Jun 5, 2020

Your School’s Pivot to a Virtual Fundraiser

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 4 of our Pivot Success Series.  You can view the full webinar, and other webinars in the series, on our Pivot Success page.

This episode breaks down how one school made a successful pivot to virtual fundraising for this year’s fundraiser.

What happens in community where parents are furloughed or even lost jobs during the pandemic? Is it heartless to have a fundraiser option in this situation?

Diane: We’ve had a number of schools that are in that same situation and what they’ve done is they reached out to the greater community. If the parents of the community the school community are in that situation words they’re not in a place to give then that’s when we need to reach out to our alumni and our community supporters. So there are still some folks out there that even in that scenario, it tends to be there’s some specific communities right where that’s happening. Some schools have made that decision to just say we are not going to fundraise at this time. And there are others that say no. You know what we’re going to continue to do it and just have expectation that we’re not going to expect much from the parents but perhaps we can in our local community. 

We have no prizes, no auction items and cannot call local places now to start asking for donations or sponsorships, any ideas? We’re supposed to do a duck race but first we would need prizes.

Diane: The number ones fool items we see out there are the ones that don’t cost a penny at all. And they talked a bit about these are the ones that you can just create where it is principal for a day, PE teacher for a day. If it’s a parking spot those kinds of things because you are right.  Right now reaching out into the community is an interesting time. We did however recently, we had a school that said that they were having a great luck with their was more independent school that had folks that owned businesses as alumni. So they had graduated and they went off and now they have their own businesses and so they used their alumni network as a great resource to collect some recent items. I think we talked about this a lot outside of the school sector but just in the non-profit sector in general.  They often have to work with their board and just their connections to get some donated items. Sometimes local businesses are not as generous with the non-school non-profit partners. And so working with the network to get some items but you guys have some of these unique no cost items right at your fingertips if you can think of  a few of them for your school. 

I’ll jump in there too Diane. Some other fun things for the kids is we’ve actually seen people doing selling. It’s kind of virtual play date or a virtual fun activity between the teacher and students, those types of things just all be held via zoom. And another one that has come up recently was maybe your principal is still sending out electronic messages and that kind of stuff and allowing a kid to be able to read those messages maybe it’s to make a birthday announcement for that week. Whatever it is just something fun that normally would take place at the school but now is I’m going to take place virtually our other zero dollar items that can still be implemented at this time. 

For engagement let say, we are on your zoom or Facebook live, where would this easy donation screen be?  At the bottom of the live screen or should we have a link to donate and then users go to a separate site?

Diane: There are a couple of options there. So what we’ve seen some of organizations do is they actually they’re running their live stream through facebook live, YouTube live or at war zoom whatever. And what they are suggesting to their attendees is “hey have that up in the screen” and then the donations are being made through their phone and they kind of set it up as two separate methods. You are watching is the live feed on the screen on your computer and your donations go through your phone. Now the other thing that through our platform we do have the ability to have that live feed or videos right on the home page and so the way you can organize the home page is that live feed is on one panel and either right above or below it with the place to make the donation. So it could be all on screen on a computer but certainly the method we’re seeing most popular is I’m watching the   screen and that I’m making donations through my phone. 

Is your recommendation to use the silent auction type of item if we have a live streaming at the same time? Is there a limitation here and then it’s a fixed bid increment which doesn’t necessarily work best? If this was a live event the auctioneer would have more flexibility to help increase the bids to feel for the room. Any recommendations with respect to the best way to list live auction items for a virtual event? 

Kristin: that was kind of pulley we’re highlighting those premiere items and you are selling those for a certain amount of time. So it’s sort of like in a live event on those live auction items. They’re only open for that certain amount of time whenever that auctioneer would be auctioned them off. So the way that they would work virtually unless you are literally having people to call out or text on it on the chat  and if you’re running a zoom people could check, chat in and say “I want to bid $200 better than $3 for that.” and then it would work like a live auction. However, what’s been more common is that they’re set up as silent auction items on the site. However, they’re being highlighted during this and they are only open during this live timeframe. So it’s really up to you if you are going to host zoom you can do that they can respond via chat and you can set it up as a live auction item and it’s entered by the admin. Or more commonly you’re setting it up as a silent auction item but that item is only open during that window of time that you’re highlighting it. 

What is my silent auction certificate is for a restaurant or a hotel? Which is still closed for the foreseeable future but the certificate does not expire for twelve months. 

Diane: I think any time whether it’s in this interesting time or whenever you are hosting an auction. Certainly put the restrictions in the description of that item and certainly right now a lot of folks are looking at “Oh! When does this expire? Because obviously I’m not looking to perhaps 31 hotels on the next month.” type of thing. So just by posting the expiration date seems to be working. We do see hotel packaged and vacation packages actually selling and they haven’t stopped selling. I think everybody though is just asking question when does this expire you know expecting that they’re not going to utilize it until fall or next spring.

Do organizations sell tickets to these virtual events or are they typically free?

Kristin: They’re free. Just because that’s going to garner more people to the sites and you’re getting that engagement that kind of stuff there are smaller subsets that are selling tickets definitely not at the same price as you would see for in-person events. Definitely in a discounted rate. However, if you had an event that already scheduled different type of logistics and you had sold in person event tickets. We have options to roll those into donations if they so choose and that kind of stuff. But to answer your question, majority of events that we’re seeing is free enrolment.

Diane: I would like to add to that that a number of folks recently that are talking about” Hmmm I’m thinking about my fall event and what if it does have to also be virtual.” And some people are getting really creative and saying they are going to sell tickets and what they going to do is they’re going to send food and drink and wine or what have you or if it’s a family event, food and beverage  to the home in advance. And so they would still be selling tickets and everybody is still getting some kind of meal. One organization was talking about having the restaurant deliver the food. And so there’s some really fun and creative ideas out there that could still benefit of ticket sales.

The best platform to hold a live auction or a live stream, so YouTube or Facebook.  Is there a step-by-step tutorial on how to begin this process? 

Diane: the first thing to know with any live feed is that there is a delay right? So that first week when everybody was kind of jumping to the live feed and some of the schools and even some of our examples. They were going out there and they’re doing these live feed and watching and asking for donations and the thermometer wasn’t going up and they were like “Oh! What’s going on?” And then 30 seconds later, all of the donations start coming in.  So the one thing to know is when you are doing any kind of live-streaming there’s a bit of a delay so you have to plan for that. As far as a tutorial, I’ll be honest with you I think a lot of people get really scrappy and figured it out and suddenly there are all kinds of YouTube videos out there and how to do this. We do have a sister company within community brands that has a live streaming service that does allow you to add a kind of staffing option if you will like support help that kind of thing. If you are looking for something a little meteor than what you can get from a facebook live or YouTube live type of thing. Just know that it’s now been around enough the past four of five weeks these virtual event that there’s all kinds of even auctioneers, a lot of the auctioneers have embraced this place of virtual events. So if you need help most of them have figured out how they can help you post a live feed and virtual event. 

If an event is free, you mentioned earlier to have live drawing. How do folks pay to be part of this drawing?

Kristin: Maybe it’s free to get on to the site to be register on the campaign sign mechanism that part is free.  However when you have raffle baskets that you are selling on there you are actually setting it up to instant items. So them just visiting the site are what gets that is the free part. But once they’re on and they can see what you have on there. And then when they start purchasing these internet and they actually start paying is when they want to actually acquire these raffle items and tickets for them.


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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