How ACT Toronto Leaned Into Virtual Guest Experiences to Capture Matching Gifts and a Bit of Comedy Relief



Since 1983, AIDS Commitee of Toronto (ACT), has led the fight against a 40-year-old pandemic.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system. Untreated, it can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a killer still at large. The crucial purpose of ACT is clear: eradicate HIV / AIDS in Toronto, Canada.

In lock step with their lofty goal, is ACT’s mission: promote the independence, dignity, health, and well-being of people living with HIV and AIDS and those at increased risk of HIV.



World Aids Day

December first is the most important day on the calendar for ACT. It’s World AIDS Day – an opportunity for the ACT community to unite with people worldwide in the fight against HIV.

Each year on December 1st, ACT celebrates World AIDS Day with an all-embracing luncheon created to commemorate, honor, and recognize the exceptional men and women aligned to the ACT mission and vision. The 2020 annual luncheon was especially important as it marked a milestone fifth year anniversary. ‘Together Toward Zero’ would take to the stage in distinguished pomp and circumstance.

Bio-tech company, Gilead Sciences, as stepped up as the Presenting Sponsor, and the virtual event included a variety of programming and fundraising activities:

  • Engaging panelist conversation on sexual and mental health
  • The Together Toward Zero Award
  • Matching gift campaign (secured through Matching Contributor TD Ready Commitment and a myriad of Matching Donors)

So how did they do it?

“You just gotta lean in,” said Matt O’Donnell, Special Events Coordinator, ACT.



What did O’Donnell lean into? OneCause Virtual and Live Stream Event software.

“Lean into it, lean into how weird it all is, lean into the uncertainty of going virtual,” said O’Donnell.

Matt understood his hesitation was an opportunity to grow his team professionally and personally while providing a fresh, new, and exciting experience for donors. He pointed his skill set in a new direction and explored a host of virtual platforms.

The OneCause Virtual and Live Stream Event software was selected for its value and aptitude to do more with the platform in comparison to other virtual solutions. With the decision made, Together Toward Zero was reimagined and executed virtually and successfully on December 1, 2020.

ACT took advantage of both fundraising and engagement opportunities that the OneCause solution offered. They leveraged two main fundraising strategies to enhance donor connection and participation in a virtual world:

  • Optimizing Engagement
  • Elevated Live Fundraising

Optimizing Engagement

With geographic barriers lifted and any and all welcome online, ACT curated a spectacular live stream show, fitting for a very special celebratory luncheon. It incorporated all the key elements from the previous in-person luncheons, while enhancing the narrative with fresh, new segments. The options were limitless. The ACT virtual program:

  • Amplified the mission through opening remarks
  • Entertained the audience with outrageous comedy performance
  • Supported sponsorship through commercial endorsement
  • Captivated audience with intense panel conversation
  • Recognized supporters via awards program
  • Engaged audience through chat

Through the Virtual and Live Stream Event software, ACT was able to broadcast their entire event program and fundraising activities on a single platform, giving donors a single screen giving experience.

ACT Story

Elevated Live Fundraising

Producing a show is one thing. But how do you simultaneously secure much needed donations from an audience sitting in their living rooms?

Fortunately, the OneCause software provided a myriad of options that enabled them to motivate viewers and turn them into active donors. ACT took full advantage of the livestream capabilities to create a compelling real-time donation appeal.

Here’s how they made it happen:

  • Incentivized supporters through a $37,500 match effort
  • Celebrated supporters via real-time recognition feed
  • Thanked donors instantly via chat
  • Leveraged donation overlays to drive attention to giving levels
  • Created impact-based statements to go along with each giving level, inspiring donors to give

By utilizing the Virtual and Live Stream Event software, ACT was able to elevate their fundraising, captivating donors in real-time and creating compelling, easy, and fun, giving.

ACT's VEC Site



Ready. Set. Optimize. Elevate. At 1:00 pm on December 1st, 2020, World AIDS Day, ACT executed a seamless Together Toward Zero annual luncheon.

Together Toward Zero raised $56,006 during their one-hour luncheon on World AIDS Day. Considering their event expenses were significantly lower, the net gain was remarkable for ACT’s 5th annual program. The production went off without a hitch, and community engagement triumphed.

“The feedback we got afterwards about how smooth the show was, how professional it looked, and how well it flowed, set our donors at ease and made them feel confident about what we were trying to accomplish,” said O’Donnell.

Connect with a Cause

To learn more about AIDS Committee of Toronto and donate to their cause, please visit their website.

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