August 13, 2020

Reimagining Fundraising Campaigns and Events

2355 Productions
2355 Productions
Reimagining Fundraising Campaigns and Events

Show Notes

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.


Episode Transcript

These transcripts are computer generated

Ryan Sarver 0:10
Hello, and welcome to the marketing and engagement podcast brought to you by 2355 Productions. This podcast is all about exploring different tactics for marketing, but also strategies and techniques to create lasting engagement with donors and customers. I’m your host, Ryan Sarver, and this is episode number seven. This week we are talking with Kimberly watts of Center for Global Impact, also known as CGI, which is located in Franklin, Indiana. CGI is a faith based organization that primarily works in Cambodia, providing vocational and life skills training to vulnerable women. They also have a clothing line called ByTavi that is part of their business development program, which also happens to be sold in their boutique and Franklin, Lauren and I had the chance in this episode to talk with Kimberly about how COVID-19 shut down some of their major fundraising efforts, which, if you’re in the nonprofit world, you realize that’s a major problem. And we talk a little bit about how they switch things up a couple times, because the first time it didn’t work. And I think the second time it didn’t work either. But they switch them up and they still found success. So it’s a really interesting conversation that we think you will all enjoy. So with that said, let’s jump right in. Well welcome, Kimberly, thanks so much for joining us.

Kimberly Watts 1:28
Thanks, Ryan and Lauren for having me. Absolutely.

Ryan Sarver 1:30
So as we begin, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you work, what your role is, and what all you do.

Kimberly Watts 1:39
Well, I am the Director of Development, Center for Global Impact. And we are an organization that is passionate about empowering the poor, protecting the vulnerable and sharing the gospel. We do that in a few different ways. We have vocational training programs, where we include some general education and life skills classes. And we also have a business development program, which is called by to be I think we’ll talk about that here. Probably a little bit more in depth later on. But yeah, we want to work with women who are vulnerable to exploitation primarily, we work in the country of Cambodia right now and have free programs there.

Ryan Sarver 2:15
Yeah, so you mentioned ByTavi, tell us a little bit about what specifically is ByTavi and what’s happening in Cambodia as part of that. And then also, what’s happening here with ByTavi.

Kimberly Watts 2:28
ByTavi is our business development program. So it’s a little different from the other programs that we have. Because what we actually want to do is empower women to use their skills and their talents to earn a fair wage. And so with ByTavi that’s really focused around sewing a line of women’s clothing and handbags. So they produce it there and our buy to be workshop in Cambodia, some of it is sold in our boutique there in Cambodia. But then we also ship it here to the United States, where we sell it at our brick and mortar store online, buy to be calm. And then we also sell to whole wholesale around the US as well as even occasionally outside of the US at this point. So what we do, then as the sales from the products that these women are making, goes back directly to supporting them a provides fair wages for them, so that they can provide for themselves and their families.

Ryan Sarver 3:20
Yeah, so while there is some donor support to it, it is very much more of a business like as as they work. And the product is sold and the money goes back to them. So the the product that is sold is really what’s supporting them.

Kimberly Watts 3:33
Right, the majority of the support for the program comes from selling the products that they do make, we do subsidize with donor dollars. But it’s a fairly minor portion at this point in time because they have done such a great job doing what they do.

Ryan Sarver 3:46
Excellent. So tell us a little bit about and this comes back into ByTavi, but tell us a little bit about the annual March fundraising campaign, and how with COVID how you pivoted twice through that and trying to figure out like what do you need to do to keep some of these programs going, because again, as you know, you’ve got to keep selling, and you got to keep raising money. Talk to us a little bit about what you did and how you change things up.

Kimberly Watts 4:14
So every March and into April, a little bit, we have been doing a peer to peer fundraising campaign and we center it all around kind of build the whole campaign as a riff on the NCAA basketball tournament. And of course, COVID kind of threw that out the window with all the different cancellations and things like that. And that was really just a matter of days before our campaign was supposed to launch that they, you know, said hey, we’re not going to do it. And so we were scrambling last minute to figure out okay, how do we completely revamp this entire campaign that’s all about the NCAA March Madness with our match madness. We have already secured a matching gift Thank goodness and so that our donors are still able to allow us to have that matching gift. So we knew, okay, that that component can stay the same, but everything else had to change. So we just decided to be really open and vulnerable with our donors and just say, Hey, you know, this is a really uncertain time, we still have a real need and Cambodia that we want to continue to meet now and into the future. And that means getting donations and during this pandemic, we need their support, we know that could look different for different people, as people feel the different economic impact in their own personal lives. You know, maybe they wanted to give 100, but they could really only give 20, that’s fine, like every dollar counts. And so we were just really open and vulnerable. And it started off pretty well, just by being that transparent with everybody. And then it kind of became stagnant. And after about a week, we really weren’t seeing any donations coming in. And we thought, Okay, this messaging, you know, everybody’s being open, everybody’s being transparent and vulnerable about, there is still a need, even though things are very uncertain right now. So I thought, we’ve got to mix this up, because the message is just really getting lost in everything else. There was so much attention on COVID itself, and just learning more as we started to learn more about this thing, and the messaging with, you know, the deaths and the testing, and how can we do this? And how can we do that? It just, you know, it just drew too much attention for everybody that, you know, are open, vulnerable, honest message really wasn’t hitting a chord with them. At the same time, we were also feeling within our organization that we really wanted to help the situation, you know, we’re passionate about empowering the poor, protecting the vulnerable, and everybody is vulnerable to COVID. And so we thought we like we really wanted to help, it was just heavy on our hearts, to be able to do something. But we’re not a medical organization. We don’t have doctors and nurses working for us. So we can help them that way. We’re not a relief organization. So we didn’t have funds built up to address some of the tangible needs that people may be feeling here in the United States or throughout the world. And so we were really feeling a little bit helpless and kind of lost as to how to make an impact in this situation. And we were also struggling with our ByTavi program, because we do sell at our boutique. And we do wholesale Well, when everybody shut for business. Nobody’s purchasing the merchandise, we have a team of women that are very important to us, that we want to continue to provide with employment, especially as they face shutdowns and the ramifications of a pandemic in their own country. And so we wanted to, you know, keep them going keep them earning a fair wage continuing to empower them and provide for them and help them. And so it kind of just this, like perfect storm, perfect brainstorm of things coming together. And we thought, you know, what, we need to keep these women working they so we’re starting to see this call for cloth face masks at the time for hospitals primarily. What if we sewed face masks? Like, what if we did these cloth face masks, and we could ship them here. And you know, and keep some there and give them to the people that are on the front lines, which we started doing. And then we quickly realized we weren’t going to be able to ship outside of Cambodia. But at that point, we had a lot of masks that we were already producing. So we thought, okay, we can keep these women at the by to be program working making these masks to donate to vulnerable people groups in Cambodia. And you know, the masks are great because they wear them, of course during the pandemic, but then they also wear them on a daily basis due to air pollution. So it’s pretty common. So you know, it’s, it’s a real need, perpetually in that country. So we’ve been able to donate hundreds of masks to people in Cambodia to help with that, as restrictions are lifted, we’re now shipping them here to the United States and can distribute them to other people groups. So with our match madness campaign, which is what it was originally called, we kind of added in a mask madness component, we were able to not only match dollar for dollar, but we were able to do a two for one match. So for every dollar donated, we had a pool of donors, when we added this new component of the masks and that said, Hey, we’re gonna step it up. And we’ll match with $2. And a portion of that was designated specifically for the production of masks to be donated in Cambodia, and then other parts of the world as we were able to do that. So then, of course, that started catching people’s attention because it was becoming more relevant to what the hot topic was, you know, and still continues to be. So we were able to really gain some ground and we had set out to raise $40,000 we actually ended up raising $76,000 because people were So excited. And they were seeing us meet a need right now, that was, you know, top of mind for everybody. But then as they started donating and learning more and looking into it, you know, they wanted to be part of the vocational training programs and things that we regularly offer.

Lauren Sarver 10:16
Do you notice that in general, do you think with some of the fundraising things that people respond really well, when there’s a specific need? And you know, not only that, in this instance, but something that was so relevant to what’s happening in the world? That’s top of mind for everybody? Do you find that when you have a specific need, that you’re trying to raise funds for that people maybe respond a little bit differently than they would typically?

Kimberly Watts 10:43
Absolutely, I think people like knowing my dollar did exactly this. And they like kind of having that visual. So it’s a tremendous difference for us.

Lauren Sarver 10:53
I think it’s really great that through this campaign, you were able to fill a need with just raising funds, general funds for your organization, and then also fill this need that they had in Cambodia. And I think you guys have also been able to fill some needs as far as the masks go here as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Kimberly Watts 11:12
Yeah, so once restrictions on shipping, the masks here to the United States lifted, you know, the women love making the masks and like they feel like they’re contributing to the pandemic and like helping out. And so it’s been a really cool and unique thing to watch them get excited about it. And so they wanted to continue making the masks. And we have been able to connect with some of our partners here in the United States who are working with schools or youth organizations, helping at risk or economically challenged people groups. And so they wanted to be able to provide masks, so students return to school, or as they try to restart their programs, you know, they want to have the kids wearing the masks to try to help contain the spread of COVID. And so we’ve been able to actually bring some of the masks here. And it’s been really exciting, because these are partners that have worked with us for years, they’ve supported us financially. And of course, we say thank you and invite them to be, you know, part of our events and share with them and things like that. But because our work is primarily in Cambodia, it’s really difficult for them to feel like there’s any hands on interaction, it’s hard for us, you know, of course, we would love it, if all of them could go to Cambodia with us and see firsthand and get that personal connection, because it kind of is like the reward for their investment type of thing. But that’s not possible for everybody. So with this, you know, it’s kind of a different way for us to actually be able to say thank you, that’s more than just a verbal, thank you. And I think our partners have been really excited because, you know, we’re affirming their work that they’re doing here, and we’re helping them meet needs that they want to be able to meet, it’s just been a really cool way for us to show them that we’re in this with them, and how much we appreciate them and respect the work that they are doing. And when we can, if we can help, we will help like, it’s more than just us asking for money and saying thank you like we really want to have a relationship with them. So it’s been really cool.

Lauren Sarver 13:15
Yeah, I think that’s really great. And we we talked with one of our other guests a few episodes ago about just the way that you relate to your donors that you can can sometimes kind of fall into that trap of making it really transactional. Like, it’s always just about asking them for money over and over again. But this gave you a really unique and I think awesome opportunity to kind of turn turn the tables on that relationship a little bit and just show them how much you not only appreciate them, but just care about them in general and kind of further extend your mission that way.

Kimberly Watts 13:50
Yeah, it’s been really neat.

Ryan Sarver 13:51
You’ve had some good success here. It’s helped with some partnerships, you know, like it’s this giving back to donors, and you know, you’ve been able to keep these women working in Cambodia. But can you talk to me, tell me a little bit about the thought process? And how are you guys feeling when this all happened? Two days before your march madness? What was the initial thought? Like just scrap it? I mean, I know this, you know, you’re you’re trying to make money, but you’re gonna be like, what were those conversations like, not only that one, then you changed. And then that one also seems to be Titanic King, you know, we got to the ocean. So talk to me about what were you guys thinking? Where were your minds like, what was going on?

Kimberly Watts 14:31
Well, three of us were actually in route to meet with a new donor in Charlotte, North Carolina. And so we hit the road planning to make a few stops, have some donor meetings with some of our donors in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, and kind of just you know, we were on the CGI tour. So super excited to You know, spend time with this new church partner that we have and meet some of these donors that we don’t typically get to meet with. And then right around Nashville, Tennessee, we started hearing more and more, okay, it’s, you know, things are going crazy with COVID. Here in the United States, we’re going to start looking at shutting things down, we need to, you know, not have large gatherings, we need to not be meeting and as soon as we started hearing that, then some of the appointments we had lined up for boutique wholesale meetings started to drop off because they were having to shut the boutique. And then we were also having donors contact me saying, we really want to be cautious, we need to cancel the church that we were going to be at, we were supposed to be in their services, and they, they plan on having services. And so we made it to North Carolina, planning to go to them the following morning. And then that’s when everything shut down with being able to have large gatherings. So yes, I’m coming back. And of course, in the middle of all of this, there’s three of us in our CGI minivan, which is an adventure to be in and of itself. We’re talking about Wow, March Madness is coming up. But what if they cancelled the NCAA championship? What if it completely is an irrelevant campaign that we’ve designed graphics for and messaging for and all this other stuff? And then that happened? You know, we’re driving back, and it gives you a lot of time to have conversations. And we thought about scrapping it entirely. We thought, you know, this is just not the time to even ask people for money. There’s too much going on, there’s too much stress, there’s too much focus on, you know, what do we do in this crisis situation. And we didn’t want to be callous to the fact that people were going to be hurting financially, emotionally, as you know, maybe they know, people who, you know, had COVID, or passed away from COVID. And so we certainly didn’t want to be obtuse to what people were feeling. At the same time, that caused a lot of stress for us, because we rely on those donor dollars to keep our programs going. And we really needed an infusion of donor dollars to keep going, or else we were going to be really having to face some critical decisions in the coming months with, okay, how do we proceed as an organization. And so

we actually arrived back to Indiana, thinking we weren’t going to do anything at all. And the next morning, I had a conversation with our executive director, and I just, you know, just didn’t quite feel like the right thing to not ask at all. Because, you know, there’s a need continually and a disease is not going to stop that need from existing. So that’s when we decided to take the approach of just being completely transparent, and say, Look, we get it, there’s a million other things going on. We don’t know how this is impacting everybody, we still need help, we can’t do it alone. If you’ve got $1 to spare, if you’ve got $10. Like, it all helps. And if we can get through this together, then there will still be a CGI for the future. So that’s kind of where it first started. And then when we saw that, Titanic, as you put it, it was really discouraging, because, you know, we had, we poured a lot of energy, and honestly, just vulnerability, you know, it’s exhausting being vulnerable. And so putting that out there and seeing it Titanic and just not succeed. Past the initial sort of excitement was really kind of discouraging. And, you know, there was definitely that temptation to just not even think about it to just chalk it up to Okay, this is not going to succeed, because COVID and it’s just, you know, we’re just going to have to suffer the loss. We’ll figure it out at a later date, how to do this, and we’ll just let this go. But then as everything came together with needing to keep our ByTavi team working in Cambodia and providing for them, just feeling that responsibility and feeling that desire to want to do something to help because that is something that we’re passionate about, like it just felt like maybe there was an opportunity here to make lemonade out of lemons not to be completely cheesy. And

Ryan Sarver 19:33
yeah, and then and then you have a successful campaign where you make $7,000 so what so it was, I mean, Was there some like reflections you kind of like kind of going okay, Third time’s a charm, you know, I mean, the first time didn’t even take off and second time do you feel like you guys like is I mean, I know you’re past it now. But like any reflection on thinking like, what you maybe learned through that process,

Kimberly Watts 19:54
we definitely learned that people are generous, and sometimes even more, so. In the really trying times, I think that people really rally and rise to the occasion and just inviting them into something exciting, that allows them to take action in the middle of something like a pandemic, people are going to do that. We like those challenges. We like feeling like we’re part of something bigger than what’s going on in our own world and our own household. This was an opportunity to do it. And so that’s really how we started looking at things was sure we’re asking for support, we’re asking for their financial contributions. But more than that, more importantly than that, it’s bigger than that. It’s giving them this opportunity to make an impact that is felt not only here, but around the world, because they’re helping people in multiple places. And so, you know, when you can invite people into something like that into something that is truly a movement and not just a project, I think that’s when people really, you capture their hearts. And when you capture their hearts, then the support. Yeah, you get the point of craft, I guess to say, but you know, when you’re invested, and not just giving, like, there’s a tremendous difference in that. And people became invested in the journey that we were taking with the mask campaign and the journey that we’re taking still, that’s been really incredible.

Lauren Sarver 21:22
And I think, by and large, people want to help they want to be involved. And in a time like this, I think, where people think, well, what can I even do to help, you know, when so much is out of our control? And you can kind of say, No, look here, this is the path, this is a way you can help and people will join in with that.

Kimberly Watts 21:42
Yeah, and that’s, I mean, that’s what it is. So for me personally, it really helped energize me just in my development director role. You know, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in that, okay, I have to ask for another dollar, another day kind of mentality. But this really just kind of, in a way was refreshing. because it reminded me, that’s not really what we’re doing, what we’re doing, is giving people the opportunity to do something significant. And whether that’s with Center for Global Impact, or wherever, I think just giving people those opportunities, they like you said, they want to help, they want to be part of it. It’s not really fun or rewarding to just sit at home doing nothing. But it can be really overwhelming to try to figure out what your next step is. So if we can just say, Hey, here’s a great step for you to take to do something, then, you know, if I can help them with that, I’ll do it.

Lauren Sarver 22:41

Ryan Sarver 22:42
So talk to us a little bit about events. big events are typically the lifeblood of an organization. And you have an annual event that is supposed to be in August, or is in the fall, typically. And it’s a big live event. So talk to us a little bit about how you’re changing what you’re doing to address that the need now that COVID seems to be spiking again,

Kimberly Watts 23:03
our annual gala, which is our largest fundraiser of the year is August 27. Originally, it was August 29. But it was a large in person event. And with everything going on, we actually made the decision back in, I think it was April to switch from a live event to a virtual event, because we just weren’t really sure what was gonna happen with COVID. We weren’t really sure how long it was going to last. So yeah, I’m really thankful that we made the decision to go ahead and make it virtual. Because, you know, we’re certainly seeing the spikes now. And so it feels definitely like, we are not going to be able to be in person. So switching to virtual is a little bit daunting, quite frankly, because we’ve never had a virtual event. it before. You know, we’ve done some online peer to peer fundraising and things like that. But to do something like a gala that is traditionally live, we’ve never done that as an organization. And so I’m really nervous. We’re all nervous, like, how are our donors going to respond? Are people going to watch are people going to be as invested or as generous as they have been at the live event? and asked me on August 28. And I can tell you the answer to that. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But we are working really hard. And we’re really honestly excited to have the opportunity to switch to a completely virtual format. You know, our live events, our goal was going to be around $150,000. That seemed a little bit intimidating to have to do through a virtual gala event when we have no idea how people will respond. But one of the blessings of not doing a live event is not having that overhead of the venue, the caterer or the flowers and all of that. And so we realized, Okay, so first of all, it’s not really $150,000 that we need to raise to meet the goal to keep our programs going, but we can raise more like $100,000 still come up with the funds that we need. So this centers around student tuition and raising money for our two other programs. So I mentioned ByTavi, but our others are in print project in the culinary training center. And so, you know, this really is a huge infusion of cash into those programs that allow us to provide vocational training and life skills and things like that. And so we have been really just spinning since April, when we made the decision, you know, kind of just learning about virtual events. I’m completely out of my element. I’m not super tech savvy. I don’t even know all the words of the questions, I want to ask to ask the question sometimes. And so it’s really just been me sitting in on webinars and watching different examples of virtual events, just trying to pick up as much as I can and cram it into my brain to figure out some of the things that we want to do. And one thing that we really wanted to make sure we were able to do is still provide some type of interactive experience, but then also still have the flair and the fun that you normally have at a gala. So you know, typically, you know, there’s flowers, and people are having a nice dinner, and you get to hang out and you know, talk to everybody. So how do we recreate that when we’re not actually together. And so we’re encouraging people to host watch parties to watch the live stream event that we’re doing on August 27. We’ve actually one of our board members is a professional chef. And so he has graciously donated his time and his talents, and has said that he’s going to prepare chef made meal. So people can order a dinner for six is what we’re just calling it and you know, people can order it to have at their watch party, it’s going to be here, eat, enjoy, I know it’s going to be better than anything I would make. So, you know, they still have that kind of that fun, sort of fancy, you know, ooh, gala kind of feel because they have this great chef made meal, every single box is an opportunity for us to fundraise. So we’ve got the cost of the box in there for the you know, the ingredients and the packaging and everything. But then each box at $500 also provides an entire month of vocational training in either project or culinary training center. So it adds the fun, but it’s you know, it’s one additional tool for us to fundraise for this virtual Gala. And we’re doing some other fun things with it, we’ve partnered with a local distillery, a distillery, they’re creating a special cocktail, they’re going to do a video, we’ll put it on a on the gala website, there’s a whole page that’s just dedicated to hosting watch parties, some tips, tricks and fun things. So people can watch this video, ooh, the cocktail, you know, it’s gonna pair with the meal. So they’re working on that kind of helps give a little business to eighth day who’s donated to our silent auction, you know, because people are going to stop in and buy the ingredients and things like that, working on getting a florist to do you know what makes a great centerpiece and how to choose flowers for a watch party event when you’re doing a dinner party. And we’re gonna put a playlist on there. So people have some music in the background, because you know, we don’t want it to be awkward. So as little ambience still, yes, so different fun components that they can have in their home, and hopefully, you know, watch party with six or so people you know, do it in your house Better yet, do it on the back patio, if it’s going to be a nice night, that way, people can still be socially distant and still have fun together and watch the program. And we’re really excited because, you know, before with a live event, the scope of the people that are able to be there, as you know, we’re geographically confined to a certain area, people are only going to drive so long to come spend the evening with you. And so this way, we don’t have that barrier. It’s open to anybody. So we have supporters throughout the United States, everybody can be part of this event, everybody can bid on the online auction, we’ll ship the auction items to them. So you know, we’re doing that for the entire month of August to give plenty of time for people to look through the items and put their bids in and things like that. And it gives us a chance to actually do this gala with our, with our friends in Cambodia, you know, it’s different time zones, they’re not going to be able to like make it a live appearance because of technology. And you know, we don’t want to risk that or anything, but they can actually participate with us and see what a gala experience is like and be part of the Center for Global Impact yell, which they’ve never gotten to do before. So we’re pretty excited about being able to include them and just have them with us. And I think honestly, that they may have some ideas for future events that we would never even think of. So, you know, I think that’s gonna be really cool to get their perspective and have them looking and seeing and just kind of observing what we’re doing.

Lauren Sarver 29:37
Yeah, I love all the thought into all the details that you guys have put into your planning so far. And I think as we’ve talked to other people, everyone’s wondering with everything going virtual, you know, what can we do to make these events, events that people actually want to show up to events that are a little more special and make people just feel engaged and involved in part of a community. So as you guys have been kind of thinking through all these details and coming up with all that stuff has it felt for you like a new lease on creativity as you’re sort of reimagining the whole thing?

Kimberly Watts 30:12
Yes. And I’m kind of loving it, if I’m completely honest, you know, our gala is good. I’ve been before I was on staff I’ve been since I’ve been on staff, of course, and, you know, it’s a nice evening, and I look forward to it. But this year, I really wanted to do something different to make it stand out to just freshen things up a little bit, you know, it was feeling feeling like we needed something new. And we weren’t coming up with anything, nobody on the team was really having any, you know, aha moments like, this will be super cool to bring in. And so, you know, it was just kind of feeling like the same format, new venue, that was the one thing I was excited about, but, uh, you know, just kind of the same format. And so by saying, you know, hey, we’re not going to do it, we’re just going virtual, almost nothing is the same when you make that transition. And so you have to challenge yourself to really think through the star as it’s like this clean slate fresh, you know, totally new event, and you get to create it, however, you guys want to build it. And so, you know, the more we listen to other people who switch to virtual events, or observe some virtual events, the more we learn, the more ideas we’ve gotten. And, you know, I’m, yeah, I like, I’m nervous, because I have no idea how it’s going to do. But I’m also just really excited because we have been able to bring in elements like, you know, having a cocktail design or, you know, bringing the dinner boxes in or just, you know, how we’re going to approach different things. And honestly, it’s kind of helped with our marketing, I feel like it’s more cohesive, the pieces that we will be putting out than it has been in the past, because we’ve really been challenged, like, okay, it’s a virtual event. So sure, we’re gonna have our live stream event where we get to actually verbally share with people, but it’s going to be a lot visual. And so you know, how do we really focus in on that to make sure we’re conveying a consistent message through basically the entire month of August, culminating on the 27th with the actual livestream event so that it, it feels connected, and it feels like one event and not just like random snippets of information being flung at people. So yeah, it’s been

Ryan Sarver 32:27
cool. As this man, do you think differently about events in the future? Even once, let’s say COVID is done vaccine, whatever happens, you know, we can gather together again, is there something that you feel like you’re going to try to carry over with you from this time going forward?

Kimberly Watts 32:45
Absolutely. I don’t think that it’s going to be a question of do we do a live event or a virtual event, I think from now on, it’s going to be both. So as we plan a live gala in 2021, hopefully, we can still have that. But I definitely want to have that virtual component, because I want to keep involving people who haven’t been able to actually be present physically in the past, there’s no reason we can’t do a live stream directly from the gala, and add some virtual things. And there’s no reason we can’t make a month long visual campaign on social media and through emails and things like that, that really tells a more complete story of what we’re trying to communicate on the night of a live event. And so I think, from here on out, we’re just going to plan virtual components that correlate and fit into the live event plan.

Ryan Sarver 33:40
Again, as we kind of tucked back at the beginning, you guys had a plan, you know, like you had a plan for the year, like we have our March March Madness. And then you had a golf outing, which we haven’t talked about that also went virtual, is that correct?

Kimberly Watts 33:52
Yeah. So virtual week COVID.

Ryan Sarver 33:55
Oh, you COVID is that? Okay? So? Yeah, so you’ve had several things that have just changed, you know, that, that it either stopped, or, you know, you had to change the golf outing to COVID. Eyes it. And now your main fundraising event is now virtual. So and there’s a lessons have kind of resiliency here, you know, you didn’t stop, you know, and you you lost a couple times, but what would you want to say to others that might feel like you did in March, when everything, you know, that initial sink, but kind of going there, they’re looking at the future kind of going, what we’ve typically done hasn’t worked and we’ve tried something else, and it’s not working and what would you What would you want to say to other organizations or marketers out there that you that you feel like your team has learned through all this?

Kimberly Watts 34:43
I think I would want to share with everybody that fundraising has been around forever. There are of course, the tried and true tips, tricks, strategies, tactics and everything like that. And I think those are a good foundation for what fundraising will mean to be in the future. And I think COVID really forced us to remember, first of all, that it’s not just about getting the dollars, but inviting people into something bigger and doing something larger than they can on their own. And I think COVID has really forced us to remember, first and foremost, I think fundraising is an art form. I think that that beyond just a scientific formula for how to raise dollars, I think, you know, as art reflects what’s going on in the world, I think fundraising also has to do that. And, you know, remembering that creativity, and not being afraid to do something different to think outside the box, and to fail, because failure is the best way to really learn how to move forward. And the only way to learn how to improve, you know, I think just don’t let that hold you back from taking a risk. And being creative and remembering there is more to this than formulas and strategies and checking things off of a list. And it is far more than just $1 that we’re raising. We’re raising inspiration and hope for other people. I mean, I think when you share that other people get excited, and the dollars will follow the mission.

Ryan Sarver 36:25
I think that’s a that’s a great message for anyone. And as Lauren mentioned that previously, we’ve talked to some other guests, and it’s Yeah, you got to reach out not just ask for $1. You know, you’ve got a, it’s a relationship based. And that it is when you can connect them to mission and they feel a part of something, as you alluded to earlier. That’s when you get momentum when you can’t when you’re not when you’re not just talking about what you do, but what they get to be a part of. And I think that’s really a powerful, powerful messaging and powerful communication to people that they can, that can be a part of something. So Kimberly, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

Kimberly Watts 37:06
Well, thanks for having me.

Ryan Sarver 37:09
Yeah, absolutely. Take care. Bye Bye. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the podcast. If you’d like to find show notes and links, visit us at 2355 Please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite platform to continue to get episodes delivered to you as soon as they are released. In our next episode, we will be talking with Suzanne whirling of the Brown County Humane Society. They recently finished a fundraising campaign for a new building, and she shares the tactics they use to raise $3.2 million in just two years. It’s a lot of money. And it was a great success for them. So we hope you will join us. until then take care


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