About Richland Gives
Richland Gives is an online giving event that encourages donations to Richland County nonprofits through their online giving platform, taking place each year on #GivingTuesday and is hosted by The Richland County Foundation.
Starting in 2015, Richland Gives partnered with Mightycause to host their first ever giving event. It’s grown from raising $64,000 from 316 donors in the first year, to raising $504,504 from 1,220 donors in 2021 with 86 local benefiting nonprofits.
Today a major highlight of the giving day is the live Leaderboard Watch Party which happens at the end of the event. The goal, to encourage nonprofit engagement while rallying for final donations.
The final hour of the event is livestreamed on the Richland Gives homepage through Mightycause and on Youtube and Facebook.
Live Event Component
First hosted in 2015, the Richland County Foundation invited staff from participating nonprofits to their office at the end of the day – the first Leaderboard Watch Party. “Only 4 people showed up and it was a dismal event,” says Maura, “we took the next year off.” Two years later they decided to try again, hosting the party at a local Richland County brewery. “The weather was unusually warm for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and we had a tremendous turnout, so much so that we ran out of food within 20 minutes. So, the next year, we moved it to a larger venue, expanded the party, added a DJ and more food. We offered a chance to win a grant prize incentive based on attendance at the party. The event has grown larger each year.”
The Leaderboard Watch Party evolved again during 2020 due to the pandemic. “COVID forced us to switch the party to a livestream event,” explained Maura. During the pandemic, the livestream component was even more essential to building a connection with nonprofits and donors when an on-site event was not in the cards.
The Mightycause platform directly connected the livestream to the front page of the giving day site, making the landing page a virtual gateway to the fun for site visitors.
Since adapting the event, the live stream component has stuck. Participating nonprofits are welcome once again to attend the in-person 2 hour event but the livestream component helps to extend the reach to those unable to attend, building a unique connection with the community and helping to drive donations during the final hours of the event.
Added Value & Gamification
During the Richland Gives Leaderboard Watch Party, the Richland County Foundation incorporates gamification with a manual random drawing of grant prizes.
To be eligible for the prize in 2021, a nonprofit organization had to raise at least $1,000 by the end of the early giving period, from November 15th through November 29th. Tying the prize qualifications to early giving has helped build momentum during early giving.
Another unique aspect of the Leaderboard Watch Party is how the Richland County Foundation ties in the previous year’s winners.
“Three years ago, our Board of Trustees approved additional funding for Richland Gives. We started to provide video grants to the previous year’s winners six months in advance of the next Richland Gives,” says Maura. “We work with a local video production company to produce two-minute marketing videos and play them back during the party. The overall marketing boost of Richland Gives is tremendous. For some newer nonprofits, it is the first time they worked on a marketing plan.”
At the Leaderboard Watch Party, the Richland Gives leaderboards are displayed on a monitor and special prizes are drawn for those who qualify.
Overall Goal & Effect
When asked what their overall goal is for the Leaderboard Watch Party, Maura explains, “I noticed that successful giving days have great events. We want to have fun, encourage additional giving and friendly competition during the last hours of Richland Gives. The original goal of Richland Gives was to provide a way for nonprofits to raise operating revenue through an online giving platform. We have discovered it provides so much more. It improves marketing, brand awareness, and increases collaboration among the local nonprofit organizations.”
A fun party to close out the giving day is a wonderful way to build in a networking opportunity for the participants – connecting with donors, nonprofits, and sponsors.
Building in prizes and gamification tied to early giving has helped add excitement and get donations rolling in before the live event starts. Prizes like these help build year over year growth.
At the end of the day the event helps participating nonprofits grow, build their donor base, and learn important strategies they can take with them once the event has ended.
As Maura says, the Leaderboard Watch Party “reinforces the fact that we are a community that works and gives together. I believe it has increased donations.” Richland Gives continues to show strong year over year growth. They have seen a 68% increase in donations since 2019, breaking a record of their own this past year surpassing the $500,000 mark in total donations with 1,220 donors.
Advice for Other Giving Events
If considering adding a live event component to your giving day it’s important to be sure to only take on what you can successfully deliver. Start small and allow your live event to grow and evolve with your giving day. It’s important to set goals for your live event component.
“We are a small staff, so only take on what you can handle. I write a script for the livestream so we can keep track of the time and prizes. We work closely with a local video production company that makes the technical aspects of a livestream run smoothly,” says Maura. “I am in the planning stages for our next event and want to get more donors to the party,” says Maura. “I am always thinking of new ways to engage the nonprofit staff in Richland Gives. The party works because it is fun and provides a chance to win additional grant prize incentives.”
The Richland Gives Leaderboard Watch Party in 2019.
Check out the Richland Gives livestream of the Leaderboard Watch Party from 2021 here.
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