s available. So for me to be able to have it all there together only strawberries, not carves and hats and mugs and whatnot. Just strawberries and to be able to focus on those sales, as well as the instructions that we had for folks on how pickup was going to look very different and all of that was in one spot for them. So that was the reason for me that I chose to use GIveSmart and the instant item feature rather than to try to put through our online store. 

How large of a staff do you need to make this so successful this being your strawberry sale?

Amanda: It was a team effort. So we do have facilities staff that helped plowing the fields and getting the fields ready. I will tell you that one night I got a panic text from my community relations director saying, there was a freeze tonight and we don’t have anybody to cover the strawberries. So I said to my four children to put your forks down dinner’s over, we’re heading out to crosstalk to go cover some strawberries. I will tell you that was a bait and switch they said to me afterwards “ We thought it was like  one plant” not what ended up being three acres or an acre and a half maybe of strawberries. It’s not a fun task. So anyway, we had some volunteers, we had people coming together if they on our residential staff, if they were off shift they sort of enjoyed the interaction. So on any given day for sales we probably had five or six pickers and probably two traffic people and two different people handling the sales. 

What is the next fundraiser that you will be running?

Amanda: Well we actually have two golf tournaments coming up. And we use GiveSmart for that as well. Typically our golf tournament in the mountains happens in the spring. But that was postponed because of the pandemic and so that will take place in September. And we have a second tournament here in Winston Salem area that will happen in October. So those are our next two big fundraisers. We’ve used GiveSmart previously for the golf fundraiser and it works beautifully. It’s absolutely perfect. I added extra field where participants can sign up so that you can put the whole number. So that when generating those lists, you can have that information all filled in for you to keep things neat and clean. And then we also added to the site as instant buy items mulligans that people purchase. And they can also participate in the split the pot, that way as well. I think this year I added one sponsorship option on the site as well. So those are our next couple fundraisers and I’m grateful to have the software to use because prior to my tenure we were doing all this on paper.


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The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

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MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County