In this video, I’m joined by Nina and Genna who helped launch Mia’s Miracles Foundation and its first-ever fundraising campaign: Mia’s Morning Walks. On what would have been Mia’s 2nd birthday, the foundation hosted its 1st of 5 Saturday morning walks to raise funds and support families facing a medical crisis. Altogether, this nonprofit raised over $83k to provide small blessings with large impacts, bringing smiles and positivity to children and families facing challenging circumstances. Follow along to learn:
- What made them turn to Givebutter (Oh hey, Bloomerang integration!)
- How to engage with your audience by staying true to your brand
- Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for building ongoing momentum and keeping supporters engaged in your fundraiser over time
“Givebutter was a really great platform to house everything in one place. We could see the fundraising. We could have everybody create their teams. Peer-to-peer fundraising was a really big part of this, obviously, which Givebutter does extremely well. On top of that, we were able to leverage the different platforms, so they could post to Facebook. Additionally, another huge part was that Givebutter integrates with Bloomerang which we have all of our clients signed up with as their donor management platform. That made our work a lot easier! . . . fundraising can be really difficult. Especially in COVID. But, with Givebutter, it makes it so much easier to connect and it's very customizable, which was really helpful for us.”
Keep reading to discover what made this campaign shine!
Campaign at a glance
Full video script
Rachel: Hey everybody, Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring the Mia’s Miracles Foundation. This nonprofit raised $83,000 to bring smiles and positivity to children and families who are facing challenging circumstances. I have Genna and Nina here with me from PTI Consulting & Management to share how they were able to help the foundation create a successful and absolutely beautiful fundraiser. They're also going to share what made them turn to Givebutter and tips, tricks, and lessons learned so that everybody who's following along right now can give better with Givebutter. Genna and Nina, thank you both so much for joining today.
Genna & Nina: Thank you!
Rachel: To start, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself, your role within your organization, and the foundation.
Nina: Sounds good. My name’s Nina. I'm the COO of PTI Consulting & Management.
Genna: And I'm Genna. I'm Client Relations and Program Director for PTI Consulting & Management. We kind of work hand-in-hand with doing a lot of things and wearing a lot of hats and making sure we accomplish the goals of our clients.
Rachel: Awesome. Can you tell us a little bit more about the foundation for those that aren't familiar?
Nina: Sure! The Villegases came to us about a year ago, wanting to fulfill some philanthropic desires—so actually, their daughter, Mia, became ill in that process. As you can see from the campaign, she eventually ended up passing away. When that happened, their focus shifted for Mia’s Miracles Foundation and actually this campaign was the very first fundraising campaign after she passed.
Genna: Camilo Villegas is a professional golfer on the PGA Tour. When they reached out to us almost a year ago, they wanted to have some help with their foundation and to really get it up and running. We started working with them and had a plethora of things that they wanted to get back to. And obviously when Mia became sick, the focus shifted to more of helping children and families in crisis and with medical crisis. With the launch of Mia’s Miracles, we knew we had to do something in regard to fundraising and finding a way to really launch the foundation. And with COVID, it was definitely something that we couldn't do in person. So we thought, “What can we do digitally to really make an impact and really get the foundation up and running financially from a donor donation perspective?” That kind of is the launch of Mia's Morning Walks. Mia's Morning Walks campaign was spearheaded. The idea came from the fact that Maria, Camilo’s wife and Mia’s mother, loved taking her morning walks with Mia and their dog Pixie—their massive Great Dane—every morning. It would kind of ground them each day. We thought that if it does that for Mia and Maria—if it grounds them and gets them started on a positive note—it probably would do that for others as well. It was the intent to get others out there and really walk with their friends, walk with their family, be outside, enjoy nature. That's how Mia’s Morning Walks was launched.
Nina: When we started thinking about the logistics of how we could do this digitally, there are a lot of options out there. But, when we came across Givebutter, it was a really great platform to house everything in one place. We could see the fundraising. We could have everybody create their teams. Peer-to-peer fundraising was a really big part of this, obviously, which Givebutter does extremely well. On top of that, we were able to leverage the different platforms, so they could post to Facebook. We could post YouTube videos on the Givebutter dashboard in link. Additionally, another huge part was that Givebutter integrates with Bloomerang which we have all of our clients signed up with as their donor management platform. That made our work a lot easier!
Genna: Yeah! We use Bloomerang as our donor management system, and everything that we do—from another digital perspective—we want to make sure it integrates with Bloomerang. When we heard that Givebutter did that, it helped us keep everything in one place. It was the integration between a donation made through Givebutter automatically integrated into a donation into Bloomerang—the ease of use was great.
Rachel: Yeah, definitely. I can imagine. Especially with a fundraiser that—how long did it span out? Was it about a month? Because you had weekly walks that people could participate in.
Genna: Five weeks.
Rachel: Yeah! Five weeks’ worth of donations coming in and messaging and all of that—ease of use and seamless integration must have been key to your success.
Genna: Yes. It’s funny because you're like, “Oh, with COVID you can’t have in-person events. Oh, that’s such a weight off your shoulders.” Needless to say, digital events are still difficult to figure out and there's a lot of pieces of the puzzle. As long as those pieces all fit together, then you're good to go.
Rachel: Absolutely. With your Morning Walks and this ongoing participation, how did you continue to create momentum for your fundraiser? That’s one question we get a lot of at Givebutter. If it's not just a one-morning or one-night event, how do you keep the ball rolling and keep people interested in the fundraiser? What did you recommend to your client or what did you try?
Nina: Something that’s really important to us is engagement. We know content is key, but video is king. We really had to have a conversation with our client and make sure she was bought into the fact that every week, we're going to need a video from you when you do these morning walks because that's going to be where people can connect and see what's going on, see you, and see that you're doing it. I could do it too. I think one Saturday it was rainy, so instead of doing the morning walk, she did a question and answer session. She was very natural with it. None of her videos were edited or pre-scripted. That's also something she was just very much, “This is who we are and this is what we're doing.” It really engaged the audience and was able to connect with them.
Genna: One of the conversations that Nina and I had before launch was “Do we want this to be a one day thing or do we want to span it across five weeks?” Our thoughts were, because we're just launching and starting from scratch from this foundation—as we just launched it back in March—why not have a five weeks span of people giving as opposed to just one day? It really made sense to engage and build relationships with those donors and with those individuals throughout the span of five weeks as opposed to just one day. And yes, as Nina said, video was king. We really honed in on social media here. Obviously, we linked everything back to Givebutter, but every Saturday morning we did Instagram Lives with Maria so that she could showcase that she was walking. She was with family or she was just with her sister. She was out there just feeling nature and feeling that groundedness. We really tapped into social media here and kept everyone very engaged and informed that way, reminding them. We also sent out emails to individuals who signed up a team on Givebutter or who as an individual signed up on Givebutter—even past donors from the past month or two before. We engaged them through email, and we engaged them through social media.
Nina: I think another important part of this was that we did something that was on brand for the foundation. We didn't try to go outside of what they would have done normally for their personality and for their family. We kept it within the realm of who they are.
Rachel: I love that you bring that point up because consistency, connection, engagement—but also authenticity—matters. People could clearly see that this was authentic to the foundation, and that's so important for building credibility and trust over time and for future fundraisers. I think that's great that you point that out. I'm just sharing my screen here, so everyone can see your gorgeous campaign. I mean, truly, this is probably one of the most beautiful campaigns I've seen on Givebutter in 2020. Speaking of social media, you'll notice on the right side that the supporter feed is just filled with so much love and engagement. This must just really speak to the work that the foundation is doing to build relationships with supporters. Very, very heartfelt notes from all over. How did you get people so engaged in the supporter feed? Do you think that just happened naturally because it's user friendly and it was easy for people to understand?
Nina: Absolutely. That was one part of it. Everything was housed in one area, and we love the feed. You could see on the right-hand side where people could leave their messages. Because when you see others engage, it encourages you to engage as well. So that's a huge part of it.
Genna: I also think them knowing that Maria is going to read these just made them want to type more and to really leave a message. Also, obviously you can see we liked each one. Mia’s Miracles Foundation liked each comment. It really just made them know that Maria is reading these and she actually would. She would just tell us how much she enjoyed reading every single comment. I think they know that because of who they are and what our foundation is built upon, I think they know that what they say and what they write and type is read by Maria and Camilo.
Nina: I also don't want to dismiss the fact—for nonprofits or maybe organizations that are just starting out that don't have the platform that Camilo and Maria have since he is a PGA golfer. I don’t want to dismiss that fact because fundraising can be really difficult. Especially in COVID. But, with something like Givebutter, it makes it so much easier to connect, and it's very customizable which was really helpful for us.
Rachel: Absolutely. One thing that some people might be noticing as we share the screen is that the number I mentioned that you raised is different than the number on your page. How did you raise above and beyond what's presented on your Givebutter page?
Genna: $52,505 you can see there. It's obviously an incredible number. We raised that directly through Givebutter: people on Givebutter, paying through Givebutter, and entering into Bloomerang. We raised an additional $30,000-ish funds from this campaign through our other relationships with Camilo and Maria's friends who took this campaign and really asked their supporters to support the foundation and this campaign in particular. We raised those funds. It may have just been a check that was sent, as opposed to going on and donating online, but they were involved in the campaign as well.
Rachel: Absolutely. I think that's helpful for people to know all the different ways that you were raising funds and it contributed to what your total raised was which is incredible! Congratulations to you on all your success. Just to close here, I'm wondering if both of you could give one piece of advice or encouragement or wisdom to other fundraisers who are watching right now.
Genna: Oh goodness; on the spot.
Nina: I would say go with your instincts. There's a lot of advice out there. There's a lot of best practices. There are a lot of trends. Honestly, when we went in, one thing we broke is we didn’t even have a goal. We didn’t have a goal. Honestly—and this came from Maria—the goal was not to raise money. The goal was for people to spend time with their family and to enjoy nature. Although, of course we wanted to raise money. But that really goes against the grain of fundraising. I just want to encourage everyone to follow their instincts, and it's okay not to fall in line with best practices and trends.
Genna: I think this is an unprecedented time of everyone's lives. Like Nina said, I think with our expectations being—I hate to say it, but—low in the fundraising aspect, every time that we checked every week and got that amount that we raised, we would be so excited. The number just kept going up and up. And with that, that gave us motivation to continue to engage. As well as I really think staying authentic to your brand. The Mia’s Miracles Foundation is very light-hearted. It's happy. It's about miracles. It’s about motivating. We stayed really true to who we are as opposed to maybe doing what would work for someone else. Each individual foundation, they know their audience. They know their community. Just make sure you touch and reach them as opposed to anybody else. Reach your community that you love and who you're raising money for.
Rachel: Excellent words of advice. Thank you so much, both of you, for joining today and for representing the foundation. We are cheering you on and cannot wait to see what's next.
Genna & Nina: Thank you!
Rachel: For everybody else who is following along, please remember to like, share, subscribe, and comment to Givebutter’s YouTube channel. We are looking forward to next week's Success Story. See you then. Bye everybody!
View campaign: Mia's Morning Walks
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.