Meet Club Knitflix: Carley, Rachel, Emily, and Margaret. They joined me to share how they raised over $20k (which is FOUR TIMES their original fundraising goal!) through a virtual Knitathon on Givebutter. They invited knitters and crafters alike to join them for a 12-hour long event to raise funds for The Loveland Foundation, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, G.L.I.T.S., and Disabled But Not Really. Follow along to learn:

  • Why they chose Givebutter for their first-ever fundraising campaign (Hint: Low, transparent fees!)
  • How to foster community and build donor engagement during a virtual fundraising event
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for running a marathon of content on Givebutter Livestream
"We looked at a ton of different websites and the thing we kept on running into was really high fees. We were really intent that all the money donated should be going to these organizations, as much as possible. There was talking about us covering the fees, but pretty soon we'd be paying a lot. We didn't know how much money we were going to raise, but we're really glad we didn't offer to cover the fees now . . . Once we started looking at [Givebutter], we were like this is clearly leaps and bounds above the other platforms in terms of the fees being low. Also it was very clear. There were lots of options to customize, to kind of make the campaign our own—which we were figuring out what exactly we wanted fundraising to look like and how to engage people. Givebutter seemed to have a lot of options for how to do that."

I promise this campaign will leave you feeling inspired—especially if this is your first time fundraising on Givebutter!

Campaign at a glance

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Full video script

Rachel M: What's up everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are highlighting Club Knitflix. You might recognize the name, yes? They were featured in a “Campaign We Love” as well as our Good Newsletter. Recently, they held a 12-hour Knitathon that raised over $20,000, and that's two times over their fundraising goals. I know you're going to love hearing more about this one because it was really successful and tons of fun. I have not one, two, or three—I have four amazing leaders from their organization who are going to share how they responded to the Black Lives Matter movement. They're also going to tell us why they turned to Givebutter for fundraising, as well as—you know ‘em, you love ‘em—tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way. Thank you all so much for joining and sharing your story with the Givebutter community.

Rachel B: Thank you for having us!

Rachel M: I'm super excited. Okay, so if we could just do a round where everybody introduces your name and your role or involvement with your organization.

Carley: My name is Carley Santori, and we all worked pretty collaboratively on this.

Rachel B: So we will all say we're co-producers, creators, etc. Hi! I’m Rachel Bass.

Margaret: Hi, I'm Margaret Leisenheimer! Another co-producer.

Emily: Hi, I'm Emily Williams.

Rachel M: Awesome. Thank you. And I had heard pre-call that they were all connected via New York, just for those who are curious where they are located—East Coasters. Let's rewind to earlier this year when COVID hit; tell us how that led to the creation of your organization.

Margaret: Yeah! I'll take that one super quick. We're all friends. We’re all sort of a part of the—not sort of—we're all a part of the theater community. Rachel had co-founded this theater collective that we were all a part of and we all met. We were pretty much novices when COVID hit, but it was something that all of us were like, “Yeah, I really want to get more into knitting.” Then we were like, “Okay, let's meet once a week and watch movies on Netflix party and knit together and talk.” That's kind of how Club Knitflix started.

Rachel M: Very cool. So how many people were in Club Knitflix when you first got started then?

Carley: The four of us!

Rachel M: Oh okay! Well, that's awesome. And how many people roughly are in your club now?

Rachel B: So we’re kind of in an influx. The adjustment we can say is that in June, we decided that we were going to do the Knitathon, which is our major event. We had over 120 people sign up or register for the event, and we had over 50 people come. Now we're trying to cultivate some of our strong members to come and join us for some of our events, but it's been a little slow after the Knitathon and bringing people back into the club.

Rachel M: Yes, but way more than just four now, right? We have tons of people talk about your club, and I know it really caught my attention. I saw it on Twitter and shared it with the rest of the team. We were like, “This is awesome.” It's so colorful and beautiful—I will definitely link everything on the Butter Blog too, so they can see your beautiful page and story and site where you embedded your fundraiser. So you said June was when you kicked off the idea of the fundraiser; tell us the backstory of that. What led to you starting the fundraiser, turning to Givebutter, and the involvement with wanting to raise funds for the Black Lives Matter movement?

Carley: Yeah! So we were meeting every week. We were knitting, watching Netflix, but we were also talking a lot about what's going on in the world. We were saying we want to help. We want to try to do something that will help Black Lives Matter because it’s something we feel strongly about. But we all, for different reasons, weren't able to go out and protest. Just with family or with different situations. I think Margaret was the one that proposed the Knitathon. She was like, “How about we get on like a 12-hour call and we knit and we have our family pledge money to us per hour. That's how it will do this.” And, it spiraled. It got bigger and bigger. We decided—my mom's a big knitter, and she's in a bunch of Facebook groups, so we were like, “Oh, we'll reach out to people and see if anybody else might be interested.” Slowly, it became this thing where we're like, “Oh, it's not just us asking for money from our family. We need a place that we can have everybody donate.” That started our search for a good fundraising website which led us to Givebutter.

Rachel B: Also, I'll add we're all artists. We didn't have a huge wealth of our own money to be able to contribute. We really wanted to be donating at the time which is a huge part for us. Also by June, there was so much of an influx to certain nonprofits that a bunch of places were asking other nonprofits to be sponsored or for you to donate to—just other ways of intersectionally helping Black and Brown lives throughout the country and world. So we chose four organizations that would help in or would facilitate different aspects of life for the community. That was our big push: being a holistic donation platform of one donation that would go to four different amazing organizations. G.L.I.T.S., The Loveland Foundation, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Disabled But Not Really.

Rachel M: Amazing. I know at least G.L.I.T.S. as a Givebutter user; their campaign is really beautiful. We featured them in our Good Newsletter as well. It sounds like really a genuine movement. You're having these conversations, wrestling through all the turmoil happening in our country at the time, and you said “Let's do something. Okay, how do we do it?” And this fun idea—this imaginative idea of what if we did 12 hours of knitting and family sponsored us—turned into this legitimate, exciting fundraiser that you pulled off on Givebutter. So Carley, I know you were the one that was maybe a little more technical in finding Givebutter and getting that set up. Why don't you share with folks why you turned to Givebutter and what was setting up and onboarding like for your club?

Carley: We looked at a ton of different websites, and the thing we kept on running into was really high fees. We were really intent that all the money donated should be going to these organizations, as much as possible. There was talking about us covering the fees, but pretty soon we'll be paying a lot. We didn't know how much money we were going to raise, but we're really glad we didn't offer to cover the fees now.

Rachel M: For $20,000, yeah!

Carley: Yeah! So we actually got pointed to Givebutter. We work with this producer, her name is  Nadia Tahoun, and she has used Givebutter before for campaigns. She basically said “It's a great platform; check it out.” Once we started looking at it, we were like this clearly is leaps and bounds above the other platforms in terms of the fees being low. Also it was very clear. There were lots of options to customize, to kind of make the campaign our own—which we were figuring out what exactly we wanted fundraising to look like and how to engage people. Givebutter seemed to have a lot of options for how to do that.

Rachel M: So it checked a lot of the boxes, but the main box that you needed checked was that 100 percent of the fees would go to these four different charities, which makes sense. Did you have a lot of fundraisers that were covering the processing fee?

Rachel B: It was like 90 percent, I would say. Our final fee was pretty small.

Carley: We paid $30 out of our own pocket. That was amazing.

Rachel M: That’s totally on record with everything else that we see across Givebutter campaigns. We say that over 90 percent of donors cover fees and hey! Here’s a great testimony of that: over 90 percent covered fees. Well done, club and everyone who participated. I'm going to go ahead and share my screen so that people can see your beautiful and bright campaign. One thing that we haven't even touched on yet is—whoa, how many team members you had. I mean, I was scrolling and it was like show more, show more, show more, show more . . . how many did you have; 70+ team members?

Rachel B: Yeah . . .

Carley: Yeah, we lost track at some point.

Rachel M: That's incredible. How did you get the ball rolling with that team model?

Margaret: Honestly, we wrote a lot of—there were a few things. In order to get people to sign up for Givebutter, we would send emails once a week—just checking in. Then, sort of as an incentive, we said that if you sign up for Givebutter, you get entered into a raffle. Then for every hundred dollars that you raised on Givebutter by the time of the event, you would get another entry into the raffle. That got a lot of engagement. Then as far as the team model, originally when we had set out with the four organizations, we were like, “Oh, maybe we could do a team thing like marathons.” Each organization would have a team of people raising funds for it, and then the team that raises the most gets something. But we didn't know what it would be. Then we were like, “Actually, we can raise a lot of money and give equally to all four organizations.” As opposed to doing a competitive team base. We were like, “Let's do it collaboratively. Let's have everybody raise an equal amount and donate that to the four organizations separately.”

Rachel M: Very cool. That makes sense. Show of hands, how many of you have done a fundraiser like this before? No one? You're all totally new. Okay, so there's hope, people! If you're watching and you have never done a fundraiser before, these four—let them be your inspiration. Because they raised over $20,000 on their first campaign, and 70+ people rallied along, by simple and clear communication. When you all are checking out the story—I know you will, and you should—the story is such a good template. If you're like, “How do I get started with telling my cause and what we're doing?” There's was so clear, so concise, and very transparent in terms of here's who you're donating you to—learn more. Their website is also a great resource; they embedded their campaign page and then you could learn even more details about who your donation was going towards. Which, job well done—that looked beautiful and you had lots of supporters leaving tons of fun messages on your supporter feed as well. People were clearly really engaged. I want to know, what's your secret? What are your tips, tricks, and lessons learned that made this so successful that we haven't talked about yet?

Rachel B: Our engagement—oh my goodness. I wish I could take more credit, but I have to say we got really lucky with some people. Judy Jones, who hopped onto our campaign really early, was such a forerunner in getting supporters who were who were advocating for us and writing fun messages. That sort of seemed to couple—especially the last week between Instagram and Facebook involvement—that just seemed to fly through the roof. I wish we could take more credit.

Carley: I think part of the great thing about the Givebutter platform is you do see each individual person. Their importance is really highlighted. It doesn't feel like it's this campaign with no faces. It becomes really easy to be like “I'm supporting the specific person and also all these other people.”

Rachel B: Also the name of each of our team members: it's sorted by a combination of how much people have earned, but also by how many supporters have contributed to each team. If someone had 37 supporters who gave them collectively $100, that boosted them higher than somebody who got one supporter who donated $100. I think that created this idea of community, that collective organization, was the vibe that we were trying to build. We were doing this as a community which is a kudos to Givebutter.

Margaret: I can tag on to that. I think also a lot of what helped people stay engaged was being transparent on our website about how things would work. When we told people we would send emails, we would send them right away. On our website, you were able to register for the event and then you got an automated message saying that you were going to receive an email within 24 hours. Then we would send you that. Keeping up to date with our participants was really helpful. Also, I think in doing that and making sure that all of these things were lining up—I was about to say something and I forgot it, but I have it in my head. I think . . . I'll get there. I'll get there.

Rachel M: We’ll circle back.

Margaret: We’ll circle back. I totally forgot it, but it was a really great thing!

Rachel B: Emily ran an incredible Instagram campaign that got us really up and going, so . . .

Carley: So kudos to her!

Emily: It was all a big team effort. Thanks for hopping on that one, y'all.

Rachel M: So last but not least, if we could just do a round: everybody answer, one-by-one, whatever order. What would be your one word of advice for other fundraisers who are watching right now? Whether their mid-campaign or just getting started, if you said one thing to them, what would it be? Let's start with Rachel.

Rachel B: Spreadsheets. We kept an insane spreadsheet that had, I want to say, at least 40 tabs at some point. We kept a lot of records beyond what Givebutter did. Keeping track as much as possible. Spreadsheets.

Carley: Someone go and come back to me.

Margaret: I remembered what I was going to say, and this is a perfect question! I think creating a really—if it's going to be an “a-thon,” making sure that your event is really well planned out. That there's no moments of lagging. You want to make sure that each hour has a specific, timed opportunity for speakers, musicians—people love bingo, raffles. As long as you can find ways to make those hours fly by. By the time that we had five hours left, we had a full schedule still to go. All of a sudden it was 10 pm, and people still wanted to stay on the call. It felt like 12 hours hadn't gone by. We actually had a person Zoom in from France who said she was only going to be on until midnight, and then was on until 4 am her time for the full event.

Rachel M: What did you use for streaming, by the way? Did you stream? Or where did you go live?

Carley: We went live on YouTube.

Rachel M: Okay, awesome.

Carley: I would just say—I guess it's different for different campaigns. But for us, just focusing on community and how we could do the best for the community was a really good way to drive all of our decisions. Always being really aware of what experience we wanted to give them. That went for what experience do they have on Givebutter to what experience do they have during this 12-hour call. Really just keeping that in mind. That’s really what allowed us to be successful and have such good feedback from our participants about every step of the way.

Emily: I'm kind of in the same realm. I would say leaning into the team really helped. We all had a lot of things on our to-do list throughout, and to be able to say “I'm not going to get to this thing,” and have someone hop in. To really accomplish everything as a team. That transferred into the participants as well. Everyone was so engaged and so willing to connect and share tips. It made the event feel like a community pretty instantly, and it made it much more manageable on our end too.

Rachel B: Oh! Can I add one thing in response to that?

Rachel M: Of course! Yeah!

Rachel B: Also, one of the things I'm thinking is in all of ours—that maybe hasn't been said—is we were super specific. I think pretty early on, we were like “We want to talk about anti-racism within this community, but it has to be within this community.” How are we talking about it for the people that were talking about it? Really be specific about who our donors were and who our participants were and how we were communicating with that community. Keeping track of all of that was definitely specific.

Rachel M: Yeah. Awesome words of wisdom. "Organized community" comes to mind as you share all these words of wisdom. You were really organized and it was all about community--which is so fascinating to me because so much of fundraising out there is about being donor-centric, or being hyper-individualized in the donor journey. And what you're saying kind of goes against the grain. I love that because we're really seeing that in Givebutter to be true as well. Building and fostering a sense of community makes a really powerful impact for engagement on a fundraiser. So kudos to you and your team! Incredible job. Such an inspiration. Thank you all for taking the time to share your story with the Givebutter Fam. For everybody who's watching and following along, thank you for joining again. Please remember to like, share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. If there are questions that I didn't ask that you want answered, please comment below. We will try to get back with you on those. We will see you again next week for another Givebutter Success Story. Bye everybody!

View campaign: The Kntiflix Knitathon

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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