Universities and nonprofits face a unique challenge when it comes to recreating and hosting the major galas, dinners and auctions they use to fundraise for their institutions.
Going virtual is the obvious answer, but what does that look like in practice? In addition, what resources does an organization need to create an experience true to their mission and capture the spirit of the event through computer screens instead of tables?
Heritage University came to DonorDrive with a vision to recreate their Annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner and Paddle Raise — the premier fundraiser for student scholarships in the Yakima Valley. They used DonorDrive to livestream the local television broadcast of the telethon-style version of the evening.
Concept to Execution
A brand new client to DonorDrive, Heritage University had an urgent deadline to get their livestream site ready for the fundraising broadcast. By using one of DonorDrive’s ready-made and mobile-first themes, Heritage was able to set up their donation page and make it look sharp in under three weeks. They connected their broadcast to YouTube Live to DonorDrive for donors to watch, donate and see the donation progress with the live thermometer.
Staff and Volunteers
Heritage assembled a small team of student volunteers to take calls and manage the fundraiser while the faculty and camera teams hosted and filmed the event at the school. Only one person appeared on screen at a time, and the university clearly communicated everyone involved in the event followed social distancing guidelines.
Like any other fundraising dinner or gala, sponsors were a big part of the Heritage University virtual event. Select sponsors were showcased during the broadcast and also displayed on the fundraising instance.
Key Success Strategies
Heritage University encouraged donors to give through three core methods — online, texting and phone calls. They also implemented a 20-minute matched-giving period during the livestream to accelerate and allow donors to double their gifts if they gave before the livestream ended.
“For 34 years our annual live event, the Bounty of the Valley Annual Scholarship Dinner had produced meaningful fundraising success for student scholarships. The onset of COVID-19 forced us to move into the virtual space with no small amount of apprehension. It is with tremendous relief and excitement that we report that our first ever virtual event was also our most successful event, and that it could not have happened without DonorDrive. Their elegant solution allowed us to achieve our goals of producing a live streaming fundraising event and their team was responsive and nimble. We had but weeks to find and execute an online solution that would both track and allow donors to promote their giving in real time. The team at DonorDrive was able to react quickly and move the project along with urgency and effectiveness while providing the support and expertise needed to integrate many moving pieces. They are a top shelf organization to which we are grateful.”
- David Wise, Vice President, Marketing & Communications