A Case Study
A sanctuary for chimpanzees discarded from the entertainment and biomedical testing industries, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, was faced with the postponement of their summer gala in light of COVID-19 and needed an alternate event that would allow them to meet their fundraising goals. They wanted to use an online auction format that would garner strong participation, interest and engagement, allowing for supporters to connect and participate from around the world. After years of successful galas and online auctions, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest knew the importance of the event, connecting supporters and securing funds for the sanctuary.
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest usually plans on hosting a gala event in the summer and an online auction in the fall. Taking precautionary measures due to COVID-19, they switched the events and began planning to use an online auction sooner than planned. Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest was concerned about the success of an online auction and meeting their fundraising goal based on the potential number of attendees, listing too many items, lack of engagement and the possible difficulties attendees may encounter when needing to use technology to participate. There was uncertainty in transitioning from an in-person event to a digital experience when previously, in-person galas and events have had strong participation and fundraising success for the nonprofit.
In the past, a single online auction hosted by Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest has raised up to $28,000. With a goal to reach $50,000 this time around, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest connected with Auction Frogs, a web-based event and online fundraising platform company, to build a unique online auction and in the process learned about their newly released virtual event solution.
Diana Goodrich, Co-director at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, has worked with Auction Frogs for over five years to host online auctions for the sanctuary. When presented with the idea to host a virtual event alongside an online auction she was eager to add another level of engagement and customization, addressing their challenges head-on.
Onboard from the beginning, Diana started building a virtual event with guidance from Auction Frogs and their production team. “The format is very similar to what we do with our gala. I could see how we would be able to gather recorded video, auction items and more for the virtual event,” said Diana, “Auction Frogs is constantly rolling out new features and improving the look of the platform.”
Diana quickly became familiar with how making the events worked and described the planning and preparation as easy. Utilizing social media and a carefully customized website, attendees were engaged and ready to bid the day of the event. The virtual event consisted of an hour-long live video full of pictures, videos, messages, an emcee, and more from Auction Frogs and Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. “People thought it flowed well together. One of the board members said it was very professional,” said Diana. On Facebook, the virtual event has more than 5,000 views. On the auction site there were only a few leftover auction items. Days after the virtual event, people were still able to bid and donate online. “Overall, the appearance of the platform is really good with features that help enhance items which I think it gets people interested in auction items. And then for the live events to have someone live, talking and asking questions is great.,” said Diana.
Based on the number of attendees, items bid on, amount raised, ease of making and the relationship built with each other, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest has already begun planning to work with Auction Frogs in the near future for more virtual events and online auctions.
A major appeal of a gala or an in-person event is the momentum and participation associated with fund-a-need donating, where donations are made directly to a cause and is the main source for funding for nonprofits. The virtual event fulfilled the
fund-a-need fundraising strategy that was required in order to meet the events fundraising goal.
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest surpassed their fundraising goal and raised more than $65,000, more than any online auction they’ve hosted before. Paired with the virtual event, they achieved above and beyond their expectations and have since received positive feedback from supporters, praising the accessibility and visuals. “It was really good because it reached people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it,” said Diana.