So often customers and partners have reached out to GiveSmart for examples or ideas to fundraise virtually. Virtual fundraising campaigns are the new normal for fundraising and every organization is trying to figure out how this fits in their fundraising strategies. Below are all kinds of virtual fundraising examples from real-life campaigns all who’ve worked with GiveSmart to accomplish them.  

Examples of Virtual Fundraising Campaigns:

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana – UnGala 2020
Campaign: rmhcungala.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Silent Auction, Pivot to Virtual, Virtual Timeline, Sponsorships, Communications – Virtual

Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA – Bidding “Fore” Good
Campaign: PHSAUCTION2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Virtual Silent Auction, Donation Campaign, Selfie Scavenger Hunt

Kitten Rescue Los Angeles – A Virtual Kitten Shower
Campaign: KRKittenShower.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Social Media Promotion – Virtual Event, Silent Auction, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Sponsorships

Virginia Stage Company – Gala Apart to Gather Again & Virtual Wine Tasting (SOLD OUT!!!)
Campaign: VSCGalaApart.givesmart.comvscsipandslice.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Silent Auction, Pivot to Virtual, Sponsorships, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Virtual Wine Tasting

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company – Woolly’s Virtual Party
Campaign: woollyparty2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Silent Auction, Pivot to Virtual

Baltimore Humane Society – BMORE Humane Race (Virtual 5k)
Campaign: BMOREGORUN.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Virtual 5k, 50/50 raffle

Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado – A Night In
Campaign: JAimpact.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Live Auction (Virtual), Premiere Items, Silent Auction, Wine Pull, Live Stream, Pivot to Virtual

NRV Cares – NRV Annual Gala
Campaign: nrvcares.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Silent Auction, Instant Items

Windsor Chamber of Commerce – Windsor Chamber Cares Auction
Campaign: windsor2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Community Support, Direct Donations

Crossnore School – Crossnore Strawberries 2020
Campaign: CSCHberries20.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Instant Items, Communications

Vegas Golden Knights – Various Fall Campaigns
Campaign: chance.givesmart.com  parttime.givesmart.com  policemeals.givesmart.com  VGFKGive.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Community Support, Donation Campaigns, Silent Auction

American Cancer Society – Kansas City, North Region – 2020 Shave to Save
Campaign: shave2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Premiere Items, Live Auction, Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Instant Items, Wine Pull

CarePlus Foundation – Virtual Courage Awards Gala
Campaign: cpgala2020.givesmart.com careplusgolf.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Sponsorships, Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Campaign Promotion, Custom Sections, Virtual Timeline, Live Stream

Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities – We Are LATLC Poker Tournament
Campaign: LATLCPoker.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Casino/Poker Night, Silent Auction, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Instant Items

Say Si – Small Scale Work for a Local Cause
Campaign: smallscale.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Art Auction, Live Stream, Virtual Timeline

Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Michigan – Spring Soiree 2020
Campaign: springsoiree20.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Live Stream, Virtual Timeline, Multi-Day Virtual Event

South Dakota State Athletics – Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction Online
Campaign: Jacks2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Live Stream, Community Support, Direct Donations, Instant Items

Cardinal Spellman High School – Cardinal Spellman High School Legacy Gala and Chairman’s Challenge
Campaign: cshsgala2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Live Stream, Donation Campaign, Instant Wine Cellar Raffle

Ingalls Development Foundation – Annual Benefit Show: A Virtual Fundraising Gala
Campaign: ingallsgala2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Live Stream, Donation Campaign, Virtual Timeline, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing

Wyoming Symphony Orchestra – Wine and Dine In
Campaign: wso2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Live Stream, Direct Donations, Virtual Timeline, Raffle/Opportunity Drawing, Food & Wine Online Order

Sharp Again Naturally – Memory Drive
Campaign: sharpagain.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Pre-Recorded Program, Instant Items, Silent Auction

Ability Beyond – The 2020 and Beyond No Go Gala
Campaign: abilitybeyond.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Sponsorships, Live Stream, Donation Campaign, Visual Displays

Spark Ventures – Virtual Wine and Dine
Campaign: Wine2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Live Auction, Instant Items, Direct Donations

Make-A-Wish Mississippi – Fund-A-Mask, Grant-A-Wish
Campaign: fundamask.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Donation Campaign

American Alpine Club – Annual Benefit Dinner
Campaign: alpineclub.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Donation Campaign, Communication, Live Stream, Shipping fees

EcoHealth Alliance – EcoHealth Spring Benefit
Campaign: eha.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Donation Campaign, Live Stream

CHOC Children’s Foundation – CHOC Glass Slipper Guild Gala & CHOC Children’s Foundation Golf
Campaign: CHOCGSGALA.givesmart.com  CHOCGolf.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Donation Campaign, Live Stream, Golf Tournament, Sponsorships, Communications, Raffle

Best Buddies Tennessee – Best Buddies Virtual Gala
Campaign: BBGALA2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Donation Campaign, Live Stream, Sponsorships, Direct Donations

McKenna Claire Foundation – Virtual Wine Tasting: Wine & Shine (x2)
Campaign: mcfwine.givesmart.com  mcfwine2.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Donation Campaign, Live Stream, Virtual Wine Tasting

Mountain Lakes Education Foundation – Mask Up ML!
Campaign: maskupML.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Donation Campaign

IMPACT Melanoma – Martinis for Melanoma Virtual
Campaign: M4MV.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Donation Campaign, Silent Auction, Instant Items, Sign-Up Party, Sponsorships

San Jose Sharks Foundation – Juneteenth Auction & Pride Month Auction
Campaign: Juneteenth
Great Example of: Silent Auction, Community Support

Danbury Animal Welfare Society – 8th Annual 5k Run for the Animals
Campaign: RunforAnimals.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Virtual 5k, Peer-to-Peer

Sail Martha’s Vineyard – Virtual Seafood Buffet and Auction
Campaign: SailMV.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Live Stream, Donation Campaign, Impact Stories, Silent Auction

Santa Maria Community Services – Setting the Table
Campaign: Stt.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Raffles, Donation Campaign, Instant Items

AutismUp – Kite Flite 2020
Campaign: KF2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Raffles, Donation Campaign, Instant Items, Silent Auction, Recurring Giving

Camp Wapiyapi – Campfires & Cocktails
Campaign: wapiyapi.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Pre-Recorded Program, Donation Campaign, Sponsorships, Silent Auction

Misericordia – 60th Annual Benefit
Campaign: mfa20.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Live Stream, Donation Campaign, Sponsorships, Silent Auction, Raffles

Saint Peter School – Virtual Fall 5k
Campaign: stpeters5k.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Virtual 5k, Communications, Champion/Peer-to-Peer, Donor Engagement, Social Media Promotion

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana – Return2Learn Matching GIft Challenge
Campaign: return2learn.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Matching Gifts, Communications, Champion/Peer-to-Peer

Girls on the Run of the Greater Piedmont – Sneaker Soiree
Campaign: sneakersoiree.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Live Stream, Silent Auction, Sponsorships, Direct Donations

Best Buddies New Mexico – Celebration Week
Campaign: celebratenm.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Multi-Day Virtual Event, Sponsorships, Donation Campaign

Special Olympics New York – Summer Social
Campaign: specialolympics.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Silent Auction, Social Media Promotion, Live Stream, Donation Campaign

Operation Freedom Paws – Rock & Roll for a Cause
Campaign: rockthepaws.givesmart.com. paws4thecause.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Multi-day Event, Live Displays, Champion/Peer-to-Peer

A Walk With Sally – White Light White Night
Campaign: wlwn2020.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Hybrid Event, Virtual Timeline, Instant Buy Items, Virtual Ticketing, Silent Auction

Hyacinth AIDS Foundation – Virtual Bingo
Campaign: HAFBINGO5.givesmart.com
Great Example of: Pivot to Virtual, Virtual Bingo, Instant Buy Items

 

Looking for a list for a specific “Great Example of”?

Live Streams
Wine Pulls and other wine-related fundraising

Virtual Fundraising Examples:


Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana – UnGala 2020 
Campaign: 
rmhcungala.givesmart.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Auction: One of their top-performing items: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hear more detail from RMHC Chicagoland & NWI on Episode 4 of the OutsideTheRoom Fundraising Success Webinar Series

1.     What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

We had three options: We could cancel. We could postpone. We could go virtual. As our largest fundraising event of the year, we knew that canceling just wasn’t an option for us. Not knowing what the future holds, we were reluctant to postpone and decided to go virtual – and we had six weeks to figure out what our new virtual event looked like! We were full steam ahead with our combined Development and Marketing teams at the helm. This was truly an “all hands on deck” effort, and we leaned on the Board, our entire staff, volunteers, families who have utilized our services, and event sponsors and donors to help us pull it all together.

2.     What was the most rewarding part?

One of the most rewarding parts of the process was seeing not only our internal teams come together, adapt, and produce the event so quickly, but also seeing how much our entire community rallied around us to make sure the campaign was a success. From sponsors and families who have utilized our services, to volunteers, influencers and media partners, we all had one common goal – and no one ever looked back. The icing on the cake was netting more revenue than originally forecasted due to significantly decreased expenses and the gift of over 130 new donors.

3.     What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

It was a challenge to pull it all off so quickly and was definitely a “learn as you go” process. Thankfully, we have a wonderful team and band of supporters who are creative, innovative thinkers. We researched and found solutions quickly to some of the technical and logistical challenges, we enlisted the help of media and local influencers to help spread the word and expand our reach, and we leaned on our community of supporters to help build content.

 

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Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA – Bidding “Fore” Good
Campaign:
PHSAUCTION2020.givesmart.com

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together? 
This campaign was to replace our annual golf tournament that we could not hold. There is normally a silent and live auction during the awards dinner portion of the golf tournament so we decided we could at least create an online auction and ask all of our supports to donate online. Once we made the decision to pivot and move forward with a 100% online auction, it felt great and we jumped on every webinar to learn all of the best practices. We added a scavenger hunt, built out a communication plan, and reached out to all of the golfers and sponsors and asked them to continue to support the virtual event.
2. What was the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part was how many more people could support us by bidding on the auction. Normally, they would have had to buy a $150 ticket just to be in that room and participate, but now everyone could bid from their homes. We had people bidding from further than just our services area. The close second most rewarding part was when it was all said and done, we netted $20,000 over our revenue goal because we didn’t have all of the event overhead.
3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?
We had some older supporters who have not embraced the technology and did not participate in the auction. We tried to help with all of the tech issues that we knew about, but we’re not sure how many people didn’t bid because they are not as adept with the computer.

 

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Kitten Rescue Los Angeles – A Virtual Kitten Shower
Campaign:
KRKittenShower.givesmart.com

Social media promotion helped the Kitten Rescue of Los Angeles hit their silent auction goal! Follow them on Twitter @kittenrescue

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Virginia Stage Company – Gala Apart to Gather Again
Campaign:
VSCGalaApart.givesmart.com

Include sponsors within the silent auction page and include clear images with names that make the most sense.

Utilizing clear categories so donors can find what they are most interested in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raffle: Boozy Basket – Provided details of each bottle which raised the appeal of this raffle. Over 350 raffle tickets sold! Pairing a raffle and silent auction is an effective way to include more donors with a variety of giving levels.

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Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company – Woolly’s Virtual Party
Campaign: woollyparty2020.givesmart.com

One of the best silent auction items in their campaign: (1000% return on FMV)

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Baltimore Humane Society – BMORE Humane Race (Virtual 5k)
Campaign: BMOREGORUN.givesmart.com

 

 

 

 

 

50/50 Raffle:

 

 

 

 

 

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Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado – A Night In
Campaign:
JAimpact.givesmart.com

Converting live auction items to premiere silent auction items allowed JASC to get the value of the live auction items instead of losing out on that revenue.

Wine Pull:

One of their top Silent Auction items:

Watch the JASC LIVE STREAM Celebration 

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NRV Cares – NRV Annual Gala
Campaign: nrvcares.givesmart.com

Instant Buy Items:

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

Our fundraising campaign was in its 20th year and is usually accompanied by a Gala dinner, drinks, and dancing. This is our largest event to help bring awareness and funds to our mission of protecting children and strengthening families in the NRV. We are fortunate to have a committee of people who assist with obtaining fantastic items from all over the community but also all over the US.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part of our most recent campaign was the fact that while we had to cancel the physical event but we were able to have the 3rd most successful fundraiser in the agency’s history. It was also encouraging to see that when we opened up the auction to the public we had almost 100 more people register. This means 100 more people potentially now have awareness of our agency and mission.

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

Deciding whether or not to have the event was the largest challenge. Once we settled on going completely virtual, we wanted to open the auction up to the public, not just those who had bought tickets but we first contacted all ticket buyers asking if they wanted a refund of the ticket cost or if they wanted to make it a donation. The vast majority of guests chose to donate the ticket cost which was extremely helpful in making this a successful event. Once we had contacted all ticket buyers, we made the auction public.  When we did this, we realized we had to make decisions about shipping items. We made an instant item of a $7.00 shipping fee and this amount seemed to be really appropriate. In all the item descriptions we would indicate if an item could be shipped or picked up only via curbside appointments. This process went well and we were able to get in contact with all auction winners.

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Windsor Chamber of Commerce – Windsor Chamber Cares Auction
Campaign: windsor2020.givesmart.com

With the pandemic causing them the cancel their live event, Windsor Chamber of Commerce needed to pivot to a virtual event and decided they wanted to support a few additional local organizations that were most affected by the pandemic.

They even used directed donation tactics:

Watch the Pivot to Virtual Success Webinar to learn more about their story.
Watch

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Crossnore School – Crossnore Strawberries 2020
Campaign: CSCHberries20.givesmart.com

Selling priority to strawberry pick-ups this season, Crossnore School & Children’s Home promoted their Strawberry sale #OutsideTheRoom and outside their normal structure. This is a creative use of instant buy items and helped them continue some operations of an annual campaign.

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

On the 200-acre campus which includes an urban farm, Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Winston-Salem has a long history of growing and selling strawberries to the public.  The community eagerly awaits strawberry season, and folks begin flooding our “berry hotline” with calls weeks before the season ever opens.  Families with young children fill the fields on u-pick days, with youngsters demonstrating the “pick one, eat one” style of harvesting berries.  And, retirees from the neighboring retirement community line up early to make sure they don’t miss out on the day’s pre-picked berries.

When our organization began to make safety plans around Covid-19 and closed our campus to outside visitors, we knew that selling strawberries was going to be a different experience this year.  We devised a plan to keep customers in their cars and near the entrance to campus (rather than up at the fields) and to implement an “exact change only” form of payment for drive-up customers.  But, we also wanted to offer a pre-sale option for community members who wanted to order ahead and pay by credit card.  We explored the features on GiveSmart and determined that we could pre-sell strawberries as an “Instant Item”, with 20 gallons of strawberries available for pre-purchase on each picking day throughout the six-week season.  At first, we weren’t sure if people would take advantage of this new ordering system.  But, within the first few days, all of our pre-orders were sold out!  It also worked out really well for us, since we knew exactly the quantity that had been pre-ordered, and we could have those berries ready to go.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part of berry season was seeing how happy our customers were for a little bit of normalcy and strawberry goodness.  Several of our customers showed up on repeat days, and many of our pre-order patrons ordered berries over multiple picking days.  Other friends tried out new strawberry dessert recipes, posted pictures on social media, and talked up the sweetness of Crossnore’s berries.  Eighty gallons of strawberries were pre-ordered and delivered to residents of the neighboring retirement community.  Administrative staff there said berry delivery day brought out the biggest smiles in their residents, many of whom were feeling isolated and sad due to restrictions necessitated by Covi-19.

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

The challenges we encountered with the site were few.  One or two people couldn’t tell what quantity of berries they had ordered, so we did have to go back in and refund or adjust some orders.  We also had one customer forward the link from his signed-in page to a friend, and his friend ended up ordering berries on his credit card.  (They worked it out among themselves, but I didn’t even know that was possible prior to then.)  The challenges we encountered with berry season were all weather-related, as we had a week of monsoon weather in the middle of the season which prevented us from picking.  The GiveSmart site made it super easy to contact our pre-order customers via the system’s messaging system to let them know that their pre-order pickup day was moved to another day.

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Vegas Golden Knights – Various Fall Campaigns
Campaign: chance.givesmart.com  parttime.givesmart.com  policemeals.givesmart.com  VGFKGive.givesmart.com

Watch the Vegas Golden Knights Pivot to Success Webinar 

 

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American Cancer Society – Kansas City, North Region – 2020 Shave to Save
Campaign: shave2020.givesmart.com 


Raffle:

Wine Pull:

Instant Items:

What was the most challenging element in putting together the virtual event? – The most challenging aspect of transitioning to a virtual event was communication. Things happened so fast and we needed to communicate regularly with all of our different stakeholders about the changes that we were making, how they could still participate and ultimately, ensure they were being taken care of throughout the transition.

What was the most rewarding? – It was incredible to see almost 300 registered users on the site, over 400 views of our live stream and the total $ raised for our mission significantly go up! It is heartwarming to witness such generosity and after the event, it was touching to hear the positive feedback from our supporters. Despite our inability to meet in-person, we were able to connect in a new way and create a memorable experience for our supporters.

How did GiveSmart help? – As a platform, Givesmart made it possible for us to stream a live program and host all of our income-generating packages in one place (raffle, premier auction, silent auction, revenue enhancers, and virtual paddle raise). As for the staff, our Givesmart managers went above and beyond to support us through the process. Amanda was by our side the entire way and walked me through best practices to ensure we hosted a great event – we couldn’t have done it without the incredible Givesmart staff. (Thank you, Amanda!!)

What would you do differently? – I wish we had more time to explore the live production side of things. We ultimately used YouTube Live because it embedded into the Givesmart platform but it would have been nice to have other options as well.

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CarePlus Foundation – Virtual Courage Awards Gala
Campaign: cpgala2020.givesmart.com careplusgolf.givesmart.com

Article Promoting Campaign

Embedded Live Stream:

Sponsorships:

Golfers Give Back:

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

This event was inspired by how we created our previous virtual gala event. With more experience, we were able to format our golf site exactly how we envisioned it.  Learning how to add multiple pages, other than the homepage, was super easy and allowed us to provide more detailed information to those who register.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part has truly been to create another beautiful virtual event. Seeing it come together and finalizing it gives us pride in the work that we do as a nonprofit organization that provides services for mental health and addiction rehab services. We’ve built a great relationship with the GiveSmart team and trust their guidance with managing our event, as well as communicating our mission to those who come across it. Our event is just beginning so we hope for another successful event!

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

Some of the challenges we came across with being creative on how to pull off a virtual event with keeping the golf component. We proposed so many different ideas on how to host a virtual golf tournament without compromising the reputation our golf outing has and incorporating our mission with this event. I believe we created a new innovative approach to our event. As always, this software allows us to create a user-friendly site in order to host a virtual event.

 

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Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities – We Are LATLC Poker Tournament
Campaign: LATLCPoker.givesmart.com

 

Raffle/Opportunity Drawing:

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

Every year, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities presents 10 college scholarships ($2,500 each) to low-income, deserving students.  With COVID-19, our annual Casino Night (major fundraiser) was cancelled – and we were afraid we couldn’t fund the scholarships this year.  (We are a pass-through non-profit.  What we raise, we give away!)  The challenge was to raise $25,000 before the end of the school year.

We decided since Poker was a major part of the Casino Night, we would do a virtual poker tournament.  The theme was “No graduation ceremony.  No senior party.  No summer vacation. NO WAY!” Then we added a silent auction, since we already contracted with GiveSmart for the year and this would not be an additional expense for us.  Then someone donated the Lobster Dinner for 4 and we decided to have an Opportunity Drawing for that.  GiveSmart (Matt Carrier, my hero) put all the components together and even randomly selected the winner during the poker tournament that night.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

People coming together to make this work.  GiveSmart gave us the tools – ticket sales and drawing platforms (new for us) and silent auction assistance (we have used that for years so that part was easy).  Then we had a fantastic MC (volunteer), DJ (again, no cost because they worked with us before) and trivia game (no cost as it is my daughter’s 90s company!) We had a Zoom Party during the tournament, with a “Breakout” room for watching poker.

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them? 

Most of the committee were not poker players nor familiar with Poker Stars (the popular platform we used) – so we did MANY MANY MANY test tournament games.  Also, coordinating everything was a challenge.  We also practiced the Zoom Party, along with the test poker games.

The challenges were not GiveSmart related – that was the easiest part.  A totally separate challenge came the week we were going to announce the Tournament.  Black Lives Matter.  We did not want to focus on our event – but rather our community, so we lost an entire week of “publicity.”

While we know this had an impact on our attendees, it did not impact the results.  As I mentioned, the goal was to raise $25,000.  We actually raised around $45,000 and we were able to grant 2 additional scholarships.

We decided that we will do more tournaments the rest of the year and (probably) into next!

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Say Si – Small Scale Work for a Local Cause
Campaign: smallscale.givesmart.com

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Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Michigan – Spring Soiree 2020
Campaign: springsoiree20.givesmart.com

What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

Like so many events this year, Spring Soiree was originally planned as an in-person event hosted by our presenting partner, Neiman Marcus.  Next year will be the 10th anniversary of this event, so it is already well established and it was very important for us to maintain a presence this year, not just to postpone or cancel.

Spring Soiree began as an evening to honor the caregivers of those who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.  This year, with the onset of COVID-19, families in the midst of this devastating disease are in need of our support no more than ever.  They served as our inspiration for this campaign.

We pulled inspiration from the original activities that we had planned for our in-person event and found a way to represent each of them on our GiveSmart site.  In an effort to give our supporters some of the same experiences as our normal event, we created 5 nights of themed video content: Resilience & Relaxation, Beauty, Art,  Cheers!…a cocktail demonstration and finally a live Fashion event hosted by Neiman Marcus.

What was the most rewarding part?

Besides raising funds for this very important cause, the most rewarding part was the amazing video pieces that we were able to put together in a short amount of time, to share with supporters.  Our partners were so generous with their time, talent and often shared their personal stories about this disease.  We were also able to highlight caregivers, hear about their journeys and how they value Alzheimer’s Association programs and services.

What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

There were plenty of challenges to overcome in a short period of time!  We had already set up our GiveSmart site for the in-person event, so once we wrapped our heads around this new virtual format, there were lots of edits to be made.  The next issue was all of the content that we wanted to include on the site, and the best way to organize that in a user-friendly way.  We needed several custom sections and pages to accommodate everything.  We also had some beautiful graphics that had already been designed and were happy to be able to incorporate them in an attractive way.  Serena, our GiveSmart Customer Success Manager was very helpful and happy to talk through my ideas & show me how they could work best on the GiveSmart platform.

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South Dakota State Athletics – Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction Online
Campaign: Jacks2020.givesmart.com

Community Support:

Direct Donations:

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Cardinal Spellman High School – Cardinal Spellman High School Legacy Gala and Chairman’s Challenge
Campaign: cshsgala2020.givesmart.com

Unique Auction Item with *INCREDIBLE* Return on Fair Market Value:

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Ingalls Development Foundation – Annual Benefit Show: A Virtual Fundraising Gala
Campaign: ingallsgala2020.givesmart.com

Pre-event communication:

Day of Event Communication:

Raffle/Opportunity Drawing:

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Wyoming Symphony Orchestra – Wine and Dine In
Campaign: wso2020.givesmart.com

Directed Donations:

Live Stream:

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Sharp Again Naturally – Memory Drive
Campaign: sharpagain.givesmart.com

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

Originally, we had planned for a July 14th, 2020 Live fundraising event. We were in the finalizing stages of our Save the Date postcard when COVID hit. Once the shelter in place initiative kept getting extended, we knew that date was not going to work for a live event. We thought about pushing it to the fall, but still were unsure people would be able to gather in large numbers and figured there would be many events pushed to the fall. We pivoted pretty quickly to a virtual event after looking at the facts and realizing we needed to do a fundraiser that would yield a significant amount of money this year.

We formed a committee in April, secured Givesmart by mid-May, and hired a videographer by early June. It was put together in sections. Everyone on the committee worked on a different piece of the puzzle. We had to get a storyboard of the evening’s layout, sponsors, auction items, videography, design of promotional materials, marketing and social media, find a host for the event, find different speakers for the event and then put together a pre-recorded video of the event. We pulled it together in about 8 weeks.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part was watching it all come together into a well-executed video that made people aware of our mission and our programs in a light-hearted engaging manner. We raised a significant amount of money although we fell short of our goal. We were able to get new donors to the organization and, through our online auction, a new audience to view our video. We learned new platforms and can now incorporate an element of virtual into all our fundraising efforts going forward.

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

The biggest challenge we faced was getting this amount of work done in a small window, especially since we had never done a virtual event before. All the preparation we did by watching how other virtual events were executed did not truly prepare us for the heavy lifting required. Everyone was pretty stretched out during these challenging months, so getting help was hard. Much work fell in the hands of a few.
Another challenge was securing auction items we knew had typically performed well for us at our in-person events. Due to COVID, we were unable to secure popular auction items like entertainment, sporting events, and restaurant gift cards. As a result, the auction did not perform as well as we would have liked. We also felt that our promotional and marketing items didn’t do a good job of directing people where to watch

the video- not clear that it was a pre-recorded event that would live stream on our website. However, we did learn quite a bit, and once things begin to return to normal, we will very likely use the Givesmart platform for some type of hybrid event in the future.

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Ability Beyond – The 2020 and Beyond No Go Gala
Campaign: abilitybeyond.givesmart.com

 

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Spark Ventures – Virtual Wine and Dine
Campaign: Wine2020.givesmart.com

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Make-A-Wish Mississippi – Fund-A-Mask, Grant-A-Wish
Campaign: fundamask.givesmart.com

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American Alpine Club – Annual Benefit Dinner
Campaign: alpineclub.givesmart.com

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EcoHealth Alliance – EcoHealth Spring Benefit
Campaign: eha.givesmart.com

“Thank you so much! We so appreciate all of the guidance and assistance GiveSmart provided us along the way. The virtual auction surpassed our goal by almost $15,000 which EcoHealth is over the moon about!” – Teresa Bellantoni, EcoHealth Alliance

 

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CHOC Children’s Foundation – CHOC Glass Slipper Guild Gala & CHOC Children’s Foundation Golf
Campaign: CHOCGSGALA.givesmart.com  CHOCGolf.givesmart.com

Auction Rule Communication:

Gala in a Box:

 

Golf Tournament:

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Best Buddies Tennessee – Best Buddies Virtual Gala
Campaign: BBGALA2020.givesmart.com

Watch their live stream

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McKenna Claire Foundation – Virtual Wine Tasting: Wine & Shine
Campaign: mcfwine.givesmart.commcfwine2.givesmart.com

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?
These events were actually created as a giveback.  We wanted to give back to one of our winemakers that have always been so generous to our foundation over the years.  100% of our ticket sales revenue went back to the winery to cover the costs of the wine.  Our focus was to keep our supporters engaged in our foundation with updates from our researchers and generally just providing a fun event for our guests.   During our event, we tasted 3 different wines from the Hill Family Estate.  Two of the Hill family members led us through the tastings with information about the wines, family history, and fun stories.  We also had a very brief update from 1 of our researchers. After about an hour we jumped right into live music from a talented artist from Nashville. He took requests, we had some sing-alongs, and everyone loved it.  We have a 3rd Wine & Sine Event coming up next month and we will be following the same formula.

2. What was the most rewarding part?
It was very rewarding to give back to one of our partners.  As noted this was not intended as a fundraiser but we did get some very generous donations at the time of registration as we did make that button available in GS.  The engagement of our guests was also a pleasant surprise.  I have attended several online events in the last few months and have been somewhat disappointed at the lack of engagement seen.  The majority of our guests kept their cameras on,  actively watched, and used the chat options in zoom.
3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?
As with any new event, there are always challenges.  We had to learn to use new technology (zoom), we were worried about engagement, and the flow of the evening.  We prepared by watching lots of zoom tutorials, attending other virtual events, and lastly did a practice run prior to the event.
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Mountain Lakes Education Foundation – Mask Up ML!
Campaign: maskupML.givesmart.com 

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

When the Mountain Lakes School District plans for reopening were being discussed, the Mountain Lakes Educational Foundation (MLEF) knew that children would be required to wear masks in order to attend school. We also knew a local business owner, Kevin Lynk of MaskLynk, who had made custom mask prototypes and was trying to figure out how to increase visibility of these masks in our small town. We formed a partnership with MaskLynk and sold the masks through our GiveSmart site and on social media.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part is tough to say! It would be a tie between our elementary school principal purchasing a mask for every incoming kindergarten student that she had us deliver to them at kindergarten orientation and on the first day of school when nearly every student who was in-person was wearing a MaskLynk MLEF mask!

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

Some of the challenges we faced were how to pivot from our traditional, event-based fundraising structure, to an online socially-distant fundraising model. Knowing our community was enveloped in a stressful environment due to COVID-19, we wanted to employ a model that would financially support our schools’ reopening safely and help raise funds that would then go back into the schools to support distance learning, as our district uses a hybrid model. Mask Up ML was the best marriage of these two ideas!

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IMPACT Melanoma – Martinis for Melanoma Virtual
Campaign: M4MV.givesmart.com

Sign-up Party!

 

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San Jose Sharks Foundation – Juneteenth Auction & Pride Month Auction
Campaign: Juneteenth 

 

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Danbury Animal Welfare Society – 8th Annual 5k Run for the Animals
Campaign: RunforAnimals.givesmart.com

 

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Sail Martha’s Vineyard – Virtual Seafood Buffet and Auction
Campaign: SailMV.givesmart.com

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Santa Maria Community Services – Setting the Table
Campaign: Stt.givesmart.com

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AutismUp – Kite Flite 2020
Campaign: KF2020.givesmart.com

  1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

KiteFlite is an annual peer-to-peer fundraising campaign capped by a family celebration event. Since our main gala fundraiser had to be cancelled, this one was a must-do. We really wanted to celebrate as usual, and hit on the idea of a drive-in. Guests sent in photos of past KiteFlite events; we displayed photos of past events, recognized sponsors and fundraising teams on the big screen before the movie. Most of the admission tickets are earned by fundraising team captains for reaching fundraising milestones, so we did not have ticketing in the event.

We set up a raffle, instant items and auction in GiveSmart in about 2 weeks, reading a lot of guides, and calling/texting Support frequently; they were all very helpful! E-blasts went to all our constituents about how to register on the site, and allowed people not attending the event to register, bid, and buy. We also alerted people by email and facebook before the event that everything would be executed virtually, to be sure to bring a fully charged smartphone. As cars arrived, we gave them paper instructions reminding them how to register, bid, buy, donate, and pick up.

One staffer ran the event at the drive-on from a lawn chair with a laptop and hotspot on her phone (we were in a field several miles outside the metro area!), pushing out text messages throughout the night, and checking people out in bulk. Winners picked up their winnings as they drove out.

  1. What was the most rewarding part?

Tie: 1. Seeing how excited our families and supporters were to come together and celebrate, even distanced within their own cars and greeting each other from several feet apart; and 2. Seeing the revenue mount in GiveSmart – first just showing that it was working! and then exceeding our forecast for the evening. For one particular staff person, having the technology including GiveSmart, hotspot, laptop and phone batteries hang together for the whole event was also a relief and highlight.

  1. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

Normally our live events include a penny/”Chinese” raffle, which has become a bit of a signature, but could not be replicated quite the same way in GiveSmart. Having to switch from the way our raffle has “always been done” was a challenge, mostly to staff, though some guests did miss the opportunity to put all their chances on one particular raffle item. There was a misunderstanding on our part about how/where raffle tickets are available (in both Items area and on Order form), and we had a short while when raffle tickets were Hidden and could not be bought. Fortunately, our guests let us know loud and clear! The lack of internet at the drive-in, and the idea of pulling it off just using a cell phone (size of text, buttons etc) was daunting, then we realized a hotspot could be a solution, and were fortunate it all worked.  Requiring credit cards on file saved a ton of follow-up work, a

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Camp Wapiyapi – Campfires & Cocktails
Campaign: wapiyapi.givesmart.com

1. What inspired this fundraising campaign and how was it put together?

Camp Wapiyapi is a free summer camp for patients and siblings facing pediatric cancer. While planning our 7th annual “Campfires & Cocktails” signature event to raise funds to send “s’more” kids to camp, we began to question the validity of hosting it in-person. A survey of our participants indicated support for the cause through a virtual format.

We learned of many organizations combining pre-recorded and ‘live stream’ elements. Many favored gala elements (viewing a program at a set time possibly together in a group enjoying a meal or happy hour package delivered by the organization). After participating in a few of these, we chose to intentionally go a different route. We wanted to feature our mission, rather than event elements, at the greatest convenience to our guests and at the least cost to us since revenue this year is down. The inspiration stemmed from the survey results.

We expanded the original one-night event into ‘6 Days of Giving.’ Each morning participants could view a different 1-minute video clip called “Glimpse Into Camp” hosted by a cross-section of our campers. Each glimpse showed what monies provide such as a paddle raise level, e.g. $10,000 covers the cost of Camp Adventures or $500 provides all of the supplies for Campfire Night. Had the event been in –person, we would have shown one, longer video and had a family speak (live) about the impact of the camp experience. Pre-recorded clips allowed us to bring camp to life, but also allowed us to feature children as speakers as well.

Participants could join anytime, day or night, to view the glimpse, hear about new auction items, or make a donation. A local radio celebrity provided a professional voice-over for featured auction items and additionally shared the ‘case for support’ on the last clip. If anyone wanted to catch up on an earlier clip, they could click to another screen for the video library.

2. What was the most rewarding part?

Initially, it was rewarding to finalize the storyboard and script. It was a longer process than anticipated to consider all of the various ideas, wishes, and expectations, and to then integrate them into a meaningful online event. Once all of the messaging was laid out, the fun began in assembling all of the various pieces. It was particularly exciting to see participation in the event. While the monetary goal was not reached, the most rewarding part was hearing from people who appreciated being able to take virtual tours into camp through the campers’ eyes. We took a risk in creating something completely new and the reward was in connecting new and potential supporters in support of our cause.

3. What were some of the challenges and how did you address them?

Communication was a key challenge. What content, how often, and whether contact would be through email or text message was always on the top of our minds. Providing gentle reminders and essential event information without over-communicating was tricky. We devised a communications timeline to reflect each day’s key messaging that took into account all of the different platforms.

Another challenge was determining ways to engage and encourage participation before the last day. Our strategies included holding back certain auction items in order to release new ones each day, marking some items ‘Buy Now’ to allow participants a chance to win before the end, and incorporating contests (e.g. the person with the most bids entered by 8 pm on a specific day would receive a prize). We also utilized video messaging on certain auction items at the bottom of that item description.

The greatest challenge we faced was in missing our financial goal. We enhanced the targeted ask on the last video clip. Seeing that participation was not as high as expected, we sent personal emails from our own mailboxes to those who had participated before (which was effective). We continue to reach out personally to those who missed this year’s event.

In closing, there is some additional feedback to share that differs from what we anticipated. Various webinars featuring organizations that had held virtual events told us to expect:
a) More participants virtually than in-person. Since there is no cost to attend and no geographic barriers, more people can/will engage in your event.
b) People will give more than they have given at in-person events since there is no cost for a dinner/cocktails (ticket) Our event had good participation, but it did not have greater participation than in-person.

We believe we will be able to increase this somewhat by providing ready-to-go content for people to share on social media. We also did not see participants giving more; a third of the bidders who did not prevail as winners did not make a donation. Their contribution through the event was zero. These findings remind us that while many of our participants are truly mission-passionate, events attract people who can be more party-passionate. And the latter may want the event elements we left out such as live streaming, seeing their name on the screen, etc. We will research further to weigh the cost of these elements compared to the revenue they might generate.

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Misericordia – 60th Annual Benefit
Campaign: mfa20.givesmart.com

Check out Episode 9 of our OutsideTheRoom Webinar Series to learn more about how Misericordia went virtual and succeeded in fundraising #OutsideTheRoom:

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Saint Peter School – Virtual Fall 5k
Campaign: stpeters5k.givesmart.com

Social Media Promotion:

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana – Return2Learn Matching GIft Challenge
Campaign: return2learn.givesmart.com

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Girls on the Run of the Greater Piedmont – Sneaker Soiree
Campaign: sneakersoiree.givesmart.com

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Best Buddies New Mexico – Celebration Week
Campaign: celebratenm.givesmart.com

  • Monday – Opening ceremonies: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCligqgv1ptsn3QQIWvbgb5g
  • Tuesday – Sports night: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtcu-tqT8rGdW2DNNxmfpyHFW8CQl9uWHB
  • Wednesday – Jobs Social: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMlcO-urT8uEtZe-mkaFjgygNZUGeZ7-i6P
  • Thursday – Bilingual Bingo: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJItdOuhrD4sGNR8hMJAF51oBeRq-wiYh92A
  • Friday – Closing Ceremonies: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCligqgv1ptsn3QQIWvbgb5g
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Special Olympics New York – Summer Social
Campaign: specialolympics.givesmart.com

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Operation Freedom Paws – Rock & Roll for a Cause
Campaign: rockthepaws.givesmart.com. paws4thecause.givesmart.com

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A Walk With Sally – White Light White Night
Campaign: wlwn2020.givesmart.com


 

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Hyacinth AIDS Foundation – Virtual Bingo
Campaign: HAFBINGO5.givesmart.com

Additional Virtual Fundraising Resources:

OutsideTheRoom Fundraising Resources

Checklist: Pivoting to a Virtual Fundraising Event


Looking for silent auction items that sell above their fair market value? 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Stec