Eliza Hope Foundation: Building Community and a Compelling Giving Experience



Eliza Darby, at the young age of 2 years old, was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder. Eliza was full of life, a joy to be around. Those who knew her were immediately affected by her kindness and charisma. Eliza made the challenge of her diagnoses invisible. She was adored by her family and had an impact on anyone who had the chance to meet her. However, her life was cut short with her passing in November of 2016 at the young age of only 4 years old.

To keep her memory alive and to help families in similar situations, Aimee Darby, Eliza’s mother, strove to start a foundation in her daughter’s honor. Through the help of her community and family, just months after Eliza’s passing, the Eliza Hope Foundation was born. This foundation not only serves to honor Eliza’s life but provides support to families who have children with autism. Aimee wanted to ensure that other families facing similar diagnoses have the services and resources they need to provide amazing care for their children in one place, under one roof.

The Eliza Hope Foundation’s mission is to provide a center that addresses the individualized and unique needs of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays. Unlike other support services, Eliza Hope Foundation centralizes all the resources and care in one place to help reduce the stress and time that families must manage to provide the vast services needed to support their children.

Through hard work and a community of supporters, The Eliza Hope Foundation was able to open its first therapy center in 2018, just one year after the start of the nonprofit. This center provides therapies to meet the needs of each child from physical therapy to social skills. In addition, the center provides extracurricular activities for their young clients to have fun experiences like Hope Stars Kickball and Hope Stars Soccer.



Aimee Darby, Founder, and CEO of the Eliza Hope Foundation, had no prior fundraising experience when she started working on the Foundation full-time, just months after the loss of her daughter. Without previous fundraising or foundation experience, Darby had to turn to the people around her for help to ensure her vision became a reality. With the backing of her community, who seeded the fundraising journey by raising $60,000, she started to work on cultivating her dream foundation with full force.

“Though I didn’t have any prior fundraising experience at all, I knew I just had to go for it. Failing was not a fear because the worst thing [losing her daughter] already happened,” said Darby.

To start the Foundation, Darby knew that she needed to secure major funding to create an organization she envisioned. She wanted to create a place that her family would have loved to have for her own daughter. So, she dove headfirst into fundraising for her mission!

Darby worked with her family and friends to try and pull together their first fundraiser without tools, software, and resources. Darby quickly discovered how exhausting, complex, and a big lift a fundraiser can be for an organization.

The Eliza Hope Foundation needed a way to fundraise faster and find a friendly solution to make hosting events an easier lift for their organization.

That is when they turned to a provider of risk-free auctions items and OneCause for help!



While planning her next fundraising event, Darby received a personal recommendation to leverage OneCause Mobile Bidding Software at their next annual Hope Shines Gala. Darby was open to the idea, having had a test run with a different mobile bidding provider the year prior.

“Because of the limited fundraising knowledge of the team, we knew we needed to invest in software that would lead our events to the best results,” said Darby.

With the streamlined experience of the full-service OneCause solution, The Eliza Hope Foundation was ready to grow their fundraising potential through:

  1. Optimizing Social Media Awareness
  2. Streamlined Guest Experience
  3. Leveraging One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences and To Bidding Auction Lots

Optimizing Social Media Awareness

To achieve event success, potential supporters not only need to know about your event but become familiar with your cause’s mission. The Eliza Hope Foundation was able to lean into their social outlets to gain traction around their cause and gala.

Their social outreach included:

  • Highlighting their gala sponsors
  • Promoting their auction items and raffle
  • Sharing event related announcements


The Eliza Hope Foundation leveraged their social channels to increase the buzz and excitement surrounding their fundraiser. This creative promotion allowed their event to have a wider reach and led to a sold-out event!

Streamlined Guest Experience

Not only were they increasing awareness around their event, but The Eliza Hope Foundation also used the OneCause Mobile Bidding Software and in-person event support staff to help improve their overall day-of event experience.

The Hope Shines Gala leveraged the OneCause product as an all-in-one place for their supporters to find event information. Their giving site allowed supporters to:

  1. Find related event logistics
  2. Purchase their gala tickets
  3. Participate in the raffle
  4. Browse and bid on auction items

giving site

Finally, prior to using the OneCause software, the Eliza Hope Foundation was having to hand-make and print materials for their auction experience. Through implementing the OneCause Mobile Bidding solution, which auto-creates and assigns: paddle numbers, tent cards, and reports, The Eliza Hope Foundation Team saved time and energy in logistical planning for their event!

“With the OneCause software, our team did not have to worry about minor event details because we could rely on the product to streamline our event planning and execution. We were able to use our time to focus on bigger and other important items for our event,” explained Darby.

Through using the full-service OneCause solution, Darby realized the time she saved and ultimately success of the Hope Shines Gala was worth the software investment even as a smaller organization.

Leveraging Exclusive Auction Packages

It was important to the Eliza Hope Foundation that their auction would help increase the fundraising traction for their organization. To do so, their Hope Shines Gala needed auction items that supporters would want to bid on during the event.

Through leveraging Choose Now by OneCause, The Eliza Hope Foundation was able to secure unique packages for their auction from travel experiences to fine jewelry.



These lots were tailored to what guests would desire to bid on and helped improve the overall success of the Eliza Hope Foundation’s gala.

“These unique packages had people returning to our event, year over year, just to bid on these amazing offerings. For us, leveraging a provider of zero-risk auctions items allows us to have highly coveted auction items and reduce our stress of having to find and secure auction packages ourselves,” said Darby.



The Eliza Hope Foundation saw great success from their annual Hope Shines Gala.

  • Raised $70,000
  • 368% increase in proceeds
  • 200+ tickets sold

Interested in learning more about Aimee and Eliza Hope Foundation’s story? Tune into their episode on our Raise Nation Radio Podcast, which highlights stories and ideas from industry-leading Fearless Fundraisers! Available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Connect with a Cause

To learn more about the Eliza Hope Foundation and their Therapy Center, please visit their website.

Wrapping Up!

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