In this video, I’m joined by Kenneth from the G.W.C. Brown Legacy Education Fund. Even though they couldn’t meet in-person for their largest fundraising event of the year, Kenneth shares how they were able to use Givebutter to continue transforming young men's dreams into reality. They do this one scholarship, sponsorship, and role model at a time. Follow along to see how they found innovative ways to thrive in this new world of virtual events. Plus, Kenneth also shares:
- Why they chose to host their year-end fundraiser on Givebutter
- What made their virtual fundraiser so successful (Hint: Easy-to-use team fundraising!)
- Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for running your first virtual event on Givebutter
“The [Givebutter} platform was very professional. I would say even if you have no idea what you're doing, just jump in. It’s really, really easy to use. If this is going to be your first time and you're trying to figure out, “Do I really want to do this?” The answer is yes. One of the really great parts about the platform is the people behind the platform. I think I sent two emails to ask questions and got answers right away. Then I had follow-up emails later saying, “Hey, just checking in with you to see if there's anything that we can do.” The platform also has all the help that you really need as you're trying to figure out how you want to set up the campaign.”
See their success for yourself!
Campaign at a glance
Full video script
Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining us for another Success Story. Today, we are featuring the G.W.C. Brown Legacy Education Fund. Through a year-end team fundraiser, they raised over $36,000 to provide scholarships for students. Kenneth joins us today to share why they turned to give Givebutter to reach their fundraising goals as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way, so that all of you who are watching can fundraise better. Kenneth, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kenneth: Thank you for having me.
Rachel: To start, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and your organization.
Kenneth: My name is Kenneth Spencer. I serve as the Treasurer for the G.W.C. Brown Legacy Education Fund. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, located out in Norfolk, Virginia. Our mission is to help with the socioeconomic development of males in this area, predominantly in the African American communities. We've been around in various iterations for about 60 years as a part of our fraternity, but we've been around as an official nonprofit since 2011. We've been doing a lot of work, but this year with COVID—of course—had to make some changes.
Rachel: Yeah, I'm sure. That's an amazing legacy. How has that pivoted this year for you guys in terms of your programming or how the scholarship works?
Kenneth: We have a couple of things that we do. Our major thing is our scholarships which are renewable for college students. So you go your first year and then, if you maintain the GPA, you get to renew it and have it for the next year and the next year—up to four and a half years worth of scholarship. The other thing is we do programs for youth that are in high school and middle school. In years past, we actually had that as an in-person program. Of course with 2020, we had to pivot to being virtual with that. Then the big thing was at the end of the year in December, we celebrate the founding of our fraternity which is what our nonprofit is based on. We have a scholarship gala: an in-person event with over 300 people who normally attend a black-tie event which also has a component that raises money at the event. We also have a silent auction. We couldn't do any of that, of course, with the issue of social distancing. We really needed to figure out “How do we deal with that?” I will tell you, we were quite nervous for a while, trying to figure out how to do a virtual event, a gala. We were kind of like “Ehh, not sure our audience really works for that,” because our audience skews a little bit older and are not as much into technology. If they're going to pay some good money, they want to have something to actually eat and be around some other folks. So this year, we were looking for alternatives and actually found Givebutter through another organization that was using it. It showed up in one of my feeds from one of my friends who said, “Hey, why don't you look at this process?” Actually I have to thank the Junior League of Washington, DC because my girlfriend is a member of the Junior League down here and said, “Hey, let me show you this. Maybe this could work.” It literally was like finding a pot of gold.
Rachel: That's amazing! Speaking of finding Givebutter—shoutout to our friends there who introduced you—tell us what you came to use Givebutter for. What was your strategy? What was the fundraiser all about?
Kenneth: We had a team meeting and said, “Okay, we've got to do something other than trying to do this virtual event that we’re looking at.” When I showed them the platform, I said, “Look, if we can encourage a few of the members to say, “Hey, I'm willing to reach out to my network…”” Because that's how we do our in-person event: we sell tables and normally members of the organization are selling those tables. So we said, “Let's just change and ask them if they can reach out to their networks to give a donation.” We do the tax exempt letter. We can do this, we can do that. But, the reality is we need a platform that's easy to maintain, to track it, and things of that nature. So the plan was let's see if we can find 20 members of the organization and they will each commit to raising $1,500. Of course all of our board members, some of our newest members of the organization, let's target those 20 and see if we can raise $30,000. The good news was, as we talked about it and because the platform was so easy to say “Let me just show you guys what this looks like.” I could show them the platform. Show them a couple of examples of organizations that were doing it and had their team set up. People said, “Oh, wait. Well, I'll join. I'll join.” We ended up getting more people who joined and found unique sources of people who had networks. Once the people saw “Oh, here's what it is.” And, you have options. Do you want to give them money for scholarships? Do you want to give them money directly for programs for youth, directly for programs for adults, as well as for renovations to the building that we have? I think that really helped people see that, first of all, this is a legitimate request. Number two, the platform was very professional—having the options on different payment opportunities, seeing the actual individuals that the money was going to be committed to in their name, and then also the ability to put a message up there. We had a couple of people who put their business up there, but mostly it was words of encouragement and “How I support the endeavor…” and “Happy to see that you guys have a way to make this work!”
Rachel: Well, we're so proud to have hosted this campaign. I'm just sharing my screen here, so everyone can see your beautifully done campaign here. Just thought your image was really striking. All the design was so cohesive. It definitely stood out that you had such a large team member pool to all of us. I was like, “That's amazing!” It sounds like people from your team were convinced to try it on Givebutter because they saw other examples and it looked easy enough.
Kenneth: Yes. I think the key is if something is easy—we walked some people through the process, but quite a few were able to do it on their own.Then there's actually people that I set up the accounts for them so that they could literally sit down and just think “All I need to do is send a picture.” You send me a picture; I'll set up your account. Now, all you have to do is send this link and you're able to get people to donate. They were like, “If you’re going to make it that easy for me, I can make some phone calls or send some emails.”
Rachel: That's right. Make it hard to say no. As you're looking at this, are there any tips, tricks, or lessons learned? Since you're new to Givebutter—looking back—is there anything that you would say that you've learned along the way?
Kenneth: Well, 1.) I’ve learned that you've got to reach out to everybody within your organization. When we started this, the group that put it together had some ideas on who we actually needed to reach out to. “Okay, we're going to target these 20 people.” But what we ended up finding out was it wasn't necessarily the people that we had originally targeted, but it was others who saw “Oh wow, this is a good effort, this is a great platform, and I can really see the professionalism in what they're trying to do,” versus, “Hey, can you give us some money? Hey, can you do this?” The platform just made us look like a real organization that was organized and focused. Everybody could see what we were doing. So the first part, I would say, is jump in. We didn't use but about 5%, probably, of the capacity of the platform. We did all of our communications directly to people versus doing the communication through the platform. But next year—not necessarily next year—but the next time that we engage in this, we will probably use more of the elements within the platform to engage our folks. I would say even if you have no idea what you're doing, just jump in. It’s really, really easy to use.
Rachel: I love that. What I hear you saying is just jumping in right away, even using just the basics of Givebutter, you can be successful. You raised well over your fundraising goal even though there's so many other features to explore. I think that is really encouraging advice for other fundraisers who are watching who may be new to Givebutter or intimidated to start their first team fundraiser or live event. Do you have any other words of wisdom or advice for fundraisers who are watching, who are starting out the new year, thinking about their next digital campaign or event on Givebutter...anything that you'd say to them?
Kenneth: The one thing is if this is going to be your first time and you're trying to figure out, “Do I really want to do this?” The answer is yes. One of the really great parts about the platform is the people behind the platform. I think I sent two emails to ask questions and got answers right away. Then I had follow-up emails later saying, “Hey, just checking in with you to see if there's anything that we can do.” The platform also has all the help that you really need as you're trying to figure out, “Hey, how do I want to set up this campaign?” It talks about the different levels. “How do I bring a team member in?” It has coaching built in so that if your team members are like “Well, what do I do?” they can literally go to a page (when they set up their page), “Here's what you should do. Here's how you communicate.” Make sure you have a good message on the front of your page. Make sure you have a nice, simple design so that when people look it's not confusing. “Okay, what's going on?” We've got a center. We've got a campaign. We've got the name of the organization. Then, we show you the beneficiary of what we do. So I think that becomes key. You're not trying to do too much all at once. Then, as you get comfortable with it, you can then add other aspects and get more involved in the nuances of how the program works.
Rachel: Excellent words advice. Kenneth, thank you so much for joining us today and for being a part of the Givebutter family. We are so proud to host your fundraiser on our platform. Where can people find you if they want to follow along after watching?
Kenneth: We can be found either through Facebook or Twitter: G.W.C. Brown Legacy Education Fund. We do have our website which is actually gwcbrowneducation.org, so they can find us there. Also, we are the nonprofit arm. We are through our fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Phi Lambda chapters. We are based out of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia. You can always look up Norfolk Alphas and that will take you through to all of our social media platforms as well as you can see the events that we have coming up and the way that we're trying to encourage the future development of youth as well as adults.
Rachel: Beautiful. Thank you for sharing! For everybody who's following along, make sure to follow all those places. Also, please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel, so you never miss another Success Story again. Until next week, happy fundraising everybody!
Kenneth: Thank you
View campaign: Building Blocks for Change
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.