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“When looking for a mobile fundraising platform, customer service was really important to us. Some platforms were slow in responding to our initial inquiry; that wasn’t a good sign.”
– Jacey Krehbiel, University of Kansas Alumni Association
The Rock Chalk Ball, sponsored by the University of Kansas Alumni Association, is the largest fundraising event held by the organization to benefit legacy student recruitment and student programs. Held in Kansas City, where a large population of alumni live, the event attracts an estimated 750 Jayhawks and guests every year.
The black tie affair includes a silent auction for well over 100 items, cocktails, dinner, a live auction of big-ticket items, a fund-a-need drive and entertainment.
As society moved into the digital age, organizers realized their paper-based system for running the event and auctions was outdated, so they set out to find a mobile bidding platform that would meet their needs. After researching solutions and talking to other fundraising professionals, the KU Alumni Association selected OneCause.
“We made the decision to partner with OneCause just three months before our Rock Chalk Ball in 2016, and found that the solution was really easy to learn, so the transition was smooth,” said Jacey Krehbiel, assistant director of alumni programs.
OneCause is used to manage registration and check in for the event, to provide a mobile interface of all silent auction items and realtime bids, to send text messages to guests to keep them moving from cocktails to dinner and onward through the night, and to streamline checkout. Behind the scenes, OneCause also is used to manage and track event sponsors.
“The software is really easy to use. We swipe a credit card when guests check in, they use their smart phones to keep up with the auction, and check out simply involves a text notice to guests about the items they won and where to pick them up,” said Krehbiel.
The first year the Rock Chalk Ball used OneCause, auction proceeds increased by $15,000, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Using OneCause’s reports, Krehbiel and her team are able to easily see which silent auction items were the most popular so they can devote more of their limited time securing those items for the next event. A majority of guests also reported a better experience using OneCause versus paper bidding.
The organization now is planning to use OneCause’s DIY solution for smaller fundraising events in other cities that don’t require on-site assistance from OneCause. “Our second largest event is more laid back than the Rock Chalk Ball. After using the full-service software last year, we feel confident that we can handle the event using the DIY software this year,” said Krehbiel.