How Ambassadors & Virtual Fundraising Helped BUILD, Inc. Raise $800K

Founded in 1969, BUILD, Inc. helps at-risk youth transform their lives in some of Chicago’s most challenging neighborhoods. BUILD, Inc. serves thousands of vulnerable young people in Chicago escape violence, overcome trauma, and achieve safe and bright futures. Their annual gala has always been BUILD’s fundraising lifeblood – so with their mission on the line, the team worked fast to flip their event virtual.

It was a quick decision to figure out how we were going to make our annual gala go virtual. We had to fundraise out of necessity, as this event is a major donation vehicle for our donors. So, it was never a question of would we have it, it was how would we make it work.
– Kirsten Mallik, Chief Development Officer

Online Fundraising Activities

Online Fundraising Activities

The BUILD, Inc. team tapped into multiple online fundraising activities to make their event a success, including:

What made this event unique

What Made This Event Unique

BUILD Inc OneCause Giving Center

Visit the BUILD, Inc. Fundraising Page

BUILD adapted their most popular annual gala to a virtual gala and social fundraising campaign, using OneCause Mobile Bidding & Peer-to-Peer software.

They had strong board and staff participation to help spread the word on the virtual event and enlist larger social networks to help fundraise. They had teams and individuals create fundraising pages and raise funds.

Through videos, mission messaging, and powerful storytelling they brought their mission to life online! With their mission at the center, they unleashed ambassadors and the power of social fundraising to hit their large (and much needed) fundraising goal!

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

A virtual event can only be as successful as the strategy behind it. To execute BUILD, Inc.’s virtual strategy, the team:

  • Had 8 days of video and content about mission
  • Promoted daily program & mission-based themes on site
  • Told powerful stories & impact with pre-recorded videos
  • No livestream
  • Opened up site early (2 weeks pre-virtual event)
  • Held a virtual VIP cocktail hour to build connection
  • Uploaded videos on Instagram & Facebook
  • Leaned on Associates Board to Team Fundraise
  • Met weekly with event & board to gain consensus
  • Asked Ambassador stop re-load photos before launch

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Download the BUILD Inc Success Story One Sheeter

Download the BUILD, Inc. One Sheeter

Looking back, the team learned a great deal of best practices about going virtual, including:

  • Do a soft & hard launch
  • Make it easy to register
  • Use multi-channel communication (email, social, site)
  • Produce and refresh daily content on your site
  • Secure pre-seeded pledges
  • Be positive & uplifting
  • Harness board & ambassadors
  • Do demos to show supporters how to fundraise



  • 435 donations
  • 105 Individuals fundraising
  • 4 Teams
  • 200 Auction Item Bids
  • 150 New Donors
  • $847K Total Raised

Connect with a Cause

To learn more about BUILD, Inc. and support their mission, please visit their website. 

Wrapping Up!

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