Big Sister Association of Greater Boston: Creating Ease and Flexibility with OneCause



For over 70 years, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston has been igniting girls’ passion and power to succeed through positive mentoring and enrichment programs that support healthy development.

Big Sister Boston is the only Big Brothers Big Sisters of America affiliate to be gender intentional.


“Research has shown girls start to lose their confidence as young as the age of six. We are working, through our programming, to stop this decline,” explained Erin Barfield, Vice President of Development at Big Sister Boston.

Through their annual fundraising efforts, Big Sister Boston can annually invest in and support 2,500 girls and women throughout the Greater Boston area.



Early in 2022, Big Sister Boston announced the retirement of their longtime CEO, Deb Re. To honor her 16 years of dedication to the organization, Big Sister Boston wanted to launch a year-long fundraising campaign, culminating with their main fall fundraiser.

Their team needed fundraising software that would support the dual nature of their fundraising goal: a year-long giving campaign and an event.

“With this event being different from prior years, we needed a solution to track the year-long contributions as well as support our event fundraising needs,” stated Barfield.

They started their search for a year-round fundraising solution.



Big Sister Boston had a deep partnership and prior experience with OneCause and was ready to continue to leverage their technology to grow their fundraising. Big Sister Boston decided that hosting their fundraising efforts on the OneCause Fundraising Platform to power their campaign and event.

“We decided to use the platform because it met all the needs for our fundraising, while creating an easy experience for both our staff and attendees. It was a very seamless transition from prior OneCause software to the new platform. I found the platform to be more intuitive than other fundraising software we previously used,” explained Barfield.

Backed by the power of the OneCause Fundraising Platform, the team was ready to launch their fundraising campaign.

Ease of Event Flow

Having tools to ensure your team is working on the right things at the right time and in the right place allows your organization to get to fundraising faster. By leveraging user role functionality within the platform, the Big Sister Boston team assigned access to various team members, allowing them to quickly build out their site and divide/conquer with ease.

“Building our fundraiser in the OneCause Fundraising Platform was so intuitive and easy. The software walked us through each section and ensured everything was built correctly. This helped us dramatically streamline our build-out process and increase our planning efficiency,” said Barfield.

The Big Sister Boston team quickly set up their event site and was ready to support their campaign leading up to event day.

Express Check-in

With around 300 guests attending their event, Big Sister Boston needed an efficient way to get donors in the door and participating in their event.

The platform’s Express Check-in functionality empowers supporters to manage their registration and check-in experience from start to finish. This saves organizations (and donors) countless hours and makes the guests’ experience smooth. Attendees are notified before the event that they can “skip the line” and check themselves in and are also prompted to complete missing profile and payment information.

Once guests are checked-in, they are given a QR code that serves as their ticket – which helps guests bypass line, while also ensuring nonprofits have a way to verify guests have registered for the event.

“One of the best things about the platform was the QR codes at check in. We had everyone in the platform, so all they had to do was show up, show their ticket, and immediately enter the event. It made our entire check-in process so easy,” stated Barfield.

Paddle Raise

Ensuring an efficient and engaging live appeal was a priority for Big Sister Boston. It’s a make-or-break fundraising factor for their event.

The team leveraged the OneCause Fundraising Platform and their retiring CEO (as the auctioneer), to inspire giving!

Through a tiered donation ask, they called out names and paddle numbers for the donors, which their team recorded and input in real-time through the OneCause spotter tool. By using this automated feature, they were able to:

  • Track paddle numbers with reduced clicks.
  • Stay in sync with their auctioneer.
  • Provide real-time donor recognition in their fast-paced live appeal.
  • Make reconciliation easy to ensure no donation is missed.

“We did not know how impactful our donation ask would be at our event. However, with the OneCause Fundraising Platform and our amazing supporters, we exceeded our expectations and goals, raising $150,000 on event night,” explained Barfield.

Enable Year-Round Fundraising

Powered by the OneCause Fundraising Platform, Big Sister Boston launched their year-round fundraising campaign to honor their former CEO’s dedication to the organization over the past 16 years.  

“With this campaign leading up to our main fundraiser, we wanted to do things differently. We usually would promote ticket sales but decided to track donations as donors’ ‘sponsorship’ for the event. This helped us frame that donors were investing in our organization and not just in a ticket or table,” explained Barfield.  

They used the software to track donations from supporters over the months leading up to the event and invited those donors to attend their gala, Big in Boston 2022. With the flexibility and real-time data access provided through the platform, Big Sister Boston was able to successfully run two connected fundraising efforts to push their mission forward and celebrate the contributions of their beloved former CEO.  

Leverage Top-Rated Support

With any fundraising event, having the necessary support will improve your execution and results. Big Sister Boston leveraged the OneCause support team to ensure nothing was overlooked during their fundraising efforts.

Because of their partnership with OneCause, Big Sister Boston had year-round access to:

  • Live phone support
  • Event Consulting
  • Dedicated Customer Success Manager
  • Onsite Event Manager
  • Online knowledge resources and training

Having this award-winning support ensured that any question was promptly addressed throughout their event planning and execution.

“We have been OneCause customers for a couple of years, and across all the software we’ve used, the support team has been amazing and the most responsive. OneCause is a group of professionals that understand fundraising. They are more of a partner than a vendor,” stated Barfield.

On event day, Big Sister Boston had a certified OneCause Event Manager and staff to:

  • Answer any attendee and volunteer questions.
  • Assist in last-minute event changes.
  • Address all software needs.

“We appreciated having someone familiar with the software supporting us on event day, so they could help troubleshoot if there were any day-of issues. It showed how dedicated OneCause is to our organization’s success,” said Barfield.

Having onsite assistance meant the Big Sister Boston team could execute their event with confidence and focus on their guests, their mission, and their event experience.



Amidst their year-long campaign and event, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston saw smashing success!

  • 200% of event night goal
  • $150k raised in event night
  • $171k total proceeds
  • 300+ tickets sold
  • 46 event sponsors

Connect with a Cause

To learn more about Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, please visit their website.

Wrapping Up!

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