For over 42 years, Serra Center has been providing compassionate care for individuals with developmental disabilities in the San Francisco Bay Area – offering community-based residential care homes, independent and supported living services.
Like many non-profits, government funding doesn’t cover all expenses, leaving the organization reliant on donations and fundraising efforts to keep everything running. Serra Center is a small non-profit, with annual fundraising totals reaching around $90,000 annually. With only one person managing Serra Center’s fundraising operations, finding the time and bandwidth to create strategic fundraising campaigns to increase donations outside of grants was challenging. However, in 2019 they decided to take an exciting new approach to their event fundraising efforts by using a texting service to boost engagement and donations.
Serra Center hosts its annual flagship fundraising event in September – Heart and Soul. It’s a wine and art reception showcasing their client’s artwork, supplying a significant amount of the Center’s fundraising dollars for the entire year. In preparation for the event, Serra Center holds a 12-week artist workshop for their clients, where they create works of art to be auctioned at the event. In addition to the auction, Serra Center raises money through ticket sales and individual donations collected at the event.
Attendees watched donations happen in real-time
What set 2019’s donation efforts apart from previous years was using DPText’s texting service and real-time donation thermometer (DPText is powered by GivBee).
According to Leslie McGarry, Serra Center’s Development Manager, managing the texting tool and thermometer during the event was easy. They introduced the thermometer throughout the event, creating competition among guests for donations. Next, they put up a graphic showing everyone how to text the keyword “SERRA” to the number. Then, they encouraged everyone to take out their phone and send the text. Each person received an automated text reply that led them through the donation process.
Leslie told attendees, “See your name in lights when you make a donation”.
The thermometer created such a buzz, donations jumped 17% after the announcement, pushing them past their fundraising goal by 25%. Because DPText feeds the funds directly into Serra Center’s DonorPerfect database, Leslie’s team didn’t have to worry about data entry after the event.
The team increased on-site donations 150% over the previous year
Prior to the 2019 Heart and Soul event, Serra Center processed donations manually. They collected checks at the event and entered the donation into their database after the event (many times, not knowing how the check came to the Center). As a result, they didn’t have a way to accurately measure how much money was raised at the Heart and Soul event. In 2018 they estimated approximately $1,400 was raised at the wine and art reception. In 2019, they raised $3,500, which is 150% more than the previous year.
DPText’s training program set the team up for success
As part of the texting service, comprehensive training was a part of the package. The DPText team trained Serra Center on how to get the most from the texting system before, during and after the fundraiser.
Leslie said, “Initially I was concerned about the tech part because I’m not techy. But it was very easy-to-use and contributed to the overall success of the event.”
The results say it all
Overall, Serra Center achieved impressive results using the texting tool and thermometer, setting a new benchmark for upcoming events. They exceeded their 2019 goal by 25%, surpassed their previous year’s fundraising efforts for the event by 125%, and provided their attendees with a new, exciting experience. In the end, Serra Center was extremely pleased with the texting service and plans on using the tool and the thermometer for their event for years to come. As Leslie put it, “I think it’s a great service…I’m really happy.”
If you’re interested in texting for your next non-profit event, schedule a demo and see how it can work for you.