The Road Company Theatre Group Inc.

Tell us about your cause.

The Road Company Theater Group has been in existence since 1976 and is a 100% volunteer based organization. It is our mission to “entertain and enrich people by providing a venue for fostering the arts through creative expression, education, social interaction, and community development.” The company is housed and performs in the historic Grand Theatre of Williamstown, New Jersey. The theater was built in 1924 and functioned as a silent movie house and vaudeville theatre until the late forties. It was vacant for almost a decade until 1988 when Don Tucker and his wife purchased and refurbished it.

Julie Speeny, the founder of the Road Company Theater, knew she had found her company’s home when she stumbled upon the renovated icon in 1989. The following decades were vibrant with theatre life, despite changes in ownership and periods of sabbatical. In April of 2008 the Road Company purchased the Grand Theatre. However, in May of 2010, the theatre collapsed due to heavy snow. Although the iconic structure was destroyed, the spirit of the Road Company and supporters could not be dimmed. The Road Company set forth on a determined campaign to raise money for the rebuilding of The Grand Theatre, and DoJiggy was there to help.

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

We have a history of fundraising events given that we are a 501(c)3 organization. Some former events have included casino nights and social galas. We noticed that Williamstown sponsored many walk-a-thon and run-a-thon events, so for this cause we decided to try one. It was our first fundraising event to implement online fundraising tools as part of the event management system.

Did you reach out to local sponsors?

The call was made to both local and corporate sponsors. The weak economy seemed to play a part in the resistance to local support, as well as the fact that local businesses are often bombarded by solicitations for support from a small community. Still, corporate sponsorship made up about half of the sponsor support.

In one case, a local supporter of the Road Company created a team for his company, Verizon. For each dollar raised by the team participants, Verizon matched the donation. The local representation of a corporation within our community seemed to be the sponsorship combination that worked most successfully.

Did you do any advertising to get participants?

Yes, advertising for the walk/run-a-thon was largely done through email blasts and social media postings. Facebook was utilized as well as emails sent to the list of Road Company supporters. An email newsletter was sent every two weeks and the DoJiggy website was promoted for three months before the event. A full page ad was taken out in a popular local publication one month before the event as well.

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

DoJiggy offered a website service that was easy to set up and manage. It could be updated instantly and eliminated the need for a costly web designer. It allowed individual participants to tap in to their social networks with ease which facilitated a greater quantity of small donations. This tactic proved to be highly successful. The online component was not only easy to use, for both the administrators and the participants, but easy to promote as well. The one time fee kept our overhead minimal, and we have been pleased to find that the walk/run-a-thon was our most cost effective event yet!

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

We had a lofty goal for this event – perhaps unrealistic. Although we did not reach the goal, we raised more money than any other single event in the history of fundraising for our company. We had about 140 participants sign up online and another 50 register on the day of the event. One of the main aspects of our success was the low cost of the event due to in-kind donations and online management and promotion.

Do you have any advice for other organizations?

The biggest factor in the success of an event is getting the word out early and to as many diverse sectors as possible. We made presentations at Rotary Clubs and drama clubs throughout the community. The power of social networking proved to be exponential in increasing the amount of donations received online. We are now sold on the “a-thon” idea as opposed to other events we have held. The increase in donations coupled with the decrease in cost is the clincher to a successful event.

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The Road Company Theatre Group Inc.
  • Based on an interview with
    Lauri Hudson, President