How Sherwood Forest Brought Their Virtual Gala & Mission to Life

Sherwood Forest is a year-round youth development organization dedicated to helping children from low-income families discover the best in themselves. The funds from the gala are vital, so the team pivoted their 19th annual Blue Jean Ball into a virtual fundraiser full of fellowship, entertainment, laughter!

“We couldn’t recreate the in-person Blue Jean Ball. So we had to think about what we could do. The silent auction was easy for people to do from home, and we reworked our paddle raise into a virtual ask. We learned to use technology to our advantage.” – Angela Fulbright, Director of Resource Development

Online Fundraising Activities

Online Fundraising Activities

Due to COVID-19, Sherwood Forest was unable to host their in person event this year, but that didn’t stop them from continuing their mission and providing their supporters with a unique experience and activities. This included:

  • Online Auction
  • Online Donation
  • Donation Appeal

What made this event unique

What Made This Event Unique?

Sherwood Forest Blue Jean Ball

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Typically at the gala, they bring the camp experience to their supporters. They couldn’t do that with COVID-19, so the team created a virtual experience for their donors, to keep the mission and need top of mind.

They used video, and created a telethon style event to showcase the mission. They also leveraged traditional fundraising tactics, including making personal calls to donors, and doing individual outreach to help seed their virtual event.

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Dedicated to joining together to educate supporters about Sherwood Forest’s mission and raise money to transform the lives of children in our region through education and opportunity, Sherwood Forest successfully took their event virtual with these strategies:

  • 2 hours programming | broken into 30 min. segments
  • Used OneCause Virtual Event Manager
  • Turned paddle raise into a virtual appeal
  • Created pre-recorded videos to showcase camp
  • Targeted phone calls to donors of last 5 years
  • $500 Party-In-Place Package full of local delicacies
  • Hired a local AV company to do tech support
  • Livestreamed via Facebook and YouTube
  • Had a band play at times throughout the event
  • Well-known, local emcee broadcasted live in-studio
  • Campers & camp director interviewed via Zoom to tell their stories
  • Executive Director explained the need and impact

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Sherwood Forest PDF

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To help other non-profits achieve their goals and continue their missions despite uncertain circumstances, Sherwood Forest shares their key takeaways from going virtual:

  • Keep the mindset: “What can we do?”
  • Create a Program: for those that “pop-in” and those that “stay the whole time”
  • Alternate: keep it fun and engaging by alternating video, music, plug for silent auction, ask for donations
  • Make it fun: find ways to entertain your supporters
  • Repurpose: Showcase your mission by reusing any old video or b-roll.
  • Advocate Sharing: have board members share links with their networks
  • Reach Out: to sponsors to keep them supporting
  • Make Calls: have board and staff to make calls
  • Create a Script and Talk Tracks: for calls, include your story
  • Be honest and Transparent: in all communications

Results

Results

Their success speaks for itself! Check out the results:

  • 92 Auction Items
  • 511 Bids
  • 5.7 Bids Per Item
  • 338 Supporters
  • 17K Silent Auction
  • $109K Online Donations
  • 180K Total Raised Online!
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