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Have you ever wondered how you can identify new long-term donors amongst all of the attendees coming to your fundraising events? At their Power of Giving Gala Georgian Bay General Hospital Foundation was able to identify new long-term donors from their data and grow their fundraising going forward. 

Back in 2020, the Georgian Bay General Hospital Foundation (GBGH) decided to join together their two signature events into one annual gala, the Power of Giving Gala. At first, it was virtual due to the pandemic but for the last two years, they have run the Power of Giving Gala as a hybrid event. In their most recent September 2023 gala they surpassed their fundraising goal, bringing in over $654,000 for their cause!

GBGH fundraising page screenshot

GBGH had made the switch to Trellis after COVID and right off the bat, their team loved how user-friendly and straightforward Trellis was to use. Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation found that “one of the main features that was extremely beneficial for [their] team and [their] donors was the all-in-one event page”. Victoria mentioned, “In our communications, we could drive all focus to that one URL and from there donors were presented with a number of ways that they could engage”. This one central page for their event created an experience that was easier for donors to participate and give. 

Having multiple different ways for donors to engage was one of the reasons the GBGH Power of Giving gala was so successful. When donors landed on the event page they could bid on silent auction items, buy tickets to the event, donate to their organization or even buy one of their mystery GBay Bags. 

GBGH used the Trellis eCommerce feature to sell their GBay Bags, through this they were able to engage more donors as well as the local businesses that contributed items to the bags.   Donors could purchase one of the limited bags leading up to the event. The content of the mystery items was only revealed when the donors picked up the bags in person a week after the gala. Not only did this tactic give donors one more way to participate, regardless of whether they were attending the gala but it also gave Victoria and the team at GBGH another touchpoint with their donors. When they came to pick up their bags post-event, they were able to thank them face to face and ask what inspired them to purchase.

screenshot of GBay bags for sale on GBGH fundraising page

“The Trellis eCommerce feature was really useful for our team as it allowed us to sell our GBay Bags directly through that event page and have that data collected with the rest of the event data” – Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation 

Another important way that GBGH used Trellis was ensuring their hybrid event seamlessly involved donors in person and those who were joining virtually. Their gala included a one-hour livestream that was presented to in-person and virtual attendees, it included a keynote guest speaker, a patient story and a live fund-a-need. They directed all in-person donations to go through the event page by ensuring every table had a QR code guests could simply scan to donate. And for those in-person who didn’t want to use their phone, they had volunteers ready to assist with a tablet. That way all of their donations were being represented accurately on the presented thermometer tracking their fundraising goal.

The team at GBGH also used Trellis’ check-in feature. When welcoming their guests to the in-person event, volunteers logged into Trellis and saw a list of all the attendees that registered, from there they simply marked them as checked in with the click of a button. If any guests were missing information, such as their credit card number for easy bidding, it would show when checking them in and the volunteers could easily add this information. 

Making sure you have the right people in the room is key. Victoria has found that “it’s crucial to have your current loyal donors and new potential long-term donors in the room”. This pre-event preparation starts with making sure that the GBGH team is extremely clear on the mission of the event, that way all of the messaging is in line with their goal. 

To ensure they have a mix of loyal and new donors, GBGH starts by reaching out to previous supporters of the Power of Giving Gala of the past five years. Having this previous event data is crucial. GBGH focuses on personal touches in the invitation process, with their team handwriting notes to their donors. They also ask ambassadors of their organization to make connections with newer donors at the event, through this they can find out what inspired people to come and if they are interested in learning more about the organization. As Victoria said, “Make sure to be very intentional on how you are engaging them at the actual event”. 

“Listen to your donors and let their inspiration be the foundation of your relationship” – Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation

When their event was finished they were able to identify long-term donors through trends in their Trellis data. “At any time we can export a report that breaks down data generated by the all-in-one event page,” explained Victoria, she loved that “because [they’ve] been using Trellis for the last few years, [they] can compare these exports to previous years data”, making it even more valuable. With this report, GBGH was able to see data such as who purchased tickets, bought GBay Bags, who made donations or bid on the auction and most importantly who decided to opt into upsells such as donating their bids. Donors who participate in upsells are clear potential long-term donors as they demonstrate they have the interest and the capacity to give to your organization.

“Following the event don’t forget to keep track of what you learned from those conversations as they can be very meaningful and help you understand your donors better” – Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation

This past year, Trellis shared with Victoria a new perspective on the data they had access to; unsuccessful bids. “We identified two potential long-term donors who had never attended our gala or supported our hospital in any capacity” explains Victoria, “they were invited by other seasonal residents and long-term donors of ours and these individuals were bidding between five to ten thousand dollars in our auction but neither of their bids was successful”. Having data that highlights potential long term donors like these was pivotal for GBGH, as Victoria said, “this is something moving forward, we will definitely be keeping an eye out for”. 

“At the end of the event, we are typically focused on who won the items or who made gifts that evening, but having access to this new data opened our eyes to the interest level and capacity of these donors, who otherwise without knowing about these bids just simply attended the event and didn’t provide any other indicators of their interest or capacity to give.” – Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation

“Although there is a big weight taken off your shoulders when the event is over, really make sure that you have a stewardship plan in place following your event” advises Victoria. Their success with the Power of Giving Gala was a big part due to their team’s diligence in connecting with their donors. “If you continue to engage [your donors] through the year and celebrate the impact of their support they will likely continue to support your organization and become long-term donors” she adds. 

“Any opportunity to have a conversation with your donors and learn about why they support is so important and can really help guide your relationship going forward” – Victoria Evans, Key Relationships Officer at the GBGH Foundation

With easy access to their fundraising data to show who engaged in upsells, it was easier for GBGH to identify their potential long-term donors. They strategically used this data from Trellis in combination with a personal touch to identify and secure new long-term donors for their future, all while surpassing their fundraising goal.

If you’re interested in seeing how fundraising upsells and data can help you identify new long-term donors for your organization, connect with our team today.

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Interested to learn more about the experience that the GBGH had with Trellis? Check out our case study video here!