Customer Story

Customer Story: California Automobile Museum’s “Raise the Roof” Campaign

In January of 2016, the California Auto Museum renewed their lease on a building owned by the city of Sacramento. Their home for the past 30-years, the museum knew that a lease-renewal was a must-have. But there was a problem—the roof. In fact, the roof leaked so bad, they needed a whopping $750,000 to replace it.

Per the lease requirements, California Auto Museum needed the money in-hand by the fall of 2017 to stay in the space. Talk about stressful!

Over the course of a year, the museum raised an impressive $720,000 from the board, volunteers, members, and car community supporters but they were still around $30,000 short. “The need was so great,” Delta Pick Mello, Executive Director of the California Automobile Museum, told us in regard to the final fundraising push.

Instead of going with the same fundraising techniques they used to raise the initial money, the 14-person full and part-time staff took a chance on a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Not only did they close the gap and reach the $750,000 total goal during the “Raise the Roof” campaign, but the city was so impressed with their efforts that they wound up donating the building to the museum. It was the best result possible!

Check out this “Raise the Roof” Campaign snapshot:

  • Amount Raised: $28,105
  • # of Personal Fundraisers: 15
  • Campaign Length: 3 months

California automobile museumAfter achieving such stellar results, we were determined to hear more about what worked and didn’t before, during and after the campaign. Here are some helpful takeaways courtesy of the California Automobile Museum to help elevate your own peer-to-peer fundraiser.

“Here are some helpful takeaways courtesy of the California Automobile Museum to help elevate your own peer-to-peer fundraiser.” tweet this

Deciding On A Peer-to-Peer Campaign

Traditional fundraising methods work, but there are limitations. One of the major hurdles is sharing messages and stories. Back in the day, nonprofits relied on phone calls and direct mail to get the point across, but that message started and ended with the donor. Today, the internet and our 24/7/365 connections to friends and family have helped nonprofits expand this message beyond just the known donor.

California Automobile Museum realized that they had essentially “tapped” the monetary support from their closest supporters, but they still could help with another task: fundraising. According to Delta, “Peer to peer worked out really well. We had some people who were donors that wanted to reach out to friends and family but didn’t know how, and they used the CauseVox peer-to-peer fundraising pages to reach out in a way that wasn’t just about asking for money.”

Via personal fundraising pages, the networks of California Automobile Museum supporters could read about why their loved ones cared about the campaign and why they should consider helping out.

Settling on a peer-to-peer fundraiser was also good from a resource standpoint. Naturally, Delta and her team didn’t have to worry about things like printed materials and an elaborate, complicated campaign setup. In no time flat, their website was up, running, and ready to share.

Speaking of “sharing,” that was one of the features California Automobile Museum personal fundraisers appreciated most. “CauseVox was really easy for people to use and for them to share. This allowed us to reach out to other people. It was surprising just how quickly it took off, [to the point] where people we didn’t know were making donations.”

Sounds wonderful!

Takeaway For Your Cause: Weigh the pros and cons of a peer-to-peer fundraiser to decide if it’s right for your organization. Then, start putting the campaign and website together to help appeal to current and prospective donors. For guidance, check out our Ultimate Guide to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.

Promoting Made Perfect

Marketing is important for any fundraising campaign, even if it’s online. So California Automobile Museum did everything they could to get the word out about “Raise the Roof.”

In addition to preparing a video outlining the museum’s contributions to the community as well as their current leaky-roof problem, they also made sure to mention the campaign whenever possible, like special events and exhibits.

To maximize their reach, the museum also relied on word-of-mouth to promote the campaign. Per Delta, “CauseVox gave us an additional outlet for people to share with their friends that they had given to the Museum.”California automobile museum

Takeaway For Your Cause: Consider which marketing techniques you plan to use, including videos, written stories and images. Then, add them to your emails and website.

Community-Driven Support

It takes work to run a successful fundraiser. So, what helped the California Automobile Museum achieve such spectacular results? It all boils down to community-driven support.

As we already outlined, the peer-to-peer aspect of the campaign is the factor that brought the museum within striking distance of their aggressive goal. By motivating their own supporters, most of whom had already made a sizeable donation, to use their passion for the cause and donate their time and efforts as personal fundraisers, the campaign was immediately visible to an exponentially broad audience.

Delta explained, “The most important thing was the board of directors and our supporters that worked to raise the funds needed. It was through 1-1 relationships right from the get-go, and our supporters then reached out to friends on our behalf in the same way.”

It really doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling. The minute you recruit fundraisers, people who love your cause and want to help, and they share the fuel behind that passion with their networks, the magic (that is, exposure and donations) naturally follow.California automobile museum

Takeaway For Your Cause: Prepare your donors to become fundraisers by offering guidance, possibly in the form of a fundraiser toolkit.

Attracting Attention

As the museum quickly noticed as they began the campaign, all it takes is one supporter (or 15, like California Automobile Museum had for “Raise the Roof”) to start spreading the word and attracting attention. With consistent effort and by following fundraising best practices, before long, more people know about what your organization does and what you need.

Because of their online peer-to-peer fundraiser, the museum even got the attention of the press. “We immediately got attention from the press asking why they didn’t know we had been fundraising. We reached our goal and got some great publicity [in the process].”

As you craft your own online fundraising campaign, remember to prepare for a domino-effect like the one California Automobile Museum experienced. “I was surprised at how we had been “talking” about this campaign for a year, and yet, when we started the CauseVox campaign, we suddenly got the attention of a whole new audience. It seemed to add a level of legitimacy to our efforts.”

It was this exposure that helped the city of Sacramento realize just how special the museum was to the community. After city officials noticed the large (and successful) fundraising efforts, they ultimately decided to donate the building so the museum could, for the first time, have a permanent home.

Takeaway For Your Cause: Encourage supporters (even those who aren’t personal fundraisers) to share your campaign with their own networks.

Final Takeaways Courtesy of California Automobile Museum

We are thrilled with California Automobile Museum’s Raise the Roof campaign. They did exactly what they needed to do: leverage the influence of their board, donors, volunteers, and members to reach their goal and continue their mission.

“They did exactly what they needed to do: leverage the influence of their board, donors, volunteers, and members to reach their goal and continue their mission.” tweet this

Above all, the campaign was FUN for them. “It was interesting for the peer-to-peer, because people challenged each other to see how much they could raise, so it was right in front of everyone and it was the fun part of it,” Delta told us.

Raising money, engaging current and prospective supporters, and having fun all at the same time? That’s what we like to hear!

To learn more about how you can leverage the enthusiasm of your current supporters through community-driven fundraising, schedule a free 1-on-1 demo.

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