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North Bay Aquatics Raises over 32K with 2019 Tunathon Fundraising Initiative

The North Bay Aquatics Swim team decided to leave Team Unify, pass up GoFundMe, and move their fundraising to Pledge It in order to better engage swimmers and donors. Their swimmers raised a team-record of $32,550 to keep its program thriving.

PROGRAM SUMMARY

The North Bay Aquatics Swim team consists of three groups of swimmers, from young kids all the way through high school. It relies on its annual “Tunathon”— a swim lap marathon — to provide the majority of the funds needed to perform on an annual basis. This year’s Tunathon:

  • Raised $32,550 to benefit its team, crushing its fundraising goal by over $2,500
  • 66 swimmers participated in the event
  • 294 total donors contributed to campaigns
  • Averaged nearly $500 raised per swimmer

THE MISSION

North Bay Aquatics’ annual Tunathon swimming fundraiserhas been going on virtually since the conception of the team. This swim lap marathon provides the majority of North Bay’s funding, covering the costs of travel, meets, and any team social functions.

The previous year, the Tunathon was powered by Team Unify. While 2018 was the most successful year at that time, program coordinator Bel Belen knew she could do better. After taking a look at GoFundMe and 99Pledges, Belen decided the smooth signup and competition-built platform of Pledge It was the best one for her. She set expectations at a high, yet attainable, goal of $30,000. After past experiences Belen thought there had to be a better way to engage the swimmers, have fun and still raise a lot of money. She also wanted a solution that didn’t charge exorbitant fees for its services. Fortunately, she found Pledge It. With Pledge It the 2019 Tunathon raised twice as much money compared to past fundraisers, saved users time with fast setup and helpful organization tools, and created friendly competition with real-time fundraising leaderboards. All of this while keeping 100% of the proceeds because Pledge It is FREE!

THE PROGRAM

With North Bay Aquatics’ swimmers driving their own fundraiser, they wanted their fundraiser to be fun, easy to organize and appeal to the athletes’ competitive nature. That platform was Pledge It.

With each swimmer’s fundraising total appearing on a team leaderboard , it gave the athletes a fun way to engage in some friendly competition to become the top earner for the North Bay swim team. The real-time leaderboard created a digital race to the finish line.

It was also important for North Bay to have a custom feel to the individual pages after the quick signup. The team had three different age groups—elementary, middle, and high school— so there was no one photo or message that would necessarily represent all the athletes participating. Many swimmers took advantage of this feature by adding a photo of him or herself, and a unique message. That personal touch developed a sense of community between the swimmers and supporters and gave each more reason to raise and give, respectively.

The combination of a competition-based platform and a custom, communal feel engaged the swimmers throughout. The end result was not only reaching the fundraising goal for the team, but passing it by nearly $3,000!

RECRUITMENT, COMMUNICATION, AND SWAG

North Bay had its fun and engaging platform, and that went a long way toward involvement and recruitment. A few prizes and some personal outreach put this fundraiser over the edge to make it a complete success.

Bel was in constant communication with her audience. As well as taking advantage of Pledge It’s automated fundraising updates, she also sent out her own notifications. “I scanned our Pledge It page and could see that a lot of parents still hadn’t signed up, so I fired off a quick email just simply saying ’it’s not too late to sign up.’ The Tunathon ended up getting a big jump in the final days.”

The incentives she provided also had a big impact, as the swimmers wanted to reach the next threshold to get the prizes their friends earned. At the $250 mark, North Bay provided the swimmer with professional underwater filming. At $500, they earned a team-branded Hydro Flask. “All the kids love them,” Belen explained. “They really wanted to hit the next level to get the prizes, once they saw their friends had them.”

Following the success of her campaign, Belen offered this advice to anyone else considering an online fundraising campaign: “Choose someone who’s going to be responsive to you. That, for me, was Pledge It. I really enjoyed using the platform; it was so easy to use. It was a blessing, to be honest. I didn’t think we were going to find anything that made it so easy. I can’t wait to use it again next year.”

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Published on June 25, 2019

by Alexander Diegel

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