Sep 30, 2020

How One Organization Pivoted at the Break of the Pandemic, and Expanded Their Reach

Reach for Resources logo

Reach for Resources logoJason Skoog from Minnesota’s Reach for Resources tells us how at the break of the pandemic they engaged their community with a chalk art competition, pivoted their annual event, connected with their sponsors, went to breweries, and expanded their reach.

The following is a transcript from the Q&A portion of our conversation from our #OutsideTheRoom Fundraising Success Series – Episode 1. Watch the full episode here.

How does the Food and Drink work if everyone is in separate places? Is there a coupon for later use?   

JASON SKOOG: What we’re going to do, we’re actually going to try to do curb side pickup. And we are actually going to utilize a bunch of different volunteers that can come and pick it up right there but if somebody comes to event and they can’t, or we have our volunteers are going to pick up and deliver to them. So it’s different ways to use volunteers.

What did you offer these sponsors? So this sponsor thing is always a big question for people especially because sponsors get so much spotlight in the big Gala. So what did you offer them and what feedback have you gotten for sponsors? 

JASON SKOOG: Well the sponsors were the great thing about them is that they all get it. They are all in the same boat.  What we do is we try to highlight them. One of the things that we do with our sponsors is a happy event. When looking physically home we give them time to talk. At any of our events we don’t talk about reach but more than five minutes because we should have done all of that ahead of time. So we actually turn the floor over during some of the time and let our sponsors speak to everybody and everyone loves that. And so they get it, they know we’re at that you know everything they can’t meet either. So, thankfully they’re all gracious to get it. So we try to do when we figure out social media ways we can help them. 

PATRICK CLORE: I think a lot of people bring it up. I think one of the things that Jason mentioned earlier resonated which is the thing they have done with the resorts in the radio station in chronic creating an ecosystem that kind of beneficial to everybody and I think the impressions that people get. Actually earlier today, we’re talking to a group of Ronald McDonald House here in Chicago who ran a virtual gala, and they had told us they actually were a little disappointed. They didn’t consider modifying their pricing for sponsors. Because actually the sponsors got more value because instead of just at the event being featured in the board or in the scrolling thing, by social media campaigns and expanding the reach by going online and not being restricted and being more of an inclusive giving and not, “okay we can only have 500 people,” is actually sponsors got more mentions and more value for their investment. It’s not going to be the case in every situation by any means but I think each setting face to face versus online has its own advantages and disadvantages. With some of the creativity that we talk about today, there is definitely a way that can maintain those partnerships. And I think for some organization who found themselves in different positions might be a chance to partner with community that maybe in a different that it wasn’t possible before.   

JASON SKOOG: One other thing, like I said most of the businesses in this country are run by people. And they get it, and they want to help the organization. We have one of our partners, he is actually out there doing the campaign for us. And he’s like “hey how can I help you?”And so that’s part of the helps that when I used to be business owner. And so I’m coming up I understand they need a neat to win too. So if you just remember they’re people that need a win and fill that out. Okay how can I help them? The secret is, you can help them make more money, and they are going to give you more money what works.  

Do you recommend a registration fee for online virtual events in addition to asking donations?        

MEGAN LEETZ: We’ve kind of run through a couple of different scenarios like that. So we ones that we’ve seen have the most success as far as interaction with the site, getting as many people in there in there as possible. Is offering it as free registration so it doesn’t cost anything to sign up but encouraging a donation while they are signing up. So saying like “hey you our event is online this year you can register here. There is no ticket price. But if you would like, please consider placing a donation instead.” And what’s nice too you don’t have to necessarily limit the donation amount. So you can leave it open-ended it or whatever they like they can skip it if they want. But at the end of the day the more people in your platform, the more reach that you have. The more people that are interacting with your silent auction or when you are sending out donations taxes among people that are interacting with that. You really like to encourage getting as many people as registered as possible. Encouraging like “hey if you don’t mind know throw us a couple bucks does a deviation while you are doing that.”

JASON SKOOG: In fact last night, we had a committee meeting for our summer event and we actually just cancelled the ticket price for our event on June 22nd and changed it to a free event. Simply because our Governor didn’t allow us to be inside at a restaurant yet and so as of June 1st we thought we’re going to be able to hold inside. But right now we can only have 50 people outside and like Ambar said “what are you guys going to do if it rains? We can’t let you inside.” So we decided well change this and so we went to a virtual photo freeing take an event. But at that point what we’re going to do is we’re going to go actually to do some. We’re going to introduce Facebook live, we’re going to do some other things, and we’re going to make it a fun interactive event and actually get people. People sign up to donate. But for our hunt must fall, we’re not discounting that and they’re hunters and they’re used to. If it rains, it rains. You’re going to get wet so it is, they’re used to it. And they’re all good with it. So some we are, some we are. Any well that’s the thing with every event. You have to be willing to adapt and take it as it comes. Because it raise your hand here if any of you have been through global pandemic that shut the country down for four months. I don’t see hands raised but you know partially because what you’ve done it but also because it’s a webinar and I can’t see you. But none of us have been through it, nobody has. And so you know you just have going to have to try.  Some are going to work, some aren’t. 

So I’m going to do a micro and macro on this, Jason first and then Patrick. In the current economic down turn, do you find people like in individual level are spending money on this kind of auctions? If so, what type of bidding are you seeing apart from business donations? Jason over to you on that on what you are seeing.

JASON SKOOG: Our bidding first so everyone is just starting to pick up. Right now the money is out there. People have money. They are getting back in the economy. I think 90% of people still are working. But they are afraid to spend it, because they don’t know what is coming every time we turn around it’s something else. People right now are holding on to some of it. But I’m also seeing they are starting to spend it and they are starting to get to you. I think we turn the corner and fever like “you know what enough of this. I want to get back to my normal life” and they’re starting to spend money. That’s kind of what I’m seeing.

PATRICK CLORE: I think in terms of kind of the macro level, I think we have seen a shifts and I think I just pulled it up so we can give you the up to the moment on it. So from the past month, 64% of the money raised in our platform has been through donations, and then 18% through silent auction items, and then 5% through instant buy. Which can be a sign up but it can be a whole bunch of different things. And I think has definitely been the case seeing people do some different donation campaigns, membership drives or Annual Fund things of that nature. But I think still seeing the silent auctions items being in place and some of the instant buys. So I think certainly the types of items are shifted a bit away from live events for ticket things of that just with the uncertainty. So I think going to more concrete what you know is going to be able to be delivered, or items and stuff like that. As Maureen mentioned with the truck are some of these things. Doing things that maybe it’s more about engagement and getting people as opposed to it is. Filling the top of the funnel in terms of the fundraising, but you know definitely it’s a trend where we will keep a look at and make  sure that we convey going forward in this series and other pieces of communication in terms  of those trends that we’re seeing. 

Jason, what is the winner of the chalk art contest gets?

JASON SKOOG: We have six different divisions. And first place in each division gets a $500 Visa gift card. Second place gets $250 Visa gift card. Third place gets a hundred. All of those were donated within 48 hours of my creating this contest and then five random people. So even if you’re not an artist you are going to win a two-night stay at any great Wolf Lodge across with four water park passes. They don’t even have to be an artist. You can still win just for playing.

Last one is the on call. How you would you execute that in today’s economic and lockdown environment? Can you execute it well? 

JASON SKOOG: That’s the one we just last night. I said we had to adapt and unfortunately we had to change it to a virtual because we could be outside and take the chance and gamble. But if it rains, there’s nothing we can do. But this is the truth ready to pivot is yes between now, and June 22nd the Governor of our state says we can go back inside and have it. I am making the call and we’re having it in time. And so we’re going to quickly change again, and email everybody that’s been registered or been bidding on things and saying “hey, work on inside come and join us because everybody’s going to, want to.”  



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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