St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital hosts first virtual event and online auction with Auction Frogs, meeting their fundraising goal and virtually meeting supporters

A Case Study

The only children’s hospital in the state of Idaho, committed to high quality, cost-effective clinical care, advocacy for children and families, education, and research; St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital needed to find an alternate platform for their annual auction event since COVID-19 derailed their original plans. Alongside an online auction they wanted a virtual event that would be cost effective, engaging and allow them to meet their fundraising goal.
A large event for a large organization, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital swapped a space odyssey for a safe odyssey, eager to bring attendees together virtually.

The Challenge

Normally a night for adults to be kids, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital brings the fun with inflatables, mechanical bulls, performers and more. Towards the end of the event attendees enjoy a traditional dinner, program and silent auction. With only three months until their original event date, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital decided to cancel their in-person event and began creating a virtual event and online auction. St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital was uncertain of how many people would participate online and if the online auction would fulfill their fundraising goal. To switch from a very active in-person event to a virtual event that had never been held by their organization before, there were unknowns in sight for St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.
The Kid for A Night event typically costs six figures to carry-out and scaling down seemed like a daunting task that could potentially lose the excitement and high energy needed from attendees to meet their fundraising goal. For a much more cost effective option, Auction Frogs and their production team worked closely with St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital to meet their goals and consult by their side through the entire process, creating a virtual event and online auction.
Maegan Krahn, Manager of special events for the St. Luke’s Foundation, had never worked with Auction Frogs before. Maegan spoke with other organizations and top sponsors, looking for a way to hold their event. Once they chose Auction Frogs and began brainstorming, it was decided that a virtual event and live auction was the best solution for them.

The Solution

One of the first to hold a virtual event, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital and Auction Frogs bounced ideas off each other as soon as planning started. “It was nice that all of us were in the same boat,” said Maegan, “We all came willing to share ideas and figure out what the best course of action was for us and our event. The team was very responsive.” In order to engage attendees, Maegan and her team shared videos, photos with Auction Frogs and their production team. “They put it all together and normally that’s something we do ourselves so not having that control was tough but we communicated a lot, so it became easier and we knew it was getting taken care of and it still looked like us and our banding,” said Maegan.
After 30 years, plenty of time for planning, traditions and reliability; Maegan was pleased with the support, visuals and the customization used for the virtual event and online auction. A feature that specifically stood out to her was the ability to easily add auction items to the online auction site. Instead of reprinting papers, moving physical items around and rushing, the online component eased the auction experience. And because they could have an unlimited amount of auction items online, they utilized fund-a-need options as well, ultimately increasing bids and donations made to the organization.

The Results

“Everything was positive and we successfully changed a 900 person event over to a 40 minute digital program,” said Maegan, “People said that it wasn’t just easy to use but that the bidding was fun, just from their couch!”
At first, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital set a fundraising goal of $50,000 but after their success from the first week they upped their goal to $500,000. Not only did they reach their goal, raising over $519,000, but their virtual event held on Facebook reached over 10,000 people.
“It was incredibly cost effective,” said Maegan. Despite raising $587,000 last year, subtracting event expenses St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital was able to save and raise more from the virtual event and online auction this year.