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Tell us about your cause.

Hope Hospice is a non-profit organization that provides support for individuals at the end of life and their families with compassion, dignity, and excellence. We are an institution with 30 years of service in the San Ramon, Tri-Valley, and surrounding California communities. The Hope Hospice team provides a circle of support that focuses on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their patients so they can make the most of each day.

What kind of special event fundraising do you do to support your mission?

We have many events throughout the year. For instance, we have The Lights of the Valley where supporters are invited to purchase a star or light as a donation in memory of a loved one who has passed. These are displayed in a holiday event in 4 different cities along with a memorial service.

We have a Memorial Day campaign and a summer "non-event". The non-event is a mailed invitation to NOT come to an event, but stay home and partake in an activity with remembrance for those who have passed. For instance, last summer we asked constituents to cool off in their favorite swimming spot or spa. Donations are solicited in lieu of the money that would have been spent going to an event.

A new event we have is called the Grateful Family Campaign where a family can give a donation in the name of one of the patient care team members that served them. This way, not only is a donation offered, but recognition is given to our outstanding employees and volunteers.

The event we ran with DoJiggy was called the Hike for Hope. Instead of doing a walk or bike-a-thon, we chose a hike-a-thon. Being in nature is so inspiring and springtime is a time for new growth. The families that we work with are dealing with extreme emotions and stress, and we felt that nature allows for seeing the bigger picture. Our hikers who had worked with Hope Hospice wore a photo of their lost family member around their neck. We also had many hiking enthusiasts who merely wanted to support the cause and enjoy a beautiful day!

Walk us through the planning process.

I co-authored the book How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events: Reap Remarkable Returns with Minimal Effort. I have quite a few tips I can offer on this!

First of all the event must be closely aligned with what the organization is all about. The hike, for instance, involved children on up to senior citizens. We are all about families so this really worked for us. We did not want to have some black tie event directed towards a small elite group, but an event that directly involved all the people connected with our organization.

The event should be driven not just by staff, but by volunteers as well. We created a committee with an excellent chairperson very connected with the nature lovers community. This broadened our reach to individuals involved with the organization and nature lovers that may not have known of us before the event.

We are an established organization, so our connections in the community are very strong. Although the event may be driven by volunteers, there is always a bottom line. Expenses need to be minimized. We were able to obtain pro bono multi-media advertising, donated printing, graphic design, and snacks for the participants as in kind donations. Basically, our only expenses were the printing of the t-shirts, which were included for participants with their registration fee, and the rental fees at the park.

If you are planning for a big event, it is best to start the planning process at least 10 months out, maybe even a year. This is important especially if you will be seeking sponsorships.

Did you reach out to local sponsors?

As I mentioned, our organization is very established; therefore, acquiring sponsorship was successful for us. We had support from the mayor and county supervisor who wrote letters on our behalf that helped legitimize the event. We used personal contact to solicit sponsors, both established and new. We received many in kind donations from local sponsors and were also able to acquire $34,500 in corporate sponsorship. When approaching sponsors, know that they are looking for something in return. We offer different benefits to our sponsors depending on their sponsorship level.

Did you do any advertising to get participants?

Besides the advertising methods given as in kind donations, we sent out about 5000 invitations. We also have a newsletter that goes out to 12,000 constituents. The committee was also comprised of members that are very connected in their communities. That helped us with even more reaching out to potential participants.

How did DoJiggy help with the planning and success of your event?

First of all, the fee structure from DoJiggy makes it very accessible. It is a fair, flat fee. We investigated thoroughly and even spoke with other non-profits that had used DoJiggy. All of the references were glowing.

This was our first time using online registration. We really felt it was an important move based on the paper management of some of our other large events. We estimated that about 40% of our supporters would use the website, but in the end it turned out to be 97%! We have many older clients, so that was surprising and impressive. We are now convinced that online registration is the way to go! We will continue to do our traditional mailings, but now they will serve as the promotion and encouragement for our participants to register online.

As far as the management and reporting of the site: we found the system very easy to use. It is great to have the ability to access the reports 24 hours a day and be able to constantly check on the progress of the event. As a whole, the system was really fun to work with.

Tell us about your success...How many participants? how much did you raise? Did you accomplish your goals?

We had almost 700 participants and have raised about $88,000 to date. It is our first pledge event and we are very pleased with the results.

Do you have any advice for other organizations?

  • It is essential that your event reflect the mission of the organization.
  • START EARLY!
  • The event should not be driven by staff only, but should have a strong volunteer presence.
  • Choose a good chairperson connected with the ambiance of the event and organization.
  • Make the transition to on line registration
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