Aha Moments from Bumpy Situations Managing a Million Dollar Online Fundraiser with Guest Erika Payne

December will be our 8th year operating the CoMoGives.com online fundraising campaign. Last year our nonprofits raised over $950,000. What does the marketing process behind the event look like? Join us as we walk through our planning steps with the help of Project Manager Erika Payne who oversees the lot of it!

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Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

Aha Moments from Bumpy Situations Managing a Million Dollar Online Fundraiser with Guest Erika Payne

December will be our 8th year operating the CoMoGives.com online fundraising campaign. Last year our nonprofits raised over $950,000. What does the marketing process behind the event look like? Join us as we walk through our planning steps with the help of Project Manager Erika Payne who oversees the lot of it!


Here’s the transcription for the podcast! This transcription has not been edited. Some words and phrases may not be accurately depicted. 

Monica Pitts 0:00
Hello again and welcome to marketing with purpose. My name is Monica Pitts. And recently I did a Facebook Live with Erica Payne, who is my lead project manager at wme. Create design my company. And we talked about our big aha moments running our almost million dollar fundraising campaign, como Gibbs, these aha moments are things like the processes that we put in place as we hit big bumps in the road over the last seven years that we’ve been running this fundraiser, and also how we learned what marketing was working and wasn’t working for the campaign. Now I call it our campaign. We think of it as ours. We love it. We take care of it like it’s our own child. But really, this campaign belongs to the community foundation of Central Missouri and may creates role in it as the webmaster Stir. And online marketing support is, well, we just love it. And so we think of it as our own. And the success of como Gibbs, it’s not our success necessarily. Last year, we helped 138 nonprofits raise over $950,000 in the month of December. But the thing that’s making this campaign so successful and grow every single year, it’s not necessarily us. It’s the awareness that’s being built in the community through the marketing that these nonprofits are doing for the campaign. It’s the hustle behind those nonprofits that make this campaign such a great success. Now, the reason that we wanted to share with you these processes that we’ve developed and the the success stories from our marketing is because we understand that you guys are starting to run your online fundraisers online. Your own. And while we’ve been providing this service to the nonprofits in our community for the last seven years, this might be your first online fundraising campaign. And we wanted you to be able to learn from our mistakes. So that way, you can start implementing some of these processes and marketing strategies right away to make your first fundraiser, maybe even I mean, hopefully, more successful than our very first como gifts. But before I get to all that amazing goodness, I recorded a new intro for our podcast and I just have to play it for you. You’re on mission, and you just need more people to know about it. And whether you’re brand new to marketing or a seasoned pro. We are all looking for answers to make marketing decisions for purpose. I’m Monica Pitts, a techie crafty business owner, Mom and aerial dancer who solves communication challenges through texting This podcast is all about digging in and going digital. I’ll share my marketing know how in business experience from almost 20 years of misadventures, I’ll be your backup dancer. So you can stop doubting and get moving towards marketing with purpose.

What do you think? Do you like it? I mean, we started not really knowing what we wanted to have for our intro. And then I had my friend Dave do the voice for it, and he did such a good job. And as I kept doing this podcast, I thought, you know what, I think I need something shorter and a little more upbeat. And so that’s where we landed. Alright, so no more dilly dally. Let’s get to business and listen to all the cool stuff that Eric and I have to say about how we can implement processes and marketing successes from Kimo Gibbs to put to work and make your fundraiser even more special. All right. So Erica, I feel like we need to start by explaining, you know why you’re here. Okay. Is your a major part of making sure that all of this happens?

Unknown Speaker 4:13
Yeah. So I’ve been with may create for going on five years now. And so this will be my fourth year with como Gibbs managing it and I am a project manager. So I am the perhaps the person behind the scenes. I’m the one making sure that everything’s getting done. It’s getting done on time. It’s right, making sure that the wheel is just continually moving. Really.

Monica Pitts 4:34
Yes. And he is like extremely detailed and always, always documenting, documenting.

Unknown Speaker 4:42
I like I like documentation. And the

Monica Pitts 4:46
things that I think that is really cool about your role is that you are like the centralized communication hub. You’re the centralized communication hub in our office like between our staff, but you’re also decentralized communication hub. between us and the nonprofit us and john, who was the client, in this case, the Community Foundation. If one lesson can be learned from running a successful, like marketing department, it is having a centralized point of communication like, and Erica because he manages it all and then she kind of disperses it to where it’s supposed to go.

Unknown Speaker 5:24
Yeah, I think one positive of having me is I am not a creative. I’m the person that’s like handing out the creative. So I’m never too close to one thing I can have that like, overseeing making sure it’s getting done and not getting too honed in on this one piece. Really?

Monica Pitts 5:41
Yeah, I could see the distance being a definite benefit, but because you hear the questions from the clients all the time, and you hear the questions from the creatives all the time. I feel like you do a really good job of picking out all those details that maybe we didn’t think about along the way because you bump into our money And I’m not going to say that, you know, as a big picture person, sometimes it isn’t a little annoying. Well, Erica, you need to question me that question was for now. So to all you executive directors out there working with your marketing friends, I get it. But you need people like, Oh, wait, like this girl over here. Okay, so um, I feel like I wanted to start out this conversation with some of the biggest aha moments that we had with running this campaign because having done it now for seven years, we definitely learned a lot of things along the way, right. And some of them were to make your job easier, and to make John’s job easier, and to make the whole communication process with the nonprofit’s more streamlined because we had a lot of iterations of how we communicated back and forth. So what do you think is the best thing that we ever did with doing this campaign?

Unknown Speaker 7:06
I think one of the biggest things for me was when we started creating that sheet of things that we can improve on next year, because in the moment, we’re like, oh my gosh, we’ve got to, like, get better at this. But then three years down the line, like or three months even, you’re like, what else was it? I don’t remember. So that was a huge one for me. And now like even john put stuff in there, you know, we all put things in the sheet. Because we all know this, we’re going to come back to this. This is like a really big deal for this next year campaign, because we’re always trying to improve. I think that like in line with that. Another really good thing that we do is having the organizations come to us after the event, and we all get together and they say what went well and what didn’t to have that perspective, because we don’t have it is it’s really valuable as well.

Monica Pitts 7:54
Yeah, I agree. And so one of the things that Eric and I do when we’re in those meetings is we just try to listen extremely, like we know why we did things the way that we did them. And it could have been because we felt like it was best for the group or it could have been because of time or budget or technology. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be better. Like there’s always next year and sometimes it does hurt your heart when you hear that you didn’t do as good as you wanted, but but I feel like that perspective is like totally winning. I think that um, so I’m sure that you remember the year that I realized that we could automate some of these signup things. Remember what it was, I think that I was like in some class or some online something or another, and I realized that we could make it better and I like ran into your office and I’m like, Erica, you’re not going to have to rename every logo, then every and every image that every nonprofit sends in.

Unknown Speaker 9:12
Yeah, that saves like five hours of time.

Monica Pitts 9:18
So did the guys is, um, we use Zapier and when people sign up to be part of the campaign, it Okay, so let me take one step back here. So when people sign up to be part of the campaign, it automatically creates their profile in the website, which that was also a major awesome plus thing because we were importing stuff and it wasn’t like, just wasn’t nearly as streamlined. So that was really awesome. And and then we realized, hey, they’re uploading all this stuff. And if you use a system like Zapier, it’s like an intermediary and you can make another step. happen if this than that. So when people were sending in their logos and their images, they were just randomly named, like whatever, right? And then when it came time for us to compile all those and send them over to the printer to make the digital or not digital, but to make the printed guide, it was like, we don’t even know what goes with what it was just a hot mess because people just name things whatever. Right logo 1234 blue, a lot of logos just just logo. Yeah, yeah. And so we realized that when they signed up, we could actually make an extra step happen so Zapier is waiting in the background and when that signup form submits, it takes the images, it names them with their organization name and what they are based on the field that they were input through, and then it saves them into Google Drive with their names.

Unknown Speaker 10:54

Unknown Speaker 11:00

Unknown Speaker 11:00
Yeah, it was partially their pictures, because that is not their logos that didn’t have their name on it. So we really didn’t know.

Monica Pitts 11:07
Yeah, it could have been anyone. Right? Yeah. people helping people sweet. But where does it go in the book? Well, um, and then I think that like this year, one thing that I have really, really enjoyed that we implemented that we did not do last year, is we started a focus group of nonprofits so I can pull them with questions. So as I’m doubting, because whenever I plan, an event to educate people, like the, I don’t want to say this the perfectionist in me or like the want to do good, you know, like, I want to give them the information that they need. I would just be like, I don’t know, is this the right thing? Is this what they need? And so having that focus group this year has been amazing. And then the other thing that I’m really proud of is that Jason did a donor survey this year and getting those results back from the donors was awesome and, and he has written it all up in like a report. So if anybody wants that report, you can just, you know, put in the comments your email address here and we’ll get it to you as soon as we get it all polished out and john gives us the go ahead and just share it, but it was very insightful and, and it kind of it solidified a lot of the things that I was thinking that we could do better. Mm hmm. So that was really good.

Unknown Speaker 12:28
Yeah, I agree. I think like one. One thing for me that I absolutely am so happy I made on my second year is I started making an annual task list sheet. Because every year there are certain tasks that we do the same. But after a year goes by it gets really hard to remember what the details of those are and like where to find the information for it. So I created this list and every year I add to it, I go like and then when me and Tyler the programmer for the website, get together and plan it out. I’m like okay, here’s the sheet. Remember at this point point when you do this thing to make sure that the shopping cart works, or you know what that means, like those little pieces. I think that’s really big, because there’s just no way that we can remember everything in the order it goes in. And so yeah,

Monica Pitts 13:13
yeah, if there’s anything that we have learned from experience, just test, test, test test tested again, even when you think you’re done testing, maybe test it one last time.

Unknown Speaker 13:22
And then someone else does it.

Monica Pitts 13:24
Yeah. Especially somebody who isn’t used to using that user interface. It’s a big, it makes a big difference to hear how it’s working for them. And I mean, Erica, how many years? Have we gone live with the campaign and thought that we had every detail ironed out and then that first day?

Unknown Speaker 13:46
Pretty much every year?

Monica Pitts 13:48
Yeah, I mean, and you should see this lady’s documents that they’re like guiding her through all these steps like they are so detailed, and yet, so Guys, if you’re doing a virtual fundraiser, I just want you to know that there’s going to be some hustle at the beginning because there’s going to be some weird stuff. And every year we’re like, how would we have known that? Like, like, remember the year when we realized that? What How long did it take us to realize that if you had a special character in your name, like a dash or a hyphen, it breaks the programming? Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker 14:24
Yeah, that took us like two days to figure out why that was awful. That was.

Monica Pitts 14:30
And we were like, how would we have known that? Like, like, really? Um,

Unknown Speaker 14:35
so it’s also a little bit of a humbling experience, you know? Mm hmm.

Monica Pitts 14:39
Better at everything else we do. Yeah, for sure. Cuz, yeah. So the best things we ever did, keeping track of what worked and what didn’t in a document, having follow up meetings with our nonprofits, starting focus groups of our nonprofit participants also having a A survey that we gave to the donors, automating automating signups automating like intaking renaming images, and then that annual task list sheet, like to guide us through the setup. And I’m telling you like, okay, so I’m going to tell a story on rotary for just a second about the task list sheet. So every year our rotaries come together and they do a Thanksgiving luncheon, and it rotates between the rotary groups. Did you have to help plan it for read or act?

Unknown Speaker 15:32
No, it was before my time. Okay.

Monica Pitts 15:34
So every year it tap, it happens at the same place. It’s kind of the same thing. But everybody has to start from scratch, because there’s no master task list. And so people who are not event planners have to sit down and plan an event together. You know, man, like, every time I know I’m like, Oh my gosh, it’s like a massive Your task lists would be money it would help everybody so much to produce a great event, you know, or even just what worked and what didn’t, right. Like so phenomenal. Okay, so those are the things that we loved that that turned out awesome and we say do these things right um I, I would say that as far as marketing goes, the best things that we ever did, were probably the workshop for the nonprofit’s teaching them as much as we could about marketing and for hours and sending more emails and making sure everything’s tracking. We can gauge and installing tracking Yes, me and remember that what a game changer It was the first year that we installed tracking on the site. Yeah, I was in there like a psycho. Um, and we do have like that benchmarking sheet as well. So every single day of the campaign, I go in, I benchmark where we’re at I and we even have like we know like it’s on the board outside in the commons area of our office, how much money needs to come in for como gives every single day. And when we hit it, we celebrate and we don’t we don’t hit it. We like do math and figure out how much more money we need to make in the future days. But what’s really crazy is that a certain percentage comes in on the first day, and a certain percentage comes in the last two days. And it’s almost the exact same percentage every single year. So that’s really good to know. Um, but yes, from a marketing perspective, I think email, email, email. We’ve tried Google Ads a couple of times. New. They’re not killing it. I want them to be awesome, but they’re not getting me where I want to go. And then I also feel like peer to peer has been a great avenue for the campaign as well. So now it made things more complicated. And it does make things more complicated to run the campaign that way. But peer to peer is pretty awesome.

Unknown Speaker 18:20
Good. It has high potential.

Monica Pitts 18:23
Yeah, it does. We’re going to focus on it wholeheartedly this year. We are going to educate the peer to peer campaigners. We’re going to educate the nonprofit’s about doing peer to peer campaigns. We are going to give them recipes. We are giving them a video to watch to hear it out. Like everything that we can do to make peer to peer work this year we’re doing it because we realize what how much potential it has really. So peer to peer had like last year, like an 8% conversion rate, which I mean So email has a much higher conversion rate. I wish that I remembered the exact percentage on it. Like when people go directly to the website, they’re there, like 17% conversion rate. And then email is I want to say like 16 or something like that. And when I say conversion rate, I mean like, go to the website and donate a peer to peer was about 8%. But I feel like people went and they learned about a nonprofit that they never heard of before. So even if they didn’t donate, they still learn. And that is like, so powerful, because next year, then we have that opportunity to talk to them, again, potentially and, and that’s what our nonprofits need is they need more people to know about their mission and, and get in front of more people. So yeah, so from a marketing perspective, like the best things that we ever did, we’re not doing as many Google Ads doing more emails. educating our nonprofits, and really pushing peer to peer, I would say are like big wins for the campaign. Whoo. Okay, so that wraps up my conversation with Erica, explaining some of our processes that we learned along the way and our marketing successes through como Gibbs. Now I am actually really excited that I got through this podcast because editing it, I did it apparently hungry at the end of the day, and I lost it and I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to put it back together. So I’m glad that I got it all together for you to listen to hear. If you liked this podcast, or if you learned a thing or two, please give us a review. I would love to hear from you. And you can connect with this on all of our social channels at may create that’s ma y e, CR EA T. That’s all for now. Go forth and mark it with purpose.


Referenced Assets

Behind the Scenes: How we plan the marketing for a million dollar fundraising campaign.

December will be our 8th year operating the CoMoGives.com online fundraising campaign. Last year our nonprofits raised over $950,000. What does the marketing process behind the event look like? Join us as we walk through our planning steps with the help of Project Manager Erika Payne who oversees the lot of it!

Plus we’re testing our raffle process and we’ll be giving away free registration to our Online Fundraising Events Bootcamp! Share or comment for a chance to win!

Posted by MayeCreate Design on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Posted by MayeCreate Design on Thursday, July 23, 2020

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