In this video, I’m joined by Andy and Kasi from THE PLACE. Did you know November is National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month? This past fall, THE PLACE asked supporters to help bring youth in from the cold through their Night Out Project. Through this experiential project, participants spent a night out on the street to raise awareness and funds for THE PLACE to work with youths experiencing homelessness. See how sleepers—I mean, team fundraisers—raised over $35k in this livestream event. Plus, they share:

  • Why they decided to host a hybrid event on Givebutter
  • How they were able to make team fundraisers and supporters feel connected, even though they were apart (Hint: Livestream fundraising)
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for fundraisers who are setting up their first-ever virtual event on Givebutter
“We’ve found Givebutter to be very user friendly. Whenever somebody donates to a particular [team member], that information goes immediately into our donor system and it's all linked. We're saving quite a bit of money in staff time just to be able to make the donations appear in our donor system...I think being able to use the live video aspect on Givebutter was very helpful for us, especially because we had that quick change to a virtual event. I think it was really fun for our [team fundraisers] and our donors to feel like they were all still together, even though we couldn't physically be together. What's great about Givebutter is it’s so easy to use both in person and virtual.”

You definitely don’t want to sleep on this Success Story; keep reading!

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter again. Thanks for joining us for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring THE PLACE. Their nonprofit raised over $35,000 for their Night Out event to ignite youth to exit homelessness and live a self-determined, fulfilled life. If you are looking for inspiration for your virtual event, this one is going to be just the fit for you. I have Andy and Kasi here with me who are going to share why they turned to give Givebutter, as well as—you know ‘em, you love ‘em—tips, tricks, and lessons learned, so we can all give better. Andy, Kasi, thank you both so much for joining today and for sharing your story with the Butter Fam.

Andy & Kasi: Thank you so much for having us!

Rachel: To start, why don't you both go ahead and introduce yourself and your role with THE PLACE. Andy, let's start with you.

Andy: I’m Andy Petersen. I'm the Director of Development at THE PLACE. I have been at this organization for three years. I’ve been in Resource Development for about a quarter century, and I will say that this year, this past year, has really stretched even me! But, it’s a great organization to work for.

Kasi: I’m Kasi Dwyer. I’m one of the Development Officers at THE PLACE. I’ve officially been with THE PLACE for about four months but was previously a partner in my old life with them. I come from the event-planning world.

Rachel: Nice! So we’re talking a lot about THE PLACE. Andy, can you tell us a little bit more about THE PLACE for those that aren't familiar?

Andy: THE PLACE is a youth homeless shelter, but it's actually much more than that. We work with young people from age 15 through 24. We have an outreach team that goes out into the streets, the libraries, the creeks—wherever the youths may be hanging out—to be able to provide them services and whatever needs that they may have, but also to bring case management to them out on the streets as well. We have a 20-bed shelter for youths from age 15 through 20. It's a licensed childcare, so we basically can only have them up through age 20. But, it's a 20-bed shelter and provides them meals, clothes, and again, case management to help them exit homelessness and live a self-determined, fulfilled life. Then, our third-pillar program is housing. We have several housing units that we have around the city. When youth are able to get into their own space, we work with them and, again, we have case management up through age 24. But basically the housing gets them off the streets. A lot of kids are saying, “Yeah, I don't want to be on the street anymore. I want my own place.” It's a great opportunity for them to start their own life.

Rachel: Amazing! Thank you for all the incredible work that THE PLACE is doing. Going back to your Night Out event, I want to hear all about it—as I’m sure everyone else does who’s following along. So Kasi, what was your goal and strategy for this event?

Kasi: The Night Out event is our replacement for a typical fun run or a typical type of silent auction fundraiser. It really works well for our mission, specifically, because we work with homeless youth. Basically, the premise is that we have Sleepers. These are volunteers from the community who commit to spending the night outside on the streets and getting that experience of being on the streets, being downtown, being cold, being hungry—to really step into the shoes of our youth. Then, along with that we have peer-to-peer fundraising. Those who are sleeping get sponsorships and donations from their friends, their family, anyone they can. Those people commit to donate to them so that they will spend the night out on the street. Typically, we do it actually out on the street in downtown Colorado Springs, so you get the lights, you get the random yelling, you get the sirens. This year was obviously a little bit different because of COVID, but that's the typical premise of the event.

Rachel: Wow, that sounds really, really impactful. How long have you been doing this event and what was it like for you to make the switch to virtual? What were some of the factors that you were thinking about?

Kasi: Yeah! Andy, we've been doing it for...several years.

Andy: Yeah, several years. About seven years or so. The first year was negative temperatures. In the three years that I’ve been doing it, it's been pretty cold. But yeah, it's one of those visceral experiences like Kasi said. It's challenging. There's a church that actually does the food for us the night of everything. We involve other members of the community to be able to do that—kind of like a soup kitchen kind of thing—so people really get a sense of what it was like. This year, it was definitely a different experience, I think.

Rachel: Definitely! What a unique event. What made you turn to Givebutter, Andy, to pull this off logistically for the virtual side of things?

Andy: We had been using another peer-to-peer program that was okay. It wasn't exactly really what we were looking for. For two reasons: the donor experience and the Sleeper experience was not exactly very user friendly. We’ve found Givebutter to be very user friendly. We could use the platform in a better way, I think. Also, the fact that it connects with our donor system. Whenever somebody donates to a particular Sleeper, that information goes immediately into our donor system and it's all linked. We're saving quite a bit of money in staff time just to be able to make the donations appear in our donor system. I think a lot of it too, to be able to use—and Kasi can tell you how we ended up using Givebutter the night of the event and what the impact was for doing video and things like that. Those are the two main reasons that we had.

Rachel: So for you, it came down to user experience. Not only for supporters, team members, and teams, but also for your own internal team.

Andy: Exactly.

Rachel: It just worked out perfectly on being able to save time migrating donor data into your CRM.

Andy: Right.

Rachel: Kasi, tell me the deets. What was it like day of? How were you using it? What was going on with the video?

Kasi: We really planned on doing it in person still, and, only about less than a week ahead, we got upgraded in a negative way for COVID. We realized we had to go virtual. Luckily, our Sleepers knew that could be a possibility, and we were ready for that. What we ended up doing was the Sleepers slept in their own backyards, so we needed to go live with our formal presentations and our activities that we did. We actually did a combo of Facebook Live and then linking that to Givebutter. The Sleepers were able to go to Givebutter—which they were used to and they have been on the platform using it—and watch our presentations. They really enjoyed being able to go there and see the donations coming in while we were doing our program and the comments from their donors. I think that's one of the best parts of Givebutter. Then, we also had it on Facebook Live, so other people who maybe weren't tuned in before—they weren't Sleepers or donors before—they got to see what we were doing and got to then get directed to Givebutter to do donations. I think being able to use the live video aspect on Givebutter was very helpful for us, especially because we had that quick change to a virtual event. I think it was really fun for our Sleepers and our donors to feel like they were all still together, even though we couldn't physically be together.

Andy: Now mind you, Kasi had just started with us a month prior. With her event experienced in the past, she was like, “Okay, we'll have two different plans,” and all this sort of stuff. She says, “We're going to have it outside, no matter what. We're going to have it at that one spot.” Then, we're planning for both. Then, we couldn't do it, and it’s like, “Oh!” but we’re prepared.

Kasi: What's great about Givebutter is it’s so easy to use both in person and virtual, so that was the least of our worries. The plan for them was the same, everything was going to be the same there, and I didn't have to worry about that at all.

Rachel: So happy to hear that. I think that's brilliant: Plan A and Plan B. Nowadays, in the pandemic, that really is how you have to fundraise. It's not really an option to have multiple options for your event anymore, right?

Kasi: Right.

Rachel: I'm just sharing my screen here for everybody who's been thinking in the back of their minds this whole time, “What does this campaign look like?” Well, here you have it folks. It’s gorgeous. Definitely would recommend exploring these teams, team members, and how they set up the pages. Like you mentioned, your supporter feed is full. Lots of fun and heartfelt messages, so donors obviously were loving engaging with you there. In terms of your story, I love that you just kept it so simple, getting right down to the mission, heart of the matter, and then linking to a website where you can have more info for people who want to engage further. Obviously, so beautifully branded. Easy to navigate. Kudos to you and your team for the setup here; it looks gorgeous. As we’re looking at this page, do you have any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned for other fundraisers who are following along right now that may be setting up their own Givebutter campaign page?

Kasi: I think one of the key things—especially if this is your first time using Givebutter and your constituents aren't used to it yet—is to give them more to look at at the beginning. When we set up the page, we set up our Development Team’s team and we had some donations. We had some early donors come in and donate and make their comments on the page so that column started to fill. People could see, “Oh, this is what it's going to look like when I donate. This is the picture of the team and how I get to a specific person.” Filling some of that in and having some people pre-set up before you really fully launch the page, I think, is helpful. When people look at it, if it's more full like this, I think they realize how easy it's going to be to use.

Andy: I would also add to that, too. We really made the gift donations tangible to what we do. If you click on the “Donate,” we basically calculated for one night—for one 24-hour period—one youth could get all of our services for $100. We broke down some other things as well to make  it real. I think that upped our average gift. I didn't check what our average gift for it was, but I think it brought it up a little bit higher as a result.

Kasi: Yeah! Our average gift this year was $97.91, so definitely a great average and higher than we’ve had in the past. I agree that having those specific line items and tangible items was helpful in increasing our average.

Rachel: Absolutely. Did you see a lot of people using digital wallets and covering processing fees as well?

Kasi: Yeah, absolutely. We were kind of across the board in terms of paying with card, PayPal, Venmo. I think that it was great to have those options, especially for the younger generations. I think they're getting used to having those options, so it's wonderful that we could have those. And covering fees? Definitely. We had some people do that which is always helpful, and I think it’s always a good ask, even if you don't expect it. Your donor maybe isn't interested because they have their mind set on a certain donation, but I think it's always nice to ask. I think people are very understanding about that.

Rachel: Absolutely. To close here, thinking about the future of fundraising—I guess this could be a question for either of you—what are your thoughts about the future of fundraising in 2021 when it comes to events for nonprofits? Is the future hybrid? Is the future hybrid for your organization? Is it virtual? What are your thoughts?

Andy: I would say that we have to be prepared for just about anything. I think if 2020 taught us anything, it is whatever standards we had before are maybe not out the window, but at least we have to be able to flex with them. Looking at what we were able to do here—much to Kasi’s credit—it was very successful and it was a very positive experience for us to do this. We actually had Givebutter, we started with you guys back in June, but we didn't really get to actually put it all together until about a month beforehand. Knowing that we were able to actually do that kind of thing is like, “Okay. If we need to do this on a short basis, we can actually pull it together.” Our other fundraising event is the big breakfast that we hold under a bridge. About 1,000 people show up for it. We couldn't do that this year. Had we been able to put it together for that this past year, we would have done that. But as it is now, we are looking at our breakfast in July as being a possible, “Okay, I think we could actually have table captains through Givebutter as opposed to having table captains at the event.” And maybe do something different, so it could be a bit of a hybrid and not necessarily strictly a virtual event.

Kasi: I think in terms of events as a whole, for a long time, I thought of it as a temporary change—this going virtual and doing at-home events—but I think that it has been going on long enough that now it's going to be a culture shift. People will be more comfortable with this and expecting it. I think events will never be the same and will certainly take a very long time—years and years—before people are fully ready to go back to 100% in person. I think being able to be flexible and ready to use online platforms and do hybrid events is going to be key for success. We're definitely excited to try it this year with the breakfast. Instead of having Plan A and Plan B, just having a combination of both and ready to flex in either direction.

Rachel: Absolutely. Lots of words of wisdom. Thank you for using Givebutter for this meaningful event, and thank you so much for letting us share your success with everyone today.

Andy & Kasi: Thank you, Rachel.

Rachel: For everybody else who's following along, please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel. If we didn't ask something that you want Andy and Kasi to answer, just comment below and we'll get back to you—as many as we can. Thanks everybody for joining, and we look forward to seeing you next week for yet another inspiring Success Story. Bye everybody!

View campaign: NIGHT OUT Project 2020

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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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