A Case Study
A school providing faith-based education to students for over 70 years, St. Mary’s School needed an alternative fundraising event in light of the cancellation of their annual silent auction. With the end of the school year close by and COVID-19 precautions affecting their original plans, St. Mary’s needed to meet their fundraising goal, boost engagement and more importantly they needed a quick solution. St. Mary’s has used online auctions for many years to fundraise money. The Parent Teacher Organization at St. Mary’s makes a commitment to fundraise $75,000 a year for the school through their annual silent auction event and they were dedicated to transitioning from an in-person event to a virtual event in order to meet their goal.
The PTO usually plans on holding a silent auction just before summer starts. It’s a night of socializing, bidding and raising money for a good cause. By the time COVID-19 had affected their event date, the majority had already been planned. Reservations, volunteers, seating arrangements and the venue were all suddenly up in the air. Choosing to accompany their online auction with a virtual event, St. Mary’s concerns shifted from the in-person event to the engagement factor and the amount of time they had to replan for a virtual event. With some expenses already paid and having never done a virtual event before, St. Mary’s was wary of how many people would attend online and if they would be able to meet their fundraising goal after the final changes were made.
Instead of solidifying reservations, speakers, the venue, volunteers and more, St. Mary’s jumped into building a virtual event as soon as the solution was shared around and given the green light.
Kelly Lodge, a mother and involved member of St. Mary’s School has worked on their fundraising events for over seven years. With a “get things done attitude” Kelly was eager to work with Auction Frogs and their production team to create a virtual event. After having worked with Auction Frogs for many years using online auctions, their team began brainstorming ideas with Kelly to build an event that would address all of their needs, and fast.
“Auction Frogs basically led us down the right path because we had no direction in our minds,” said Kelly, “They knew exactly how it was supposed to work so they were able to tell each of us what we were supposed to do and I thought it came out amazing!”
Shifting to a virtual event, Kelly and the PTO used videos, pictures, items and stories to connect with attendees for the new format. At times, Kelly was unsure of what the actual event would look like, but with constant communication, a practice run-through and a detailed script, Kelly could visualize more and more with every meeting. Of course, it wasn’t until the day of the event, when all the content and the community came together virtually, that Kelly could see the impact that the virtual event had made.
Kelly especially appreciated how the virtual event was able to showcase auction items. An emcee from Auction Frogs highlighted and gave perspective, standing next to items, like art made from students. This is one of the unique features that virtual events use to increase engagement and bids. St. Mary’s also utilized social media, news outlets and radio to garner more attention and gather a large audience. By the time of the event attendees were engaged, excited and eager to watch more.
“Having a virtual event was a huge time saver,” said Kelly, “It was so easy compared to a live event. We saved money, we planned it last minute and we still had people tune in.”
“If we had to do an event virtually again I would have no worries about it, I’m confident about going that route. We would have even more time to plan and be more prepared,” said Kelly, “I would recommend it to anybody that asked, in a heartbeat.”
St. Mary’s virtual event and online auction surpassed expectations and raised $95,000, meeting their original fundraising goal of $75,000. Not only did people tune in, they bid and donated until the very last seconds of the virtual event.