A Virtual WOW!

Childsplay turns previously planned gala into 10 days of online fun

Childsplay’s World of Wonder Gala had been scheduled for March 28 at Tempe Center for the Arts. As anyone who has ever been involved in creating a fundraising event knows, it had been months in the planning. Then COVID-19 struck.

With the unpredictability of the situation, organizers concluded that postponing the gala was not the solution they needed. They quickly shifted gears and turned it into a highly successful Virtual WOW. With the goal to engage the community in a new and creative way, the idea for a 10-day event open to the entire community was generated. Within a very short period of time, organizers sprang into action, using social media as their main vehicle for communication.

In addition to 30 unique email correspondences, they created more than 100 posts across multiple platforms. Their efforts increased their audience. During the 10-day event, which began March 27 and concluded April 5, Childsplay’s Facebook page views increased by 81 percent overall, with its reach increasing by 67 percent. The Facebook event itself reached more than 3,300 people.

Auction items included something for everyone, including this ceramic piece by Jim Sudal

The committee added a raffle to the mix, and up for grabs during the virtual gala were 137 auction items, 90 bottles of wine in a wine pull, and spirits and beer. The team launched a series of IGTV videos on Instagram, with the initial video receiving more than 200 views in its first day. In addition to a video from gala chair Ruby Farias and one from Dwayne Hartford, artistic director, viewers could see a fun presentation of the auction items on CSN (Childsplay Shopping Network).

Katie McFadzen, associate artist at Childsplay, in a CSN video

The results were positive in every way. Childsplay’s social media engagement is now up 317 percent and its reach increased by 24 percent. The site pulled in 367 registrants to bid, with 151 bidders and buyers generating more than a thousand bids. Financially, the virtual gala was successful as well. With a decrease in expenses, net proceeds increased by $10,000 over last year’s event.

The community was generous. Sponsors, table hosts and ticket buyers donated their contributions back to Childsplay when the gala switched to a virtual campaign. One vendor, Fabulous Food, generously applied the deposit to next year’s event and waived any additional fees.

PHOTOS COURTESY CHILDSPLAY

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