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• OMAHA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

stOry by KARA SCHWEISS

• mmaGazine

some omaha gives! participants are so enthused about a cause that they advocate for others to contribute, too. personal cheer pages give them a turnkey means to personalize their platform. “When your friends and your family ask you to make a donation or to give, that’s a pretty powerful ask,” said Kali Baker, Omaha Community Foundation’s vice president of community investment. With that in mind, the effort to inspire personal engagement has been one of the principal factors behind the ongoing success of Omaha Gives!, an online giving event Omaha Community Foundation (OCF) has presented annually since 2013. This past May 23, more than 18,000 people collectively raised $7.4 million in 24 hours to support 960 organizations. Anyone can donate directly to a registered nonprofit, but some Omaha Gives! participants are so enthused about a cause that they advocate for others to contribute, too, Baker said. OCF provides an array of tools to help participants promote their favorite nonprofit to family, friends and colleagues through their existing social media or other communication channels. Personal Cheer Pages, a feature introduced just two years ago, has been particularly well-received. “It gives them a more powerful role in actually being able to fundraise on behalf of nonprofits,” Baker said.

Turnkey template Participants start with their existing donor profile or create a new one if they are new to Omaha Gives!. All donor profile pages include a Cheer Page tab, which provides a template for a custom web page with pictures, video and a personal appeal. The participant determines a unique URL for his or her Cheer Page, sets a fundraising goal and submits the page to the nonprofit for approval. Once the page is ready, the participant can share the link with his or her circle of friends and acquaintances through social media, email or other messaging. During the 24-hour Omaha Gives! event, Cheer Page participants are notified via email whenever donations are made and can log in at will to track their campaign’s progress in real time. This year, OCF also awarded monetary prizes for the top three Cheer Pages which raised the most total dollars and the top four which attracted the greatest number of unique donors; those bonus funds go to the registered nonprofits. Mary Ann Tietjen has participated in Omaha Gives! in prior years, but she created her first Personal Cheer Page this year in support of Mercy High School. “My daughter is a third-generation Mercy girl,” she said. “Mercy High School has given so much to our family, so many intangibles, that this is just a small thing I could do.” Tietjen set a modest goal of $500 but ended up raising $2,885 (more than 10 percent of the total raised for Mercy High School through Omaha Gives!) and winning a prize for most dollars raised through a Cheer Page campaign. “It was really fun to watch the total jump up and to completely exceed my goal,” she said. “My Cheer Page brought a whole new level of excitement. It made it easier for me to get the word out with my friends who are alumni and family…a lot of nostalgia that day.”

Personalized promotion Jason Olson, whose Cheer Page campaign in support of Sing Omaha raised $950 and brought in the greatest number of unique donors, said Omaha Gives! is “really our organization’s only true fundraiser throughout the year.” More than $19,000, including a $1,000 award for Olson’s Cheer Page and a $1,000 Participation Prize for the campaign, was raised this year. Olson has been involved with Sing Omaha since its 2007 inception, which reflects his deep appreciation and advocacy for the arts. “Music, especially choir, has been part of my family as I was growing up for as long as I can remember,” he said. His Cheer Page reflected not only his endorsement for Sing Omaha, but also his image of choice, a performance video and heartfelt messaging. “The personalization was a huge factor.” 30

AN APPEAL FROM SOMEONE YOU know ALWAYS WORKS better THAN AN APPEAL FROM YOUR ORGANIZATION FROM SOMEBODY YOU don’t know.

~ DAVID LAFERLA Omaha Gives! Cheer PaGe CreatOr fOr rOnCalli hiGh sChOOl

Olson is a banker by profession, so he’s not experienced in designing web pages. Nevertheless, “it was easy to use the tool,” he said. He and other Sing Omaha supporters also incorporated social media activity, including singing (of course) via Facebook Live.

Class competition Roncalli High School supporters fostered a little competition between several graduating classes, including David Laferla’s. “I didn’t personally coordinate the effort, but I was asked to be the ambassador for the Class of ‘71,” he said. Laferla graduated from the all-boys Archbishop Rummel High School, which merged with the all-girls Notre Dame Academy in 1974 to create Roncalli, so the final few Rummel graduating classes have a particularly strong sense of unity, Laferla said. He felt appealing to his former school chums using a Personal Cheer Page would be effective. “It was actually quite easy; I had pretty good instructions on how to get it set up,” he said. His efforts generated nearly $2,000 in contributions, which garnered an additional $1,000 Cheer Pages prize for being one of the top three in total dollars raised. Laferla, a member of Suburban Rotary with a longtime history of supporting various charitable causes, said he’d recommend Personal Cheer Pages to other organizations raising money through Omaha Gives!. “It may not be a bad way to get them to their microsegments,” he said. “An appeal from someone you know always works better than an appeal from your organization from somebody you don’t know.” Baker said that last year, approximately 300 participants raised $65,000 through Cheer Pages. Increased awareness of the tool in 2018 resulted in 328 pages raising a total of $91,000. “We’re constantly evaluating how to make them as intuitive as possible and how we create tools to share the pages,” she said. Users have also discovered that sharing their personal reasons for supporting the organization for which they’ve made a Cheer Page or telling others how the organization has helped them or someone close to them helps reach potential donors. “Those are the most compelling stories that encourage others to give,” she said. Cheer Pages, which Omaha Gives! participants can set up at any time throughout the year, were originally inspired by other online community giving campaigns using similar mechanisms, Baker said. The team behind Omaha Gives! strives to stay abreast of giving trends and what engages individuals in online platforms. “Things change quickly,” she said. “We are trying to stay relevant in how people experience online giving.” mmaGazine • aUGUst 2018

metroMAGAZINE’s AUGUST 2018 Issue  

ALH Publications, Inc. presents metroMAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the...

metroMAGAZINE’s AUGUST 2018 Issue  

ALH Publications, Inc. presents metroMAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the...