In this video, I’m joined by Monique, Executive Director of TeenTix. In its first-ever spring gala, TeenTix hosted a virtual celebration to highlight young artists who use their talents to amplify the power of creativity, communication, and activism. The TeenTix community may not have been able to be together for this year’s event, but together they still made a big difference, raising nearly $46k to continue breaking down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art in the Seattle community! Monique pulls back the curtains to show you what made this virtual event so successful event, including:

  • How TeenTix pivoted its annual in-person event into an online gala
  • Ways to engage and guide virtual audiences during an online event
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for creating the same energy and community you find at an in-person event in a virtual format
“I think I was surprised by the virtual event; it was easy... The surprising thing for me was there were some people who started their team member page way in advance, right when we launched it. Then there were some people who the day of or the day before or the week of just created one and invited a bunch of people and they showed up and/or got gifts. I think the ease of that—because if you're in person, you have to have a headcount and a food count and all of that in advance—the ease of just being able to do it so last minute or within hours of the event... it didn't hinder anything. It actually was just more exciting.”


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Full video script

Rachel: Hello, hello! Welcome back to Givebutter’s Success Stories series. I am here today with TeenTix. You might recognize the name because we featured them as a “Campaign We Love” on Givebutter’s site, as well as a Good Newsletter and our Instagram account. Recently, TeenTix’s livestream raised over $46,000 on Givebutter which was backed by more than 255 changemakers. I think you're really going to love hearing about this one. I have Monique here with me who's going to share how they raised funds and any tips, tricks, and lessons learned from a unique perspective as an Executive Director of a nonprofit. Monique, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story with the entire Givebutter Fam.

Monique: Thanks for having me. I’m excited!

Rachel: Yes, me too! To start, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and—for those that aren't familiar—a little bit more about TeenTix as well.

Monique: Sure, yeah! I'm Monique Courcy and I'm the Executive Director of TeenTix. I'm in my fifth year with the organization at this point. I use she/her pronouns. TeenTix is a youth service organization, and we work to make arts and culture more accessible to young people in the Greater Puget Sound area. We started with our cornerstone program, The Pass Program, which is really about helping young people find where to look for events around town—whether it be dance, theater, improv, music, you name it! We have a calendar that lists everything that is TeenTix eligible. With a free TeenTix Pass, teens can go and see those events, go to the museum for $5 with their pass. Really just trying to make it as easy as possible for young people to just go and explore and find out what the community has to offer. We have two more youth development programs in addition to that that we've developed over the last 17 years that are featuring ways to become an arts leader in the community, learning about networking, learning how to put on events—kind of pulling back the curtain a little bit. People are on stage, but what else is there to producing this world of arts and culture? That's a team leadership program called The New Guard. We also have a team that’s an arts criticism and creative writing and creative thinking skills program called The Press Corps. That's really honing in on helping youth find their own voice and find the importance of their own voice. We approach it through arts criticism, but also just in the world at large. Why is your voice important, why does your opinion matter, and how can you communicate that to people around you?

Rachel: That's amazing. Thank you for the important work that you're doing for teens.

Monique: Yeah, absolutely! We love teenagers; they're great.

Rachel: We at Givebutter just feel like such kindred spirits with you at TeenTix because we also call our folks “changemakers.” The name of your event—the title right at the top—was “Changemakers: Teens at the Forefront.” We just love love love. Is this an annual event? Is this your first time going virtual? Break it down for us: what's the background of this event? What were you raising funds for?

Monique: We do have an annual gala as a lot of artsy organizations do. Typically, it's in the fall. With the pandemic during 2020, we took the opportunity to move our gala to the spring. It was a lot of new things for us this year in 2021! We, for the very first time, had a spring gala fundraiser but then also it's typically a sit-down dinner, raise-the-paddles sort of experience. Usually we have between 175 to 200 guests at that event, so the virtual thing was a whole new ballgame. How does this actually work? I feel like we definitely learned a lot. It was very different. It was stressful in new ways and not stressful in other ways. It was a whole thing!

Rachel: Yeah! How did your team or board mentally pivot to that? Because it's a big change going from an in-person, more traditional gala to this super fun and spunky live stream, virtual event. I'm definitely going to share my screen and show this. People have to see—it’s so beautiful. How did you guys handle that together, making that pivot?

Monique: I mean...I think that we had the benefit of doing our virtual event the spring of 2021 after a lot of organizations had done and tried to do virtual events for almost a full year at that point. I think we were nervous and the board was nervous and the staff was like, “How's this going to work?” My biggest thing was how are we going to recreate the energy that's in the room?

Rachel: Yeah!

Monique: As the Executive Director, how do I network in a virtual space? That was the weirdest thing for me to try and visualize. It wasn't exactly the same, but there were ways that we tried to recreate some of that energy and that spark. I think, overall, it was “How are we going to do this? This is new!” But, we had a really great Board President who's also a fundraiser herself. She had done a lot of virtual events previously and has done a lot of virtual events through the Givebutter platform. She also felt really comfortable leading us through the plan. We were able to connect with other organizations that we were familiar with. We were alive presenting at Kirkland Performance Center, which is one of the TeenTix partners that we work with to bring young people into their space. We worked with people within our community, so it wasn't like everything was brand new. We had some people that we felt comfortable with to start out, but it was definitely a different experience.

Rachel: I'm sure so many who are watching are just nodding their head with you.

Monique: Yep!

Rachel: Yeah! What was the structure or format of your event?

Monique: We ended up with one hour live combined with a pre-recorded event. Flip back and forth with some pre-recorded videos, highlighting different stories about our programs and about the mission, and then we had two individuals live streaming from onstage at Kirkland Performance Center in the Seattle area. It was myself and our host. Pre-event, we had a virtual happy hour. We invited everybody who registered and who had a table to join us—a virtual table, obviously, with the Givebutter pages—to join us for this happy hour for an hour. We were on Zoom. We just chatted. We had a couple of randomized Zoom rooms and just tried to get the energy going. We had questions like, “What's your TeenTix experience? What are you eating for dinner? What was the first time you saw an arts event as a young person? What did that mean to you?”

Rachel: Oh, fun!

Monique: Some ways to loosen people up a little bit, so they could see maybe who they were watching with. I think that really helped. At least for me, it helped recreate that experience in the lobby where you’re greeting people.

Rachel: Yup!

Monique: Before you go to that podium and speak, right? It helped energize my experience, and I hope that it translated for those people who were watching, and they continued to stay on the Zoom call while the event started. They had that opportunity to continue to be with their small groups or their “table.”

Rachel: Oh, wow! Yeah, I love that. It’s so creative. I don't know if I’ve heard of that format before.

Monique: It was actually really fun. It allowed for a personal chat in the Zoom while you could also do the Givebutter chat for the whole community. It felt like you could turn to someone if you were sitting next to them and comment whatever you're going to comment or say, “Oh yeah, I saw that too!” But then also the entire room doesn't need to hear it.

Rachel: Right! I'm going to go ahead and share my screen for everybody who's just on the edge of their seat right now wanting to see what the event looked like. I know they are! For everybody who’s following along, of course we're going to link this. You can go ahead and take notes, just like Monique did, of what everyone else was doing in the last year. You can watch their entire event. It's still up on their Givebutter page right now. You can see how they set up their donate process. You can see how they set up team member pages. I just loved the way that you laid out your entire story. Great graphics here. So fun!

Monique: This part was interesting for us because there's a lot of people that have experienced a bunch of different virtual events, and it's not the same as just inviting them into your space and leading them through a program. I felt like we had to put more detail out upfront—more of an itinerary—more about what to expect. The tech support was a whole new thing. How are we going to guide you through this? I think it worked pretty well. It was tricky, but we had someone on call. We had the office phone forwarding to her cell phone and ready and waiting in case they got stuck in a Givebutter cycle or couldn't find the right page or the stream or the link.

Rachel: Yes. I think that's such a great idea that you offered support as a new platform for people who are like, “What? Is this Givebutter? Am I reading that right?”

Monique: Right! “Where do I go now?”

Rachel: “Why does it say Givebutter on my card? Is that real?” But it seems like people really were engaged. I was looking at the supporter feed and incredible use of GIFs and heartfelt comments here. It was so fun to look at. Clearly, people found it pretty easy to use. Do you have any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned as we look at your page here?

Monique: I think I was surprised by the virtual event; it was easy. We used the team member section essentially as our table captains. Generally, we have board members host tables and invite their friends to our in-person event. We kind of did this in the same way where we used this essentially as a peer-to-peer platform. We had our board and some other friends and supporters of TeenTix started their own page. Then that's how they invited their friends to join the event. Some of these people I don't think actually tuned in but still gave to their friend’s event. Some of these people only created a page because they invited someone, but the person wanted to give in support of that individual. While they might not have wanted to host a table. they just ended up creating a page quickly so that their friend could give to TeenTix through them or in recognition of them. We did have one of these tables act as a teen table where our young people could come and group and gather. We also created Zoom rooms in that pre-show happy hour via Zoom based on these tables.

Rachel: Oh, okay.

Monique: We were basically trying to recreate the feeling like, “Alright! We're all in that same space, but now you go sit at your table.” Like I said, some people showed up and some people didn't. We did some merging kind of last minute, but it allowed us to have a mingling experience, but then also move people into the space with their friends. The surprising thing for me was there were some people who started their team member page way in advance, right when we launched it. Then there were some people who the day of or the day before or the week of just created one and invited a bunch of people and they showed up and/or got gifts. I think the ease of that—because if you're in person, you have to have a headcount and a food count and all of that in advance—the ease of just being able to do it so last minute or within hours of the didn't hinder anything. It actually was just more exciting.

Rachel: So true. That's a great tip, especially helpful for those who have done a traditional gala and are trying to figure out, “How do we translate this to virtual?” It seems like you really were able to not only take that experience and kind of recreate virtual but even add on some additional benefits and bonuses to input that energy and create that networking type of experience that builds community of support for your organization. Congratulations on all of your success. Incredibly fun event. Again, everybody, please watch this event and give them a follow. Just a really important message that they are sharing with our community and just a really well-done fundraiser. Kudos to you, Monique, and the entire TeenTix team!

Monique: Thanks so much! Thanks for talking with me.

Rachel: Great to have you! Thank you, everybody else, for following along for another Success Story. We will see you again next week! Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube Channel. Until then, happy fundraising! Bye everybody.

View campaign: Changemakers: Teens at the Forefront

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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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