The Youth Music Project
The Youth Music Project
- Mobile Pledge
Engaging donors without distracting from their experience
Youth Music Project provides rock, pop and country music education for youth near Portland, Oregon, by offering low-cost lessons, free instrument use and performance opportunities. The nonprofit offers private and group lessons and provides students with sophisticated, state-of-the-art performance and recording opportunities. The organization also provides preschool music and art classes.
Four times each year, at the conclusion of academic terms, Youth Music Project hosts a series of student performance concerts, which are attended largely by students’ parents, relatives and friends. The nonprofit organization has attempted to use the opportunities, about five days of concerts each term, as fundraisers. Donations were typically collected in the form of cash, checks and completed credit card forms that were left in envelopes.
“We didn’t get a lot of donations,” said Kristian Hochreiter, Youth Music Project Development Associate. “We think people prefer to use their card but they’re not going to go to our donation website page during a concert. So we wanted a quick way to collect pledges and then follow up with donors.”
The client wanted a way to quickly and non-intrusively collect pledges using their mobile phones, which nearly all concert attendees brought with them. One of the organization’s obstacles was convincing attendees to take five minutes and fill out an online donation form. “We’re trying to make it easier for them,” Hochreiter said.
Youth Music Project partnered with Give by Cell for Mobile Pledge services as well as the Screencast Fundraising Thermometer. Now, rather than pulling their attention from concerts to fill out an online donation form, attendees only need a few seconds to text in a keyword to a short-code and make a pledge. The client follows up on the next business day to collect the donation.
The fundraising thermometer was displayed before shows, during intermissions and afterward. It was reset for each concert, giving attendees a chance to meet a new goal each time. The client used each opportunity to show progress and make additional asks.
“The Screencast Fundraising Thermometer really helped and people had fun with that,” Hochreiter said. “Seeing results in real-time was a key to the success we had.”
At the client’s first two uses of Give by Cell services, the organization was able to more than double its live-event donation collection. The number of new donors, also an extremely important metric to the client, also increased significantly.
“It’s what we were hoping for and predicting: There are people that will donate if we make it easier for them,” Hochreiter said.
Youth Music Project was lagging in its use of tech. Even its donation and payment processing tools were outdated. The client aims to incorporate more mobile technology going forward. The school has a high level of foot traffic during business hours, and Youth Music Project staff sees the value to being able to solicit donations at all times. That’s why the organization is extending its contract with Give by Cell from event-based to annual, showing donation instructions on screens throughout its facility.
“It’s an easy way to pledge or donate to us,” Hochreiter said. “Our board and staff understand the potential of utilizing mobile more.”
Youth Music Project staff members will also begin to deploy post-event communications to donors via SMS, with the goal of soliciting secondary donations and engaging its community to attend other events or registering for other distribution lists.
“We love Give by Cell and are excited to keep using it,” Hochreiter said. “Give by Cell allows us, in a fun way, to integrate fundraising in our concerts without it being too intrusive.”