Last March, I Live Here, I Give Here introduced Austin to a new day-of-giving model, Amplify Austin. The fundraising goal was set at an ambitious $1 million, but Austinites blew this out of the water and raised over $2 million for top nonprofits that day. Last week, members of some of the organizations and representatives from I Live Here, I Give Here met with nonprofit partners from around Austin to discuss the “secret sauce” behind the success. Many ideas were suggested, both innovative and old school, as to how to get donors, PR and exposure. The two panels, hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse, gave insight into their success and suggestions for next year.
I Live Here, I Give Here got the idea for Amplify Austin from 12 other cities who have done similar things. The event quickly gained attention and excitement and more than 15,000 people donated online. Countless organizations held events, watch parties or even flash mobs to encourage people to donate. The Missy Project, Aware Awake Alive, Active Life, Hospice Austin, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, AIDS Services of Austin and Emancipet participated at one of the two panels to relate their experiences. Each had a unique and successful approach to garnering the support of their donor base, but also encouraging new donors.
Karen Frost, moderator of both panels and consulting director of Nonprofit Relations at ILHIGF, said that nearly every charity got new donors, some in other states or even different countries. Amplify encourages the younger crowd as well. Many students or post-grads are unable to attend the larger fundraising events throughout the year. However, they would be able to donate at the $25 level and make a difference on this day. Volunteers, too, often choose to give time instead of money, but happily donated through Amplify.
Some of the panelists, like Mary Magel from The Missy Project, took the classic approach of making phone calls beforehand and following up with a thank you call afterward. Other groups used social media, emails and QR codes to Amplify their charity. It was not just the charities, though, as members of the community came out to participate in hordes. The larger panel members mentioned that they were able to add their staff and boards to the mix to increase awareness. However, one thing that everyone hoped to improve was getting the staff, volunteers and donors more involved next year. To do so, the teams agreed to start earlier in 2014 and give more focus and time to Amplify Austin so it could be an even greater success.
Amplify 2014 is already in the works. While there will be a few minor changes, the event will stay much the same. The date, however, will have to change and is not yet set in stone but will be announced soon. Nonprofits can sign up beginning in September and volunteers can start preparing to get involved.