MICC: How a Small Development Team Raised $300K in Their Virtual Appeal

Background

Background

Minnesota Independence College & Community (MICC) works to transform the lives of individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder and learning differences. MICC relies on the funds raised by supporters to enhance the quality, accessibility, and capacity of their college careers and community programs. 

MICC has a small, but powerful 2person development team. Their annual gala raises a large portion of the annual funds needed to fulfill their mission. 

Challenge

Challenge 

Nonprofits everywhere are making tough decisions surrounding in-person events. Many nonprofits, like MICC, rely on the funds raised during their annual gala to power their programs. This means canceling or postponing an event isn’t an option. 

“We were going to be losing our impact because less and less people were going to be able to attend, even if we had the in-person event. We thought we could reach more if we had it online,” said Trina Sletto, Development Manager of MICC.

But the pressure was on for the team to pivot their 600person gala in just a few days without losing momentum from their program. 

Solution

Solution 

MICC took their in-person program fully virtual, with OneCause virtual fundraising software, incorporating a mix of mission and impact storytelling videos. The evening consisted of an online auction, live action, Fund-A-Need, and Heads or Tails.  

“We didn’t lose anything we had planned [and] our virtual event delivered what we wanted for our in-person event. Our development team is a team of two. Anybody can do this!” said Sletto.

MAKE THE EVENT FUN & PERSONAL

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  • Pre-recorded a video showcasing participants  
  • Gave shout outs to founders and sponsors 
  • Madpersonalized appeals by anticipating who was going to be attending the virtual event by looking at ticket sales and prior year supporters to make it more personal and authentic.

“I think that piece of having two people doing the program that are really authentic, believe in the mission, and are well known among the audience is really important. It was less of people talking at you and more of you being a part of the conversation happening,” said Sletto.

ENCOURAGE ENGAGEMENT

  • Hosted a Facebook Live Watch Party featuring the full gala program, including the auction and Funda-Need  
  • Encouraged mini-watching parties in supporter homes  
  • Continued with their gala theme to keep the event fun 
  • Invited their supporters to share pictures during the event on social media to deepen engagement 

You’d see rooms full of people dressed up in their thematic attire. You could see the TV screen in their room and our executive director up on the screen speaking and theyre all just glued to it. It’s not your typical gala picture you see, but it was really cool that everyone was just in it,” said Sletto.

KEEPING TRADITIONS

Just because your event is going virtual, doesn’t mean you need to take anything out of your program. 

Every year MICC’s heads or tails winner chooses the theme of the next years gala, so they didn’t want to lose this aspect when moving virtual. So, they had their students demonstrate the game and then asked the audience to buy slots on their phones. Attendees everywhere played in their living roomsat their small watch parties, virtually, and on camera until a winner was chosen.

This is a great example of keeping traditions alive and making them super fun, creative, and engaging.

FIND VISIBILITY FOR SPONSORS

MICC was able to get creative and give their sponsors digital visibility during their event. They even went above and beyond to include sponsors both visually and verbally in their virtual event program.

Using the PowerPoint that they planned to play throughout the in-person program, they highlighted sponsors and played it virtually during the first 2 minutes of the event while people waited for the virtual gala to begin. During their event, along with participant and donor shoutouts, they gave shoutouts to their sponsors.

BEST PRACTICES

  • Keep the program short 
  • Keep messaging concise and clear.  
  • Feature more than one person on video to keep the energy high.  
  • Be clear with attendees: “We still want this to be the gala.”  
  • Invite virtual gala pictures to share on social media.  
  • Bring mission messaging and storytelling into the event.  
  • Work with your auctioneer (if you have one) to create a virtual program. 

Results

Results 

Minnesota Independence College & Community (MICC) raised six figures beating their fund-a-need goal by 104% with 151 donors participating remotely! 

  • $313,335 raised 
  • 104% to goal 
  • 151 remote donors 
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