The Nonprofit Organization
Since 1976, Kara has provided comprehensive grief support, crisis intervention, and education to individuals and communities facing the difficult realities of grief and loss.
Over 85 organizations benefit from Kara’s services. Annually, it costs about $1.4 million and requires over 200 trained volunteers and dedicated staff to support their mission to help the bereaved find renewed hope and meaning. And during difficult times, like the coronavirus pandemic, love and compassion fuel Kara's desire to serve more.
Kara relies heavily on fundraising to support its mission. With a $1.4 million annual budget, Kara only receives $150,000 in income from service fees. Over 90% of their budget is generated from fundraising.
Challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic climate, Kara's annual spring event was scheduled for April 25, 2020. The annual event raises significant funds that provide accessible healing services to bereaved children and adults in the Bay Area. "By the third week of March, we realized that our in-person event scheduled for April was impossible," says Merkle-Raymond.
While canceling the in-person event provided some operational savings, they lost their event sponsorships and did not have a lot of pre-ticket sales. They needed to net $100,000 to sustain their current programming. All the while, the demand for their services increased with first responders and community members.
To continue their cause during this critical time, the Kara team chose to pivot to a virtual online experience instead. They recognized that behaviors changed amidst the pandemic, and people were home with more downtime. Kara decided to host the nonprofit's first virtual event over multiple days. They selected eight days so that they could start and end on a Saturday.
Kara used ExceedFurther®, Arreva’s All-in-One, Donor Relationship Management and Fundraising Solution to maximize the benefits of donor interaction throughout the event. "Our goal was to make the virtual event feel like an in-person event," says Jim Santucci, Executive Director.
Kara created a virtual event and donation webpages directly on their website. They were able to manage the site content with point-and-click simplicity and easily add documents and images.
Using #GivingTuesday as an overarching theme, the virtual event was scheduled for May 2-9, 2020 to allow more constituents to participate over a two-weekend period. Each day had a different theme tied to the services they provided and the community they served. With holidays like Cinco de Mayo to promote their Spanish Services and leading up to Mother’s Day, the Kara team created an 8-day calendar and shared this with their constituents who were encouraged to participate when it was convenient for them.
An email was sent to the constituents in their database each day that included:
- Messaging about the daily theme and how it related to the services they provided
- Video (included past videos they had previously shared on YouTube)
- Testimonials and quotes
- Updates about door prizes, funds raised, and more
In addition to the daily emails, they also reached out to their board members and major donors who regularly led the fund-a-need for the spring gala. The Kara team asked the board and major donors to help with the virtual event by soliciting donations. They provided sample communication templates for emails/phone calls and suggested they garner participation in the virtual event that would be the equivalent of selling three tables for the traditional in-person gala.
Flexible Giving Options
- The event online donation form provided donors the option to make their donation as a pledge. This made it very easy for donors to promise to continue giving to the cause in the future. Many major donors took this option, and paid by check instead of credit card.
- Donors had the ability to make a regular recurring gift, with automated charges to a credit card on an ongoing basis—several of the donors committed to making an online donation monthly using this option.
- Enabled donors to add a tribute to their donation in honor or memory of someone.
- Donors had an option to pay the credit card processing fees
ExceedFurther's integration with other relevant software applications benefited Kara greatly. Kara increased matching giving by encouraging donors to find out if their employers matched their donations with Double the Donation. "We were able to capture several employers' matching gifts with Double the Donation integrated with ExceedFurther,” said Merkle-Raymond.
In addition to employer matching gifts, a long-time supporter of Kara committed to matching up to $25,000 to inspire giving and celebrate the virtual fundraiser.
Kara's virtual event raised $127,000 in revenue during the eight days, which exceeded their fundraising goal of $100,000. Instead of having the gala for only a few hours, Kara extended the virtual event to eight days, allowing donors to contribute at the most convenient time.
"We're delighted with our results", says Merkle-Raymond. "We didn't know that a virtual event could positively impact and allow anyone to participate. We were able to reach constituents who would never have attended the live event."
Merkle-Raymond reveals, "About 10% of our transactions were either by pledge or by check, but that represented about 40% of revenue. Those checks brought in larger donation amounts than what people were willing to give by credit card."
Use Arreva’s step-by-step guide on how to raise $100,000 in 8 days. This guide was developed in conjunction with Kara to provide samples of how any nonprofit organization can replicate this type of virtual fundraising experience.
Step-by-Step Guide to Raising $100,000 in Eight Days with a Virtual Event
- How to Pivot to a Virtual Fundraising Event
- Elevate Fundraising Now with Online Fundraising; Make it Easy for Donors to Give in Multiple Ways
- Expand Your Fundraising Campaign Success with Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Recurring Giving, Matching Giving, and More
- Access Valuable Resources to Help You Create Your Own Highly Successful Virtual Event
See How ExceedFurther Adds Value to Your Organization!
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