Secrets to Amplify Austin success

Are you ready for Amplify Austin?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard plenty about Amplify Austin, the online giving campaign produced by I Live Here, I Give Here with a goal of raising $4 million for hundreds of local charities in 24 hours. It would sound impossible if the campaign hadn’t set a goal of $1 million last year — and doubled that?

Can they meet this new goal of $4 million? Last year, nonprofits were wary. They had lots of questions and fears, mostly involving where this “ask” fit in with some of their other asks. If your nonprofit is about to host a fundraising event, in the middle of an annual campaign or something else, the Amplify ask might seem to undermine your other work. What if a donor who was going to give $5,000 decides to give $1000 through Amplify (which also takes a small percentage of the donation for processing fees)?

Of course, you can’t avoid this completely. Or rather, you can through strong donor cultivation and stewardship. You might also consider doing what Hospice Austin does.

Hospice Austin gives a "thank you" wave to its Amplify Austin donors last year.
Hospice Austin gives a “thank you” wave to its Amplify Austin donors last year.

Last year, Hospice Austin dominated Amplify, raising more than $113,000. Melinda Marble of Hospice Austin says, “We had no idea we would start out on top last year and stay there for the entire 24 hours

How did they do it? “We took Amplify Austin very seriously last year and spent a fair amount of time letting our supporters know about it. It was phenomenal – like a giant collective hug from the community. We focus so much on one patient at a time that it’s easy to lose sight of the impact we have on the community as a whole.”

Hospice Austin was the first hospice provider in Central Texas, serving thousands of terminally ill people and their families. For them, a “victory” with Amplify Austin last year was gratifying.

“I think our donors were as giddy as we were! We had a watch party at our office and it was so gratifying to see our friends poised over their smartphones and tablets, counting down the seconds for the opening bell,” says Marble “And then when our name flashed at the top of the leaderboard, a giant cheer went up. It was an incredible feeling.”

With their success, the team at Hospice Austin says the biggest lesson they took from last year was to take Amplify very seriously. Their advice to other nonprofits is to involve their supporters and ask them to help mobilize their network to raise money that day.

“Individual fundraising pages and even just word of mouth are a great way for supporters to let their friends know why they support a particular organization. Amplify Austin is such a fabulous opportunity for the community to learn more about all of these wonderful nonprofits.”

This year, Hospice is one of the many nonprofits hosting “watch parties,” where a group of supporters gathers around to track their goals on the leaderboard. Will Hospice have an edge over other nonprofits this year?

SEE A LIST OF OTHER 2014 AMPLIFY AUSTIN WATCH PARTIES

We do hope to beat last year’s amount,” says Marble. “Amplify Austin suggested to nonprofits this year that we find our own donors who will pledge matching funds to our individual agency, and we’ve been fortunate enough to have several donors come forward and offer to help in this way. Our generous donors (including Texas Oncology, St. David’s Foundation, and Heritage Title) have pledged about $150,000 in matching funds. We raised a total of $180,000 last year, and about $65,000 of that came from matching funds.”

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