In this video, D'Ivonne from Crittenton Service of Greater Washington shares how they raised over $8k during their Livestream event alone (they’ve gone on to surpass their goal of $10k since the event has ended!). Crittenton Services empowers teen girls to overcome obstacles, make positive choices, and achieve their goals through programs in schools throughout the Greater Washington area. To support this mission, they had to transform their annual event High Tea into an online fundraiser this year—but that didn’t stop them from bringing multiple generations together to listen and learn from each other. D'Ivonne shares:

  • Why they used Givebutter to pull off this incredibly successful Livestream event
  • How to take engaging with supporters during an online event one step further
  • What made their fundraiser so successful (Hint: Seamless integration!)
  • Creating an impactful campaign page: tips, tricks, and lessons learned
“We liked that we could livestream our event and enable our donors to make a contribution without leaving the platform for the Livestream. In any other platform that you're using, if the giving function is not there, they have to go away from the event to make that gift. We don't want to lose anyone; we wanted to make sure that people continued to stay engaged with us while they were making a gift. This [Givebutter] platform made the best sense for us.”

Enjoy this beautiful Success Story!

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Full video script

Rachel: Hi everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thank you so much for joining for another awesome Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. For over 12 years, they’ve been hosting a successful annual fundraising event called High Tea which allowed teen girls to speak for themselves. However, due to COVID-19 complications, like so many other nonprofits, the event had to go virtual this year. The good news is, they raised over $8,000 during the Livestream event! I actually got to attend which I will share a little bit more about later. I have D’Ivonne here with me who is going to share how they pulled it all off, why they turned to Givebutter for fundraising, and tips, tricks, and lessons learned like always. D’Ivonne, thank you so much for joining us today. OK, so let's just jump right in! If you could go ahead and introduce yourself and a little bit more about what your nonprofit does.

D'Ivonne: Absolutely. So my name is D'Ivonne Holman. I am a consultant for Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. I serve in the Director of Development capacity. Crittenton Services is a really great organization. Our location is in the DC area—the DC metro region. We are in Silver Spring, Maryland. Our programs are set up to empower teen girls in at-risk communities to make really great decisions for their future and avoid many of the pitfalls that could face them if they didn't have the support system that Crittenton Services provides. Our organization has been around for 132 years, and we are also part of a larger national Crittenton Services that has spread across our country, providing resources to women and teen girls.

Rachel: Very exciting. Thank you for the work that you do. Let's walk back to a few months ago when COVID hit; I would imagine that you were deep in the planning for your annual High Tea fundraiser. And like so many other nonprofits, you had to decide to pivot and go virtual. Was this the first time you'd ever done Livestream for this annual event? Walk us through how that all unfolded.

D'Ivonne: Absolutely. So just like you said, a couple of months ago things were going along just fine. Then we realized we weren't going to be able to do this beloved event in person like we normally do. It does happen each year at a nice venue that we secure in Silver Spring, Maryland. People—our supporters and partners and our girls—are able to come together and enjoy some nice tea, some finger foods, and hear the voices of our girls talking about topics that are important to them. We knew that we weren’t going to be able to do it in person, but we still wanted to give them that platform to express some ideas and feelings and thoughts that were really weighing on their minds and hearts. We did make the choice to move to a virtual platform, but we didn't know what we were doing. This was our first time doing this for everyone. Having been through some of the other meetings that were happening virtually, particularly through Zoom that were live, we noticed a lot of opportunities for glitches and the internet to work against us. We wanted to make sure that we provided a seamless, as seamless as possible, experience for our attendees. We did secure a professional videography company who helped us pre-record portions of the event. Then they were also there during live streaming to make sure that everything was going well.

Rachel: I see. So that's the secret behind it because I had shared that pre-recording. I and other people on the Givebutter staff as well had attended this event just to make sure things were running smoothly. We enjoyed it so much that we actually stayed! That was one of my questions: how did you make it so smooth? Because I could tell it was a mixture of pre-recording and live. It looks like you had some support, and that support worked phenomenally for you all. How did you decide, kind of run-of-show, how you were going to do this Livestream event since it was your first time?

D'Ivonne: Well, we took our original agenda run-of-show and looked at it to see what was included there that we really wanted to make sure we kept, and kept the essence of it, in our live virtual event. That's how we developed the run-of-show, making sure that we had the right introductions—we pre-recorded all of those, captured the right people on camera. Then what was most important for our attendees to get was the discussion, the panel discussion, between the girls and the mental health professional. We chose to do that live, knowing that risk would be involved with technology, but we chose to do that portion live. We did have to trim down many things from the original event because it was happening virtually online. It was a little bit of a bittersweet discussion and meeting because we do love this event so much; we wanted to make sure that we were still honoring many of the beautiful parts of the event. One thing that I didn't mention that we did is this event typically has tea and nice little snacks for people to enjoy. So what we did prior to the event was we sent out tea packages to all of our pre-registered attendees so that they could enjoy that during the event. It was a really nice touch.

Rachel: I actually have an image here that I saw, and I can zoom in a little bit so everybody who’s watching can see. One of your amazing supporters posted a selfie with the tea that you had sent and the Livestream running in the back. That was amazing. So this is what you're referring to?

D'Ivonne: We loved it! Yes, yes.

Rachel: That is so clever. I have not seen that on any other Livestream, and I thought that was just such a good touch. Then I saw that there was another picture of the program for the day—another thing that I haven't seen any other nonprofit mail out to constituents—which I thought was such a classy move.

D'Ivonne: Thank you. Thank you.

Rachel: I want to show everyone your beautiful campaign page. This is what it looks like. If you're also reading this, I would definitely recommend clicking and actually engaging and looking at the campaign page. A couple of things that really stand out to me—and I love to hear from you what stands out to you as well. You had some really heartfelt comments: one of them at the very top that says “Thank you for showing up for me.” How impressive the panelists were. Actually attending the Livestream event, the donations were just flying in throughout the event. I'd love to hear a little bit more about your fundraising strategy behind that. Then the final thing is you made really good use of graphics in your storytelling. You provided specific measurements for what donation amounts will provide that were emotionally compelling. You matched those when you click donate right here so that the message was cohesive. So just a few things that stood out to me, but what stands out to you when you look at this page?

D'Ivonne: I like everything being all in one place. Our donors are able to see, obviously, a beautiful picture of our girls that we support. They're also able to look at the comments that our donors are leaving which were, as you mentioned, very heartfelt comments and genuine about the connection that they have to our girls’ success. I also really enjoyed being able to see the progress tracker of the donations that were coming in. Like you mentioned, donations were flying through. I do want to say that we did exceed our goal by about $25—we had someone who gave to us offline outside of Givebutter. We were able to still meet our goal of $10,000 for the event. This event is not typically a fundraiser, though it does generate some revenue for our organization. We wanted to still take this opportunity for people to be connected to our girls, be connected to our mission, and then have an opportunity to make a gift to their success. That was important to us. We did have a live appeal, so to speak, during the event. We had some slides prior to the event actually starting that encouraged people to give through the Givebutter platform. Our strategy around this essentially was doing it in the Givebutter platform was already obvious to people that we were expecting them to make a gift. We listed out the gift opportunities and what every gift level would do for our girls in need in our community, so they would be able to see that without us having to spend a lot of time talking about giving. Most importantly, we would be able to spend more time elevating the voices of our girls and ideas and feelings that were important to them.

Rachel: So what made you turn to Givebutter to pull this off?

D'Ivonne: We researched quite a few platforms to pull this off. The reason why we turned to Givebutter was because we liked that we could Livestream our event while enabling our donors to make a contribution without leaving the platform for the Livestream. In any other platform that you're using, if the giving function is not there, they have to go away from the event to make that gift and then possibly come back. We don't want to lose anyone; we wanted to make sure that people continued to stay engaged with us while they were making a gift. This opportunity, this platform, made the best sense for us.

Rachel: That makes sense because if you're at your physical event that you do every year, how ridiculous would it be if someone left the room and then came back when you're making the ask? So it's kind of the same idea, right? You want them to stay in the room, so to speak, and I'm so glad to hear that you were able to seamlessly make use of getting donations on the same page as the Livestream’s happening. It was just really exciting to be a part of and to watch come in. Do you have any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned about your first Livestream fundraiser on Givebutter that you would like to share with those in the Givebutter community?

D'Ivonne: I would say that Canva is your friend. We utilized Canva to make many of the images that you see down below for the giving levels. That was a very great tip that our customer service rep. gave us, and we really like that. I thought it was really nice to see that laid out, so I recommend doing that. Showing those giving levels, as any fundraiser knows, is very important to let donors and partners know what their dollar is doing for the overall impact of the organization. The other thing that we had to learn when we did our run through with the live videographers—and that's my other tip that I recommend is hiring a professional—is we learned some limitations with our platforms that we were using for the Livestream. I know that Givebutter does pretty much seamlessly go with most platforms, but we had some glitches on our end that we weren't aware of that showed up. We were able to stream this through Vimeo, and our videographer was able to seamlessly get that working for us on the date of and in our practice run. The other thing I would recommend is a practice run. Practice, practice, practice. Please don't try to pull this off on the day of, in the moment of your event, because every glitch that can happen, will happen. We worked out all the kinks, and I have to say that it went off very, very well. I'm really glad that we were able to do that.

Rachel: So happy to hear that. Those are great tips. I definitely agree: do a run-through, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and tell your story with high-quality images and specific dollar amounts. So I'm wondering, to close, if you have any word of encouragement for other fundraisers that are following along right now? Maybe it's their first Livestream fundraiser too, what would you say to them?

D'Ivonne: I would say do it. Most people are thinking that it's going to be harder to raise money during this pandemic, but studies have shown—the statistics are out there—that people are still giving. They want to feel connected to your mission and to the people that you're serving and being able to do a live event enables them to have that connection. They're happy to give, especially if you ask. So I would say don't be afraid. Go ahead and try to pull that off and it doesn't need to be perfect because it won't be. Just take comfort in knowing that no matter what: our donors, our partners, our supporters, just want to hear from us and they want to hear good news.

Rachel: Excellent words of advice. For everybody who's following along with this story, we have linked that campaign page for you to take a look and get some more inspiration. I would definitely encourage you to follow along their journey as they continue fundraising in the future. We know it's going to be as beautiful as it has been with this one. Thanks so much for tuning in for another Success Story. Thank you so much for your time; this was such a pleasure. You are an inspiration, and we are so proud to support you at Givebutter.

D'Ivonne: Thank you so much, Rachel. This has been really nice. Thank you.

Rachel Take care.

D'Ivonne: Bye.

View campaign: Talk With A Teen Girl (Virtual) High Tea

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

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

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