A few months ago we sat down with the small but mighty fundraising team from 100 Story Building to discuss the Giving Day they ran back in May.
CEO, Susan Kukucka and Marketing Manager, Ella Bucovaz were kind enough to give us some insight into their first experience with the Giving Day format and all the aspects that made the campaign so successful.
CEO | 100 Story Building
Marketing Manager | 100 Story Building
First up, can you tell us a bit about 100 Story Building and the work your organisation does?
100 Story Building is a social enterprise that works with children and young people using storytelling as a tool to build their literacy skills, creativity, confidence, and a sense of belonging.
We’re based in Melbourne and we work predominantly throughout the Western suburbs of Melbourne with communities, children and young people in schools, and we use creative programs and storymaking to engage children with their learning. Our work focuses on communities that are under-resourced and that may not otherwise have access to these types of arts-based opportunities and programs.
And how big is your organisation and fundraising team?
We’re not a big team. There are 11 of us all up, equivalent of seven or so full-time employees.
However, for the delivery of this campaign the fundraising team was mostly just myself and Ella our Marketing Manager.
Our development manager Jo finished up with the organisation a few weeks before the campaign. She was an experienced development manager and fundraiser and helped us set up a lot of core elements of a good campaign such as mailing lists, relationships, and broader campaign goals beyond just raising funds.
Ella and I were both new to the organisation so we didn’t have all of the important history needed for great fundraising campaigns – what had worked in the past, what hadn’t, relationships with previous donors, and an understanding of previous campaign successes.
Jo brought that foundational knowledge and then Ella and I rolled out the campaign, with help from the 100 Story Building team.
How did you land on the idea of running a Giving Day?
Creative Partnerships Australia run an application-based matched funding program called Plus 1, where they match either up to $25,000 or up to $50,000 of any fundraising completed by program participants. We applied to take part this year and were granted matched funding up to $50,000 to support our programs with children and young people.
After we received confirmation of the matched giving we took some time to figure out how we were going to raise this and what form our campaign would take.
We drew upon some of the expertise on our board. We have a couple of experienced fundraising people on our board, and one of them – Nelly Katsnelson – introduced us to the idea of the Giving Day and specifically to GiveEasy and Jeremy. A Giving Day appealed to us because it seemed dynamic, and we decided it would become the core of our fundraising activity for the year.
So the Giving Day format was new to the team and 100 Story Building?
None of the team had ever done a Giving Day before. Nelly was the only one that was familiar with the model as she’d worked with Jeremy on a number of campaigns previously. She spoke highly of the model and GiveEasy. Previously, we had always run longer, more traditional campaigns.
Had 100 Story Building done any digital fundraising before your Giving Day with GiveEasy?
No, we’ve traditionally done more elaborate, hybrid campaigns in the past.
We had used other digital platforms, but for a lot of our previous campaigns there was a stronger real-world element to it, whether it was connected to an event or there was a physical component to the campaign. We hadn’t done a 100% digital campaign before.
Given it was your first time doing a Giving Day and an entirely digitally lead campaign, did you have any initial hesitations or were you a bit sceptical?
Oh yes, totally! I found it particularly nerve wracking because I really wanted us to meet our target and wasn’t sure if the time allocated would allow us to raise such a large amount.
Although I wasn’t familiar with the Giving Day concept initially, Jeremy was great at guiding us through the process.
I also kind of felt like, oh, can we even raise so much in such a short amount of time?
The Giving Day concept made us pretty nervous, it felt like we had all our eggs in one basket as we had one day to fundraise and we couldn’t do another campaign later in the year if it didn’t reach the target.
Because of this uncertainty we pushed for a soft launch a week ahead to give us enough time to build campaign awareness and garner pre-pledges. We came to realise after the campaign that funnelling energy and work into the Giving Day itself is a fantastic way to build the momentum and bring a sense of excitement to our audience and supporters.
We also wanted to look after our donors. We knew it was a new model, not just for us, but for everyone around us as well. We were concerned about whether or not our donors would find out about it in the time allocated. Would they be able to give in time? Would they receive the emails? Would the campaign be as creative and engaging as our previous ones?
We didn’t have a lot of existing donor phone numbers and 100 Story Building had also not run a large campaign in about two years due to covid. So it felt quite scary to go from not having been very active in the fundraising space for two years to then giving people a very small window within which to engage with us.
And as Ella explained, because of that we opted for a soft launch a week out. We also did a lot of work behind the scenes to bring our donors along to this new format.
And how did the campaign end up going? Can you share what your campaign goals were?
We hadn’t done a big fundraising campaign in over two years due to the pandemic so our goals were about getting our messaging out there again, building our brand awareness and then renewing engagement and reactivating our supporters and past donors.
We also wanted to share 100 Story Building’s work with new donors.
We were very conscious that even though we have established partners and schools that we work with, our vision has a broad appeal because it’s about enabling children and young people to build their literacy and creativity skills, which many people recognise the importance of especially post covid and when learning had been so disrupted for some many students in Victoria.
Our cause is one that many people connect with and want to support, but they often aren’t able to work with our organisation unless they’re a child, school or a teacher in one of our programs. So we wanted the fundraiser to be an opportunity that everyone who believes in literacy and creativity can come around and support.
Connecting with new donors was really important to us. We wanted to use the Giving Day as a springboard to reactivate our engagement with our loyal existing donors who have supported our work over many years, and develop relationships with new donors through a year long program that shares our work and the work of the children in our programs with them, forming a strong and ongoing community of support around 100 Story Building.
What were some of the results you achieved with the Giving Day regarding donor acquisition and renewal?
We had about 80 donors on our list prior to this campaign. Afterwards we had engaged 129 new first-time donors and renewed 40 of our existing donor pool. So over 75% of our donors were new.
You were able to raise roughly $57,000 from the public on top of your matched funding which exceeded both your initial goal of $35,000 and then your final goal of $50,000 raised by the public. Were you surprised by these results and the success that you had given that it was your first time you had been active in a while?
That’s certainly what we were aiming for and we felt pretty confident that we would get close to this as the last big fundraiser we ran a couple of years ago raised about $40,000 from the public with a much bigger, more elaborate campaign.
Knowing that the organisation had raised something pretty close before made a $50,000 target feel like it wasn’t too much of a stretch. But it had just been so long since we’d run a large fundraiser, and we were working in a very different environment.
So we had hopes, but we really didn’t know how it would go.
We were thrilled with the result and especially with all of our existing donors returning to support us. And we are excited to have engaged a whole new community of people that want to support our work.
That was the most significant thing for me – the supporters that believed in our work. This was a really important campaign for us as an organisation and for the communities we work as we recover from the impacts of COVID lockdowns. We wanted to fundraise to provide programs to schools and children when they needed them the most. It was great to have our donor community actively support us to do that.
What did you love most about the GiveEasy platform?
For me, absolutely the customer support. I felt very supported by Jeremy, the fact that I could just call to ask questions. He made himself very available, which felt really incredible because we know he’s busy and we were a first-time, small client. The platform felt very custom and tailor made for us.
Having Jeremy was great. I think he also provided emotional support for me, as much as technical support haha. Knowing that he had done hundreds of these campaigns before, and could strategise with us and adapt to our needs – it was great.
I think that was especially important for us as a small team that doesn’t have a dedicated fundraiser internally. To know that he was only a phone call away really increased our confidence and rounded out our capacity.
What made you choose GiveEasy?
For me it was the testimonial of someone who has successfully used GiveEasy before that got me across the line, combined with talking to Jeremy in our first meeting where he assessed all the elements of our campaign and felt that we could successfully reach our target.
He looked at the fact that we had matched funding in place, our donors, and previous fundraising work and gave us the confidence to proceed and build on this foundation, taking it to the next level with a digital campaign.
We also knew that our previous campaigns were very time consuming for the team. Not that I’m suggesting that there wasn’t a lot of work involved with a Giving Day as well – there was, but our previous campaigns took months of planning and ran for many weeks with a lot of staff resources that went into them. As a small team, we were looking for something that condensed and streamlined this work for us.
What is next for 100 Story Building in their digital fundraising endeavours?
Continuing to build our donor program and bringing our supporters along with us, so next time it is not such a big hurdle. We will work towards an annual Giving Day as this format worked really well for us.
Any advice for charities who might be in a similar position to what you were in?
For people who are new to GiveEasy, I would suggest taking advantage of the strategic advice from Jeremy and combine this with a campaign that emphasises the strengths of your organisation.
GiveEasy seems to work best when you bring to it those elements that are unique to your organisation. For us, it was setting up a ‘hype crew’ of some high-profile supporters and ambassadors to help us spread the word and create video testimonials. We honoured our brand and made sure all of our copy and messaging reflected our creative and youthful personality, as well as the fundraising messages. You can also bring in your own kind of design or brand aesthetic because the GiveEasy platform can support that.
We also did lots of calls on the day alongside our EDMs, a small amount of paid advertising, and social media. We tried to integrate the elements that we knew that worked for us in the past and bring them together with the GiveEasy format and platform I think was what made it so successful.
“We were really happy with the outcomes of the campaign. It hit all the things that we wanted it to and was really successful. The digital campaign looked great and there was a good energy on the day too.” – Ella Bucovaz