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Why Mobile Tech Should Be the Focus of Your 2021 Fundraising

givebycell webinar 1-28-2021

January 28, 2021

Although we’ve exited such a difficult year, fundraising professionals know they’re not out of the woods yet. There’s a lot to be done to make up for lost revenue, dropped donors, and a lack of inspiration surrounding their mission.

So, how do you hit the ground running to overcome any 2020 losses and set your nonprofit up for success in the new year? 

Step 1: Watch our Give by Cell webinar of 2021 with guest Jenn Shetsen, Deputy Director of KIPP New Jersey, a nonprofit network of public charter schools where we shared just how easy and effective mobile fundraising can be for any organization.

Full Transcript

Emily White  0:00  :  To start off with, I am just going to give a little background about Give by Cell. My name is Emily and I am the Project Manager here at Give by Cell. Give by Cell is a division of Engage by Cell, which was founded about 14 years ago. We specialize in mobile fundraising solutions and we work with organizations of all sizes. I am joined here today with my co host, Christa Mallard, who is a Senior Account Executive here at Give by Cell and Jenn Shetsen, who is the Deputy Director of KIPP New Jersey.

Christa Mallard  0:44    :  Yes, Molly, let's go ahead and go to the next slide.  Emily, and I had the chance to chat with Jenn and learn a little bit more about KIPP prior to the webinar today. There were a lot of things that really stood out. We put some really great stats on the slide. As you can see, KIPP is a public, nonprofit charter school system. They have around 15 schools in Newark and Camden, New Jersey. One thing that really stood out with me that kind of goes to show that they're really doing great things here, or there at KIPP is that 90% of their students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Jenn shared with us that over 80% of seniors go on to enroll in college, and that was over the past eight years. They also provide support for their alumni as they go to college and career. So it sounds like you all are doing great things. Jenn, is there anything else maybe that you want to add a little bit about your role at KIPP and the work that you all are doing? 

Jenn Shetsen  2:02    :  Sure, I'd love to Well, I just want to say thanks to the team here for inviting me to join. And thanks to all of you guys for joining us today. As they mentioned, I'm Jenn Shetsen, Deputy Director for external relations and fundraising for KIPP New Jersey. And I've been with KIPP for over 10 years now in a variety of roles. But my background is in event planning. I've always worked on events that have a fundraising element. So every year I am charged with raising a lot of money through our gala. And as many of you know, on this call that has become increasingly challenging this past year when people couldn't get together. So I met and  found Engage by Cell kind of by chance, and have been really pleasantly, like impressed and surprised and just really happy with the relationship so far. So I was very eager to join and talk about my experience. 

Christa Mallard  2:53    :  Great. Emily and I have several questions prepared for you. So we'll kind of kick things off, go over some Q&A. And then at the end, we will dive into a little bit of information about our technology. So I don't mind starting us out, Emily.  I know that you mentioned that traditionally, you have an annual gala. Obviously, COVID was a huge factor in that. But if you want to walk us through like any other challenges that you were facing. Fundraising for you and all schools just kind of came to a halt. So maybe a little bit more about, what you were looking to accomplish. And what you were hoping to get out of mobile fundraising. 

Definitely. So I should be honest that we have done fundraising mobily before. I've used a variety of platforms to do that on site at our events. But I was not always happy with them. And I can tell you all a little bit about why I'm very happy with our current relationship. So one of the biggest challenges in having an online virtual gala was that our board members and our leadership said you can't charge people to attend. So we were really worried about coming to an event where we usually have  coming in about 50 to 60% of the money raised. Not being able to charge a ticket price, because everything was online, how can you charge a person to just watch something for 30 minutes on their computer? So we knew that really meant we had to up our game for how to allow people to give during the event and make it a engaging experience, a fun experience and build community around giving all together at the same time. Our event was live. It wasn't one of those pre recorded things that we just pushed the button on and watch. It was a live event. We really wanted to engage and feel that community with all of our supporters. So that was very important to us. 

So how did you actually incorporate the fundraising ask with your event? You used our mobile donate technology which allows people to text in using a keyword. And to make a donation, there was a fundraising thermometer. So can you tell us a little bit about how that was incorporated?

Jenn Shetsen  5:16    :  Absolutely. We made sure that all communication that went out before the event had the key word in there. And the thing I loved was that the key word was super customizable. It was just KIPPNJ. All they had to do was text KIPPNJ to a number, and they'd get a great little shot back that they knew that they're in a safe place, and that they're making a donation to the right organization. So we made sure that was built into our messaging before the event even launched and then throughout the event. Some of the videos were pre recorded so we were able to put a little banner at the bottom that allowed us to do the text to give. And then the best thing about it was that we were also able to do QR code. We are a  school. So we like teaching moments. So we made sure to teach everyone how to take their camera out and take a photo. And that became very prevalent when you go to restaurants now, but a lot of our donor base did not know that. So it was great for people to just take a photo, it would bring them right to this site, and they would be able to make a donation there. And we repeated the message a few different times. And then we were able to put the thermometer slide up on screen and show everyone how we were doing progress-wise and react in real time to that fundraising progress we were making. 

Christa Mallard  6:26    :  That's great, and that's very accurate with the QR code. I think we've seen a revival, or, seeing that come back into play. I feel like QRs kind of died and, and are back on the scene now due to COVID. So why don't you tell us a little bit about, I know, you've been successful with your gala in the past, but it sounded like you raised quite a bit of money, virtually, which was quite impressive. What was it around $150? What was the total that you raised?  $150,000, excuse me.

Jenn Shetsen  7:03    :  So we came in with a goal to raise around $500,000, which was kind of a eager goal for doing something virtually. While we weren't able to charge a ticket price, we still were able to work with our sponsors on sponsorship packages. So we were able to kind of come in the door with about $350,000 in advance and sponsorships. And then we had kind of like what I would call an anonymous angel donor who really helped fill in some of that. And then we're like, can we get to $150,000 more?  We really tried to use the people in the room. We knew that the benefit of virtual events is  that you can invite anyone from anywhere. And we said if everyone just donates $10, $20. We have kids in the room. We have teachers in the room. We have alumni in the room, and we were able to kind of pull off that energy. L ook, wow, like that's a student from one of our high schools. They just gave $20. And if a student could do it, then a partner could do it. A donor could do it. We were really able to raise momentum around that. And one other thing I love and I know we're gonna get into this is that, like, we were able to kind of like up our goal. We made a goal of $150,000. But in real time, we were able to say like, okay, we're approaching it. We're gonna set it a little bit higher. And in the end, we ended up raising around $200,000 from that night, for a grand total of over $600,000 for the event. 

Christa Mallard  8:25    :  Yeah, that is amazing. Prior to working for Give by Cell, I had had a similar experience with a gala that I had attended for Cure Childhood Cancer. They use that fundraising thermometer. It was such a compelling way to ask for money whenever you're raising money all throughout the night. Then at the end, you have those names pop up on the screen, and you say can we get $5,000 more dollars? You can see that those 25 or 10, or $15 donations really do make a difference, and can add up, you know, in a really short period of time. So I love that you incorporated that. And you're right, it definitely helps build that momentum. So with that being said, it sounds like you raised a significant amount of your fundraising goal. But do you have any other events on the books or plans? What is the rest of your fundraising look like

Jenn Shetsen  9:25    :  The problem with doing something successfully, virtually, is you have to do it again. I'm in the planning stages now. We are targeting a date in June. I'm just thinking through what content looks like, but you can bet that Give by Cell is going to be a big part of whatever we decide to do because it's a great way to feel together. I think that our schools, kids, teachers, our supporters are really feeling like this distance between us. And the whole point of our gala now is to make people realize like we're still connected in this beautiful way and part of that connection is all supporting something together. So it's definitely gonna be a part of our fundraising strategy for the event. 

Christa Mallard  10:06    :  Yeah, well, perfect. Well, is there anything that maybe you learned? It sounds like you had some challenges with not being able to charge for a ticket price. And then obviously, like you said, you were successful. But is there anything that you learned the first time around and hosting a virtual event that maybe you'll do differently going into this next event?

Jenn Shetsen  10:29    :   I think that I was so focused on just getting the mechanics, right, that I don't think I actually, to be honest, dove into the other features available to me as a client. And I think I'd like to utilize more of the features you have available and to reach out in advance, kind of build that line of communication with our supporters by texting first, so that they're gearing up and they have it ready. I think that's something that I would love to incorporate, besides just the content of whatever I come up with this year. 

Christa Mallard  10:59    :  Absolutely. We've got a great team. We've got a customer success manager on board that can help you as well as any of our other clients navigate. That is maybe talk about best practices and advice on how to really leverage to get the most of our technology. But Emily, you have some questions around that.Do you have anything you want to ask Jenn? 

Emily White  11:28    :  Yeah. So in regards to client support, I know that that was one of the main reasons that attracted you to our platform. So could you just kind of go into detail about your onboarding experience, training and just the client support that you received throughout your event?

Jenn Shetsen  11:50    :  Absolutely, because I think that really sets you guys apart. We signed up. We had a training with a live person who walked us through everything, every single tab of platform, made sure we understood. We asked questions. He allowed us to test things out in real time, which I really appreciated, because I think one of the challenges of setting things up on the back end is like, what's the user experience like, right? Is what I'm seeing the same thing as my users gonna see? So he allowed us to work through that. And then as things happen, you move on to the next thing you forget something, where was that piece? How do I get that back up? And I just thought that the availability of your customer service team was just impeccable. I had a question. It was answered, very fast, very efficient. He was very willing to say, let's jump back on the phone. Do you want me to show it to you? But most times his answers were so clear, I was like, nope, don't need to bother your time, thank you for the answer. And he walked us through every part of it from like setting it up to executing it the night of, to the follow up. And that's another part that I was really pleased with. So I'm happy to talk about that at another time today. But he made everything seamless. And when you're running an event that first time virtually, there's a lot of nerves. I've been doing it for 15 years now running events. Virtual is very different. So I really wanted to make sure a lot of those things went perfectly smoothly. And with his support and your whole team support it did.

Emily White  13:10    :  That's amazing. Yeah. So I do have one more question and then we're gonna dive into kind of the Give by Cell mobile fundraising suite of services. But obviously, through COVID, everything has gone virtual. Do you think that mobile is here to stay? That this is something that is going to be in your toolkit for years to come?

Jenn Shetsen  13:34    :  Definitely, I think that even when we can do events in person, as you all know, like, sometimes the date doesn't work out. Sometimes you have two galas on one night. So I do think that while we will probably do something in the moment, and we'll probably incorporate mobile giving as a part of that, I can also see us putting it online, and then keeping the mobile giving going. I think it's a great way again to like see in real time, the impact that you're having on an organization through your philanthropy. And I love that. I don't think it's going to go away.

Christa Mallard  14:13    :  I think we have a question from the audience. And this, you may have answered this, Jenn. But I think someone asked what percentage of your total gift in revenue came from the particular virtual event? You said it was almost $150,000 to $200,000? Was that correct? 

Jenn Shetsen  14:33    :  So I might want more clarification on this question. But we raised for that event, it was like $600,000.  We kind of came in with like, $350, 000 so we raised $250,000 virtually. But if that's a question of like, our overall fundraising budget, it might be, I'll just answer that too. Well, we're not in such typical years right now because we are in a campaign. We're also schools that had to basically shut down and like we were needing to get so many additional things this year to make sure that our families had the support they needed. So the event was actually a smaller percentage of what we usually raise. But I'd say on a given year, it's anywhere between 10 to 15% of our total revenue. 

Christa Mallard  15:19    :  That's still a great, great portion. So and if you all have any other questions, as we go through,  feel free like I said previously, to pop them in the chat window. We'll also get to a few more questions at the end. But we can go ahead and talk a little bit about our fundraising technology. Like I said, Jenn really leveraged our fundraising thermometer, our mobile donate platform, but we have several platforms in our suite of services. We're going to walk you through each one. I think each has a different use case that it's good for. Emily, I'll let you tackle the first couple slides if you're good with that. 

Emily White  16:04    :  Yeah, of course. So our most popular platform, and this is the platform that Jenn utilized for her virtual event is mobile donate. And mobile donate is a customized page that donors can access through a text message, a QR code, or just a web URL. And the page is completely customizable for the organization. So the donation amount, the preset donation amount is customizable. The donor will just add their credit card information or PayPal information. And on the admin side, the organization can customize additional questions and information on the form. We do not charge fee per donation, which is great. The page is integrated with your merchant processing account. One of my favorite features about mobile donate is we have a really cool feature called incomplete donation reminder text messages. So let's say someone texts in to donate, but they don't complete the donation, you can actually go and customize and schedule a donation reminder text message to be pushed out just to remind your constituents to  go ahead and complete that donation. So Christa, do you want to take the next platform? 

Christa Mallard  17:39    :  Absolutely. So the next one is mobile give. Just to kind of piggyback a little bit on what Emily was saying about the mobile donate platform, I feel like that one is best for like galas, larger donations that will be made. That's something that you can advertise before, during and after events. I know Emily and Jenn, you both mentioned the QR code. I've even received mailings. My children attend a private school and they are clients. They have mailings that they'll send out throughout the year with just a QR code, you can scan and make a donation. So there's a lot of ways that that platform can be leveraged. Our mobile give platform is a little different. This is a carrier based donation. So what that means is it's a quick donation that you can add on to your cell phone bill. So we are one of a handful of approved providers for the mobile give platform. We work in conjunction with the Mobile Giving Foundation. And essentially, you can text in a key word that is unique to the organization to the 20222. You receive an immediate response back, as you can see on the screen, it says to confirm your $10 donation to ABC charity respond yes. You respond yes, and that's tacked on to your cell phone bill. Now the organization can choose an amount anywhere from five to $50 that's associated with that keyword. And then you have the ability to make a one time or a monthly recurring donation. And on average people who make monthly recurring donations, I think the Mobile Giving Foundation showed some really great stats. I think they'll leave it on for like 16 to 18 months. So you know $5, $10, $15, $20 over 16 to 18 months, that can really add up. But you'll see this technology used a lot of times in disaster relief like Red Cross uses and our mobile give platform, but anything where maybe that donor follow up information isn't as needed. It's just a quick seamless donation process. I see a question. What type of contact information can we get with mobile give? That is something we can walk you through.  The Mobile Giving Foundation just approved a new feature with this platform. You now have the ability to follow up with a text message that lets them add on a recurring donation. They can extend it, like I said, but you also can use that last message in that sequence to collect any sort of donor information. That way you can follow up with them. And that's something if you're interested in learning more about, we can chat about that offline with a rep. We can head on to the next slide. Let's see Emily, do you and talk a little bit about mobile pledge? 

Emily White  20:55    :  Yeah, so mobile pledge is really great for virtual or in person events. Basically, a donor would text the donation amount they wish to pledge and their name. And then the organization can figure out how to follow up and complete that donation. So you will receive every mobile number that actually pledges, so you can follow up with them via text, or give them a call. And this platform actually is integrated with another service, which is our screencast thermometer, which Christa is going to touch on in just a moment. But it is also what Jen used for her virtual event. It is a live stream of all donations and/or pledges that are coming in. So it's a great way to just get everyone excited. So Chris, do you want to take?

Christa Mallard  21:57    :  Yeah, I can speak a little more to our fundraising thermometer. So like Emily said, this can be used in conjunction with some of our other platforms, or mobile pledge or mobile donate platforms. Its a really great way to build that momentum. As Jenn said, It tracks donations in real time. So you can see on the screen right here, you have like a running tally of people who have given money, and it really does, I hate to use the word like, competition, or competitive but you see that someone's giving $25, or $100, it's just a little bit more compelling. You know, kind of makes you squirm a little bit. If you feel like you're not, you're not contributing, during that ask. So really great. It can be customized, as you can see fireworks going off in the back. You can upload and brand it to match your event or your campaign. And Jen kind of said this earlier, just that the platform was easy to use. We built everything for people who do not have technical skills. So I mean, I like to tell people, if you can manage like a social media account, you can easily, customize your platform. You can customize your fundraising thermometer. It's all built for a normal person, or someone without those IT skills. So another feature that I really like about the fundraising thermometer is like in Jenn's case, they were raising money towards like their overall total that came from outside of the event. You do have the ability to upload donations that are made offline or maybe like checks that come in the mail or website donations. Jenn, you have you have something you want to add?

Jenn Shetsen  23:58    :  This was probably one of my favorite things. So I just had to jump in. There were a lot of people who were like, I might not be able to watch, can I make a gift in advance? And you'd be like, yes, can we use it that night? And the thing I loved most about it is you could time it to a minute. So you could plug it in, and it would literally appear on a minute. So you could kind of like do some early on. And then you could do some towards the end. And I just love that functionality. I was going to make a little bit of a joke that like a lot of people who do event planning are very type A. They like being in control of these kinds of things. So like it was so helpful to be able to say, "I want this to come in at this time. I want that to come in at that time." And then you can kind of see like big jumps in your thermometer. So I really loved that. And I just wanted to kind of like shout you guys out for like making that a part of the system. 

Christa Mallard  24:48    :  Well, I appreciated that because that's also one of my favorite features and something that whenever I speak to clients, they do they're really excited about because you know you're going to it's reality. We're going to be bringing in money that's not just through our platforms. Let's see. That really sums up our platforms. We do have some others that are listed here. So that's just plans that are most popular giving platforms. Like I said earlier,if you are interested, if you want more information, please be sure to drop your name, your email address in the chat window. We can get in touch with you and set up a demo, walk you through how everything works, maybe talk a little bit more about your specific use case and strategize with you. And Jenn has also been kind enough to provide her email address and her phone number. If you all would like to pick her brain. Let's see. But we do have time, you know, today's session went really quickly. So we do have time for a few more questions. Let's see what a question says, "Does this need to be linked directly to a bank account? Or do you cut or you need to cut a check at the end of the event?" So it depends which platform we're talking about. Now, with the mobile donate platform, as Emily said, that's all integrated with your own merchant processing account, or your own merchant account. So we are really just the gateway that provides the ability to make the donation and then everything ends up in your account. Now, the mobile give platform, it's a little different, because you're going to get that payment that's released to you from the carrier so that is the exception. But Any other questions?

Jenn Shetsen  26:45    :  With that I know like on the fundraising side, like donor data is really important to us. And again, I'll just say like one of the great things about like integrating with what we already had is we use like Square or Stripe, which is something we were really familiar with. And the donor data we were getting was great. So it wasn't just like, these are all the people who gave and now here's a check, good luck matching your donations. Like it was literally like every single donation had aligned with contact information. And just as a fundraiser is really great to be able to just take that, upload it into our CRM, and then like, just move along, rather than having to spend a lot of time working through like who has made what donation and the fact that you guys don't charge a fee is also really helpful, because the money that you're getting is the money that you're getting. 

Christa Mallard  27:29    :  Right? Absolutely. And with that platform that Jenn used, you do have the ability ask for a percentage from the donor to cover any sort of like credit card processing fees. We do not charge any fees, but you can, ask for 2% or 3%, or whatever your merchant fees are so that you're getting 100% of that donation. And you also have the ability toask for any sort of like custom information. So you can completely customize that. And then a donor even has the ability to earmark a donation or allocate it to a specific campaign or fund maybe that if you have multiple campaigns going on one. Let's see. So if there's any other questions. I think I saw one about mobile platforms in Canada. We do have a Canadian number that allows text messages and donations. Did you see anything else that we needed to see?

Emily White  28:38    :  Let's see Victoria asked how do you link carrier giving to each specific donor? So you we offer something called fifth message where you can actually link after the donor completes their donation, you will then have the option to collect some more information from that donor through just  a form platform, like type form, or Survey Monkey where you could collect that data as well. So but I don't see any other questions Christa, do you?

Christa Mallard  29:18    :  I think that's about it. So we really appreciate Jenn's time today sharing her experience with Give by Cell and we appreciate everyone joining us today. You know mobile technology, as you all know, it's great for COVID but  it's also great for beyond whenever events go back to in person. So if you're considering incorporating mobile into your fundraising technology, I would definitely say now is the time to try it out. Just reach out and we'll get you some additional information. So unless you ladies have anything else to add? I think that's rough. 

Jenn Shetsen  30:05    :  I think that the one thing that we didn't I think, Emily, you covered it a little bit. But just the follow up. Again, I've done this a few different times. I've worked with three different vendors before I found you guys. The follow up for me was also one of the winning features, because you could choose who to follow up with, when to follow up with, what you'll say to them. So you had a lot of control over the customization. And then you could basically say, "Oh, that's a board member. I don't want an automatic text to go out to that person. I want to make a thank you phone call." So I just think in terms of like, you guys have really thought through how does a fundraiser think through the data, so that it's not just like a one size fits all approach, because everything from like, the setup, to the execution, to the follow up, is just very customizable. So I just, you know, wanted to flag that because I know that sometimes you make this decision and then you're like, "Oh my god, I'm stuck with all this follow up now. I was hoping to put my feet up. I'm done with the event." But you guys have made that really simple too. I really love that.

Christa Mallard  31:06   :  Well, thank you, Jenn. There's a lot I feel like we could probably speak to and cover. Definitely want to be mindful of everybody's time today. So I think that concludes our session. Like I said, make sure you drop your name, email address in the chat window if you want more information. But we appreciate you all coming today. And thank you again, Jenn. We hope everyone has a wonderful day. I think that concludes our presentation.

Jenn Shetsen  31:37    :  Thanks everyone.

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