Success Story: Goodwill Industries of the Valleys pivots to a virtual fundraiser and raises over $34k to provide training and employment programs
In this video, I’m joined by Kelly from the Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. You’re probably familiar with Goodwill stores, but there’s so much more going on behind the scenes! Throughout central, southwest, and southside Virginia, Goodwill training and employment programs are empowering people to achieve their goals, advance their careers, and participate more fully in life. Goodwill Industries of the Valleys raised over $34k on Givebutter to help youth, adults, and seniors in the community who have disabilities and disadvantages develop the skills they need to gain greater financial and personal independence. Kelly also shares:
- Why they chose Givebutter for their first-ever virtual fundraiser (Hint: Low, transparent fees!)
- How to use powerful storytelling to connect with supporters and drive donations online
- Tips, tricks, and lessons learned to help you make the (sometimes scary) jump from an in-person event to a virtual fundraiser
“[Givebutter] integrates very well with Bloomerang which is our donor database. That was really important to us to have that integration. It was pretty easy to use. It gave us the functionality of being able to embed the video, and it was very inexpensive. For a nonprofit, that is so important. This in-person event usually costs us around $8,000 and this year it was so minimal. It was wonderful . . . It was also shocking to me that we only had five people who did not pay the fee. So 95% of our donors paid the processing fee—that was really exciting. That's above and beyond the dollar amount you see on the Givebutter page.”
This Success Story is nifty and thrifty!
Campaign at a glance
Full video script
Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring the Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. This nonprofit raised $34,000 to provide training and employment programs. I have Kelly here with me to share how they were able to create such a fun and successful live event. She's also going to share with me what made them turn to Givebutter and tips, tricks, and lessons learned, so that everybody who's following along can give better with Givebutter. Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kelly: Thanks for having us.
Rachel: To start, why don't you introduce yourself and what you all do?
Kelly: I am Kelly with Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. We are one of a lot of Goodwills from across the nation. There are hundreds of Goodwills across North America, and we're just a little pocket over in central and southwest Virginia. We cover 35 counties in 14 cities in Virginia, and we are providing training and employment programs for youth, adults, and seniors who have obstacles to employment or independence. They may have disabilities, disadvantages, may have just been released from being incarcerated—whatever their challenge or obstacle to employment may be, we help them find a path to greater independence, employment, or careers.
Rachel: That's amazing. You are teaching me because this is a part of Goodwill that I think I'm not as familiar with. So thank you for sharing more about your program.
Kelly: Everybody knows the stores, but there’s so much more to Goodwill.
Rachel: Right, yes! Working for Independence was your recent fundraiser on Givebutter. What was it all about and what were you raising funds for?
Kelly: Every year for the past six years, we have done a Working for Independence breakfast. We followed the Benevon Model—if folks are familiar with Benevon—and this was our “ask” event. We invite people to come to a central location in October on a Wednesday morning for one hour, and we tell them about the Goodwill mission and hopefully inspire them to give. Well, welcome 2020 and the pandemic. Gathering was not possible. We held out as long as we could. We thought about doing a hybrid event and social distancing, and then finally we decided no—this has got to be virtual. We cut the cord and decided to go virtual. This is really the only fundraiser our organization does for unrestricted dollars, so that's what we were raising money for.
Rachel: So it's a big deal—this annual fundraiser that you have. That must've been a huge pivot.
Kelly: It was!
Rachel: How did you navigate that when you were switching to this? From an in-person, breakfast, one-hour format to the virtual. What were you shifting towards? What did your event look like online?
Kelly: With the Benevon Model and the breakfast, you utilize table captains who invite folks to come to the event and then we inspire them and do the ask for money. The pivot really to an online fundraiser was utilizing those same event ambassadors. We shifted from the table captain terminology to event ambassador, inviting them to come to a personal fundraising page—which Givebutter allowed us to do—and then they asked them to contribute. We armed them with lots of information that they could share with their personal networks—through email, through social, through phone calls, in-person—so that they could share their passion for Goodwill.
Rachel: So you really utilized the team fundraising functionality on Givebutter, it sounds like.
Kelly: Well actually, this year we didn't.
Kelly: That's a lesson learned for us. We were all about wanting a very clean fundraising page, so we just used individuals. Then we had some people within our Goodwill family who wanted to raise money as a team. Well, instead of setting up the team, we set them up as an individual and just called them by a team name. On our platform, you will see that we had the “Knights of the Roundup Table” as one of our individual fundraisers—yeah, here you go! And “Merlin's Magical Magicians.” Those were actually teams of our Donated Goods employees who were raising money for the event. Lesson learned. Next year, we will actually have everybody have their own individual page, and then we will funnel everybody into a team. We will have teams that are community members. We will have teams that are different segments of our Goodwill employees. We'll have a team that is just the Goodwill fundraising team. Whatever it may be—every individual will funnel into a team next year.
Rachel: That is a great lesson learned there.
Kelly: Yeah! People support people, not necessarily brands. We definitely found that, with this fundraiser, they were supporting the person who asked them, but at the same time, learning about our mission.
Rachel: So we're looking at your beautiful page here. Everybody who's following along, we will definitely link to this so that you can watch their event and learn from that. I just want to point out that this was so well done that I actually asked Kelly who produced it before we hit record on this. So Kelly, tell us a little bit more about your actual live event. How did you work through producing that in-house and what was the event like?
Kelly: Again, we used the Benevon model of what the in-person event would have been. You tell success stories and you have a board member do an ask for you. You have an emcee. Actually, this year our emcee—we were super excited about our emcee. One of the people who works in our Donor Relations department, her brother played Dylan on Modern Family. Reid Ewing joined us actually on our Goodwill campus and filmed our opening emcee portion and then a part of the end. He did teaser videos for us about the campaign as well. So Reed was amazing and actually threw out some posts for us on Instagram too.
Kelly: We filmed this 100% in-house. All the success stories, all of the people who spoke live—it was all done in-house just on a Canon camera and with Adobe Premiere Pro.
Rachel: Amazing. So was this pre-recorded? Where were you actually publicizing the event? What platform did you use?
Kelly: Actually, our event ambassadors publicized it for us for the most part. We armed them with the teaser videos that Reid had done and also scripts that they could use to invite people to watch the event on our page on that Wednesday morning. Then you can see, we now have it click play to rewatch the October 21st event presentation. We did a live broadcast. We put it up beginning at 8:30 that morning, so people could watch it at the same time. What was really fun about that is while you were watching it, the feed was showing the donations that were coming in. That was really cool. I will tell you at first, we weren't excited about that feed on the side. We were kind of like, “Oh, it's not real clean.” Oh my goodness! That feed on the side is wonderful! If you scroll down, a lot of these are just where the donation was made, but as you will see, as we get further into it, people really got into commenting. They drew pictures. Actually that's Reid Ewing who did the hearts right there.
Rachel: Nice! Shoutout to Reid.
Kelly: Anyway—he actually did another donation down, so he did several. But anyway, it was a lot of fun.
Rachel: That's beautiful to see all of the love that you received on the supporter feed. I love that. One thing that I want to point out and what stood out to our team that you did so well—your storytelling is beautiful. If anyone's looking for a 101: where do I start? What format works? This is just beautiful, clean storytelling. One thing that you did that was so unique—that I've never seen before and loved—was your Donor Relations team at the bottom with pictures. Because a lot of people end with contact info—here’s the link, here's the number—but you don't have a face. You don't know who you're connecting with. That just made it feel so warm and personal and inviting. Kudos to you and your team. I thought that was a great touch.
Kelly: Thank you. This actually goes on all of our emails that we send out through our donor database. We think it's really important for people to be able to connect with the person that they're talking to, and you do that visually as well—especially in a year where we can't meet face-to-face. That’s really important to us.
Rachel: Absolutely. Any other tips, tricks, lessons learned, or key takeaways as you look at this beautiful fundraiser?
Kelly: I think actually—we're very proud of our video—but next year, I'm not sure that we will do an event on the Givebutter platform like this. Just because this is about a 20-minute video that people have to watch. We hope next year to go to a hybrid where we can do in-person as well as the online. We will use shorter-format videos every day that will change out on the Givebutter platform, and then we'll still have that in-person event. Then the videos that are shown there will be used the final two days on the week-long fundraiser because this did run for a week. We allowed early giving, but then we also hoped that people gave between that October 19th and 23rd timeframe.
Rachel: Brilliant. I think that's a great idea. One thing that I forgot to ask: did you have any lead or leadership gifts that impacted your success?
Kelly: We did. Again, that's part of the Benevon Model; you go out and you solicit sponsorships from companies. You'll see some of our sponsors there on that slide. Then we also had 100% support from our board. Then we did an employee campaign that employees actually contributed as well. So we had over $34,000 in leadership gifts as well going in. That was actually announced during the video presentation.
Rachel: Very smart. I'm curious what made you turn to Givebutter for your first virtual, live stream event?
Kelly: Well, it integrates very well with Bloomerang which is our donor database. That was really important to us to have that integration. It was pretty easy to use. It gave us the functionality of being able to embed the video, and it was very inexpensive. For a nonprofit, that is so important. This in-person event usually costs us around $8,000 and this year it was so minimal. It was wonderful.
Rachel: So happy to hear that. Just to close here Kelly, what would be your one piece of fundraising advice or word of encouragement to other fundraisers who are watching right now?
Kelly: Don't be scared. We were really intimidated about moving virtual. We wouldn't even verbalize a goal. In my mind, I was thinking if we can reach $30,000 I'm going to be really excited. With our leadership gifts and with our giving the day of—and I will say we also worked through an offline donation process. If we received donations here, we wanted to make sure that they hit that platform so that people could see it. We worked through that and I think that's really important to do because you want your public, as they go to that page, to see and be inspired by the giving you're already having. So through the entire fundraiser we raised a little over $65,000. It was also shocking to me that we only had five people who did not pay the fee.
Rachel: That’s amazing!
Kelly: So 95% of our donors paid the processing fee—that was really exciting. That's above and beyond the dollar amount you see on the Givebutter page.
Rachel: Yes! That's exactly—that exact same statistic—is what we share. That we see 95% of people cover fees, so sounds like that was spot on for you as well. Kelly, congratulations on all your success with this fundraiser. Thank you so much for letting us share your success story with the Butter Fam today.
Kelly: Thank you! We appreciate it.
Rachel: For everybody else who's following along, please remember to like, comment, share, and subscribe to Givebutter's YouTube channel. Thank you so much for joining. We will see you next week for another Success Story. Happy fundraising!
View campaign: Working for Independence