Sundance Association Case Study

“Using CauseVox, we were able to raise more than twice as much than we usually do offline.”  – Sundance Organizer

You might be surprised to hear that the Bay Area has an appetite for Country-Western dance.  You’ll definitely be surprised to hear, however, that this desire has been strong enough to sustain an active Country-Western dance organization for nearly 15 years!

Line-Dancing for a Cause

Sundance Saloon is a semiweekly LGBT-friendly Country-Western dance night that takes place at a spacious club on Barneveld Avenue in San Francisco.  The crowd is welcoming, and events include plenty of open instruction for newcomers.  But these dance nights are just an appetizer for the main event.

Each year, Sundance Association (the organizer behind these events) puts on a Country Two-Step Dance-a-Thon where participants boot-scoot the night away!  The goal at the Dance-a-Thon isn’t just to have a good time, though.  The event is a wonderful fundraiser, not just for Sundance, but also for two great causes:

The first is the AIDS Emergency Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to people facing the challenges of living with debilitating HIV, AIDS, and breast cancer.  For over 20 years, the AEF has provided a helping hand to people in crisis.

The second is the Positive Resource Center, which offers free confidential disability benefits counseling and employment services for HIV-infected persons who are able to return to work.  Once the challenge of overcoming illness is somewhat under control, people find themselves suddenly thrown back into the workforce, and the transition is rarely smooth.  The PRC helps people as they attempt to re-integrate.

Traditional Fundraising

In the past five years, Sundance Association has relied on its all-volunteer staff to make its Dance-a-Thon happen and ensure that it was a fundraising success.  Here’s the kicker:  the event was organized and funds were solicited almost entirely offline!

Participants were recruited to collect pledges, and hung/distributed flyers, chatted up the friends, and generally did things the way they did in the good ‘ol days.  Sundance also created newsletters and sent them out to their snail mail list.  In essence, everything was done manually.  People sent in checks, which had to be processed, and accepting credit cards required donors to mail in a paper form.

These efforts were effective and generally raised about $4K each year.  But one of Sundance’s main organizers had also heard that some organizations were having success fundraising online.  Thinking it couldn’t hurt to open a new channel, off he went to Google …

Sundance finds CauseVox and raises over $10,000!

Sundance researched some of the other fundraising platforms available, but was drawn to CauseVox in part because it looked “easy to use” and appeared “well organized.” (Editor’s note:  Nice!  Simplicity is our thing!).  They signed up, did some test pages, and then launched their campaign. Here is Sundance’s CauseVox page.

Interestingly, unlike many others, Sundance didn’t hit social media heavily but instead relied mainly on traditional methods to direct people to participant’s fundraising pages.  Sundance did find, however, that it was a lot easier to gather their network together via email and send them to participant’s pages.  The group also found that administration was a lot easier now that payments were processed and accounted for automatically.

As with many campaigns, interest was moderate in the beginning.  In the final week, however, the total funds raised went from $2K to $10K as the usual deadline-day surge of excitement gripped the supporters!

Sundance and its network then went out and danced their dang (cowboy) booties off.

The Lessons

If anything, Sundance learned that various supporters could be reached through various channels.  Some prefer traditional face-to-face methods, while others are ready to click their way through a campaign.  CauseVox simply allowed Sundance to open a new channel and reach some supporters in a new way, and to add some new ones that were found online.

For the organizers, the main benefit of CauseVox was the ease of administration.  They said that, when all was considered, Sundance would “Be sure to use CauseVox again next year!”

Sundance:  We’ll be here waiting!