In this video, I’m joined by Miriam from the STARability Foundation. The STARability Foundation's mission is to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities through social, vocational, and educational connections to the community, while strengthening awareness and respect for individuals of all abilities. When the STARability team realized they would have to cancel their annual 3k Fun Run, Walk & Roll, they turned to Givebutter to host their fundraising event virtually. Miriam shares how they were able to surpass their $10k goal three weeks before their event was scheduled to start! Plus, Miriam also shares:

  • Why they chose Givebutter for their virtual, all abilities event
  • How they used the supporter feed and unlimited ticket types on Givebutter to create sponsorship packets
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for promoting and fostering support for your virtual endurance event
“[Using Givebutter has] been great! If we have an issue or somebody goes online and they made a mistake with their donation (or whatever the issue might be), we can get through to someone who can help us with that. If we want to change something in the campaign—you realize you made a mistake and there's a typo or something—you can go in there and fix that easily on the backend. I also like the fact that it integrates with Bloomerang. As soon as someone makes a donation on this page, it automatically is integrated into Bloomerang, so I don't have to go in there and enter the gift myself. If there are any adjustments that we need to make, it's fairly simple to make. So far, it's been a good experience. We’ve enjoyed it!”

Ready to see how these STARs shine?

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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 STARability Foundation based in Florida. Their foundation—get this—has already raised over $15,000 for their 3k event that's happening three weeks from now. They started with $10,000 and they're already over $15,000—and they're only going to raise more! If you are looking for inspiration for your endurance event, this one is going to be particularly inspiring for you. I have Miriam here with me who is going to share why they turned to Givebutter as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned. Miriam, thank you so much for joining to share your early success with the entire Butter Fam.

Miriam: Thank you! Thanks for letting us share our story with you; we appreciate it.

Rachel: So excited! So Miriam, if we could just start by having you introduce yourself, your role with your organization, and a little bit more about your mission and what you all do.

Miriam: Sure! I'm the Chief Philanthropy Officer here at the STARability Foundation. We're based in Naples, Florida on the west coast of Florida. STARability is a special place that serves people with disabilities—intellectual and developmental disabilities—who are often shunned or or excluded from society. We don't think that's right. We think that people should be included and all of their abilities—no matter their abilities—should be celebrated. What we do here is we open a window of opportunities for people. If they want to continue their education, if they want to find a job and improve their vocational skills, if they just want to be around other people and take an art class or workshop of some kind—anything that's life enriching—we do that with them. We do that through all of our programs. We have a day program that's called the Trailblazer Academy where people actually go out into the community and continue to learn, improve their job skills, actually get jobs, and go out to work and volunteer in the community. We've been around in our community for about 34 years now. About four years ago, we started that day program, the Trailblazer Academy. We changed our name to highlight who we call the STARs which are our participants. It's just to really showcase that they are able, that they have abilities. We do that, not only through the programs that we have, but through our events. We started the 3k event: 3k Fun Walk, Run, and Roll. Say that three times real fast! We started that about two years ago now. We were planning for this year—just like everybody's planning their events—and in mid-March, everything changed. Life as we knew it changed. We had to change along with it and figure out how are we going to continue this event: A.) Could we? and B.) How could we do that? What happened was, I was sitting in on the webinar—we’re clients of Bloomerang—and Givebutter was presenting on how you do virtual events and make them active and inviting using simple platforms that are not going to break your budget. A couple months later, when we were looking at another new virtual event to try with, we started with Givebutter and it went well. We raised $5,000 through that. That was a Virtual Bingo game. Then, we figured let's try it for the run—or the 3k. We kept our goal modest at first. We wanted to just make more than last year. Everything is new and this is a different platform, so we figured let's start small and see what happens. Within, I don't know, maybe four to six weeks we raised our goal which was about $10,500 at the time. Then I figured, can we raise more? I went in and changed the fever bar on the campaign to $15,000 and here we are. We’re at $15,000 right now.

Rachel: Incredible. I know you mentioned pre-call that all of this is totally new: this format of going virtual for your endurance event—even though you've been doing it the last couple of years. When you were strategizing, “How do we go virtual with our endurance event?” what were some of the conversations that you were having?

Miriam: Well, we listened to a lot of webinars about virtual events: how do you make that switch from live to virtual? Then we reached out to other organizations with similar missions. There was one organization—that we partnered with actually—just one county north of us, and they had their virtual walk about a few months earlier. We talked to them and asked them: can you give us advice? What went well? What would you do again if you could? We talked to another organization up north who was switching theirs to a month-long virtual event as well. We got some ideas from them. We knew that we wanted to keep it fun and engaging and keep it short. Everything we've heard about is: if you're going to go live or have a pseudo-live virtual event, keep it no more than an hour. Have fun short videos that you can pepper throughout the presentation. Showcase your mission and the people you serve. Get as many images of them, whether they're telling their story or B-roll of them—any video that you might have of them that you can intersperse throughout your presentation. Make it easy to make a gift online; make it as simple as possible. Those were the things that we started to talk about internally and share with our 3k committee. What they were charged with was to try and find the sponsors to help us clear that hurdle. Then, we just got the word out through our participants and their families and just the general community—posting things on Facebook, through our email communication every other week. Have something in there that reminds people about the 3k. That seems to be generating the traction that we need to get people to visit the site, learn a little bit more about it, and either form a team or register or just make a donation toward the event. That's how we've been doing this.

Rachel: Yeah! Thank you so much for sharing all the ways that you approached this. I think you left us with so many good tips and lessons learned there: collaboration is key. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have the right tools in place and then keep communicating, keep collaborating, and make everything as concise as possible. Let me tell everyone, you are all masters of concise, powerful storytelling. Let me go ahead and share my screen so everybody can see your beautiful campaign page. How exciting! This is live, happening right now. You can see a donation just came in three hours ago on their page. Whoo! It's exciting. Going down—I was just mentioning the story—we have these powerful visuals. You have less than a page of content here so that it's really digestible to follow. A very powerful video, I will definitely link to the campaign page and video. You should absolutely watch it and grab a box of tissues because it is so powerful. You just mentioned, Miriam, sponsors. That was something that I wanted to point out on your page. You are doing so well on your supporter feed! This stood out to me right away, that you have the sponsor logo, story, and essentially a living, breathing ad for them on your page. I haven't seen very many people do that on Givebutter. Can you tell us how you are pulling that off?

Miriam: Sure. That is all Rachael—Rachael Johnston, who is our events manager. She came up with a sponsorship packet and an underwriter packet. We talked about the different giving levels for either the sponsorships or the underwriting and what benefits would there be for our sponsors and underwriters. The committee then used those packets to go out and try and get sponsorships. Within the past few weeks, we've gotten those. The $1,000 and $1,200 sponsorships, and the $500 and $250, have come in the past few weeks. Depending on their level, we provide marketing for them through presenting their logos on the Givebutter page that we created, in the email. When we send out the email blasts—which we sent one out this morning and some of those donations came in after that. We just received a $20 one, just a little while ago before I got on the call with you. But anyway, all of that is included in all the communication too. It's at the bottom of the emails that we send out. We've also, I believe, put them on Facebook page posts that we've done. We try to be very aware of what we're offering businesses—the sponsors who have decided to support this particular cause and this particular event—and to make sure that we're including them in everything that we possibly can.

Rachel: Right, right.

Miriam: That's what we're doing!

Rachel: Yeah! And including that into your ticket registration process, right? Man, that is such good inspiration for everybody who's watching. Another thing that we haven't even touched on is that you also have a peer-to-peer format going on where you have team fundraisers. How is that going?

Miriam: It's been fun to watch. There was a little bit of competition earlier, when they first started, between Jonman and Stofft Cooney. It was kind of neck-and-neck there for a little bit. We had some of our own staff members create their own teams. Our Executive Director, Karen, created a team. I created one. it's just been fun watching those gifts come in: just to see who's giving to whom. It just gets people to go in there and support either a participant whose family started a campaign, or started a team. Jonman, for example, that's his family—his mom started it. When she started the team, all of a sudden we started getting all of these donations come in because she got the word out to her family and friends and network of supporters who know her son and who understand how he's benefited from the programs here. That's how that's come about. It's been a really good, valuable way of trying to grow our network that way. Our circle of supporters.

Rachel: Keeping the conversation going; keeping things engaging and exciting.

Miriam: Exactly.

Rachel: Are there any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned so far? Because you've shared a lot of great stuff. I'm just wondering, is there anything else that you've learned along the way that you're like, “This is something I wish I would have known when I first started, or “I'm glad that I'm learning this.”

Miriam: The one thing is, it's flexible enough that if you want to change direction or change your goal, for instance, you can go in and do it. It's not like it's locked in stone. You can go in and make changes that way. I wish we could continue promoting it even more which we will—we still have three weeks to go. But what I've learned is: get the word out early and often. Keep doing that. Start with the people who are closest to you whether it's your committee members, if you have a committee, who's working on an event with you, or your closest supporters. Then, branch it out from there. Keep using social media to the best of your ability to make sure that you're getting the word out. And email it! However frequently you email your supporters, just make sure that you're including all of this information in there to make it simpler for them to be able to go online and to make the donation. Just put the link to the page wherever you can to make sure that people can get to it. Just think like a donor. What do you want to know to be able to support the cause that's near and dear to you? Keep it simple; keep it as simple as you possibly can so that they can make their gift and feel good about that.

Rachel: Yeah! Excellent words of wisdom Miriam. Can I ask, how has your Givebutter experience been so far? I know you’re new to Givebutter.

Miriam: It's been great! If we have an issue or somebody goes online and they made a mistake with their donation or whatever the issue might be, we can get through to someone who can help us with that which has been great. If we want to change something in the campaign: you realize you made a mistake and there's a typo or something, you can go in there and fix that easily on the backend. I like the fact that it integrates with Bloomerang. As soon as someone makes a donation on this page, it automatically is integrated into Bloomerang, so I don't have to go in there and enter the gift myself. If there are any adjustments that we need to make, it's fairly simple to make. So far, it's been a good experience. We’ve enjoyed it.

Rachel: So far, so good?

Miriam: So far, so good!

Rachel: Good! I'm happy to hear it. Miriam, thank you so much for using Givebutter for this beautiful event, for letting us share your early Success Story today. We are cheering you on, and we cannot wait to see all the success that you achieve in three weeks with your event.

Miriam: Thank you.

Rachel: For everybody else following along, please remember to like, share and subscribe. Thank you so much for joining, and we look forward to seeing you next week for another Success Story. Bye everybody!

View campaign: 3k Fun Run, Walk, and Roll

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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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