Jun 2, 2020

A Small Organization Makes a Big Impact

Happy creative businesspeople brainstorming in office, placing sticky notes with ideas on glass

The following is a transcript of our Q&A conversation from Episode 2 of our Pivot Success Series.  You can view the full webinar, and other webinars in the series, on our Pivot Success page

This episode explores how a small organization created great impact when they pivoted to virtual fundraising. 

Our event is scheduled for June 20th any suggestions on procuring auction items? During this time some of our board members are nervous to ask for anything. What are your thoughts on that?  Paige, any feedback there?

Paige: That’s kind of different challenge because we were able to solicit before really any of this. That’s what happened. But I would say it’s all about supporting one another and I think it never hurts to ask. I mean the worst that can happen is somebody says no. But I think if willing to specially to say we’re going to advertise your business, we want people to know about you and the good that you’re doing and hopefully that good will come back to them. 

Carly, as you are working with customers who are in the throes of this now. What are some successes you are seeing there? What are some tactics?

Carly: I think even similar to what Paige said, what worth finding is people. It might seem like scary time to ask for things with uncertain economy but people are more generous now than we’ve really ever experienced. We’re having extensions on expiration dates and finding that people who are more up to giving in this time surprisingly. So it’s really encouraging. 

Patrick: And what one thing that I have to give credit to a gentleman from Minnesota who said to me earlier. It was an awesome quote that he said” Our mission hasn’t changed and neither should our fundraising.” And it obviously a delicate balance but they did an awesome job and I think just engaging people and I think being human goes a long way. And just calling whether it’s businesses or sponsors or things like that and checking in and how are you doing what’s happening and their group did an awesome job. They had a local restaurant that has always been very supportive and so he called and checked in and they were able to get a promo code that they sent out to their donor base. So folks who supported this particular organization got a 20% off of a meal so it was a way where the non-profit actually helped the for-profit business that’s held them for so long. And so I think those sort of things are obviously dependent base upon your constituent base and supporters but I think engaging people in being human and to see how they are doing  now will go along way when it comes to some of your upcoming events or things of that nature. 

Paige did you all need a permit to sell online bid votes in your state?

Paige: No, we did not.

Can you explain the dessert details again purchase as many $2 dollars tickets as you wish but then a drawing or what were the details there?

Paige: So we have it what would been at our live event were actual desserts. So our first step was to get those donors to convert it to a gift certificate. So we just had a gift certificate for every item and you could cast your vote $2 as many times as you wanted for each item. And then we just took from all the people like a random item drawing to draw for the winner out of all the votes cast for each particular one. 

Have you any advice for doing the virtual house party or where to look more info on that?

Patrick: There’s a lot of things whether it’s Facebook live, Instagram live or Zoom different things, so without knowing too much of it it’s a little tricky. But I think we’ve seen people do different things with zoom and we had an organization that sent out a zoom code through text message so they had set it up and then to make it more kind of exclusive interview like a tighter knit community is they sent a text through a system with the kind of login information to it and so you have to be in the campaign in their kind of site to do it. So I think I thought that was a pretty creative idea. We can follow up more after I think the call to help a little bit more specifically without knowing what the idea exactly might be. 

Paige what were some examples of the premium items in the auction?

Paige: That was actually a competition we have the boss groups form the different squadrons on our base. Get together and get like large items or like a vacation package. It really runs the gala like we had one really cut-out of  a strike eagle fighter which is what we fly here with the base. So that was like a really popular item. And then we have a furniture piece that somebody had handcrafted and built and then we had a vacation and destination to Charleston. It really was such a variety of things but we just transition is made them into the silent auction format and had them just available for that two-hour window and awarded it for the one winning item with the highest bid. 

Was it interesting for you as the point person to be able to see all of the auction stuff like electronically in front of you, rather than running around on the pen and paper thing?

Paige: Yes absolutely. It was just right at my fingertips to see and track if there’s anything. I think there was one person that messaged me that donated an item and said “Oh I left something off of description.” And I could just add it really quickly. It was very user friendly having it right there at my fingertips. 

Patrick this it would be a broader question but it guest cover those fees. What else is the organization being charged for on each transaction?

Patrick: So basically, the guest if they choose to cover that fee so there is nothing that the organization is being charged the donor is essentially easy so I could spend it if they’re donating the $100 whatever the service fee. Maybe they’re electing for simple math if it’s 5% or 1%, they would be covering that extra dollar or five dollars. And there would be no expense or anything like that that the organization is incurring that donor is electing to do that themselves. 

How do they react to their opportunities now being completely different? We talked about this a little bit but it would be nice to hear a few more details. Any recommendations on what folks can offer if they’re’ doing this virtually? 

Paige:  we definitely use the ad space there were different levels or places that you could put the ads   and when you create those. So we just definitely to thanks our sponsors put them everywhere you could possibly put them instead of relegating them to the homepage or among the items. So definitely capitalize on that and then we also use the homepage. You can add content different sections and so that’s where immediately we had not planned to put that on the home page. But we found out it was going to be completely virtual. I just wanted to put everybody’s name on there that had contributed whether they are sponsor or donated an item. We just really wanted to have that their visible so people could clearly see these are all the people that contributed. And just a huge shout out to them at the end of the event on social media really because they are what made it all possible. 

What sort of the current thinking about tickets? And are there things that customers are doing uniquely with tickets now?

Carly: For this one like I said, most of the gasps were generous enough to turn those into donation. But even moving forward I haven’t seen too many ticketed for a virtual event but you have seen some tickets but just lower pricing. And giving those guests almost like first access to auction items that are available before opening it up for other guests to register. So there is some sort of incentive there and there happens to get sold for virtual events. So I haven’t had too much experience in the field but be a couple events that I have had trading tickets for a virtual event that have been successful. 

Patrick: To build off of that I think there’s two things lately that I thought were pretty interesting. One is for events that are a little bit further out so in the summer or the fall, as people would historically be starting to sell tickets is offering a discount code. And just again being a human being and understanding the landscape that we’re in. So  one of the nicest things about to take an in system, is you have the ability to kind of set those promo codes and you can put in expiration dates so high for the next 10 days will be. But there’s an organization out of the Midwest that did I think an amazing job. They actually had to postpone their event so once they had rescheduled and figured out  a definitive date, they followed up with a 20% promo code if I am not mistaken to let people know “Hey we know this is tough on you.” and things like that. So I think being cognizant and understanding I thought was good and then in terms of groups whose events are more coming up is what people have done kind of similar to what I was mentioned with texting out the zoom code is people have “ hey we’re going to do something digitally and so what we’ll do is  you can bid and so some other things but we’re not going to include you in this kind of zoom party” and so what they did is “okay, for twenty-five dollars you go you purchase a ticket” and then about two hours before the event was going to start, they we’re  going to email everybody who had bought a ticket ‘Hey, here’s the log in information.” And so kind of similar to kind of a guest list or a bouncer, getting into any sort of venue is they kind of made their barrier to entry for lack of better phrase the ticket and then awesome now you’re in our digital party. And so as the week progress it’s definitely something we’ll we can closer look on but I think it’s just being creative in different things and seems to be working well but we would definitely try to track that because I think it’s a great question.

You have any decision-making criteria that we can use when deciding which aspects we can pivot to virtual and which one can’t be moved to the virtual setting?

Paige: I would just recommend getting as creative as possible. We thought there were some things that we weren’t going to be able to do specifically. And we are able to do it the same way. We have a jail that we do at our live event where you can lock people that can keep you pay it’ll send somebody to jail and then you have to pay to jail yourself out if you choose to. And we look forward to that but there wasn’t really a way to do this same way. So that’s kind of how the dessert auction kind of not mush together with that for a virtual event but I would just say watch as many webinars as you can GiveSmart offers. I meant there’s a ton of ideas from different people and things that they have done and have been successful. Just try to be positive. You can do as much as you can and hope for the best. But I think there’s a lot of room to get creative and it’s time to do that to. Have fun with that and be positive.

Carly:  I think Paige said it great. Like she said we had a couple items that we were like “Is this going to be possible? Can we make this happen?” Just like putting your thinking caps on and creating that boat item was a really good way. So be positive, think outside the box, ask questions, and watch the webinars because you can just make it happen.

Patrick:  I think the only thing I would add to that, we’ve seen people do a lot creative things is similar to it. You can’t do it a jail digitally which is probably a good thing but I think there are things you can do digitally that maybe you couldn’t do in person. Paige it was awesome to hear that you guys know because social media and people doing some of these things were able to attract people who are now in your constituent list and you can engage in different things. And we had a group that did a shave to save and so they did this virtual thing where you could pay and certain people would shave their heads and send in video and different things. So I’m sure they could have done that in person but for sanitary purposes maybe not. But because people are at home and they can do it. So I think for everything that you can’t do physically add an event there’s a reason the frozen and is one of my favourite movies is you can do things digitally that you can do. And so hundred percent in our success stories we will make sure to try and capture those as many as we can and certainly if people seen something or doing something please let us know. We’d be more than happy to share that with others so they can benefit as well.


November 17, 2021

80+ Virtual Fundraising Ideas: Examples from real-life campaigns 

Virtual fundraising has been a sustainable practice for many nonprofits, and it has recently become…

Read More
October 19, 2021

3 Halloween fundraisers you can setup in minutes

Pumpkins glimmer. Werewolves howl. Ghost says boo.   With fall in full swing, fundraising in this season offers the opportunity to be…

Read More
how to engage donors outside of fundraising events
October 14, 2021

How to engage donors outside of fundraising events

What is recurring giving?  Recurring giving has been around for years, offered by plenty of…

Read More

What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

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.

Jamie F.

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.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County