The DonorDrive Team reports that The Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference was a huge success this year. With endurance events being the fastest growing space in fundraising, it’s not surprising that the conference had the largest attendance ever. DonorDrive Director of Sales Corbit Harrison had estimated early on that attendance was 1/3 bigger than last year. He was close. The actual increase was 39%. That’s substantial proof of the growth happening in the ‘thon fundraising space.
Kymberlee Setterberg, National Director, Team ASPCA led off the Endurance Summit workshop with her own case study about ASPCA’s success in building their events with DonorDrive fundraising software. Andrea Frieder Heines, Account Manager of DonorDrive, gave Kymberlee an assist answering questions at the Fundraising Summit Roundtable. Livestrong and the New York Marathon were both represented in the Summit as well, giving attendees a chance to talk with some very successful professionals in the ‘thon space.
There were plenty of thought-provoking workshops, speeches and roundtables. But probably the best part of the conference (as always) was seeing the collaboration: watching non-profit professionals cram the Roundtables to compare notes on the successes and learnings from the challenges they faced over the past year with their events.
We know that there are many non-profits doing amazing work that don’t have means to send an admin to Run Walk Ride. This year, in order to make it possible for some of these deserving leaders to attend, we founded the DonorDrive Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference Scholarship program. DonorDrive Managing Partner Todd Levy presented scholarships to recipients Jen Bates of Farm Sanctuary and Mary DiCarlo of TREE Fund.
We talked to Jen about her first-time experience at Run Walk Ride. “What I liked best was meeting other people from similarly-sized organizations and hearing about how they run their programs. It was very encouraging to learn that our Walk for Farm Animals program is pretty much in line with how other programs operate.” In addition to talking one-on-one with peers, Jen left with some great learnings. “The most important thing I learned was the need to personalize communication with participants: tell inspirational stories, cater messages to participants’ various interests, and so on. We already do some of this for the Walk for Farm Animals, but the conference definitely stressed that we should make this a priority.”
With the help of the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Conference, we plan on making these scholarships available annually to help non-profits send a staffer to Run Walk Ride for the first time. We feel the learning they take away will greatly help their causes as it did for Jen.
The DonorDrive booth was a popular destination. Todd, Andrea, Corbit and Managing Partner Paul Ghiz got much insight on the current fundraising landscape of experiential events from those who stopped by to chat and pick up a DonorDrive tote bag. (Admittedly the bags were the hit swag of the conference and contributed to the traffic.) Paul and Todd held some enlightening conversations with industry shakers, including Jeff Shuck of Event 360. As a surprise, we gave away iPads compliments of Moneris. Kristen Petillo from AID Atlanta won hers in a drawing at the DonorDrive booth.
No doubt as the premiere ‘thon conference, Run Walk Ride will continue to grow in both size and importance for the experiential fundraising community. We congratulate David Hessekiel, Run Walk Ride founder on the huge success of the conference this year.
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