Although the total Eclipse in August is a thing of the past, funds and volunteers that the 37th Judicial CASA group raised are even now fueling forward progress. The group exceeded their campaign goal by $5,000 raising a total of $25,000. Perhaps equally important is that a large amount of the money was raised from new major donors who have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat donors.
The "Eclipse Child Abuse campaign" had two parts:
- a visibility-raising campaign focused on selling glasses to view the Eclipse
- a major donor 'Angel Advocate' campaign to raise money make it possible to increase the number of CASA volunteer advocates
The sale of NASA-approved glasses went well. "A lot of people who bought them threw in a little extra money for a donation. We are also hoping that we will be able to use some of that momentum to sign up new volunteers," says Autumn Shirley, of FundRaiser Software, who helped with the campaign.
The group got an even bigger boost from the success of the major donor campaign. "Finding a base of loyal major donors is really important – the thing about the Angel Advocates is that we will approach them each year to renew, giving us $15,000-$20,000 that we can feel pretty confident about. Being able to show how the training and mileage reimbursements cost CASA almost a thousand dollars per year for each volunteer gave us an excellent 'selling point'," says Autumn.
Although the major donor campaign was not significantly different than other major donor campaigns, tying it to the Eclipse gave it increased visibility and 'pizazz'. "As an event it was easy to work with and organize because everyone had heard of the Eclipse," says Autumn. "The Eclipse was all anyone was talking about, so being one of the only organizations providing the NASA-approved Eclipse glasses gave us a huge advantage. A local paper covered us several times. A local radio station also really helped us get out the word. We were the only fundraising event tied to the Eclipse and we got free media."
"It really did launch us into the spotlight, which was needed. We are little organization, but we do good work. We serve 7 counties. We need more visibility to attract the volunteers who do the core of our work as children's advocates in the court system," says Autumn.
Now the organization is working to sign up more volunteers before the January training. "We are still in the open sign up period and will be holding the next 6-week training course in January. We hope to train at least ten new volunteers at that time, and another ten by mid-year next year," says Autumn. Increasing volunteer numbers greatly increases the scope of the organization's positive impact. Each trained volunteer can work with one child in the first year after training, and up to 6 children each year thereafter.
"We are now going to the Fall Festivals that are common in this area to further increase our visibility and volunteer numbers," says Autumn. "We all have personal contacts in these outlying communities which helps us connect and be heard."
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