Reimagining Fundraising Campaigns and Events

Reimagining Fundraising Campaigns and Events

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Episode 07

Meet our guest: Kimberly Watts
Kimberly is the Director of Development at Center for Global Impact (CGI) based in Franklin, IN. Prior to working at CGI, she served in other non-profit organizations in HR and fundraising and also lived in Guatemala, where she taught English and facilitated training for church leaders. In her current role at CGI, she loves meeting with supporters, brainstorming future projects, and planning and executing fundraising events. 
Center for Global Impact is a non-profit organization that is passionate about empowering the poor, protecting the vulnerable, and sharing the gospel. They do that through providing vocational training and general education/life skills classes. CGI primarily works with women who are vulnerable to exploitation in Cambodia, and some are part of their business development program, BYTAVI. At the BYTAVI workshop in Cambodia, they are employed to sew  a line of women’s clothing and handbags. The line is sold online, in their boutiques in Cambodia and Franklin, and also to wholesale partners. Sales from the products go directly back to supporting the women that made them, providing them with fair wages so they can support themselves and their families.  You can follow CGI on Facebook and Instagram, as well as BYTAVI on Facebook and Instagram.
Fundraising Campaign Changes

CGI does an annual Match Madness fundraising campaign, a take off of the NCAA’s March Madness, that uses a matching gift to encourage additional giving. When the tournament was cancelled due to COVID, they had to rethink the entire approach to the campaign. This was made even more complicated by the general impact of COVID, not just its impact where basketball was concerned. After considering canceling the campaign altogether, Kimberly’s team made the decision to move forward, taking a very vulnerable approach. They acknowledged the pandemic and its economic and personal implications for their donors. However, they explained that they wanted to continue to meet the needs of the people in Cambodia, both now and in the future. They emphasized that every dollar counts and that any level of giving was helpful and appreciated. This approached worked well initially, and then the giving became stagnant.

During this time, the CGI team had a desire to help in some way concerning the pandemic. They weren’t sure exactly how to do this and were at a loss as to how they could make an impact. Along with that, their BYTAVI program was struggling with sales as boutiques were closing for a period of time due to COVID. They wanted to find a way to keep the women working in Cambodia and had the idea for producing cloth face masks, which were becoming a need everywhere. All this led them to relaunch their campaign with a “Mask Madness” component, where a portion of all the funds raised were designated for mask production and donation. They had secured additional funds from some donors to match every dollar donated with $2. People really responded to this and CGI was able to exceed their fundraising goal by quite a bit.

Click here to check out one of the Facebook posts for the Mask Madness campaign.

Virtual Events and Creativity

CGI puts on an annual gala in the fall that is their biggest fundraiser of the year. This year, they made the decision to do an entirely virtual gala. CGI has not hosted a virtual event before, so Kimberly has been watching and learning from other virtual events to help plan this new endeavor. They quickly realized two upsides of going virtual — first, their fundraising goal could be reduced significantly without the overhead of a traditional gala fundraiser, and second, they are able to involve supporters from everywhere (even Cambodia!), not just those who are local. This has also been a great exercise in creativity, as Kimberly and her team were able to not only reimagine this event but also come up with ways to enable people to be engaged, active participants in a virtual setting. They have added several creative elements that will make it a fun and inspiring evening. Additionally, the CGI team has decided to use the entire month of August to communicate with their supporters, all culminating with the livestream event. 

For more information about CGI’s 2020 Impact Gala, click here.

Inviting People into a Mission
So, what has this experience with COVID taught us about fundraising? Kimberly looks at fundraising as an art form. As art reflects what is going on in the world, fundraising should do the same. We must change and adapt — don’t be afraid to be creative and try something different, even if you fail (and then learn how to improve)! Invite people to be a part of the inspiration and hope that you are providing. When you can get people excited to join in your mission, the dollars will follow.