My Friend’s Place, a youth home-based in Los Angeles, shares their experiences around virtual events and how many events to try within one week. They even saw some unexpected fundraising as a result of a virtual panel discussion that was viewed nationwide, which would have otherwise stayed local. They walk us through the importance of providing education around your mission and how to leverage celebrities and public relations to expand your reach.
The following is a transcript of our Q&A conversation from our #OutsideTheRoom Fundraising Success Series – Episode 15. Watch the full episode here.
Talking about the wine tasting that you guys did, was wine tasting in person or did you send bottles out to people? Kind of how did that particular one work?
Daniel: It was a combination of sending bottles out to people and having it available for pick up. We have our local wine bar that’s really a great supporter of ours. And so they’re right in Hollywood a couple blocks away, so people can show up there and get a couple bottles of wine. Or they wanted them delivered they could have been for I think 20$ service fee or something like that.
Somebody had asked about their organization is based in a more rural area so they don’t have a lot of ambassadors in the area whether it’s on the celebrity side or just in general. What sort of recommendations would you have for groups that either rural newer and really just trying to grow their footprint and some of areas that you guys talked about previously?
Jeff: There are a few ideas that come to mind not knowing obviously the specific topic or issue that this organization works with. I think first of all, do some research and find if there’s a state-wide or even a national or regional kind of collective of organization or a bigger kind of advocacy group that you can connect to. And find out some other resources and other points a partnership. My Friend’s Place probably 25 years ago, helped create the Hollywood Homeless Youth partnership or the (HHYP) as we like to call it. And now we have nine organizations across Los Angeles that is part of that. So we all harness each other’s relationships, person power trainings and really also resources. So you can think of it on that level so are there other things that maybe big city closest to you, another organization that you can connect to and they could recommend folks to work with. And also like finding an ambassador who might be a celebrity, it’s doing a little bit of that research. So you can google celebrities who care about homelessness for example, and you might get a lot of random articles that aren’t exactly accurate. But if you take your time to read through it you might find somebody who has a lived experience of homelessness, somebody who has worked with other homeless organization that could be a great place to start. So that way you know you’re potentially sending an email or making a phone call to someone who already cares. But again that would be for the specific issue or cause that you’re working toward. I just can’t recommend enough just doing it. A little bit of research can go a long way. We have some major donors and celebrity supporters who have never stepped foot at my Friend’s Place. So it doesn’t mean that they literally have to come see your organization and be part of it in person. A good development person, a good non-profit person can make a compelling case over the phone or now as we often doing over zoom. So don’t discredit yourself just because you might not be able to connect in person.
Last question, somebody asked the follow-up to the wine tasting. Did you guys stream the tasting at all?
Daniel: We did the wine tasting by zoom with the sommelier our friend Zach who owns the bar. Jeff could maybe answer more of what it was like because I believe Jeff was there and I actually was not there for the 1k thing.
Jeff: It was great. Your typical zoom meeting but everyone was drinking and relaxed and having fun. I actually have an infant at home and she joined for a minute because I was at home. But it actually was really fun too like Daniel had said all along. Connect with some supporters who we hadn’t literally seen in a while. But then they were brand new folks that were joining because they either like wine or wanted to have a good time. We are out of state and we’re still able to join in that capacity. So it was really relaxed and again I think the key to that was Zach who’s the owner of Tabula Rasa our wine partner, does a brilliant job at a wine tasting. So the fact that we weren’t in person really made no difference. Everyone still enjoyed themselves.
Daniel: I just wanted to jump there quickly with the one last thing about that. Which are restaurants are obviously hurting right now more so or less so depending on where in the country you are. We normally ask for something like this for the wine to be donated in this situation. We actually purchased the wine at the cost that Zach had paid for it. So at least he wasn’t able to do the straight donation but he wasn’t’ losing his money as well and was getting good press or not press exactly. But it was a good opportunity for him to reach out to new communities. And lastly, we offered this as a cultivation opportunity for our board members so if they had other friends who had some money or were interested in our organization, they were able to send some wine over to them and then tune them in and we did have a little bit of time on the zoom call. I think Jeff said some lovely things about us. So just again cultivation opportunities for people who are already love you.
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