Success Story: Teton Adaptive Sports surpassed its $50k goal through COVID-proof virtual event on Givebutter

Written by
Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Success Story: Teton Adaptive Sports surpassed its $50k goal through COVID-proof virtual event on Givebutter

In this video, I’m joined by Joe from Teton Adaptive Sports. He’s sharing how they raised over $50k to support adaptive skiing for people of all abilities living in Jackson Hole, WY—despite all of the challenges they faced due to COVID-19. All funds raised through this COVID-proof event will support Teton’s inclusive efforts by providing specialized equipment, passionate instructors, and subsidized costs. Discover how they took their fundraising efforts to new altitudes, as Joe shares:

  • Why they chose Givebutter over snow many other platforms
  • How to use Givebutter integrations and automations to take donor appreciation to new heights
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for combining in-person and online fundraising efforts to raise more than ever before
  • BONUS: a list of top ten tips for fundraising on Givebutter!
“We haven't had any negative feedback from anybody about using Givebutter. Knowing that the platform is set up in a manner that's very user friendly is super helpful. Givebutter works so well to help us automatically put information into our email list...we didn't have to go in and manually type in 220 people and match up who's already in our email list and who's not... [Givebutter] allowed us to keep a very organized database that instantly went right into our system. [Fundraising on Givebutter] was easy, to be honest. That was, I think, the best part of all of it.”

We think you’ll really après-ciate all of the insight Joe shares.

Campaign at a glance

View campaign

Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story. Today, we are featuring Teton Adaptive. They raised over $50,000 for their fundraiser to support adaptive skiing programs for people with disabilities in Jackson Hole. If you're looking for an example of a COVID-proof fundraising event, this one is going to be where it's at for you. I have Joe here with me. He's going to share why they turned to Givebutter, as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned. Joe, thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your story.

Joe: Oh, it's my pleasure! Thank you so much for having us on and for creating such a great platform for us to use.

Rachel: Excited to dive in! Why don't we start by having you introduce yourself and your organization.

Joe: My name is Joe Stone, as you mentioned. I’m the Director of Mission at Teton Adaptive. We are here to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for people with and without disabilities. Our goal is creating a level of inclusion within the adaptive sports—or the outdoor industry in general—that we haven't really seen before. We do a lot of partnering with already existing organizations to help train them to become ready to be able to support people with disabilities. So, that a whole family or group of friends that happens to have one person with a disability in the mix can all show up and go play together—whether that's skiing or rafting or a number of other different forms of outdoor recreation. Then, we have our in-house programs as well—group rides and skiing and a number of other different activities—that we do to try to bring the community of people living with disabilities together and out recreating and teach new skills and make sure the quality of lives of what people are searching for are obtainable.

Rachel: Very, very, very cool. Tell me more about your fundraiser that you've adapted. You've been doing it for years in the past in person, and then you COVID-proofed it this year. Break it all down for everybody who's not familiar. What was your event previously, what did you turn it into this year, and how did you make it a success?

Joe: Our event normally is in person. It's a big party for everybody to get together and high five and meet new people and really be involved in the community and do something that's going to support an organization that does a lot of work within the community—which is Teton Adaptive. It's normally a dinner, and there's live auctions and raffles going on. It's just a big, fun event for people of all walks of life to be able to support at whatever level they want to support us. It's usually a really fun event that takes place at the end of the day after everyone's done skiing. They show up for the opry hour and have fun.

Joe: As all of us have gone through, COVID has made that a very big challenge to have to overcome. How do we continue engaging the community around us? How do we continue raising funding? Because that's needed for a nonprofit. How do we do that in a way that's COVID safe? So, we shifted gears and started brainstorming how can we do this virtually? Our Marketing Manager, Christine, did a lot of research on other platforms and kind of just narrowed it down to Givebutter as what would be the best platform for us to use—for a number of different reasons as to why it works so well. We developed our plan wrapped around it. We had it to where we partnered with Teton Thai which is our neighboring restaurant next to us; it makes amazing Thai food. We had two different size gift bags that people could purchase that had Teton Thai gift cards within them, hats, and buffs that we created. The buffs themselves had skiers of all abilities on it, so we made our version of our inclusive buff for people to get within the swag bag that they were getting. Then, within that we had some items that we were auctioning. People could buy raffle tickets and all of that through Givebutter. We just started pumping it out virtually, and it worked way better than we could have ever predicted. We exceeded our goal which was amazing.

Rachel: That is amazing! What was your goal?

Joe: Our goal was $50,000, and I think in total we raised about $52,000 or something like that is what we had. We had about 220 supporters, so there were a lot of people that came. The way we had set it up is people were coming to pick up the bags that they purchased. They could either then just go right over to Teton Thai and use their gift cards or save them for the time that works best for them. We all hung out outside right on the corner. As cars drove up for the handful of hours we were outside they came and picked up the bags—which was also cool because then we got to make a little bit of a personal connection. So yes, it was all done virtually and people donated virtually, but they were able to pull up and we were able to at least give them the bags and say thanks and make a personal connection within all of that which allowed also a little bit extra room for people buying extra raffle tickets in person and that side of things. There was a level of personal connection through this virtual world that we had to enter for this for this fundraiser.

Rachel: So you were almost already trying the hybrid model—where you're trying to mainly make it virtual but include some sort of in-person tie in.

Joe: Totally! We feel it's really important to be able to have those connections with people. I think right now we're all kind of starving a little bit for community and a little bit of connection. Even though it was short lived and people weren't even getting out of their cars and we were just giving them their bags, just to be able to say thank you in person and maybe a quick update of what we've been doing within our programs since COVID has impacted everything so drastically. It kind of still kept the community feel that the event normally would have.

Rachel: Yeah! So as you were thinking about adapting this event—and we're looking at your beautiful campaign page here—what are things that you look back on and you're like, “Oh, that was a lesson learned,” or “This is something that we might do differently or something that we do again because it went really well as we move to this different model for our event.” What's a takeaway or two that you think about as we look at your page here?

Joe: It's interesting because we did a lot. One thing that we recognize is that just pumping out one thing, one time as advertising or marketing within this, that's not going to work. If we're going to get it on people's radar, we're going to have to be spending the amount of time that this fundraiser is going on making sure we're making social media posts and making sure we're blasting out some emails to all the people within our donor list or email list. Just keeping it on the forefront of people's minds. People forget or you get emails you don't always read them right away or you see something on social media and it's in one ear out the other. We did a lot to make sure we were staying consistent with putting out new information, fresh information, things that Teton Adaptive has done in the past, what this money is being raised for. We had a plan. I think that's what's really important about the virtual side of things: making sure before you launch it, you have a plan set up for however long you're going to have that fundraiser going on. Day by day, you're meeting your own goals for marketing to make sure it's getting out to the right people often. Within that, also getting people to help share it. I think that's just a simple ask of, “Can you help us share this?” Whether that's through an email, sharing it on your own social media platforms—that helps a ton to get the word out. I think a lot of what we did turned out really positive.

Joe: I can't really think of a ton of things that we would necessarily change. There might be some things we do in the future to add value to what people are doing to get involved with. Maybe there might be some ways or certain auction items and things like that that we might try to bring in next time that might help us raise more money. The goal is always, “Can we do better than we did the year prior?” But it went really, really smoothly. I think we had about 220 people donate. I was just talking to my Marketing Manager, Christine, and as far as we know, we haven't had any negative feedback from anybody on their struggles to navigate Givebutter and figure out a way to be able to donate. That part was huge. Knowing that the platform is set up in a manner that's very user friendly is super helpful.

Joe: The other side of it that was really helpful for us is that Givebutter works so well to help us automatically get some of the information to put into our email list to where we didn't have to, after the fact, go in and manually type in 220 people and match up who's already in our email list and who's not—because that's the other thing, having your database is huge. It allowed us to keep a very organized database that instantly went right into our system. Now, we have more people that we can reach out to. I think honestly, I don't know exactly what we would change for next year because it went pretty smoothly. It was easy to be honest. I think that at the end of the day, there was a lot of build up getting to it—it was really two long days of the fundraiser of work that we put in—but it was easy. That was, I think, the best part of all of it.

Rachel: Yeah, that's amazing. That's why it's a Success Story, right? There's not too much you would change because it was smooth and easy and successful. Clearly, your 220+ supporters love your organization and love supporting you. I was looking at the supporter feed before our call, looking at all the fun and heartfelt messages that people were leaving in the supporter feed. For all of you who are following along, this is a great example for what it looks like post-event to include a live stream. You have little thank you and raffle examples here for anyone who's interested. Then, if you click donate and you can also see a really unique path to check out for them in terms of the hybrid model. For all of you who are wondering some tips and tricks that you may want to pick up and look at, this page has tons in terms of raffles, sponsorship, and, like I said, hybrid of in person and online. Kudos to you and your team. This was an amazing event. Our whole team loved following you. Congratulations on your success! For everybody's following along, how can they follow you and support you after watching this?

Joe: If they want to follow us at Teton Adaptive Sport, you can find us on Instagram or Facebook. That's where we're posting what's going on, fundraisers that are coming up in the future, the impact we have on the community. There'll be more and more videos as time goes on of the smiles that are created through this organization. That's probably the best way to follow what's happening. TetonAdaptiveSports.com is our website. That's a good place to get a little more information as to what's going on. Obviously, we're a nonprofit that is run on the support of our community. Anybody that wants to give in any way, that goes a long way. What we do is we’re constantly giving back to the community and people living with disabilities and trying to create recreational opportunities and make sure that this community and other communities around it stays inclusive as possible. Those are kind of the three outlets between social media and our website. Obviously, feel free at any point to reach out to us. My personal email is [email protected]. Happy to answer any questions that anybody might have as far as our organization. If they wanted to ever travel to Jackson Hole and experience what this area has to offer, we're here to help with all of that as a resource and providing equipment—that sort of thing.

Joe: One thing I will add about your platform that was so cool is that it allowed us to have multiple things going on. We had two different size gift bags that people could purchase, and there's other platforms where you couldn't have multiple things for people to purchase. That was a big selling point to us. If somebody only had $40 they could donate, then we had things that could fit within that. Then we had larger packages that people could buy. I think the virtual side of things is really cool for a number of reasons. One, you can reach out to such a wide range of people in terms of donors and how much people are able to donate. Then, you can also reach out to a group of people that maybe wouldn't be able to make it to an actual event. Whether they're too busy or they have too many other things going on in their life, but they want to support. It's such an easy, quick way for someone to support. Next year, I do think we're going to—hopefully, COVID allowing it—have our in-person event again and all of our other ones as well, but I think this has really opened up a whole new avenue for us. We're like, “There's no reason to drop it.” Let's do this again because we met a lot of new people because of it being online and being virtual that we might not have been able to connect with had it been just our in-person event. The virtual side of things opened up a whole area for us where we're like, “We should continue exploring this even once COVID isn't a restriction anymore.”

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody, please go follow them! They are such a fun follow. Givebutter likes you on Instagram, and we love seeing all that you post. It's inspiring and beautiful. All of you fundraisers and marketers—yes! Go follow and support their incredible organization. Joe, thanks again for joining us and for sharing your story. To everybody else who is following along, please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel. We will see you next week for another incredible Success Story. Until then, happy fundraising! Bye everybody.

Joe: Thanks very much! Thanks for doing everything you do.

1. Check out the Givebutter help center articles and videos FIRST (trust us on this one!).

2. If you need further help, use the Givebutter chat feature. It's easy and we're 99.9% sure it's a real human (not an AI bot) answering questions and helping you quickly!

3. Tag @givebutter in your promotional social posts since they'll probably share it!

4. Create FAQs for hard-to-explain events (like virtual ones) and educate supporters about what Givebutter is. (Bonus points: it's a great way to promote that donors can use Venmo to pay and it could help with your SEO, too). Check out our FAQ page to see an example of what this looks like.

5. DO pay attention to customizing the receipt that Givebutter will automatically send after the transaction. This can be used as a Donor Acknowledgement!

6. DON’T overlook Givebutter's integrations. We used the Bloomerang integration and all the transactions went directly into our donor database (CRM). This saves time after the event not having to enter or import, thus saving you time to THANK your donors!

7. Definitely go for your big goal. Donors want to help you reach your goals and seeing the support grow in real time is SO important. You can even add your sponsors by adding them through Givebutter transactions (select 'check' as the payment form). Plus, you can put their logo in to further highlight their generosity and your gratitude!

8. DON’T be afraid to add the Givebutter form on your website. It's easy to copy and paste the code, and people can learn more about your organization after donating.

9. Step away from the computer—at least for a while. Resist the temptation to keep refreshing your browser to see who else donates, but do keep an eye on the donations as they roll in, thanking them or adding a fun giphy, etc. (We loved the to-go-bag thank you one!)

10. Remember to have FUN!

View campaign: Teton Adaptive Après Soirée To Go Fundraiser

Get started on Givebutter - it’s free →

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.