How Morgan Marie Michael Foundation Launched Their Annual In-Person Event into a Virtual Celebration



The Morgan Marie Michael Foundation was established to assist individuals on the autism spectrum with opportunities and channels for enhanced living.

Founders Alyssa Lego and Amanda Witkowski serve the community through programs which include Life after 21, the iCan iPad Learning Experience Gift Program, Sensory Gifting program, and Inclusion Experiences.

To keep these programs, experiences, and community alive and together during this time of social distancing, they had to embrace virtual fundraising events.

My co-founder Amanda and I built our foundation through very deep and and personal connections to our ‘village,’ or our supporters. We knew we had to find a way to execute our annual ‘Strut’ event for them,” said Alyssa Lego, Founder of Morgan Marie Michael Foundation.

With an in-person event already planned for the summer, they started thinking of how to move their annual ‘Strut!’ fundraising campaign virtual.





Over the years, Morgan Marie Michael Foundation has partnered with OneCause and used the mobile bidding platform and peer-to-peer platform for this event as well as an ambassador campaign.

With the switch to virtual, they were looking for a solution designed for the livestream and online, to adapt their silent auction, raffle and program.

The problem was that we had really great ideas about different campaigns and virtual adaptations, but we didn’t have a clue how to execute them. So, we turned to OneCause,” said Lego.





Plain and simple: The OneCause Virtual and Live Stream Event software was the solution.

When they first showed us the new software, we immediately thought, ‘That’s it. That’s exactly what we need,” said Lego.

Using this fundraising solution, Co-founders Amanda and Alyssa now saw a vision for their event: ‘Strutting in the Skies 3.5’.


They flipped their annual fashion show, ‘Strut,’ to fit a virtual format produced by the Morgan Marie Michael Foundation. They wanted to support individuals on the autism spectrum by putting a spotlight on community builders who #strutforautism.

By re-imagining their summer event, their goals were to:

  • Celebrate the successes in April for Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Day
  • Recognize their ‘village’ (supporters)
  • Reward top ambassadors
  • Applaud the mission
  • Cheer their ambassadors on through the end of the year

And they did just that.

By utilizing the new software, Morgan Marie Michael Foundation was easily able to put their virtual fundraising plan into action with building their site, ‘story,’ and show – all facets of the new product.

They quickly mobilized the features of the Virtual and Live Stream Event software. These steps include:

  1. Set-up the Virtual Event Site
  2. Secure prizes, raffle items and sponsors
  3. Launch Raffle, Online Donation, and Challenge Campaigns
  4. Create compelling multi-media content
  5. Leverage existing videos and images, where possible
  6. Define impact levels, messaging, and mission stories
  7. Send invitations from the event site
  8. Track registrations, fundraising progress, and real-time event stats
  9. Build a program timeline of video, livestream, fundraising and entertainment
  10. Bring to life the event theme

The very fact everything was a one-stop shop was amazing. Participants could bid on items, register, donate mid-livestream, and engage with new media and entertainment all on the software. Our donors loved the ease and clarity that came with that,” said Lego.

Let’s break it down to the 3 steps of how Morgan Marie Michael foundation pulled off their virtual event with the new fundraising tool.

  1. Optimizing the Site for Giving
  2. Amplify Your Mission in a Virtual World
  3. Showtime: Execute Your Event with Ease

#1: Optimizing the Site for Giving

Being completely virtual puts a whole new emphasis on a nonprofit’s fundraising site. More than ever before, your site needs to be easy, social, mobile, and fun. Think about your site as your venue now.

Morgan Marie Michael Foundation maximized the giving value of the new software functionality by using:

  • Fundraising Challenges
  • Silent Auction
  • Raffle
Fundraising ChallengesFundraising Challenges

8 lucky volunteers or Ambassadors donated their time, dance moves, talents, and even their face, for a good cause.

They set a fundraising goal or challenge level for each. Once the donation amount was attained for the challenges, the participant either recorded their video to share later or did it live on the night of the event.

Laughter, fun, and excitement were built around these challenges—not to mention the increase in donations from all supporters that wanted to make sure these challenges happened!

Silent Auction

This one-stop shop for virtual fundraising activity definitely includes a powerful fundraising strategy for most events: the silent auction.

Morgan Marie Michael Foundation was able to preview and host a silent auction with 15 auction items (with multiple photos) all in one place. Supporters could bid on items throughout the event and even before the event.

A major contributor to their success was the ease of giving process for donors.

Because all donor functions lives alongside your video broadcast, your donors never have to leave, reload, or navigate back to the stream in order to make a donation or bid on auction items. Not even seconds are lost of the livestream program.

Silent Auction


The ‘Beach Cruiser Bicycle Raffle’ offered a $300 valued bicycled for the very lucky winner.

Morgan Marie Michael Foundation’s ‘village’ loved it. Raffle tickets were flying into their pockets and creating a competitive giving moment that brought an energy to the event.


Once the site was optimized, it was time to move to pre-event engagement tactics.

First and foremost, they optimized donor communication and messaging on social. They:

  • Posted their site
  • Utilized promotional videos
  • Communicated event updates via social & email
  • Gave shout outs to top ambassadors on Facebook
  • Used an event hashtag #strutforautism

Now that they had their ‘virtual venue’ set up, a signature Morgan Marie Michael Foundation event always includes mission moments. That next step was to communicate their mission on the event site.

#2: Amplify Your Mission in a Virtual World

Participants and donors could see their mission from the homepage of their event site to the virtual event live programming.

While planning the event, Morgan Marie Michael Foundation knew that they wanted to keep the mission at the forefront of the virtual event. Their in-person event does this very well, so they wanted to get creative to center their mission around the programming of their virtual event.

Naturally, it made sense to feature their mission on their site right next to the live stream feed.

Mission Highlight & Program Description

Mission Highlight & Program Description

They included their cause, an ambassador highlight, and a sneak peek of the program highlights.

On event night, the show included pre-recorded video and live video that represented Morgan Marie Michael Foundation’s ‘why,’ supporting individuals on the autism spectrum.

Livestream Mission Highlight

Mission Focused Pre-recorded Video during Live Stream Show

With great programming and effective website communication, their mission and need were brought to life.

Our village felt the same enthusiasm behind our mission even though we weren’t all at our annual in-person event together. I was surprised by the level of community that translated to the virtual setting,” said Lego.

#3: Showtime: Execute Your Program with Ease

With the site ready, auction items secured, and the support of their village, they were ready to have their livestream run-of-show become a reality.

Morgan Marie Michael Foundation took advantage of these features of the new software:

  • Stream, host or play embedded content or videos
  • Drive giving with donation and bidding overlays
  • Keep supporters on one screen
  • Real time thank you messages

The Virtual Event and Live Stream Event software made it easy to donate with the donation button overlaid right on the livestream video. Participants simply had to click the Donation button and complete their transaction all from the same page as the live stream.

Even better than that, every time a person donated their name would appear below the livestream video. Talk about immediate donor recognition!

Donor Recognition

Within their program, they included:

  • Sponsor Highlights
  • Pre-recorded entertainment
  • Live Patio Chats
  • Mission Moments
  • Silent Auction
  • Raffle

They used a few new best practices to engage remote supporters:

  • Live streaming & Embedded Content. Morgan Marie Michael Foundation’s virtual event programming included pre-recorded videos for mission moments and entertainment as well as live streamed moments of the ‘Patio Chats.’
  • Ambassador Highlight. A big part of Morgan Marie Michael’s mission is their ‘village’ full of ambassadors to their mission. To show their gratitude, they highlighted their “2020 Autism Awareness Ambassadors” as an element of the livestream show.
  • Real-time Thermometer. As the donations came in, the thermometer on the software reflected it. Supporters were chasing that thermometer!

By the end of the night, Morgan Marie Michael Foundation’s event went off without a hitch. The entertainment, fundraising initiatives, and pre-recorded or live mission moments all combined for a very special night.

But—just how successful were they? Let’s find out.





The big night came and went Morgan Marie Michael Foundation was extremely satisfied with their virtual transition—especially compared to the ulterior option of cancelling their event.

  • 90 Livestream Attendees
  • +$2k in total donations
  • $800 silent auction total
  • 100% more raised than cancelling their event

It was unbelievably easy to do. What started off being daunting turned out to be one of the easiest fundraisers we’ve ever executed,” said Lego.

Connect with a Cause

Want to learn more about Morgan Marie Michael Foundation? Check out their Facebook page here.

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