3 Part Virtual Event Fundraising Plan: Communication, Charcuterie and Donations
The Action Center located in Lakewood Colorado serves those facing hardship or experiencing homelessness. Their one-hour virtual fundraising event surpassed the goal of $250K without an auction but with donations only. There was a small invitation-only audience that was invited to be an in-studio audience. Getting a front row to the speakers and even dining on a meal that was prepared live as part of the event by celebrity chef David Bondarchuk. Weaving together food, fun, impact stories, and instructions how to give with a sprinkling of engagement questions provided an interest level that never dropped off.
The complete fundraising strategy was implemented over many weeks culminat
ing in the virtual event that was polished and ready for prime time. The back story includes:
- Communication and charcuterie
- Pre-commitments for the in-studio audience
- Run of show that is impactful
Tawney, the Marketing Manager at the Action Center, Executive Director, Pam, and Director of Development, John rounded out the team with Melissa from Premiere Events by Melissa sharing their fundraising story. They were kind to also share many of their key collateral pieces in hopes that you too can be inspired. Focused on getting the message out about the Action Center’s annual fundraising event branding, images, and marketing were vital to capturing the audience and sharing meaningful dialog to encourage donations. Action Center also utilized the fundraiser to raise awareness and money for longer-term donation opportunities.
The entire Virtual event is posted on YouTube and spending some time watching it back will help you understand how they crushed the fundraising goal with day-of donations totaling over $300,000. View the entire Where Action Matters 19th Annual Charity event, click here
Communication & Charcuterie
Hungry people are distracted; feed them and they will focus! From the outset of the planning, the communication collateral content and timing were mapped out. Tawney shares that at the end of the event they had created and pushed out almost seventy pieces in print, email, and social media.
Six weeks out, they started with saving the date, followed by invitations and reasons to give and join the event. Providing all the pertinent information on date, time and how to participate. Then easy to read info cards with 4 reasons to participate:
- You want to support your community
- You want to give a hand up, not a handout
- Your gift is tax deductible
- Changing lives feels good!
How and why to participate. Pairing the messaging
Registration is encouraged, enticing them with food! With a donation-only event, the bottom line is getting donations and in that scenario many times it’s simply transactional and not relational. The Action Center used the event as a springboard to secure registrations and contact information so they can continue the conversation and relationship during and after the event.
To entice registration they gave out a delicious treat, a charcuterie box to the first 100 registrants. Virtual viewers were able to pick up the charcuterie boxes prior to the event and enjoy at a time that is convenient for them.
Not to be left out from a tasty experience, the in-studio audience was treated to an in-studio meal demonstration and provided a small meal to follow the event.
Clearly share that the virtual event is one hour (only) and the agenda will be filled with a variety of interesting topics. An agenda highlighting the speakers was distributed to encourage attendees to tune in. The time was filled with community advocates and partners as well as impact stories from those that benefit from services from The Action Center. Sharing the highlights in advance showed the supporters how the event program was going to unfold.
Two Days out reminder notices encourage registration and admiring the supporters as the heroes. Additional reminder notes went out, emails and social media posts. Wall to wall the conversation offline and online is all about the Where Action Matters charitable event. Brightly colored yet still branded and thematic communications were vital. The tone was fun and celebratory with a continuation of the event branding.
Run of Show as a Relational Model
Director frames it up in one comment, paraphrasing, “someone cares is a powerful elixir to future success”. To share this The Action center brought in several speakers to show a 360-degree view of the impact.
- Partnering with the local school district to get supportive care to those in need. A student and family advocate told her poverty story and you can see and hear the passion she has to make a difference.
- A few breaks were conducted to ask the audience questions. For example, what percentage of households coming to The Action Center for support are families with children? Asked to make a guess in the chat the number was revealed to be an astonishing 55%.
- An Impact video was pre-recorded to bring the audience face to face and into the life of Cynthia, a grandma raising her grandchildren, one of which is special needs with very little means. Her candid comments paired with the visual of her home, and neighborhood show how The Action Center is on the ground making a difference in her life, her grandchildren's lives. This is generational.
It’s All About the Fundraising
This is the major fundraiser of the year and a chance to focus attention on the work in the community. Promoting the how and why on a single piece of collateral ties it all together. How and where to participate and give + why how this is so important. Blending seamlessly from impact video to on-screen engagement questions, to testimonials the story unfurls and fills the air with meaning. Transitioning to the meal being prepared where he shares his story of needing community help touches the heart of the audience.
Communicate expectations and how to give. One-time donations are great and make up the majority of the activity during the event fundraiser. Providing two additional ways to make an impact are part of the larger development strategy. Longer-term commitments allow the Action Center to budget, and help them know what resources are available to serve the community. Knowing those funds are coming in they can plan definite and concrete.
The Action Center has two longer goal fundraising opportunities:
- Mountain Mover Giving Society. Defined by a mountain mover, one who achieves something that is incredibly difficult. This is a recurring gift made by credit card that provides sustainable funding
- Self-Sufficiency Pledge. This is a gift commitment over the next 3-5 years of $1000 per year that provides guaranteed funds.
After the Where Action Matters event concluded the story lives on. Collateral pieces like the ones here have QR codes to make it easy to make a donation. The virtual event playback is published on YouTube. Pieces to continue to share Cynthia's story + a quick scan to donate makes it easy for supporters to give.
Each and every piece of marketing material was designed and curated with care and precision. Yes, it takes a lot of time, however it makes a difference!
The Action Center: Community. Compassion. Connection
Since 1968, The Action Center has been committed to expanding and refining its services to meet our participant’s ever-changing needs. The Action Center’s goal is to provide clients with a continuum of services to meet their current needs and become self-sufficient. It is through the tireless effort of our volunteers, dedication of our professional staff, and generous donations from our amazing community that The Action Center provides hope and assistance with dignity and breaks the cycle of poverty.
To Connect with The Action Center: