Episode 7, Season 1

Virtual Reality: How One Nonprofit Went Virtual with Its Annual Gala and Raised a Very Real $1.16 Million

Executive director of JDRF Middle & East Tennessee details her organization’s pandemic-friendly virtual reality version of the Chapter’s largest annual event, the 2020 Promise Gala. 

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Episode Description

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, nonprofit organizations are having to reimagine fundraising. In this episode, Mary Lyn Schuh, executive director of JDRF Middle & East Tennessee, details her organization’s pandemic pivot of the Chapter’s largest annual event, the 2020 Promise Gala, which was set to take place at Nashville’s Omni Hotel April 25th. Mary Lyn shares how they managed to exceed even their own expectations about what was possible under such circumstances and raise a stunning $1.16 million virtually. She discusses how they literally figured it out on the fly, leveraging some good ole Nashville starpower, some serious civic goodwill, the multiplier effect of digital and social media, and the power of visual storytelling to create a one-of-a-kind virtual experience.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to pivot an in-person event to a virtual experience
  • The steps to planning a virtual event and producing a seamless live stream
  • Discovering the power of visual storytelling in fundraising
  • How to leverage social media to fuel awareness and donations
  • Advice for other nonprofit organizations looking to create a virtual event

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