The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County is an organization that has been providing year-long support for youth across the Treasure Valley since 1997. Mid-2020, they began looking for an alternative fundraising platform in light of COVID-19 canceling their in-person event. Already a longtime client of Auction Frogs, The Club was eager to engage with supporters at home, maximize online participation, and keep the fun with their big event — all virtually.
Their largest annual fundraising event usually boasts over 1,100 attendees. However, with the pandemic reaching its peak, not only did they need to rethink their venue, but the event goals and the planning process needed adjusting as well. For The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County, transitioning to a completely online format was like planning a new event from scratch. They were anxious to see what the actual event would look like, how many people would engage, and if they could still bring an element of fun. Their fundraising events in the past had always been wildly successful and an army of volunteers always made their big day a success. So visualizing a virtual event without their large team of volunteers was overwhelming.
Typically, they would host a silent auction, a live auction, a paddle-up segment, and an online auction to reach all different types of bidders and supporters. These various components increased engagement during their past in-person events and substantially raised donations, helping them achieve their goals. The work and planning process for previous years involved listing items, communicating with sponsors, selling tickets, setting up, and more, and generally took a large team and ample prep time.
Jodi Davis-Gempler, Director of Development at The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County and a key member of the fundraising team, has over 20 years of fundraising experience. Already familiar with Auction Frogs and Online Auction, Jodi was excited to take advantage of new technology and share her organization’s stories with a Virtual Event. It was the perfect response to fundraising during the pandemic.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County followed a preset timeline and met with Auction Frogs weekly to create their Virtual Event and Online Auction. “Normally, at our events, we don’t take a lot of time to do a lot of storytelling — we’re trying to keep the auction moving really fast. This year we got to tell a little bit more about the mission of the clubs,” explained Jodi. Incorporating videos, pictures, stories, and more, the Virtual Event was the perfect format to focus on more than just the auction items. Sharing on social media in advance, they hoped to connect with people from home and get participation through the Virtual Event to the Online Auction.
Solid preparation, pre-event run-throughs, and support from Auction Frogs’ production team allowed Jodi to sit back the night of the event and join in the virtual viewing, completely worry-free. The Club’s 45-minute long and fun-filled event was hosted by two local emcees in cowboy hats, Larry Flynn and Mark Johnson, and was recorded to encourage further engagement from late viewers. Larry Flynn, a long-time Benefit Auctioneer for Boys & Clubs of Ada County, and Mark Johnson, a local TV station news anchor for KTVB, has been hosting this event for years and enjoyed the new virtual format. It was clear they had great synergy during the production while bringing the fun and entertaining viewers! The WWA continues to collect hundreds of views on YouTube increasing the awareness and important funding for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County.
“The technology is really smooth and easy to use. I think it provides a good user experience to the people participating. But I think it’s always been that way, I don’t think that’s a change,” said Jodi. Auction Frogs always focuses on user engagement and client experience with their custom event pages and story-focused content.
After receiving an outpouring of positive feedback from viewers and nearly meeting their goal of $500,000, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County considers the Virtual Event and Online Auction a complete success. “We’ll always have an online component, and we do still hope to have our regular in-person event in the future. But going through this process we’ve learned that there is a way that we can meet people virtually and experience fundraising success. It was a useful format overall,” stated Jodi.
In times of last-minute changes, constant innovation, and a need for community, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County were able to plan and execute their fundraiser and Virtual Event with ease with Auction Frogs by their side.