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Tell us about your cause.

Founded in 1949, Tucson Audubon is southern Arizona's leading non-profit engaging people in the conservation of birds and their habitats. We involve people through recreational birding, extend their horizons through education programs, and engage them in conservation actions from planting trees and counting birds, to working with local, state, and national policy makers. Focusing on birds and other wildlife, we inspire and motivate people to conserve natural resources in southern Arizona for use and enjoyment by all.

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

One of the ways we engage our members in birding and conservation is through our Birdathon fundraiser, held each spring (going on 29 years!) Birdathon is like a walk-a-thon, except instead of raising money per mile walked we raise money per bird species seen. It's a competitive and educational event for any level of birdwatcher, as well as for their family and friends who cheer them on. In addition to Birdathon, we hold an annual Gala Celebration. Throughout the year we offer other special event fundraisers like film night, donor picnics, and exclusive small-group activities.

Did you reach out to local sponsors?

Yes, several of our local Birds & Business Alliance partners supported Birdathon through sponsorships, and other local businesses donated prizes for our top Birdathoners.

Did you do any advertising to get participants?

We don't have a budget for "advertising" so we use a variety of free opportunities in our community to attract attention: online event calendars, press releases to media, local bloggers, etc. in addition to our newsletter, member emails, website, and Facebook.

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

As I mentioned before, the free trial period was great. I felt like I knew what we were getting ahead of time. Because the specifics of a Birdathon can be different from other pledge events, being able to look at other examples on the DoJiggy website was a huge help. The customer service and technical support staff was responsive and helpful. Easy set up using templates allowed me to create a professional-looking site on my own, saving a lot of work on the part of our webmaster!

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

We had sixty participants, including 17 first-time Birdathoners, who made up this year's crew of twenty teams. They shared the Birdathon experience with more than 350 supporters in our local community and beyond. Our fundraising goal was $25,000 which we exceeded by a couple hundred dollars. While we had slightly fewer teams participating, we raised roughly the same amount compared with last year. But this year we had a new top fundraiser who exceeded his personal fundraising goal, raising more this year than he had raised last year, and even topping last year's winner. Exciting prizes combined with ease of online fundraising contributed to this result.

Do you have any advice for other organizations?

Definitely take advantage of the free trial and advice from DoJiggy staff. This period allowed me to get to know the program and its capabilities and limitations before we took the plunge. It's a great head start on setting up the event page. Get a few of your team to set up test accounts, and you'll get a heads up of any potential complications or problems, and can sort out a solution before you have actual participants confused. Time and hassle beforehand is time and hassle saved later!

Don't underestimate the in-person ask! The online fundraising tool is a great way to reach more people, and makes it easy for those you've reached who want to give to do so, but many people still prefer the old fashioned way! My main advice is to give it a try! It saved us a lot of work, and made fundraising easier and ""painless" for many of our participants.

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Tuscon Audubon Society