Arkansas Gives: A 12-hour online giving event sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation. Nonprofit organizations across Arkansas encourage their donors to give during this day. Bonus funds are involved. Prize money is involved. This is one big day of donations for Arkansas nonprofits.
This is my story about ASO’s involvement in Arkansas Gives last year and everything we gained from it.
I’ll be honest, ASO (read: Becky) did not do a lot of prep work for Arkansas Gives 2015. It was the inaugural year for the event and we weren’t really sure what to expect, or if we should even participate. There were a lot of questions: Are any other organizations doing this? Are too many other organizations doing this? Will we raise any money? Will it take a lot of time? Will the technology be in place for an online giving day to actually work?
The biggest overall concern was whether participating would have a good return on investment. We like to be conscientious of the money ASO spends – what if we join this thing called the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance for $500 to participate in this thing called Arkansas Gives Day and we don’t even make our money back? Is that a good use of our limited and valuable resources?
Ultimately, skepticism was overcome by the desire to raise money for ASO, and we decided to take the $500 risk and sign up.
I got to the office about 9:00 a.m. on April 2, 2015, and Arkansas Gives had kicked off an hour before. I was a little curious as I sat down at my desk, so I thought to myself “Let’s just look and see how ASO is doing.” I opened the Arkansas Gives website and looked for ASO on the list. “An hour into this thing and we are number 64 out of 361 participants? Wow! We haven’t really even done any promotion! I wonder where we would be if we had. Wait. It’s not too late. I can totally still promote this. I can’t believe we are ONLY number 64! So-and-so is beating us. And so-and-so too? How? Let’s fix this.”
So began ASO’s Arkansas Gives Day 2015.
Before 10:00 a.m. I had half the office staff watching the Arkansas Gives website like they were binge-watching a new show on Netflix. Co-workers (some not even in the Development Department) were helping me create content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and e-blasts. We started posting on our social media platforms to let everyone to know what was going on so we could come together as a team and raise some money for ASO.
ASO started to climb…It seemed like every time I refreshed the Arkansas Gives website ASO was a little higher on the list and had raised more money than the last refresh. (“How often do they update these numbers?? I need real-time info here people!”)
By the time we went to lunch ASO was ranked in the 20s. I remember when I saw:
14. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. We had raised thousands of dollars. Thousands.
“What? We did this by spreading awareness of our mission, our programs, and our participation in this awesome event benefitting Arkansas? Who else can I tell about this RIGHT NOW??” – Excited Becky
Board members. Advisory Board members. Guild members. Donors. They all got emails: “Guess what? There is this really exciting thing happening for ASO today! How cool would it be if you got involved and you spread the word?”
And they did. By 4:00 we had broken into the top ten. By 5:30 we were ranked third. (Through Arkansas Gives, nonprofits raised $1.98 million that day, and being this high on the list of participants meant we had raised almost $40,000!) At one point, ASO was ranked number one. We had actually raised the most money out of all of the participating organizations. All I could think was “wow. Our supporters are incredible.”
And, as it turns out, competitive.
Competition? You. Bet. Our donors care about music and music education. Fortunately, they trust ASO enough to be the ones to make those things happen in Arkansas. So of course we got competitive. We all care about the cause. The more money individuals donated that day, the more bonus funds we received from the Arkansas Community Foundation. Our donors wanted those bonus dollars and they wanted the prize money. It was a really incredible thing to feel the support from our ASO family and to be able to watch (while incessantly hitting refresh) as they came together to raise money for our mission to connect, enrich, inspire and advance Arkansas through the power of music.
By the end of the day, ASO had raised $67,532 from individuals, bonus funds from the Arkansas Community Foundation, and from a prize for raising the most money in the Arts and Humanities category. ASO finished the day ranked fourth out of 361 participating organizations. What an incredible experience it was for me, for the staff members, for the donors, for the ASO musicians, and, most of all, for the Arkansans who would directly benefit from the money raised for music education and outreach.
I am so glad we took the initial $500 “risk.” What a great return on investment.
(I have also learned a great deal through ASO’s membership in the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance, which anyone in the nonprofit field in Arkansas should check out.)
After all of this, I am sure you are wondering, “will ASO be participating in Arkansas Gives this year on April 7, 2016?”
The answer is “Yes. We sure will be.”
We are excited to participate this year and to do things a little differently.
“Like what,” you ask?
Well, we plan to:
1. Use Arkansas Gives as a way to promote ASO’s mission and the impact of our music education and outreach programs.
2. Inform and involve everyone early to help us spread the word.
3. Keep everyone updated all day on April 7. A little competition can be good, after all.
4. Raise even more money than last year.
To learn more about Arkansas Gives and how to participate, visit www.arkansasgives.org
If you would like to help out with ASO’s involvement in Arkansas Gives this year, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
To stay up to date on ASO in general and our involvement in Arkansas Gives,
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