- Money raised: Nearly $1,000,000
- Years running: 4
- Registrants : 300+ annually
As the world was in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dysphonia International – a non-profit focused on rare voice disorders – team was motivated to find a way to still bring people together. They’d just been offered a $20,000 matching grant from a donor, but didn’t know how they were going to raise the initial funds to get the match.
In-person events weren’t an option for most and they were operating with a very lean team – just one full-time employee and one part-time. A virtual event seemed to be the best option, but it wasn’t something Kimberly Kuman – executive director of Dysphonia International – had experience with.
As she was in the middle of researching how to put together an event, a colleague of Kimberly’s shared an event page that caught her eye. “A colleague of mine posted about a virtual walk they were doing, and they were using GiveSignup.”
Kimberly was intrigued by the prospect of using a site like GiveSignup, but wanted to do her due diligence before making a choice. “I looked at other options to see what would be the best fit and a lot of the other options were just cost prohibitive to us.”
With GiveSignup she was able to set up the virtual event without any upfront costs. That coupled with the platform’s suite features encouraged Kimberly to go with it for Walk for Talk.
In their first year the Dysphonia International team kept things fairly simple. “For the first one we had a 5k and a fun run.” Kimberly found using the website builder quite simple. “The site is intuitive and we thought it would be easy for participants to utilize, regardless of technical ability.”
Using GiveSignup’s she was able to create a professional looking website that made it easy for registrants to sign up for the event and for supporters to make donations. Having a professional looking website also had another benefit. “Having the website added a layer of legitimacy for our event. It made us feel a little more professional,” said Kimberly.
In that first year they also focused primarily on peer-to-peer fundraising, since everyone was participating digitally. “We had never done peer-to-peer fundraising.” With GiveSignup it was easy to create individual pages for each fundraiser, making it so any supporters had a place to donate directly to individual fundraisers.
Utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising helped them far exceed their first year goal. “Our first year we had a goal of $50k and we reached that before event day and ended up more than doubling it, raising around $114k.”
Upselling with a Store
They also set up a basic store with “swag kits” for fundraisers to help drive even more awareness about the event and organization, something Kimberly was initially hesitant to do, “I was reluctant on swag because it’s a lot of work to manage for a small organization, but I’m glad we made it available to participants.”
With GiveSigup you can easily add a store for an event where you can sell additional merchandise. You can choose to either have a standalone store, or make merchandise available during the registration process. Because Walk for Talk was virtual and needed to ship their store items, it was important to enable shipping validation. This prevents shipping issues due to profile address that aren’t updated by specifically requiring anyone purchasing a store item to re-enter their address, and then checking the address against the USPS database.
Evolving over the years
In the years since that first event, Walk for Talk has grown in many ways. Now they have a whole slew of localized events that happen along with the virtual one. There are still runs, but people are participating in new ways each year, “We have one person who surfs, others do golf outings. It’s kind of become this ‘participate however you can event’.”
Custom questions during the registration process help them keep everything organized. They’ve also added to their list of interesting participants, too. “We’ve had dogs, cats, goats, even a giraffe, if you’d believe it, participate in events.”
Along with new events and participants they added fundraising teams and social teams. With both types of teams people can participate as units and generate even more support. It’s also been a good option for those hosting their own local in-person events. “We invested in our teams. If someone was doing an in-person walk we sent them a kit that had a banner, pens, nametags, and registration forms. A bunch of things to help those groups really feel part of what we’re doing.”
Another area they’ve expanded is their store options. They now offer a variety of options like t-shirts, hats, umbrellas, and more. “It’s a visual thing, people see it, and it helps with awareness.” All of which helps raise even more money for the important voice disorder research Dysphonia International donates to.
Looking forward to the future
The future of Walk for Talk, and Dysphonia International, looks bright. “The thing that’s been remarkable is that the event attracted people in our community that weren’t active before. It broadened our reach so much…this event has expanded our donor base more than any other thing we’ve done.” And that broader reach garnered some pretty amazing results. “With the match, we’ve raised nearly a million dollars over the four years of the event.”
That money has helped fund research and provide support for those living with voice disorders. The team at Dysphonia International is a shining example and we’re humbled to have played a small part. “GiveSignup is what made me move forward with the walk. We couldn’t have done it otherwise.”
We look forward to working together on this wonderful event for years to come. If you want to learn more about Dysphonia International and the work they’re doing, visit their website here. And if you want to start your own event, you can sign up for a free GiveSignup account here.