Are Virtual Raise the Paddles Effective


    O'Dea High School was about to host its annual auction when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed. But rather than cancel or postpone the event, it chose to pivot to a virtual auction in five days. Did O'Dea succeed?  Yes.


    In one of our recent webinars, Mara Bray, Advancement Manager at O'Dea, reveals that the school's virtual auction was very successful, its revenues surpassing the fundraising target. O'Dea's virtual Raise the paddle/Fund-A-Need, which was still ongoing at the time of the webinar's recording, had already met 96% of its target.


    There is no doubt that virtual Raise the paddles work. So if you love having one in your in-person gala, go ahead and use it when you switch to virtual too. And don't worry about the lack of physical contact because donors won't care about it too. In fact, they'll be happy to give.

    Why Donors Give at Virtual Raise the Paddles

    According to Dale Carnegie's bestselling book, How To Win Friends and Influence People (1937), there is only one way to get anybody to do anything. And that's by making them feel important or appreciated.


    A more recent book, Relationship Fundraising by Ken Burnett, says that people give for "tax deductions, ego, self-esteem, the quest for immortality, emotional response, self-preservation, vested interest in the mission, in memoriam, to give something back, identifying with the cause, religious heritage, social ambition, guilt, because they were asked and because it feels good."


    When Donors bid at a virtual Raise the paddle, it's because they want to do good, feel important or attain status. These are the same reasons why they bid at in-person events.


    Therefore, bidders are inspired by emotions. This can be replicated online if donors are properly motivated.  To motivate donors, communicate constantly with them through creative, concise and helpful content. In a virtual world, content is king. Emphasize the need for support using videos, blogs, email, and social media. Use testimonials and stories to evoke empathy.

    Maximizing the Benefits of Virtual Raise the Paddles

    Managing traffic at check-in, ensuring that donors don't mix their paddle numbers, and asking staff to count raised paddles during the event is essential to success. But they're also grunt work.


    In a virtual event, the software eliminates these tasks, enabling you to focus on what really matters. You can create a better strategy and optimize the resources that you have. Other advantages that you can benefit from are:

    • Having donors participate from anywhere. There is no need to travel to join your gala.
    • Saving on logistics and operating costs.
    • Being able to raise funds in times of crisis. Donors don't need to be physically present to bid.

    Using Valuable Software

    We recommend using software for virtual auctions that enables mobile bidding for capturing bids in real-time, enabling donors to see the donations rise instantly. 


    Before bidding starts, create a positive virtual environment by reminding donors of the need for support. You can do it via a speech in a live video. After the speech, direct donors to watch the ASK in a prerecorded video and then, ask them to bid with the Raise the Paddle item either online or via their cell phone.  When the bidding starts, donors should see a thermometer display indicating the progress made.


    If you are not using a live video, you can use text and email messages to communicate with donors. Text donors to invite them to view the ASK (the video) and then another text asking them to bid through a donate button. Real-time updates should be visible on their phones.  Another option is to send out emails telling donors when to watch the video and when to click the Raise the Paddle link.



    Want to learn more about virtual fundraising? Then subscribe to our blog today and join your fellow nonprofit leaders in getting updates on the latest trends in fundraising and donor relationship management.

Are Virtual Raise Paddles Effective
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