ACTEC client success story
The Nonprofit Organization
ACTEC Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) that offers education to families and professionals and supports students interested in the trust and estate area of the law. Established in 2011, the Foundation is the philanthropic arm for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
With only five staff members, the Foundation depends on over thirty officers and directors and 2500 members nationwide to achieve their mission. To contribute, the members engage in programs that serve the community, contribute financially at any of the Foundation's three national meetings, or participate in other fundraising activities.
The funds raised are used to produce podcasts and sponsor writing competitions to encourage law students to create scholarly works in the area of trusts and estates.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolded in March of 2020, ACTEC Foundation needed to make quick decisions and take action regarding their June 2020 fundraising campaign. They had been planning on a bicycling fundraiser with cyclists soliciting donors to sponsor their participation in a race to raise funds for the Foundation. The cyclists were racing to a planned ACTEC Foundation meeting in Ashville, North Carolina.
Since they could no longer safely hold an in-person fundraiser, they spared no time in making the decision to pivot to a virtual fundraising event and wanted to come up with a fun and effective way to still engage donors and to raise funds from a distance in these uncertain times.
ACTEC Foundation quickly brought together their team and set about coming up with a concept for their June virtual fundraising event, knowing that they had to respond quickly with only a matter of a few short weeks until June. They wanted to do something new and engaging that would really resonate with their fellows.
They ultimately decided that it would be fun to look for a theme that tied into other events they were missing during this time. Many on the team shared how much they always looked forward to the Kentucky Derby, and the team decided on the concept of creating a virtual Derby event to raise funds and engage donors.
ACTEC Foundation moved forward with the decision to host a virtual derby event and created the first ACTEC Foundation Spring Derby, a virtual, four-week race that would provide their supporters with a virtual experience that would mirror the celebratory feel of the now cancelled Kentucky Derby. They decided to fuel the virtual derby with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign involving their Executive Team members. Each member of the Executive Committee member was invited to participate in the virtual derby as a jockey on their own creatively named horse to raise funds. The Foundation decided to adjust the goal from last year’s fundraiser, given the financial impact of the pandemic, and set a goal for each Executive Committee member of $2,200.
They created a virtual derby track that was 1.25 miles long (2,200 yards), and horses would advance a yard for every dollar donated as they raced to reach their goal of $2,200. The peer-to-peer fundraising campaign was set up as a friendly competition with the winning jockey receiving the coveted ACTEC Foundation Derby Cup and bragging rights for the next year. Amy Michaud, Membership and Foundation Management Director, says, "Our members are very competitive, and our supporters are looking for interesting, engaging, and fun."
Amy made it easy for the seven Executive Committee members hosting a peer-to-peer jockey fundraiser to be successful in reaching their goals by first creating an online peer-to-peer donation webpage template in ExceedFurther, Arreva’s All-in-One Fundraising, and Donor Relationship Management Solution. Then, they worked with each of the jockeys to help them develop individual fundraising webpages on the event website. Each page displayed custom graphics, an individual thermometer, and leaderboards for donations coming in to make it easy for the fundraisers to keep track of their progress and to foster healthy competition.
ExceedFurther also made it easy for people to make virtual online donations, especially given that donors and constituents were not only socially distancing, but also located all across North America. The ACTEC Foundation has relied on Arreva for fundraising and donor relationship management software for more than a decade, and Michaud, who manages the Foundation’s fundraising programming, felt well prepared to run their virtual event leveraging ExceedFurther. Michaud says, "Arreva's cloud-based solutions have made it easy for us to grow. We've used Arreva to solve many different kinds of complex challenges, from managing our three national meetings to now hosting peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns."
In addition to updates on the Foundation website and social media, the Foundation also sent out an email every Wednesday. They encouraged their jockeys and donors to check the leader board daily and watch for updates until the Debry closed. This created great enthusiasm and continued engagement as supporters watched each dollar donated move their favorite horse and jockey one yard closer to the finish line, spurring more donation activity as the race progressed! Weekly emails also prompted the Jockeys to send updates on their fundraiser status asking colleagues to help them meet their goal. Launching a peer-to-peer fundraising event campaign with individual fundraisers was a great way to reach new donors.
The ACTEC Spring Derby was definitely one for the record books. Not only did each jockey fundraiser meet their individual goal, the Foundation exceeded their overall goal by 40% raising nearly $23,000 through the 4-week virtual fundraiser. Michaud says that although they were very pleased with the amount raised against their modest goal of $15,400, she was as impressed with their ability to reach new donors with the peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Michaud also says that the Foundation's ability to collect tribute donations, enabled by ExceedFurther, really boosted donations. To further encourage tribute gifts, Michaud says, "we've started publishing the names of everyone that received a gift in their memory in our newsletters, and that has increased the number of tribute gifts that we continue to receive."
With the success of this campaign, the Foundation is confidently expanding upon its virtual fundraising efforts for future activities. The Spring Derby generated so much excitement, the organization is already planning the 2021 Spring Derby and decided that this will now be a standing annual fundraising event. They plan to broaden the peer-to-peer fundraising campaign participation beyond the Executive Committee by promoting the ability for anyone to sponsor their own individual fundraisers in support of the ACTEC Foundation.
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