St. Mary’s School Swerves to Success

A Last-Minute Change of Plans Results in a Fantastic Virtual Event Amidst Pandemic Chaos

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all events across the country, the St. Mary’s School Ball and Auction planning committee members were unsure what to do. What could they do with no in-person options for hosting their annual benefit gala? The school relies heavily on these funds to supplement their budget, revitalize school buildings and grounds, and provide necessary upgrades for a growing student body. 

Luckily, Kristi Saucerman, founder and CEO of Auction Frogs, had a solution to move forward amid the chaos with a seamlessly hosted Virtual Event with her event studio space and the production team from Elsberg Studio. Featuring interviews with key supporters and staff, an engaging emcee, and fantastic auction items up for grabs, the school brought together more than 1500 people during their live stream and raised nearly $95,000 to support their beloved school. 

Our team recently caught up with Kelly Lodge from St. Mary’s Catholic School, and we are excited to share her perspective of the planning and production process for a virtual event. Here’s what Kelly had to say. 

Did you have any reservations going into a virtual event?  

Not really. We were nervous, sure; but considering the options, this was it. Kristi [Saucerman], Cory [Mikels], and Brad [Elsberg] were on it, and we had total confidence in them. We were extremely excited about it, actually — Our auction had a new life!

What were your primary considerations when organizing this fundraiser?  

Besides being able to raise these important funds for St. Mary’s School, our primary considerations were how to get the word out to our supporters that we were revamping our auction from an in-person event to a virtual event, as well as what that meant for participation. And then we had the task of encouraging everyone to tune into our Virtual Event on Facebook… on a Saturday night.

What was the highlight of the event?  

It was so great watching the “thermometer” continue to rise closer and closer to our goal, and also seeing how Kristi, Cory, and Brad pulled the whole thing together. Seeing it “live” was both a relief and thrilling! It was neat to see all the comments coming in from folks who were watching from home. It felt amazing to still have so much support.

What part of the virtual presentation do you feel made the biggest impact on your supporters?  

That’s a tough question. I think every part of the event was impactful. The interviews were great and added a wonderful element of personal connection, but ultimately I think having Cory calling out certain items as the bids were coming in helped bring attention to those items, which encouraged more people to engage with us and place bids.

Did you meet or exceed your expectations and fundraising goals?  

When all is said and done, I believe we will have met or come very close to our goal. We had no idea what to expect with this new format, but it’s easy to call it a success!

When you host your next Virtual Event, is there anything you will do differently?  

The only thing I can think of that I would do differently is to give our team more time to pull it together and share it with our supporters in advance of the event. Due to the timing of the “shut down” [due to COVID-19] we were nearly paralyzed for a couple of weeks while we grappled with what to do. Kristi came to the rescue with this new option, and we threw it together in a matter of only a few weeks. We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome, and we are so grateful to Auction Frogs for helping us make it happen.  

It was our pleasure to work with Kelly Lodge, Sarah Brown, and all of the folks on the planning committee for St. Mary’s School Online Auction and Virtual Event. Success stories like this one are what motivate us to keep working hard to provide exceptional services for our clients. 
If you’d like to chat about how Auction Frogs can help you, please do not hesitate to reach out. You can contact us here, or call 208.321.5515.

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