How Wayland Academy Brought Personalization to Their Online Gala

It was mid-March when Wayland Academy realized their 44th annual gala would no longer be held in person. The team worked quickly to pivot their most significant fundraising event of the year ONLINE!

Wayland has been hosting its spring gala and auction for 43 years. It’s a huge tradition and a lot of face-to-face interaction. With OneCause, making the switch to virtual was easy. We hope to have the event in-person next year, but we can’t wait to incorporate everything we learned this year with online giving. It expanded our reach, and our fundraising really benefited from that.

– Emily Schroeder Orvik, Director of Communications at Wayland Academy

Online Fundraising Activities

Online Fundraising Activities

Wayland’s team of #FearlessFundraisers was able to pivot from an in-person event to online. To boost their mission, they tapped into the power of these online fundraising fundraising activities:

  • Silent auction
  • Donation appeal
  • Video

What made this event unique

What Made This Event Unique?

Wayland Academy Online Auction UI Image

Check out Wayland’s Giving Center here.

Wayland Academy relies on face-to-face interaction to drive fundraising at their annual gala. After pivoting to virtual, the team tapped into the power of video to add personalization to the event and expand their reach.

Videos were made for to introduce the event, promote popular auction items, dive into why their donation appeal is important, and make a final toast at the end of the night.

Wayland Academy’s Director of Annual Funds also created a successful social influencer strategy. She shared videos, created memes, and prepared other communication that influencers could use on their social platforms. This made it easy for the influencers to promote the event and gave them more time to put their creative spin on things!

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Virtual fundraising strategies

Taking their event online wasn’t going to stop the Wayland team from connecting with donors and making the event a personalized experience. To make it happen, the team used these virtual fundraising strategies:

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Download Wayland Success Story One Sheeter

Download Wayland Success Story One Sheeter

When asked what advice the Wayland team would share with other nonprofits looking to go virtual, here’s what the team shared:

  • Show your supporters why your cause matters & how their funds will be used.
  • In this virtual world, make your online event personal with video.
  • You don’t have to get fancy with video. Used the camera on iPhones.
  • Strive for things to look nice and polished, not professionally produced.
  • Start as early as you can so that you have more time to get creative.
  • Make it easy for your social influencers by preparing content for them.



The 44th Annual Wayland Auction had astounding results for the teams’ first ever virtual auction.

  • 1211 bids
  • 509 supporters
  • Average of 10.26 bids per item
  • Raised 207% of silent auction value
  • Total of $94,456 in proceeds!

Connect with a Cause

To learn more about Wayland Academy and support their mission, visit their website.

Wrapping Up!

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