Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation
Alberta Children’s Hospital is a leader in pediatric medicine, providing specialised treatment for children up to the age of 18 from across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and southeastern British Columbia. The Foundation helps raise funds for the work of the hospital, as well as supporting groundbreaking research from the University of Calgary on pediatric care.
The Candy Cane Gala is ACHF’s signature event and prior to covid this was, of course, an in-person event. Like so many non-profits, the pandemic caused ACHF to pivot online but doing so for the Candy Cane Gala came with unique challenges. The gala is normally a family friendly, black-tie event with 1,600 guests – up to 700 of whom are children. Crucially, this meant a lot of energy, a lot of interaction and a lot of fun. Recreating this type of fundraising event in the online realm was a huge challenge as ACHF had to understand what their donors needed during the pandemic, how they were going to recreate the magic of their huge signature event, and how they were going to keep everyone engaged from toddlers to grandparents.
ACHF imagined a multitude of solutions to bring the beauty of the Candy Cane Gala into people’s homes. Firstly, they created a bespoke website that acted as a complete portal for the Candy Cane Gala and sold ‘at home packages’ at two different price points. The lower priced package included food and beverages as well as a box full of fun for all the family. The at-home box was meant to replicate some of the enjoyment of the live event by including items like balloons and pumps, crafts, games, temporary tattoos as well as edible treats and keepsakes. Moreover, many items in the box correlated to a page within ACHF’s bespoke website that enhanced or enriched the activities. All of these treats came with the more expensive package, which also included a four-course meal and champagne. On the day of the event the ACHF portal opened at noon giving donors access throughout the day, allowing them to enjoy everything at times that suited their family best. At 7pm ACHF’s host began the night on live-stream, highlighted the mission of the charity and plugged the silent auction. At 8:15 the host came back, and then again at 9:15 to countdown to the close of the auction at 9:30 pm.
Despite less people attending this year compared with last, approximately 1,200 compared to 1,600, net revenue for the event was almost exactly the same! The ACHF team was thrilled to raise over $435,000. Indeed, they also smashed their auction target of $75,000 by almost $30,000, raising $114,500. In their post-event survey, donors were keen to comment on how the online event coupled with the physical activities they received in their homes was the perfect mix to replace their in-person event. (Well done ACHF team!!).
“Last year for our silent auction, virtually all of our auction items were uploaded in one go. This year, we decided to upload a sizable initial batch but then, during the two weeks prior to the event, release other exciting items to maintain momentum. On three occasions during the 2 weeks, we added between five and ten new items. This gave us the perfect excuse to contact our donors throughout the build up to our live event, reminding them of the auction and encouraging them to engage.”
“This fundraising campaign was an absolute dream… thank you for running everything so seamlessly!”