Lessons from the Field: How Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound Turned a Major Event into a Virtual Fundraiser

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound was excited to host their annual Big Breakfast, a celebration of their impact on the community and their second highest grossing fundraiser of the year, on March 26, 2020However, it became clear early in the month that the impact of COVID-19 in the Seattle metro area would leave their staff, volunteers, and Board members without an in-person event to highlight all the work they’d accomplished in the past year.  

“Our Board really loves our in-person events so we weren’t sure how we could make the breakfast capture that same feeling online,” says Corey Little, Development and Events Coordinator. They had recently signed up to use JustGiving® from Blackbaud® for peer-to-peer fundraising they hoped to launch in 2020. “We haven’t really focused on peer-to-peer fundraising so this was pretty new for us.”  

Any nonprofit fundraiser can tell you that moving an in-person special event to an online campaign is no easy feat. Sponsors, entertainment, a program, and table hosts helping to capture donations in real time is all incredibly difficult to replicate in a virtual setting. However, Corey and his team were up to the challenge and used their brand-new fundraising solution to do the work.  

Learn more in the upcoming FREE webinar: Going Virtual—How to Move Campaigns Online  

A campaign page was created using the branding from the Big Breakfast’s collateral materials. Table Hosts and registered attendees were given fundraising pages and asked to solicit their gifts online from their full network, not just the people who were set to attend the event with them. By doing this they received more donations than they would have at the breakfast because they were able to expand their asks to their full network via email and social media. YouTube Videos were created highlighting all the programs they planned to showcase in person, such as their Matches of the Year and Community Partner of the Year, and were embedded in the Story area of the page every day. This helped to engage supporters and keep them coming back to the campaign page to create excitement and encourage giving. They even highlighted their corporate sponsors, ensuring their expectations were met and their donations remained committed. Their breakfast turned into a one week-long virtual celebration of their work and raised over $50,000.  

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound Virtual Big Breakfast

Corey says that this exercise definitely showed them how easy it can be to activate peer-to-peer fundraising for their organization and has plans for additional campaigns this year.  “It was successful and our staff, executives and Board were all really happy with the results.”  

Want to hear more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound’s Virtual Big Breakfast campaign and hear Corey talk live about the process of creating their campaign? Join us on Wednesday, April 29 for a special panel discussion: Going Virtual – How to Move Campaigns Online. You can register by visiting Blackbaud’s TEK Talks webinar hub.  

Many thanks to Corey and all the staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters Puget Sound for their hard work and dedication in these unchartered waters. We are inspired by your grit and determination!