How does Amplify Austin keep raising more and more money?

While Amplify Austin did not quite meet it’s $9 million fundraising goal in 2016, it did set a new record of $8,533,840, almost a million more than it raised in 2015.

And it’s a long way from Amplify’s inaugural goal of $1 million in 2013. While it’s the first time Amplify has not exceeded its goal, it is remarkable that the campaign has managed to steadily increased the amount it has raised.

Understanding why Amplify keeps raising more and more money is the key to helping it stay on track in the future.

“I certainly wasn’t worried that we weren’t going to raise as much as last year,” says Celeste Flores, executive director of I Live Here, I Give Here, which administers the 24-hour online giving campaign. While this is her first year leading the charge for the organization, Flores has actually been a part of the nonprofit and the campaign since the beginning.

At the 2016 Amplify Austin command central at the new St. David's Foundation building, l-r Earl Maxwell, Celeste Flores, Matt Swinney, Erica Saenz, Ashton Cumberbatch and Todd Nienkerk.
At the 2016 Amplify Austin command central at the new St. David’s Foundation building, l-r: Earl Maxwell, Celeste Flores, Matt Swinney, Erica Saenz, Ashton Cumberbatch and Todd Nienkerk.

“We were not disappointed at all. I think we set a big goal, a bold goal,” she says. “At the end of the day, raising $8.5 million is a huge testament to local philanthropy. And every year we think about what we can do to make the campaign bigger and better.”

Flores attributes Amplify’s growth to three factors:

1. Amplify seeks participants’ feedback.

For Flores and the rest of the Amplity team, the work for 2017’s campaign started the minute the 2016 campaign ended. “We think about what we might want to add or change, but those decisions come down to feedback. We take time to gather feedback from partners, sponsors, nonprofits, donors. We really want to make sure we’re listening.”

In fact, this week, Amplify sent out surveys by email to participants, enticing them with the possibility of a winning a $50 gift card to Torchy’s Tacos.

2. Nonprofits are getting better at online fundraising.

“After four years, nonprofits have definitely gotten better at figuring out ways to use the campaign,” says Flores. In fact, because so many of the nonprofits have participated before, Amplify added a more advanced track to it training to make sure they’re addressing the needs of more experienced online fundraisers.

“I think it’s helped them, whether they use it in their Amplify campaign, their year-end campaign, or other times,” says Flores. “Amplify is influencing their overall fundraising strategy.”

3. There’s more buy-in from nonprofits, businesses, donors and more.

When Amplify first launched, many nonprofits disputed the value of participation, arguing that the spring campaign would negatively impact other campaigns they’d already planned. After four years, that attitude has changed.

“Nonprofits have told us that they have changed their overall fundraising strategy to incorporate an Amplify campaign in a more intentional way,” says Flores. And that’s not a byproduct of Amplify’s work. Building the online fundraising skills of nonprofits has always been a goal. “We love to hear stories of how organizations are using the campaign.”

Support for our coverage of philanthropy comes from St. David’s Foundation.
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