Event Recap: Fueling Your Fundraiser

A nonprofit workshop.

In August, Utopia produced a workshop for nonprofits from across the country at the Hilton Hotel in St. Louis. As the industry transitioned back to live and hybrid events, many nonprofits were looking to rethink their approach to fundraising, and we wanted to leverage our unique experience as leaders in the space to provide consultation and guidance to our partners. Options were offered for both virtual and in-person participants, and a number of experts on fundraising strategy were brought in to provide their insight.

Part of what made the event so impactful was how much wisdom came from the attendees. Instead of structuring the afternoon as a series of lectures, we focused on facilitating conversation and allowing nonprofits to share their experiences. Guests participated in small group exercises, round table discussions, and directed Q & A sessions. They were able to pose questions to—and hear insight from—other community leaders. An open exchange of information. Nonprofits helping nonprofits.

The Experience

The event was co-facilitated by Joey Goone, the President of Utopia, and Tucker Wannamaker, the CEO of Thrive Impact (who was brought in virtually). We set up several cameras around the room, allowing Tucker to see and interact with the in-person audience. We also carefully monitored the online chat, and brought any relevant questions or comments to the attention of the facilitators. Since we really wanted to demonstrate the unique strengths of hybrid, a great deal of emphasis was placed on involving the virtual audience in discussions and small group exercises.

Utopia handled all of the production elements, including trussing, 65-inch TVs (for the audience), 32-inch confidence monitors (for the presenters), speakers, lights, and a mobile streaming setup. We also designed all of the digital program elements, including nameplates and lower thirds, essential graphics and overlays, and the virtual slideshow. Our goal was to provide professional, fully-integrated A/V production for everyone in the room and a seamless streaming experience for everyone at home.

The Content

A large part of the afternoon was spent covering pre-event, during-event, and post-event fundraising strategies. To make the experience more engaging, attendees were provided a workbook with outlines on everything from high-concept models and diagrams to practical suggestions for their next gala, which accompanied the presentation given by Joey and Tucker. Topics of discussion included effective, connection-oriented marketing strategies, the importance of video as a storytelling tool, and how to build genuine relationships with donors.

Nonprofit Workshop

Tucker Wannamaker interacting with Janet Baker, the Executive Director at the KC Shepherd Center

Additionally, Jarel Loveless, the Vice President at Grenzebach Glier and Associates, and Millicent Dohr, the Director of Development at Forsyth Elementary, were invited as speakers. Both are incredibly accomplished fundraisers, and were able to offer unique insight into many of the problems facing nonprofits today. After sharing their own experiences, they also spent time fielding questions from the audience and engaging with the specific challenges brought up by participants.

The Feedback

The energy in the room was great, and the numbers reflected that; in our post-event survey, 94% of participants rated their experience as “Very Good” or “Excellent.” The hybrid format allowed us to organically foster synergy between the live and virtual attendees, and a number of participants expressed interest in learning more about how they could produce their own hybrid events (64% of survey respondents were interested in having us reach out to them after the event). At the end of the workshop all of the proceeds were donated to one of the attendees, who had been entered into a raffle. The Bellarmine Preparatory School won, and received $1,000 to continue the education of young adults in Tacoma, WA.

Words that attendees used to describe our nonprofit workshop:

Utopia Event Production nonprofit workshop
Utopia Event Production nonprofit workshop

“There’s nothing more fulfilling than bringing wonderful community leaders together; success, to all of us at Utopia, is about helping those that help others.”

—Utopia President, Joey Goone

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