The Youth Music Program Steps Up to the Podium for a Virtual Fundraising Event

Whether it’s rock, pop, or country, a band is trained to work harmoniously together to create a beautiful piece of music.

But what happens when an unexpected change in the composition throws off the harmony of what’s being played?

Hosting a fundraiser is similar to leading a band. Just as a conductor raises his baton to lead the musicians through a piece of music, the organizer acts as the conductor of the event, bringing in multiple groups of vendors, volunteers, team members, and even the guests to create a memorable evening of giving. But what happens when an unexpected event, like the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, shuts down your event only a few weeks before your biggest fundraiser of the year? In the case of the Youth Music Project of West Linn, Oregon, you improvise a new plan composed to fit the situation.

The Youth Music Project offers nearly 40% of their 750-900 student body tuition-free musical training to positively transform their lives through the power of music. This means their annual fundraising gala, their biggest event of the year, is vitally important to keeping the program going so students who may not otherwise be able to participate can enroll in this beneficial program at no cost to their families.

When the 2020 spring gala was postponed until fall, the program’s event organizers went back to the beginning and began composing a new program, only to soon find out that it would be a totally new type of fundraiser when they needed to go virtual. They knew it must be as exciting as their originally planned event, with plenty of poignant moments that could engage and entertain the audience who would be watching in their homes. It also needed to convey the important message that they had always planned on providing about the program and motivate the audience to contribute.

Organizers began by investing heavily in promoting the free livestreamed event as a way to bring in a high number of virtual guests. When the program began, they kicked it off by posting a large donation at the start of the program to get their audience into the giving spirit.

The program was scaled back but kept the general tone of the original with lively entertainment, a virtual auction full of surprises, and stories of young musicians who have benefited from the Youth Music Program’s activities. The event sponsors were promoted throughout, and a “Gratitude Reel” rolled continuously across the screen to bring attention to the people who contributed throughout the evening.

The new virtual fundraiser played out successfully, with 170 bidders registered for the silent auction and 40 brand new donors. The entire fundraiser brought in nearly as much money their 2019 event, with fewer expenses and a broader audience.

When the original event’s program was no longer viable, the organizers stepped up to the podium, raised their metaphorical baton, and composed a new program that took the audience on a memorable journey that paid off for the kids of the Youth Music Program. It is an example of what can happen when event organizers say “the show must go on!”

Find out more about the Youth Music Program’s success in their Greater Giving client study where we provide the details of their challenges, solutions, and the results of their 2020 virtual fundraising event.

Youth Music Project

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