Over the course of 2015, the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) spent time familiarizing themselves with Classy, testing it in small situations to see if the fundraising platform could meet their needs and goals. Ultimately, they decided to make the full transition in 2016, and Classy helped them grow their online revenue by 3,578 percent year over year.
Not only did they achieve their primary goal to increase online revenue in 2016, but they also hit a second goal: to increase total online fundraisers. Classy provided the organization’s supporters with a simple, beautiful, and effective means to fundraise.
We sat down with development associate Allison Kosciak and development manager Jillian Davis to find out how they achieved this massive success and how they plan to grow moving forward.
The Two-Fold Growth Strategy
It’s important to first understand that ALS TDI has two different fundraising arms within the organization. On one side, Jillian is a part of the ALS TDI marketing team, and spends much of her time helping supporters organize their own third-party events and campaigns.
Allison works for Augie’s Quest, which directly funds ALS TDI and raises money through different fitness related events and campaigns like the Team Quest4ALS Endurance Program, galas, and their golf tournaments. Below we dive into how the software transition boosted the success of each fundraising arm.
Third-Party Events and DIY Campaigns
As ironic as it might seem, it’s powerful when you hand over the controls to your community of supporters. Frequently, ALS TDI is approached by people who want to start fundraising on behalf of the organization through a personal fundraising page or a third-party event.
“It’s their event, they organize all the logistics, and we support them in any way we can. They run all registration, get donations through Classy, and the funds come straight to our organization. We really are lucky to have so many people who want to take on the responsibility.”
The only way to successfully execute this strategy, however, is to have a robust platform that can make it easy for people to create personal fundraising pages and throw third-party events.
“I think it’s important for an organization to keep up with technology these days. We noticed that things kept changing around us, but our old platform wasn’t. It was difficult for people to set up their pages, and it wasn’t easy for people to donate through them.”
Classy lets the team provide supporters with a “beautiful and professional platform that can handle anything the community needs.” That could be as simple as a donate button, or it could be a registration with fundraising component for a specific third-party event.
“Classy can do it all, and it makes us look awesome when someone comes to us with an idea. We can say, ‘That’s easy, we can help you set it up. Also, it’s free for you to use.’ It makes us professional and gives us tools that other organizations might not have.”
Not only does this help them grow their pool of supporters, but it also helps them retain those supporters as well. Before Classy, they would have to turn away ideas because the old platform couldn’t accommodate the requests of the community. It was one of the many frustrations that limited them from achieving their growth-oriented organization goals.
Example of a DIY Campaign
One of the more notable DIY campaigns was the “What Would You Give?” campaign. A young woman diagnosed early in life with ALS came up with the idea for the campaign, where friends and family would give up an ability for a certain period of time and experience what it’s like to live with ALS. For example, you could pledge to give up using your voice for an entire day.
Her campaign just launched for the third consecutive year with a $250,000 goal.
“This isn’t just a means of fundraising. Giving our supporters the power to tell their stories is how we spread awareness about ALS.”
Team Quest4ALS Marathon
The Augie’s Quest team works to bring fundraising to the fitness industry. The Team Quest4ALS Endurance Program relies heavily on the community for success, and have partnered with the Competitor Group through their Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. In its inaugural year, they raised over $450,000 with the support of 15 different clubs.
Angel Moser, also on the Augie’s Quest team, reaches out to Clubs and lets them know the marathon is happening in their area, and they can join the Quest by recruiting members to train and fundraise for ALS Research. The beauty of this tactic lies in the peer-to-peer fundraising model: each fitness club is handed pre-built Classy pages to pass off to club members.
This ensures a smooth, easy process for people to get involved if they want to fundraise. Within 24 to 48 hours, most clubs reported that people were signed up and already fundraising. The fitness clubs can adapt the fundraising cause to their gym in the way they best see fit.
For example, some choose to provide personal training classes for three months up until the marathon, where members and non-members alike are welcome. This helps ALS TDI by bringing in new cohorts of fundraisers and participants, but it’s also a marketing tool for the gym to get new people through the doors. It’s a classic win-win situation.
The strategy was so successful in 2016 that ALS TDI added new marathon locations in 2017 for Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Denver.
Ensuring Success Across Initiatives
Both fundraising arms of ALS TDI were excited to switch to Classy, but that meant switching all their third-party supporters and their events over as well. The strategy was not to do it all at once, but switch the events over on a rolling basis as they came up on the events calendar.
Throughout everything they do, one of ALS TDI’s prime directives is to humanize the organization and make their supporters feel like family. This is especially important since so many fundraisers throw DIY campaigns and third-party events on behalf of ALS TDI. Each supporter needs to be met on their turf, heard, and empowered to host their campaign.
The staff also got into the weeds with their supporters and gave them instructions on how to get started and find success on Classy. It was done, and will continue to be done, on a one-on-one model.
“One-on-one support has always been our approach. Even today, if someone comes to us and says they need a ticketed event page, someone from our team is behind the scenes building the page out for them. They’ll go back and forth with edits, and then our staff will transition the supporter into the campaign administrator.”
ALS TDI’s growth and strategy landed them in second place in the Classy 100, the list of top growing nonprofits on Classy. If you want to emulate this growth in online revenue, here’s a quick recap of what we learned from Allison and Jillian:
- Don’t stick with what’s been done
- Branch out and take bold leaps to recruit fundraisers
- Give your fundraisers as much support as you can
When it comes to investing in fundraising software, they also have a few things to say: do your due diligence.
“When you do your research, it becomes clear that Classy has everything you want or need.”
Make sure to check out ALS TDI and other organizations that grew their online revenue year over year on the Classy 100.