In this video, I’m joined by Alicia from Teachers’ Treasures. She shares how they created a virtual back-to-school drive, the Gr8 Paper Push, to obtain and distribute school supplies to Marion County teachers and students in need. They've already raised over $37k on Givebutter through a two-week team fundraiser and an all-day Livestream event. Keep watching to find out:

  • Why they chose to host their school supply drive on Givebutter
  • What has made their campaign so successful (Hint: Team fundraising!)
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for how to get the most out of your virtual event on Givebutter
“We really just built [the campaign], got people signed up for their teams, and from there it just spread like wildfire. There's not a lot of hand-holding you have to do once the event is happening. Givebutter was so easy . . . I can just say [to team fundraisers] “Follow this link and then Givebutter will take you through your page tutorial.” Givebutter goes through one, two, and three steps—and then they know the page.”

You won't believe how they personalized their campaign page!

Campaign at a glance

View campaign

Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another inspiring Success Story. Today we are featuring Teachers’ Treasures. Through an all-day virtual Livestream event, they raised over $37,000 to get school supplies into the hands of local teachers and students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alicia joins us today to share why they turned to Givebutter to reach their fundraising goals as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way, so that any fundraiser who is watching right now can put them right to good use. Alicia, thank you so much for joining us today.

Alicia: Well, thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here.

Rachel: So to start, why don't you introduce yourself and what Teachers’ Treasures is all about.

Alicia: Yeah that’s a hard one; we always hear that all the time. Teachers’ Treasures is a hard one to say. I'm Alicia Van Rensburg, and I do the development for Teachers’ Treasures. We're a small nonprofit in Indianapolis, but we serve over 6,000 teachers and over 270 schools in Marion County there. Those schools are all high-need schools at 60% free reduced lunch or higher. It's the kids that are showing up to school without a backpack, without—you know how teachers ask for tissues? They're not able to provide that. Often, the teachers have to fill that gap and take on that financial burden. We are an actual, physical store, and we also have a mobile program where we drive around and drop off school supplies to all of those schools. Teachers can come to our store and shop for free.

Rachel: Very cool, incredibly important work Givebutter is so proud to support you all in. So recently, like I said, you had a very successful livestream event. Let's just jump right in. What was your fundraising strategy for this virtual event?

Alicia: Right! Well—like every other nonprofit I'm sure—this hit us like a ton of bricks. We were starting to run around, figuring out how we can fill those fundraising gaps that we were going to meet with COVID. Our back to school campaign is normally not very fundraising focused; it’s very heavy on product supply focus. What you'll probably see today is our Gr8 Paper Push which we work with a lot of corporate partners. In previous years, we raised maybe $4,000, and that's from checks from companies that do a supply drive with their employees. This year since we aren’t wanting to have people go out and buy supplies . . . we didn’t want to encourage that and to bring it to their office—and a lot of people are working from home. But, we still wanted corporations to feel connected to their employees who normally would do the school supply drive. So this year we decided to change that into a virtual platform. It's kind of like online shopping but instead of going to the store, you're just buying supplies online through Givebutter which I'm excited to show you how we set that up.

Rachel: Very cool. Yeah! Speaking of which, let me go ahead and pull that up, so everyone can see your beautiful campaign. Okay, I'm just going to go ahead and scroll through. I'd love to hear some of the highlights: what you were thinking through when you were setting up this campaign. Do you want me to start with “Purchase Supplies” because you were just mentioning that?

Alicia: Right. Yeah! We heard about Givebutter through our CRM system, Bloomerang, because they work well together. I wanted something that would go directly into our CRM, so we didn't have to worry about all the uploading, all the Excel spreadsheets post-event. We started talking to Givebutter. I really liked it from the start, but there was one component that I found that they were missing: we wanted to make it look like it was online shopping, so people didn't just think that they were donating $5 here. We wanted to give a picture to what they're donating: they're donating supplies to support all the schools here in Indianapolis. When we met with Tori she said, “Oh we can definitely do that.” We were able to pick out what pictures we wanted and put those in as tickets. It was really easy to work with actually once it started going, and we were able to change it to whatever we wanted it to be. A lot of people did select supplies, so it's fun looking back at those items that were selected. We can say that there were 25,000 pencils that were donated during the Virtual School Supply Drive. We wouldn't normally have that data on the backend because no one’s sitting there counting the pencils we would get in physically. This was very fun to do. A lot of people would just surpass this too with a note saying “I'd like to donate” also, if they’d like. It was very intuitive for our donors which I truly enjoyed. Once I saw this I was like, “Givebutter all the way!”

Rachel: So happy to hear that. I love the way that you set it up with that visual. Really creative. Like you said, intuitive flow. People can just pick a dollar amount if they'd like. But I also want to point out you had a massive team following. How did you also incorporate team fundraising into this process?

Alicia: Yes. What we found is competition is really what's going to take any fundraiser to the next goal. We normally for our big gala—I don't want to get too into it—but we started doing a Dessert Dash where everyone's voting on their team table and we raised $42,000 in 15 minutes. We kind of wanted to use this in the same way because we found that that's a big driver for a lot of fundraisers. What the Gr8 Paper Push is normally is it's a bunch of corporations that want to do a back-to-school drive with all their employees in the office. We reached out to those same people that have done it prior years and we asked, “Would you be willing to sit down with us virtually? I can show you a platform where you can take your in-person supply drive virtually. You can have all your employees sign up. You can see who's doing what. You can share it with them. You can do a little competition, so if the HR department raises more than Finance, they can do a little, maybe Hawaiian-Shirt-Friday, or something along those lines, as a reward for their employees.” They automatically loved it right away because they said, “Oh, that's so funny. Our company loves competition. That's where we see everyone get most excited about.” You can see that a lot of these companies . . . American College of Education—they're fantastic partners of ours—they have employees all over the US, so that's why they have 64 members. This is a way for them to get all their employees involved. Then, they actually matched their employees’ gift at $5,000. Their employees were fantastic in their philanthropy, and they got to that $5,000 and they automatically got to that, so clearly they slotted their position at number one pretty easily and pretty quickly. We did want to do that team leaderboard component, so you can see which company is doing better. Now we have some insurance companies here, and you know how insurance is—how many companies and how competitive it can get. We really just built it, got people signed up for their teams, and from there it just spread like wildfire. There's not a lot of hand-holding you have to do once the event is happening. Maybe in the beginning, but Givebutter was so easy in the sense where I can just say “Follow this link and then Givebutter will take you through your page tutorial. I won't have to tell you to go to the share button, and then this is where you share it to your Facebook page or to your company page.” Givebutter goes through one, two, and three steps, and then they know the page. I really liked everything that you did in that sense as a team member fundraising.

Rachel: Brilliant! So happy to hear that your corporate partners found it really easy to use. Step one, two, three; that's really important when working with our corporate partners, that we make it in three steps. Easy for them to do, and it looks like they had a lot of fun creating a sense of competition. Another part of your fundraiser that we thought was amazing was that you also utilized having an all-day-long livestream. That's really unique. What made you choose that format?

Alicia: Yes. We still are big partners with WISH-TV and we do the event with them. They do a whole day on TV, Gr8 Paper Push, where they're driving to the companies that pay for a sponsorship to do the school supply drive. They would go with their camera crew, socially distance, and do an interview. They can talk about their company, what they do, and why they want to support teachers. We were getting all of those live, we were recording that too, and we were uploading it. We wanted to follow along with the same premise they had where it was all day, it was a big fundraiser—kind of like a call-a-thon. That's not the term they use for it, but that's what we wanted to incorporate. Then we had videos of our teachers, had thank you videos, and had a kindergarten teacher show us how they do a craft with their kindergartners digitally because I'm sure that's something everyone wants to know. We had a great response from all the things that we did. Now it's a whole—it's a big elephant to take on all-day content, but Givebutter made it easy for us.

Rachel: And you pulled it off! It worked! And I actually—so we had seen some of the prep work you were doing and how you were marketing it, and it really caught our attention because it was cohesive. You use a lot of video content which we thought was really just energetic and exciting. I attended part of the event. You live streamed some of it right at the top here which made it really easy. Anyone who is following along: they could be watching, inspired by a story, and donate all at the same time. I thought you did a brilliant job of that. You had a lot of this beautiful storytelling at the bottom, and I always want to point out to people that these visuals make a huge difference in the success of your campaign page. I like that you kept your storytelling concise and to the point. I think that's great. Do you have any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned when you created this because it's your first virtual fundraiser—normally you don't do this year-to-year on Givebutter. Any tips, tricks, or lessons learned that you have for other fundraisers who are following?

Alicia: Right. Like you said, this is our first event with Givebutter—really doing any fundraising campaign fully digital. There's me, not being a big software . . . coder . . . developer, so when I was putting in information into our Givebutter page it was very easy. You can bold, you can add images, add video. I really liked that component where it was easy to use. Someone that's not going to code a whole HTML online, so I really appreciated that. Some of the tips that I would say is once you're getting started, it is a big struggle at the beginning to get people going. Everyone talks about a leading gift, so reaching out to the donors that are right in your pocket—your board members; getting a board team going, getting all your board members to sign up for that team, and sharing with their friends—really gets the campaign started. Especially if it’s a two-week-long campaign. You don't want anyone, once you're a week in, to see there's still no donations. People are wondering if it's live. Once you start talking to the donors that are most interested in making something happen here, then that's really when it starts taking off. Some of the other tips and tricks that I found that Givebutter made very easy because we had some matching donations come in. We're pretty good partners with Coke and Pepsi. We just got done with a golf outing, and we were talking about this Gr8 Paper Push that we were going to do. They said, “Oh, we'd love to do a matching gift for anyone that donates from 8 am to noon that day. We would match it up to $5,000.” Fantastic! When we were doing the live video component, that's when we would cut to me, in our physical store, live with our Executive Director. She would just be video-recording me on Facebook Live. I would say, “Alright we’re 10 minutes away from our 12 o'clock cut off for the match.” Just watching the donations roll in and being able to say, “Wow! Thank you, Sally Luger for the $50. You just gave crayons to a whole classroom!” Or however we set that up. It was fantastic because we were probably at like $4,920 or something so close. I had someone, one of our Project Coordinators, I just had her put in the transactions on the backend because we were getting some physical checks too. I was like, “Well, just use one of those checks and put it on the backend.” We were able to meet that match, and everyone could see that also. It's not ideal that you have to put in outside money into the campaign, but once you're able to get there—it's nice that Givebutter does have that emergency capability where you can just put in the transactions so you hit that mark.

Rachel: That’s a great point because I think we do meet folks sometimes who aren't aware that you can use both. It doesn't have to be all online. You can add in offline donations, and that's so important when you're doing livestream, like you said, if you're trying to reach a match or a goal at a certain point. You may need to kick in those offline donations to help you reach that goal. So kudos to you and your entire team! This campaign was exciting. It was so well executed. We are so proud to support your important mission, what you're doing for teachers and students. Know that so many in the Givebutter community are going to be inspired by your story. Alicia, thank you so much for joining us today.

Alicia: Well, thank you Rachel! Thanks for having me.

View campaign: Gr8 Paper Push Virtual School Supply Drive

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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