How in One Virtual Night Tennessee Kidney Foundation Raised $238,000

Tennessee Kidney Foundation provides life-saving services and assistance to those living with kidney disease. Their annual black-tie gala attracts of 500-600 attendees and is a vital funding source for their mission. Due to COVID-19, the team decided to keep fundraising and turned their gala into a One Virtual Night Only fundraiser.

We had to take our event virtual. We knew we had no choice. We had donors say they felt this event was more impactful and personal, because we were able to call out names of real time donations coming in. It gave people extra fulfillment and we think helped bring in more donations. Michael Draper, Director of Development

Online Fundraising Activities

Even with such a quick-turn of events, Tennessee Kidney Foundation was able to bring their in-person fundraising activities online. These included:

What made this event unique

Tennessee Kidney Foundation-Giving Center

Click here to view their Giving Center

What Made This Event Unique?

They combined Facebook Live with a virtual event program to create a “one night only” virtual fundraising experience.

They worked with their gala committee, the board, a local event production company, auctioneer and emcee to execute an event that was part pre-recorded videos and part real-time fundraising.

By going virtual, this nonprofit was not only able to keep fundraising, but open up their mission to a wider audience via social media reach.

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Virtual Fundraising Strategies

Tennessee Kidney Foundation made adjustments to their in-person event to create greater reach and inspire giving. Their strategies included:

  • Worked with Event Production company to design virtual program
  • Personal outreach to sponsors to continue support
  • Featured pre-recorded sponsor & supporter testimonials
  • Partnered with Auctioneer & Emcee
  • Started online auction 4 weeks before event
  • Facebook & Social media chats real-time
  • Pre-event promotion on all social channels
  • Ambassadors, Board & Committees blast their networks
  • Facebook ADs to tag sponsors
  • More smaller silent auction packages
  • Program: 1 hr 15 min program | Structured timeframes

Best Practices/Lessons Learned

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Download Tennessee Kidney Foundation One Sheeter

Download Tennessee Kidney Foundation One Sheeter

#FearlessFundraisers all over the world are learning as they shift to virtual fundraising. In retrospect, Tennessee Kidney Foundation recommends these best practices:

  • Be honest & transparent about possible tech issues
  • Prepare for the livestream lag time
  • Go slower on live auction; let people and bids come in
  • Trim Live Auction to 4-5 items
  • Read the names of donors in real-time using bid history reports
  • Find ways to showcase sponsors
  • Use hashtags (#tkfmotown | #onenightonly)
  • Create volunteer roles around your virtual event (hosts, social chat)
  • Feature CEO, Local Impact, & Why Sponsors Want to Help videos



Tennessee Kidney Foundation didn’t know what results to expect but were ecstatic by the fundraising results:

  • 570 online attendees
  • 424 bids
  • $238,000 total raised

Connect with a Cause

You can learn more about Tennessee Kidney Foundation and support their mission by visiting their website.

Wrapping Up!

More fundraising resources are just a click away.