For the past 40 years, MARR Addiction Treatment Center has delivered clinically driven treatment to bring lasting recovery to their clients. Like many nonprofits, MARR relies on its fundraising efforts to fund their treatment programs and facilities.
MARR’s annual event, the Celebration of Recovery Banquet, celebrates recovery from addiction and fundraises for continued recovery. The majority of event attendees are alumni of the program at MARR, along with the corporate sponsors.
This event has been the core of their fundraising for over 15 years, and yet the silent auction continually underperformed from a fundraising perspective. The MARR event team was unsure how to kickstart their auction to keep growing.
As far as putting up big numbers for an auction and event, we hadn’t done that. With almost 800 people present at the event, I knew we had the opportunity to grow,” said Julie Shields, Manager of Donor Relations.
With an open-minded spirit and a passion for growth, MARR Addiction Treatment Center decided to rethink their banquet, and move towards auction automation.
MARR knew they needed to adjust their fundraising strategy to maximize engagement and drive more revenue. This meant transitioning from paper bid sheets to mobile bidding. But, the team worried about how donors would react to the introduction of technology and if they had enough bandwidth on their team to make it work.
Working on the logistics of the event and balancing change is difficult. That’s why I made sure I chose a product that had built-in support and an experienced team the night of to give me confidence and hands-on help,” said Shields.
The cliché, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” rang in the ears of Julie Shields as she took the jump from paper to mobile bidding. But she decided to press forward, confident that the ease and mobility of OneCause would be a positive experience for their auction.
I realized we were missing out on more proceeds by having nothing online. We looked into mobile bidding, and OneCause proved to be the solution that would increase the number of bids on auction night, along with the ease of online donations,” said Shields.
The Celebration of Recovery Banquet went off without a hitch! MARR saw a dramatic increase in proceeds and a decrease in time spent on the auction. The team saw improvement in three key ways:
A “Help Desk” made sure attendees felt comfortable with the change from paper bid sheets to mobile bidding. It was a dedicated area at the event, where people could ask questions and get quick help.
It gave everyone the reassurance they needed—including me. The Mobile Bidding Help Desk was such a personal touch to eliminate confusion and show how easy it was,” said Shields.
With mobile bidding, the banquet was noticeably more relaxed and social than in the past. Donors could be constantly connected to the bidding and enjoy the event.
In previous years, the silent auction would begin, and attendees couldn’t socialize because they had to keep getting up to bid and monitor their bid sheets. With mobile bidding, they could bid from their seats while talking and enjoying their friends. That’s a big deal—people appreciate that,” said Shields.
Shields was surprised how much MARR’s donors liked remote bidding. In the past, having alumni all over the country made it difficult to engage the alum that couldn’t make it in person.
But with mobile bidding, these enthusiastic supporters were engaged and participated in the auction by bidding from the comfort of their home.
We all know that the end of the evening is the final experience guests have with our events. It’s often not a pleasant one: long lines, checkout chaos, unclaimed items.
With OneCause, the MARR team was able to relieve check-out stress and create a seamless experience for their 800+ attendees.
The auction closed automatically based on the OneCause countdown clock. The software instantly calculated the highest bidder for each item, while also texting winners and providing directions on how to pick-up their items.
Registration and check-out were a completely different experience with OneCause. With over 800 people in attendance, there was no way to streamline that process with paper. Mobile bidding got rid of long checkout lines, allowed for immediate item pick up, and introduced automatic payments,” said Shields.
Julie and her team successfully took the Celebration of Recovery Banquet from paper to OneCause mobile bidding, and the results prove it!
The Celebration of Recovery Banquet results were in, and MARR wasn’t prepared for this kind of outcome.
MARR almost tripled their silent auction proceeds and their total proceeds skyrocketed compared to the previous year. Their secret to success was staying open-minded when rethinking their gala and jumping into change.
For us, our secret to success is being as open-minded as possible. It is a priority for us is to stay open to change. We saw it pay off for us when we took a leap to switch from paper to mobile and then again when we added a live donation appeal. Why wouldn’t we keep trying new things?” said Shields.
With change comes opportunity, a saying which MARR has embodied in their fundraising—resulting in astonishing growth to push their mission forward.
Want to learn more about Marr Addiction Treatment Center? Check out their mission here.
Looking to switch from paper to mobile? Check out these resources to guide you there!