Social Justice Nonprofit Stays Alive with Virtual Auction

In the wake of COVID-19, we have been helping local nonprofits and businesses raise funds and keep our communities connected with online virtual events. One of our main focuses is guiding nonprofits in how to transition vital in-person fundraising events into virtual experiences with positive results — more funds raised, increased event attendance and lower costs.

Organizations rely heavily on fundraising events as a main income stream and going a year without a fundraiser is catastrophic. In some cases, these events have meant the difference between organizations staying open or closing their doors. 

In the case of Global Visionaries, a social justice nonprofit focused on empowering youth to become global leaders, canceling their fundraiser wasn’t an option. As a nonprofit who relies heavily on tuition expenses from out of country educational experiences, without a fundraiser they would no longer be in business. With our help, they transitioned their event to a virtual auction hosted at our studio, Live Oak Live Stream (contact us for a tour of the studio). The result was that they raised over $40,000 allowing them to keep their doors open during the pandemic. 

“When the pandemic hit we didn’t know what we were going to do since we couldn’t ask local businesses or rely on student tuition to support us,” said Sarah Popelka, Co-Executive Director of Global Visionaries. “With the virtual auction, we had the opportunity for folks to participate from our program in Guatemala. It was a great way to include our global community.”

For Westside School, a nonprofit K-8 school located in West Seattle, they were able to pivot their scheduled in person fundraising event to a virtual live auction and raised over $310,000. The auction surpassed the previous year’s in-person gala and increased net revenue by $50,000 with lower expenses. The school saw increased participation rates with the virtual event which allowed grandparents and extended family to watch and bid on items. The live auction included pre-recorded videos from staff and students, a live-streamed auction and swag bag delivery to participants (to learn more about Westside School’s event, read our case study).

“Since the event was such a success, it has started a conversation about how do we do this again? With the cost savings and the decreased time commitment, it made us think: could we do a combination of in-person and virtual event next year?” said Shoshannah Hoffman, Community Development Officer for Westside School. 

Virtual and hybrid style events are here to stay for the near future. Although these events may look different, there is an opportunity for many organizations to reimagine the experience they want to share with their audience. Going virtual allows for new creativity such as having guest or celebrity speakers from all over the globe, pre-recorded performances, and partnering with local businesses for a meal or drink delivery component.

This is a new frontier and everyone is learning. My advice is to find someone who can help guide you through the process. The possibilities are endless and it’s exciting to see organizations innovate and find success in an otherwise frustrating year.


Give us a call or schedule a free consultation to learn more about our services. We provide worksheets and resources to help you think through all the details and will handle all the backend technology so you don’t have to! 

Please contact us to schedule a consultation!