Success Story: Hospital foundation raised $92k through special live stream birthday celebration on Givebutter

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Success Story: Hospital foundation raised $92k through special live stream birthday celebration on Givebutter

In this week’s Success Story, I’m joined by Emily and Heather from the Panzi Foundation and Hospital. This foundation recently raised over $92k—surpassing its $66k goal—in honor of its founder, Dr. Mukwege, and his 66th birthday. All funds raised will support survivors of sexual violence on their journey towards hope, healing, and transformation. In this video, Emily and Heather are taking us behind the scenes to share how they did this and how you can too! Follow along to learn:  

  • Why they chose Givebutter for this birthday celebration (Oh hey, Livestream Fundraising!)
  • Ways you can use third-party integrations to boost your fundraising efforts on Givebutter
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for pulling off a successful live stream event
“We actually looked at a lot of different options for where we wanted to host, and Givebutter ended up being by far the best for us. We love the text-to-donate… We saw a lot of people doing team fundraising. It was really great, especially the [supporter] messages down the side. Those are really special and a lot of platforms didn't have that… I would say there's a myriad of functionalities that Givebutter can use, so make sure you're exploring every feature that they offer... If you have any questions, reach out to the support team because we did a couple of times and they were very helpful.”

Get ready to be inspired!

Campaign at a glance

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thank you for joining for another inspiring Success Story. Today, we are featuring the Panzi Foundation. They aimed to raise $66,000 in honor of a very special 66th birthday—that they're going to tell you all about—to support important work in their hospital foundation. They ended up raising over $92,000—way above and beyond their goal! We want to hear from Heather and Emily—who are here with me today—how they were so incredibly successful. They’re going to break it all down for you: why they chose Givebutter, tips, tricks, and lessons learned for other fundraisers just like you who are following along. Heather and Emily, thank you both so much for joining us and for sharing your success with us today.

Emily: Thanks for having us! We're so excited.

Rachel: Let's start by having both of you introduce yourself and your role in the organization. Emily, let's start with you.

Emily: Hi everyone, my name is Emily Warne. I'm the Director of the US Office of Panzi Hospital and Foundation. We are a hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo that serves survivors of sexual violence. We were founded in 1999 by a wonderful man named Dr. Dennis Mukwege who is an obstetrics surgeon and gynecologist. He originally founded the hospital with the intention that it would be a center of excellence for maternal health because DRC has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. But unfortunately, this was around the time that the second Congo war was raging. Many of his first patients were not mothers who were coming to deliver their babies, but women who had been raped with extreme brutality. He and his amazing staff of Congolese heroes really pivoted to develop this holistic healing model that combines medical care with psychosocial support, access to legal services, and socioeconomic integration. Dr. Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his work to end rape as a weapon of war around the world and in DRC specifically. Unfortunately, because of COVID and his challenging security situation, he hasn't been able to leave the hospital in over a year. He lives on the hospital's grounds where he receives protection from the United Nations peacekeeping force and DRC. We really just wanted to raise some money for him, but also put a smile on his face. Show the world and show him how many people around the world are really rooting for him. I’m the Director of the US Office and Heather's my amazing colleague. Heather, I'll let you introduce yourself.

Heather: Yeah! I’m the Development and Communications Assistant at Panzi USA. Really what we do is fundraise and raise awareness for the great work they're doing at the foundation and the hospital in the Congo.

Rachel: Absolutely incredible. Amazing mission and story. I'd love to hear a little bit more about this very, very special fundraiser. Emily, you started to touch on a little bit about the big picture. I'm assuming that this was the first time that you've used Givebutter or done anything like this before, so can you walk us through some of that high-level fundraising strategy and what you were thinking?

Emily: Yeah, absolutely. We had a consortium of different, I want to say, event hosts who joined us in this effort to make it a success. One of Dr. Mukwege’s good friends, the actress Thandie Newton, agreed to host the event for us. Then we have a really wonderful Congolese model and philanthropist named Noëlla Coursaris Musunka who was instrumental and trying to galvanize all of this support, especially from celebrities around the world and getting well wishes. I was familiar with Givebutter through another organization that I served on the board of called Generosity Global that used this platform in a similar way during their fall fundraiser—giving them a little shout out as well—in November and also exceeded their goal. I saw how flawlessly something like this could be executed and was just really excited that we were able to combine the live stream of the conversations that we put together with all of the video messages that we were able to collect and also the team-based fundraising. We saw a lot of people get a little bit competitive with one another, trying to outdo each other on their team pages and sending all of the messages of support in real time. We just thought that it was a really great confluence of different features to make our event a success.

Rachel: Amazing. As you were helping set that up—Heather, making your magic—walk us through what you were thinking as you were coordinating the Givebutter page for this campaign.

Heather: We actually looked at a lot of different options for where we wanted to host, and Givebutter ended up being by far the best for us. We love the text-to-donate. I think what was also especially good for us was the header image video that could be changed out over and over again. For the very beginning of our campaign, we had an image, a graphic, to advertise for the campaign. As we got closer, we had a little promo video which was really great. Then the day before, we had a specific video from our host Thandie Newton saying, “Join us tomorrow!” Then on the day of, we had the actual live stream. Even today, you can see the recorded video. I really like that it was so dynamic and it changed along with the campaign. We had this campaign up for a month before the live stream and that was also really good for us because we had support come in weeks before the live stream ever was up. That was really great, just to have that community of supporters gather over time and build momentum. We saw a lot of people doing team fundraising. It was really great, especially the messages down the side. I absolutely love seeing those. Those are really special and a lot of platforms didn't have that.

Rachel: Yes, I loved looking at your live supporter feed on the right-hand side. So many heartfelt messages. You can tell that you have rallied such a passionate community of supporters around your cause. Any other thing as you were setting up your page? You mentioned the video header images which were so beautiful and our team had so much fun watching you change those over time. Was there a reason why you launched it one month before? Did you change the donation registration process throughout? What was your thinking on that?

Emily: We launched it one month before because we knew that getting support in advance for many people who weren't going to be able to join the event live for various reasons was important. We wanted to highlight our sponsors who are really great and make sure that they got a little bit of extra love up on their page for a little bit longer than just the day of. It did change a little bit, I would say. It was always a free event. We didn't have to worry about that. But, some of the ways that we were pushing information out via email, the things that we focused on, kind of changed. We started to see this exciting team fundraising momentum building. Some of our messaging on social media or via email was all about starting teams and walking people through how to do that. I'm also going to give a little shout out to the Twins For Mukwege. They were really wonderful. They're these wonderful supporters of ours who have donated their birthday every year to Dr. Mukwege. They actually put together on social media little videos that they posted and then allowed us to share. They walked people through the registration, how to register for the event and get your ticket, how to create your own fundraising team...things like that. We would share messages like that so that it would encourage other people to start crowdfunding as well.

Rachel: Brilliant! Along the way, I'm noticing that you're still—just hours ago!—getting donations. Are you post-event still promoting or pushing your event or are people just still trickling along?

Emily: A little bit of both. We've sent out some thank-you messages, recaps of the event, things like that. Pointing people to where they can watch the recording if they missed it. But these DJ’s actually did an event on Saturday where they did a Q&A and then they did a little dance party up in Canada. I think that by virtue of the fact that they watched the event earlier in the month and saw how successful the crowdfunding was for that, they created their own team and decided to fundraise towards this goal as well. We're keeping it up a little bit longer, probably through the end of the month, as donations from that event and a couple of other follow ups continue to trickle in. We did definitely send out a recap and all things like that for the people who missed it, so if they still wanted to donate they had the opportunity.

Rachel: Amazing. Yeah, you can see here you raised so much more above and beyond your goal which is so exciting. Congratulations to you and your entire organization.

Emily: Thank you! We really have to thank everybody who joined us. Our supporters are the lifeblood of the work at Panzi, supporting the heroic efforts of our Congolese surgeons and nurses and lawyers. Every little bit over our donation goal—we’re just so appreciative. We're really thankful for our community.

Rachel: Beautiful! What would you say are tips, tricks, or lessons learned along the way of this first Givebutter campaign?

Emily: I'll start and then I'll turn it off to Heather. I would say testing, testing, testing a million times over. I think the days before the event Heather was probably tearing her hair out because we did set up a fake—I'll let her talk about the functionality because she's so much better well versed in how she set this up than I am. But, everything that we did...we set up fake pages and tested to make sure that the functionality would go through. We tried it 3, 4, 5, 6 different ways, 7 different times just to make sure that everything really would go flawlessly and it did. We're very, very grateful that everything worked exactly as the tests indicated that they would. I would definitely say that if anybody was going to use a similar route as we did, make sure that you're testing to make sure everything goes really smoothly. Heather, do you want to talk a little bit about how we actually set up the live stream and everything? Because it was a little complicated.

Heather: Yeah! I won't go into too much detail, but essentially what happened was the live stream was more difficult than we thought it would be just because of the Internet connection in Congo that's very unreliable. We did have to record it before the actual event, so it was technically a pre-recorded live stream. Then, in order to live stream that—that's where it got a little bit technically difficult. YouTube cannot embed live stream videos on pages like Givebutter if you don't have AdSense which means you have so many followers that you can advertise. We had to find a way around that. We found a third-party live streaming software that we could use. Turning to more of the advice side of things, just start early. What we were talking about earlier about having the campaign page a month ahead of time; I don't think a month was too early. I think we could have done even earlier just to play around and really get acquainted with everything and to make sure that the video functionality works exactly how we wanted it to. Because we were a little bit late in the game, making sure everything ran smoothly. That was a little bit stressful. I think the weekend before the event Emily and I were all hands on deck trying to make sure everything was working. I would say start really soon, and then just keep in contact with your supporters. It seemed like every time an email went out to remind people about the event, we’d see a lot of activity on the page. Then after the event even, post on social media. That brought a lot of activity.

Rachel: That's so helpful for folks who are following along. Speaking of which, do you mind sharing what third party you used for folks who are watching that are curious how you pulled that off?

Heather: We used OneStream Live.

Rachel: Nice.

Heather: It ended up working pretty well for us.

Emily: It actually was connected to our Facebook account, right? It went from OneStream Live to our Facebook account, and then the live stream was actually pulled from our Facebook account and that was what was embedded on Givebutter.

Rachel: Gotcha! Super helpful. I did get a chance to watch your live stream and it was so well done. Did you use production to help pull this off or did you do this in house?

Emily: No. I wish that I had those graphic design skills, but I definitely do not. No, we used a wonderful videographer from the UK who helped us to put that together. Named Jonny Guardiani, he put together the video for us and did a really beautiful job with it we thought.

Rachel: Yes, definitely! It was gorgeous. So this is another tip from our friends Emily and Heather, everyone. Do not be afraid to ask for additional help pulling off your Givebutter campaign. Third-party services can be super helpful and easy to use, plugging in to Givebutter. Final question for both of you; super short and sweet. What would be your word of advice or encouragement for other Givebutter fundraisers who are listening in to you right now for their campaign?

Emily: I would just say there's a myriad of functionalities that Givebutter can use, so making sure that you're exploring every feature that they offer to make sure that you're doing things like the text-to-donate as Heather mentioned. If you have any questions, reach out to the support team because we did a couple of times and they're very helpful. Heather, do you have anything to add?

Heather: This was my first online fundraising event, and I will say it was very stressful in the moment but it's totally worth it when you get to the actual event. Then afterwards you see the impact that you've had. Even if it feels very stressful in the moment, it's definitely worth it.

Rachel: Great wisdom and words of advice. Thank you both so much for joining today and sharing your incredible success with us.

Emily: Thank you! We're so grateful for Givebutter’s support through all of this and helping us to raise $92,000 for survivors of sexual violence.

Rachel: Thank you. We're incredibly proud to partner with you in that and host. For everybody else who is following along, please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel, so you never miss an incredible story just like Emily and Heather's today. We will see you a week from today for another Success Story. Until then, happy happy fundraising! Bye everybody.

View campaign: Dr. Mukwege's Birthday Celebration

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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.