Imagine this: you set what you think is an ambitious fundraising goal for your virtual event and then watch as you double, triple, quadruple that goal in the days leading up to the event. Then, you cross the finish line – and end up raising 12 times your fundraising goal! Ah, the powers of technology.
This was the scenario for Mentor New York, a nonprofit that works with companies, schools and organizations to provide mentoring for organizations that serve more than 80,000 young people in New York. The 2021 Mentor of the Year Awards event–typically an in-person awards program with dinner–went virtual due to COVID and set a fundraising goal of $10,000.
Instead, their event raised more than $124,000, thanks to the CauseVox digital fundraising platform and some creative ticketing and peer-to-peer strategies.
Pivoting To A Virtual Awards Ceremony
Like most nonprofits, Mentor New York had to pivot during the pandemic to virtual events and engagement for its supporters. The small nonprofit had just signed up for CauseVox’s digital fundraising platform in late 2019 for its end-of-year donor appeal and saw an immediate return, said Subira Taylor-Louineus, Director of Operations and Finance. Then, when the pandemic hit a few months later, it was time to get creative for fundraising.
With in-person events impossible, Mentor New York utilized CauseVox to set up its annual signature event as a virtual fundraising event that relied primarily on peer-to-peer fundraising and creative ticketing.
Mentor NY Used Ticketing For Their Virtual Awards Ceremony To Drive Higher Gift Amounts
For ticketing, they were able to set up the ticket options to include optional donations on top of the ticket price, netting thousands more in “free” money from supporters who wanted to go beyond the ticket price and provide extra support during a tough time of fundraising.
Donations also increased because with a low $25 ticket price, more people were able to attend the virtual event compared to the higher in-person prices, resulting in many more donations and brand awareness for those who logged in to the event for the one-hour program. Because the platform allows customization, Mentor New York was able to create separate ticket options that encouraged donors to add on a donation for a specific service it provides so they could see the true impact of their donation.
CauseVox’s ticketing platform made it very easy for the event team to export the list of event supporters into its email platform and the Zoom invitation, which allowed for ongoing event promotion and buzz up to the event itself.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drove Fundraising Success
“We found that the peer-to-peer fundraising option is a really fun way to get our young board engaged and they shared our page with their network, their family and friends, and it was an easy way for us to bring in (more funding),” Taylor-Louineus said.
The bulk of their success came from peer-to-peer strategies that utilized their longstanding supporters and board members — many of them from their young professionals board — to create their own fundraising pages, tell their stories and set goals for support that nearly all of them exceeded through friendly competition among themselves.
Prior to CauseVox, the youth primarily helped secure silent auction items for the event but when the event went virtual, Mentor New York’s marketing team created a toolkit that allowed youth and supporters to create their own individual fundraising pages, set their goals, create Zoom backgrounds, and utilize suggested messages to do outreach.
By supplying their peer-to-peer fundraisers with a fundraising toolkit, Mentor New York equipped them to successfully share their pages with their friends and family. They included a lot of fundraising essentials, such as:
- Fundraising templates
- Email outreach messages
- Social media messages
- Sponsor packages
- Background on the event itself
Mentor New York Had A High Return On Investment With Little Administrative Tasks
And the biggest positive from doing the virtual event was the 87% savings in expenses compared to an in-person event that required a venue, catering, decorations and other typical expenses for events that nonprofits know all too well. Nearly all the money raised was able to go directly to programs, something that donors love to see and helps with your charity rating.
While there are certainly advantages of an in-person fundraising event, there’s no denying that a virtual event allows for many more people to attend and support.
Subira noted how the event was well-received by the Mentor New York community.
“Everyone loved it. We had a lot of positive feedback not just about the actual event but the process itself. Everything looked polished and professional. We’re only a team of eight or nine right now and we were able to put on a very seamless and polished event from beginning to end.”
Overall, with their transition from an in-person event to virtual, they were able to retain 99% of revenue. Along with an 87% decrease in event costs, this had a dramatic impact on their return on investment.
“It really has us thinking differently about fundraising. I love the fancy dinners, but this definitely has us thinking about how we do things,” Subira noted.
CauseVox Made It Easy For Mentor New York Save Time + Streamline Their Fundraising Event
Having the bulk of fundraising centralized in an easy-to-use platform was a dream for Taylor-Louineus, she said, because it saved time and money figuring out what was working and what needed to be adjusted. “I save so much more time because your platform is so intuitive and straightforward,” she said. “ I have exactly what I need to dig deeper into the numbers and analyze things to close them off and keep things moving within our company.”
Mentor New York’s overall success utilizing CauseVox for its signature fundraising event now has her team evaluating how to organize new fundraising events and even program events going forward: in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
“It’s helped us come into the 21st Century, which is why we originally reached out to CauseVox. I think CauseVox is a huge part of us living in this current world and environment that we’re in. Right now it’s only used for our fundraising but we’re looking to expand it to our programming events as well,” Taylor-Louineus said.
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