Success Story: Illumination Foundation powers up with the help of Housing Heroes to raise over $100k on Givebutter and defeat homelessness

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Success Story: Illumination Foundation powers up with the help of Housing Heroes to raise over $100k on Givebutter and defeat homelessness

Terry, Caroline, and Amelia from the Illumination Foundation join me to share how they raised over $100k on Givebutter. They called on all Housing Heroes to help them defeat homelessness, and this campaign really took off! The super support they raised will be directed towards their Children and Family Programs, including family case management, behavioral health programs, and educational services. Follow along to learn all this and more from these fantastic fundraisers:

  • Why they turned to Givebutter to reach their fundraising goals
  • How they highlighted all of their team fundraising heroes on their Givebutter page
  • How they defeated all of the villains—I mean, removed all of the barriers—that can prevent supporters from donating
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for powering up your virtual fundraising campaign as you approach the deadline for your goal
“When I started using the [Givebutter] platform and seeing how it worked, I was just amazed at how organized everything was, how user-friendly it was . . . We wanted people to be able to donate and buy tickets—which Givebutter does so well. After using it successfully for more complicated events, it was just super easy to be able to say, “Yeah, we can use this for our Housing Heroes event!”

Want to know their real super power? Donor stewardship!

Campaign at a glance

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Full video script

Rachel: Hi everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining us for another inspiring Success Story. Today, we are featuring the Illumination Foundation. Through an online fundraising campaign that was incredibly creative, they raised over $100,000 to defeat homelessness for children and families. Amelia, Terry, and Caroline join us today to share why they turned to Givebutter for reaching their fundraising goals as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way so that all of you who are watching can put them right to good use. Thank you all so much for joining us today.

Terry: Thanks for having us!

Caroline: Yes!

Rachel: To kick things off, why don't we go around and have everybody introduce themselves and their role with the Illumination Foundation.

Terry: I'm Terry Campbell, and I am the Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

Caroline: I am Caroline Horstmann, and I'm the Director of Marketing and Community Engagement.

Amelia: And I'm Amelia Iacobelli, and I'm the Manager of Marketing and Community Engagement.

Rachel: Awesome. Thank you. So just to give a little background for everybody who's watching—I'm sure they're curious. They hear, “Illumination Foundation” and want to know what your mission is and what you're all about. So, Caroline, could you share a little bit more about your nonprofit and what you all do.

Caroline: Sure! So our mission is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness. We do that by providing, of course, housing and healthcare which is of equal importance with anyone's quality of life. We have several programs, including a recuperative care that is a safe discharge solution for homeless individuals in and out of the emergency rooms and hospitals—to have a safe place to go and recuperate. We have emergency housing with families and their children which this campaign was intended to highlight and raise money for. We also just have housing all throughout Orange County and Southern California to ensure our clients have wrap-around services and care for them to maintain their independence beyond their stay with us.

Rachel: Beautiful. I was just mentioning that you were really successful, raising over $100,000 for your incredibly important mission. Terry, what was your fundraising strategy? Is this an annual campaign in this online format? Or is this a COVID-19 related campaign? What's the backstory of the fundraiser?

Terry: Well, of course it's COVID-19 related because everything is in 2020. We, generally, every summer host a carnival for kids where we serve 1,000 families. It's incredible. It's in a huge park near us, and we work with Disney and other corporate sponsors. We have booths, we have games—I mean, it’s all carnival style. We give every child a backpack and school supplies, so they're prepared for the school year when they go back because they don't have access to even simple things like a backpack, a notebook, pens, and pencils. With COVID, we weren't able to host the carnival this summer. Not only is it an event for our children and families, but it's also an event that is a fundraiser for our team—for the development team. We had to replace it. We wanted to think of something that would be fun and inspiring and still raise funds. We just had to move to an online, virtual format. That's how we came up with Housing Heroes.

Rachel: Yes! Caroline, I know that you're extremely creative and involved in the process of the campaign theme—which our Givebutter team just absolutely loved. Can you tell everybody else what your campaign theme was all about?

Caroline: So I definitely don't want to take credit; it was a full team effort. Definitely. But, we knew that we wanted—this has been a very tumultuous and unique year for many of us who are craving that human connection. We wanted to find something that would be light hearted and fun and still exciting even if, at the end of the day, it's giving through an online platform. Still feeling like you're part of something bigger. So we came up with “Calling all Housing Heroes!” and identifying our donors as the hero in our story. Even a small donation—$5, $100, or more—can really truly make an impact and contribute to our community and for those who don't have as much.

Rachel: I'm going to go ahead and share my screen because people have to see this beautiful campaign that we're talking about right now. Ah, there it is! Current power level. I'm excited to hear more about that because you refreshed—not only your goal bar at the bottom was increasing as funds came in, but you were incorporating really clever use of graphics throughout to keep the fundraiser really engaged. Amelia, can you tell us a little bit more about why you turned to Givebutter? How you were thinking about setting up this campaign page from more of a technical standpoint?

Amelia: Yeah! Just a little bit of the backstory is that we, back in May, we were wanting to do a virtual cooking series actually. I was watching a webinar on virtual events because we all had to learn about that very quickly back then. Max, the CEO of Givebutter, was on this webinar and demonstrating the platform. The example he was using was a virtual cooking class, so I was like, “This could work for us. Obviously, if someone else is doing it, we can too. This is the perfect platform for us.” We were doing six different classes. Each one needed its own page. It needed to be its own event, have it’s videos and supplies and everything on there, so it was super amazing to be able to make an event super easily for each of those classes. When I started using the platform and seeing how it worked, I was just amazed at how organized everything was, how user-friendly it was. I could duplicate each of the campaigns for each of those classes. It just really worked well for our needs for that class, specifically. We wanted people to be able to donate and buy tickets to the class which Givebutter allows so well. After using it so successfully for more complicated events, it was just super easy to be able to say, “Yeah, we can use this for our Housing Heroes event.” At that point, we were familiar with it and could really utilize the theme on the platform. We said, “We're going to take that header and we're going to come up with this power level and people can watch as it grows.” You could tell our supporters were coming back and just wanting us to hit that next milestone which was really cool. Even the last $300—someone came back and gave us a $302 donation just so we could get to $100k. It was really cool to see it that way. We also were able to put in the videos that we created around the campaign which was great and really show our sponsors and display our sponsors on here which was important for us as well. Every time we were able to get a new sponsor, we included them on the giving website which is really important.

Rachel: Absolutely. I love this image that you included in the bottom, just reiterating what every single dollar amount will do. Then, more information that's easily digestible for people to understand your programs. And yeah, just a simple call to action at the top for people to donate and then fundraise. Is there anything else that, as you look at this page, you're thinking, maybe strategy-wise Terry? That you're like, “These are things that we were thinking on our team from a fund development perspective as we're not only creating the campaign, but keeping the ball rolling and then getting it to completion.”

Terry: Definitely. I think that our main goal first in starting a campaign was to really line up our sponsors. To be able to have those people on the page because that just always speaks to the integrity of what you do. That these corporations, these family foundations, believe in what we're doing. I think that's really important when you are asking donors to provide any type of donation at any level. So the first thing we wanted to do was have those corporate sponsors and those and those private foundations. Then, to have our power level not be at zero when we actually launched, so when people come to the page they can see that. I think when we launched, we had maybe $27,000, so we're at 27%. It's easy to build upon that excitement and spread that news to everybody else. I think that we have a really passionate staff here and we included them in the campaign as well as part of that Peer-to-Peer fundraising. Why not include your staff? They know your clients; they know our programs most intimately. We made it a contest. We gave a prize to the employee that raised the most money. I think that was another part of our strategy is just making it a multi-approached campaign and involving as many people that were tied to the organization as possible..

Rachel: Absolutely. How did you get yourself to 27% power level? I think some folks might be wondering well, “How did you pull that up?” Who were your lead gifts? Were they sponsors? Were they donations?

Terry: They were actually sponsors. If you scroll back up to the top, I think the Sun Family Foundation and also The Haynes Fund. They are both really just philanthropic sponsors towards the Illumination Foundation. We actually created a sponsorship deck that you can link to, which was a great idea, so they could understand the campaign in advance. Then we called them and said, “We're sending you our campaign. We would love your support.” Amelia also created, which I love, a Super Supporters Toolkit, which you can also link to through the Givebutter page. That toolkit provided all of the assets you could possibly need to ask someone to give money. So for all of our peers, it made it so simple. She even provided stickers that they could download. When people made their donation, we would see those in the far right-hand column, easily linking your Facebook, to whatever—any platform that you're on. I think it was really important to not start at zero. Again, going back to explaining first what the campaign is about, what our expectations are, and making sure that the messaging is really clear, I think.

Caroline: I think to add to that as well, we—as Terry mentioned earlier—had a large summer carnival that raised awareness for our Children and Families Program. We reached out to those same sponsors and funders that really have supported this Carnival for Kids over the years and who know the impact we make in our Children and Families Program. All of those donors and sponsors from years past, we made sure to make an intended effort to personally call them and tell them about the campaign we're doing in lieu of the carnival.

Rachel: That's brilliant. I mean, you guys just made it easy for all of your different constituents. That's what I'm hearing you say. You made it easy for the sponsors, you made it easy for the team fundraisers, you made it easy for the donors—so that everyone in your community who's participating, it's just a simple click or a few simple steps. You're eliminating all the barriers that might get in the way of someone donating or participating, and that is an amazing lesson for every fundraiser who's watching right now. Make it easy for everyone. It's a lot of prep work, and that's another thing I'm hearing you say—you did a lot of prep work to make this successful. So, for all the fundraisers who are watching right now—I'd love to hear from all of you—if you could say one thing, what would be your one word of advice for other Givebutter fundraisers?

Terry: From my vantage point, I would say clear messaging and a really strong call to action.

Caroline: I would say just have fun with it. If you're passionate about what you're raising money for, that becomes very clear to your donors. Also—tied to Terry—be clear about where that money is going.

Amelia: I would say using the tools, doing that research, finding out how you can use different tools and different people to reach out to a bigger group of people and community.

Rachel: Yeah, thank you! Excellent words of advice. Kudos to you and your team! Congratulations again on your fundraising success for your incredibly important mission. The Givebutter Fam is so proud to be supporting you. We are cheering you on. We cannot wait to see what's next for your foundation. Thank you so much again for joining us today.

Terry: Thank you. And I wanted just to add, Rachel, one other thing that we all did the day the campaign ended. We had thank you notes ready to go. They were personalized and signed by our whole team. We also made phone calls to every single person that made a donation. The purpose of the call was for no other reason than to thank them for their donation and let them know they truly made an impact.

Rachel: Stewardship is key; that's awesome. For everybody who's following along, thank you so much again for joining us for another Givebutter Success Story. Please like, share, subscribe to Givebutter YouTube channel so that you don't miss the next one. We will see you again next week. Take care everybody!

View campaigns: Calling all Housing Heroes!

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Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.