How One Nonprofit Shifted Gears and Moved their Fundraiser Online – Earning 3x More than They Did the Previous Year!

The fabulous Kari Hopkins with Coyote Hill will join us to discuss how they flipped their pancake breakfast into a virtual fundraiser and earned 3x more than they did last year. Tune in to hear how they shifted gears to accomplish this amazing feat!

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Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

How One Nonprofit Shifted Gears and Moved their Fundraiser Online – Earning 3x More than They Did the Previous Year!

The fabulous Kari Hopkins with Coyote Hill will join us to discuss how they flipped their pancake breakfast into a virtual fundraiser and earned 3x more than they did last year. Tune in to hear how they shifted gears to accomplish this amazing feat!

Transcription

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

Yeah,

yeah, so sometimes Katie is with me on the podcast. And then sometimes I drag Stacy in.

Because she knows so many things that I don't like.

It's like I know them but I don't do them every day and she has a really good way of expressing it and so I'm

Yay.

Yeah, it would actually be pretty awesome. If I had a remote control for my refrigerator. I could turn it on and offline podcasting so that way other people don't hear it come through, or like my small people are small, but they sound like elephants when they're running around upstairs and they're just like boom, boom, boom all the time.

Coming through this microphone, I don't even know.

So

I want it like if I couldn't, I think I would stand on a barstool and like bang on the ceiling. You know.

Did you ever do that like when you were in college and live in an apartment

Ah,

And then you're just exchanging back and forth.

My mom won't let the girls do Dance Dance Revolution in her condo with awakening, because

it's so disturbing to the neighbors.

Oh, man, this small people can make so much noise.

Yeah.

Thank you. Don't forget to hit record too.

Okay, she knows she's like I got this.

Um, so after this, I will take it and I'll make like an intro and an outro for for the podcast, and then I'll give it to Jason

and Jason will pull the audio out.

He'll put my stuff in and put the other stuff in. And then it goes up to our podcast hosting company and then it goes out to all the podcasts.

distributors, I guess I could call it like, iTunes, that kind of thing. Yeah.

But then it'll live perpetually in Facebook too. So yeah.

Yeah, yeah. And I'm glad to that. Stacy's the one who's watching the computer because every time that I see another thing like blink in or a comment, or like a heart or like

I can't, I like get really excited. I get like this surge of excitement inside and I don't know how to stop it.

Looking talking to people

You're like, well, mommy's working right now guys.

Awesome. So Stacy, are you gonna come on down? Okay, so we get to start. So Hello, everybody. I'm really excited to have Carrie of our first guest appearance on our Facebook lies. And she's so super smart. And I've actually had the opportunity to do a few educational talks for our community together for the nonprofit community with Carrie. And I always learned so much whenever you tell your stories and explain to people how to do things, so it's great

because, you know, you're kind of like the boots on the ground development person, you know, and I'm just like that

If you're a tech person running around in the background helping people, so I love your actual knowledge and yeah, so you're the development force behind coyote Hill Christian children's home. Um and so if you're just tuning in, but you have to jump off and want to hear the whole conversation I want to let you know that we're going to keep this up in the our Facebook feed, but then also we'll be putting it out on our podcast later. And it's podcast dot may create calm and so you can go out and check out and listen to Gary and I later. Um, yeah, and then so to like drive us into our topic.

What's really crazy is when I very very first started my career in marketing, like 17 years ago, my first nonprofit fundraiser was a golf tournament. For a company that I worked for that I was like building websites and doing marketing for and the proceeds

That golf tournament went to buy computers for coyote Hill. And I didn't even realize that until the other day and I was like wow.

So Larry has definitely been on the forefront of technology for a long time. Right.

So I'd love to start off by having you tell us about coyote Hill and your role there. And and let us know how you run like from college.

To amazing the development element Arthur.

Well

took a lot of work and a lot of years.

of so I started at coyote Hill, fresh out of college 11 years ago.

Not Know I wanted to be a fundraiser, but I knew I wanted to work for kids on behalf of kids. And coyote Hill was just

A wonderful place from the first visit there. I was pretty in love with it and and said yes to a job. I wasn't sure of where it would go, what I would be doing mostly I was going to coordinate volunteers and playing kickball tournaments is what I thought.

I did a little bit of that. But then quickly, I learned

more of the nuts and bolts of fundraising, and just really immerse myself in as much learning and research that I could about fundraising through both our local Association of Fundraising Professionals, as well as any online blogs, and anyone who was talking about nonprofit communication to ask you to donor for a certain amount of money. I was reading it, and I just really fell in love with the Ministry at the same time. And so it became something that I

didn't want to leave. I wanted to keep going as because I got to see so much growth to with the organization we have grown just exponentially in these past 11 years. And so it's been a lot of fun to be a part of.

Now you were just at Hillcrest children's home. And now tell us about like your new adventure. Yeah, 2020 was a big year for us, because we launched our foster care services program for the first time. And so we started licensing and training and supporting foster parents in the community. We have 35 new families just in 2020 so far, who have gone through our license process and are currently starting to take children in their home. So we just have been overwhelmed by the response from the community. And just to see

So many families who were ready to step up and serve kids. Once we said, we're going to do this and we're going to support you. So that was pretty special. That is so awesome that you guys can do this thing that you're so very good at and now like push it out to an even bigger audience and help even more people that actually just got goosebumps.

They're standing up on my arm.

So I don't want to interrupt as the daisy is looking at me with urgency, and I think it's something about audio, so I need to make sure that everybody can hear us, Stacy. Are we okay?

Okay.

So now we're going to attach using my microphone that is actually behind my back as my microphone. Can you hear me better now?

technology is so fun. Did I mention that this is like our first one where we're having a guest and I'm so glad that I had such a nice vacation or some

other hand.

They're hearing you apparently they're just not hearing.

Your story is coming through loud and clear and

my hosting skills are clearly lagging.

Well, you're trying to do landscape more than I am.

Face me, am I okay? Okay, good, so we can keep going. All right.

So the reason for our conversation today was to share the success story of your most recent pancake breakfast. So recently, I put out a Facebook post

Because we created an idea bank, which was 14 tech, easy online fundraising ideas, which Katie and I just finished, and you can download it, we'll put like a link in the comments. But when I put that post out, a mutual like a supporter of yours, and a friend of mine actually commented, advan coyote Hill just did this really awesome pancake breakfast. And so I was like, ooh, Carrie, I want to hear all about it. So tell me about how you've been doing the pancake breakfast in the past and how like you usually market and run that event.

Well, this is our was our longest running event. It started 23 years ago, a small group through Memorial Baptist Church said we want to throw a fundraiser for you and we can bake so we're going to make pancakes and so it just really started as their group making pancakes on it.

Saturday morning, and they just kept doing it year after year. And so it just kind of slowly grew over time. And and typically we we serve pancakes from 7am to noon. We promoted on online Of course, but in our newsletters and community calendars, we call our church partners and we say, Hey, we're having this breakfast, can you promote it in your bulletins and then we also give anyone who plays upward basketball, some free tickets, because they are playing there that day. And so it helps when we give the child a free ticket with the hope that their parents will come to. And, and usually, that morning, we raised between six to $7,000, serving $5 pancakes. And so that's, that's kind of been what we've done for the last 23 years

and I still have a lot of money to raise

On $5 a pancake, you know, I mean, or like, you know, a $5 meal that a lot of people that you're serving for sure, yes. Awesome. We expect between seven to 800 people that morning.

That's awesome. That is so many people so great. Okay, so then, but this year was different, right? So tell me the story of how you like, what happened and then how you turned it on its head and move forward.

Well, the the week of the event, so on Wednesday night, three days before the event was supposed to kick off. We the pastor from the church called and just said, Hey, guys, what are we thinking, you know, things are starting to shut down, they're starting to be greater concern. And we thought we're this far where we can get it in, you know, really before things need to close, we'll be safe. We can order individual syrup containers. So we'll get work and and then

That night, the MVA shut down. So it kind of signal to the rest of the world. You should probably shut down too. And so Thursday morning, two days before the event, we said,

you said no, we can't do it. We don't feel good about it. And so we had to quickly pivot. And a lot of brainstorming started at that point on Thursday morning.

Whoa, okay, so Mmm

hmm. Where's my next question here? So

what if anything, did you do differently this time to like, promote it. So in the past, you were reaching out to your church partners and you know, doing some stuff online, but what did you do this time? Like, how did you get people to enjoy these pancakes even virtually.

So Thursday

we brainstorm all the different ways we were going to reach out and communicate this message. So we updated our website event and said, you know, real. First we crafted our statement, what we were going to say. And then we put that on all the channels we could. So we put it on our Facebook event that was already created, instead of just canceling that Facebook event. Despite the event being canceled. We created a new image that just said, moved online, and we used all those people that had already responded to the event. to spread the word that we were going to be doing an online fundraiser, and lieu of an in person event. And and then we sent an email out to our supporters with that information. We have to cancel. I think the day before we had sent an email promoting the event. And then

we said

actually, we're not going to do it.

For that, but people responded really well. And we just made sure we were on the same page. And we knew what we were saying. And we were just starting to spread the word as much as possible.

And then, like, the morning or the day of the event, how did that go? Like, how were you facilitating that experience for people online, Ben? So we decided that since we couldn't do pancakes in person, we thought it would be a lot of fun to encourage everyone to eat pancakes in their own home. So that's an easy thing to ask people. And so we, we did a Facebook Live at 845.

So not too early, but we did that from one of our board members homes. We showed them making their pancakes and then we encourage people to use the hashtag we created which was just I want pancakes.

And, and share their photos or videos of their families enjoying the breakfast while also supporting coyote hill that morning. And through that, and through the Facebook fundraiser as well as the online donation form we had, and then also calling people we were able to triple what we had made in previous years at the pancake breakfast.

So amazing. And did people like respond and post and show their stories of their families making pancakes and everything like that? They did. They did. I think that was one of the coolest things is they used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share and we had meaningful connections with major donors who were with their grandkids, making pink and and sharing that they loved coyote Hill and wish they could have gone to the breakfast. So it really was neat because we had meaning

connections with people and got to interact with them online that that day, really throughout the whole day as they posted their own family photos. But

like any

building of your like followings in any of your social networks because of it, like did you gain followers because these people were like, Guys sharing and stuff to like? Yes, absolutely, yes, yeah. And we we noticed just followers increase but also just engagement that day was very high. And it's clearly had ripple effects beyond what we even thought because there are people out there who are now talking about it. And that just really makes us pretty happy.

That's super exciting. And I notice like across the board, all of our nonprofits have had way more social interaction in the past.

moms like, I mean, just so many more people interacting with their pages and liking their pages, and it's exciting to see people get excited about their missions. And I'm glad that you're seeing the same thing here. I love it when I get to review data, happy.

Love happy data. Um, so, next year, let's say that you can do it live again. Do you think that you'll still incorporate like the online aspects of it? Or have you even thought that far? We started thinking about next year for sure, because well, even, you know, reds and blues is canceled, and that's a few months old. And we of course, at the beginning of the year thought, Oh, well, the fall will be fine. And that's no longer the case. And so, really even to plan an event next March seems a little premature, so definitely want to incorporate an online fundraiser.

And we're still debating whether it will be completely online that like this year, or if we'll do a hybrid of intimate.

Yeah.

So

it's

okay. So one of the things that I want people to be able to be hearing this story is like kind of the dual ability of what you guys pulled off. And so tell me a little bit I call them marketing assets. Of course, you've heard me use these words before, but tell me about like, how many people you have in your organization. And, like, who helps you like pull this off and put it all together? And

like, you have a bajillion people on your email list, or a small email list? You know, tell us about that. Okay. Well, we had, we had three full time staff members help in this moment to shift things. So they were

Whether they were calling donors or creating the posts to share on social, we were all working on this together. And we have one our part time Communications Manager, she also helped create a couple of the images that we would use to share. So, but it was pretty much the three of us who were doing the fundraising part of it. Mm hmm. So we were communicating with people via phone or email to secure some gifts. And we sent an email out to it was about 1300 people on

that we know and we had a 30% open rate with just but only a 6% click through rate, which was really lower than what we thought because we've mostly have a much higher click through rate and we still raised a ton of money through her email. So it was kind of shocking

to see that

And then on our Facebook today, we have just over 4200 followers back then I don't think we have quite that many. I don't think we even had 4000 when we were doing it just a few months ago, so that has significantly grown.

Yay. Okay, let me see what other fun questions I had. Okay. So

what do you think was like the thing that maybe made the biggest difference in this event? Is there one thing that you're like, Man, that was it?

Well, you can't always recreate a moment. And and we were right in the middle of the moment when the world was saying, don't do events and stay home. And so we there's the timing of it that we have to say give a little credit to

That we benefited from.

But I can't say, because we really took a three prong approach. We did social media, we did email, and we did traditional direct phone calls and direct email messages. And that is what doing all three made the difference for us. If we had just done one, we would have made significantly less. Yeah, I could, yes. I mean,

that's the one thing I like, I'd love to be able to sell websites on my website without ever talking to anybody but that doesn't that's not how

you got to do all the things.

So

what would you say to other nonprofits who are maybe short on time or technology about running their own online fundraiser right now?

Well, it's worth it. It is worth it to take the time to just try it. We tried our first real true online fundraiser a few years ago on GivingTuesday. And we use Facebook because it was free, and really easy to set up. Just extremely easy and completely free, and you get 100% of the donations, there's really not a better way to kind of dip your toe into this, because it's so socially motivated. So many people are on Facebook as we know. And so it just, it was a great first try for us. And that gave us the confidence to try this again, because we knew we could do it. And then so we could add in the email and we could add in the direct phone calls. And it's just worth it because it's it's just where your people are and it's finding ways to talk to them.

real humans, there's something special about being able to show a video. Even I've done more video, text messages, thanking people even. And that has been a new, new, very new thing for us. But it's just another personal way to connect with someone, even through a video screen that is special and it still feels like you're connecting with them.

Yeah, and I mean, when you see your videos to thank people, are you just like doing them with your phone? Or do you have like lots of fancy equipment? Oh, no, I don't have lots of fancy equipment. I am not an equip videographer by any stretch. But our phones are are for us. And so yes, I just hold my phone. And I do a quick less than a minute. Usually a story of why their gift matters and and it means a lot to people.

That's awesome. I love to know that you're just using what you've got and you're just plowing ahead, doing it.

Last night, I was doing a facebook live in my basement with my cell phone propped up on a toilet paper roll with a pair of scissors inside of it.

Right. I hate to record my face. I was like, Well, I mean, I'm a problem solver. Yes. Yeah. And I think being just like you said, just being willing to try it. You don't have to be I don't expecting you to be an expert. And so it's fun to try and do things on your to shiny and too polished.

It doesn't seem quite right. It doesn't seem as authentic. So

I say go out there and give it a whirl. I mean,

I feel like sometimes the more awkward you are, the more endearing

Okay, so um

I, those are all the questions that I have for you. So, thank you so very much for coming and experiencing those first, like, interview facebook live with us and make, like, will you tell everybody where they can learn more like about coyote hill? Or where they could go donate?

Yes, our website is just coyote hill.org. And of course, we're on all the social platforms. So you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, where we share stories of impact, just stories of kids lives being changed stories of foster families just starting out. We'd love to share those stories and we'd love if you'd follow us.

Man, I'm telling you to like if you're a nonprofit and you want to see it done really well. You should check out their feed because I send people all their over there all the time because I like these people know how to

Communicate and how to tell a story. And I love it. Like I love it when you post pictures of things like, this is the beginning of the basketball court.

And it's just like rocks. Like, yes, it's gonna be a basketball court. That's so cool.

But you just do such a great job of it and telling the story, even with those simple things, and then with the more, you know, in depth stories as well, but I think that you just, you did such a good job. It's great to watch.

So if you haven't checked it out already, and you are inspired by Kerry's online fundraiser, and you want to check out our new resource 14 easy online fundraising ideas.

There's other success stories and ideas in there and really rebuild it so that way you guys can find some inspiration and maybe like, see an event and just kind of wrap your head

around it and get comfortable with that idea. And then put it into action for your nonprofit and start getting some, some donations.

Yeah. And then last, but certainly not least, if you're still with me, and you're a nonprofit, you can join Carrie and I as founding members of our nonprofit marketing, repurpose Facebook group.

It's our first Facebook group that we've monitored for ourselves. So it's an interesting commitment. I'm excited about it. I want to hear success stories and challenges and just like build a community that can answer questions and support each other. So yeah, and Abilene did an intro video for us last night.

Watch it all the way to the end guys, because she likes stands on a chair and shakes her booty and I didn't know she was going to do it. And

I love six year old. She's my marketing partner.

So thank you so much, Carrie, and thank you for everybody else.

That will be late. We'll be here next week, right? Yeah. Next week, I think I have

john, with the Community Foundation, and who's going to help us understand what to expect out of our online giving campaigns?

Yes, my guess.

Yeah, I've heard him talk about it so many times. It's all good because I was like, You're the man for this job. And he was like, okay, and

he's so cool to listen to when he speaks because he's a former preacher. And so he gets really excited and animated and he knows how to like rally people up. And every time he starts doing it, I you know, because if you the promotion for como gifts, I wish that I had my cell phone on and was recording him on video, but I'm always a second late. Like, like I wanted to capture that because I was so cool. So he'll be our guest next week, and

He'll have stories to tell. I'm sure too. So, signing off now. Thank you, everybody. Hi. Thank you

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