The Impact of Giving Tuesday on Local Community Non-Profits

By Heather Frank, MA, CFRE

Each year, as the holiday season approaches and consumerism reaches its peak with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, there comes a moment that redirects our attention from acquiring to giving: Giving Tuesday. Established in 2012, this global movement encourages individuals, corporations, and organizations to come together in the spirit of generosity and make a difference in their communities. The importance of this day, especially for local community non-profits, cannot be overstated.

Local community non-profits often operate on shoestring budgets, relying heavily on grants, small donations, and local sponsorships. Giving Tuesday provides an annual influx of funds that can be a game changer for many organizations. A surge in donations, even if modest in amount, can mean the difference between keeping a program running or shutting it down.

As local residents and businesses rally around the spirit of giving, there’s an increased sense of community. This encourages neighbor-to-neighbor interactions, fostering a local ecosystem where individuals are more likely to support each other and their shared causes. Many individuals, inspired by the act of giving during Giving Tuesday, choose to become recurring donors, volunteers, or advocates for their chosen non-profit. This ensures that the organizations have sustained support, not just a once-a-year influx of goodwill.

Stories have the power to connect, inspire, and motivate. Giving Tuesday offers non-profits a platform to share their success stories, the challenges they face, and their visions for the future. As these narratives unfold, they further the non-profit’s reach and impact, making their mission more relatable and tangible to potential supporters. The unified voice of Giving Tuesday resonates across social media platforms, news outlets, and communities at large. This heightened awareness is a boon for local non-profits, as it draws attention to their cause, leading to more volunteers, partnerships, and long-term supporters

Many corporations participate in Giving Tuesday by offering to match their employees’ donations. For local non-profits, this can result in significant financial gains, doubling the impact of individual contributions. We have the ability to encourage Year-End Giving, with Giving Tuesday occurring at the onset of December, it acts as a precursor to year-end charitable giving, nudging individuals to think about their annual philanthropic goals and setting the stage for additional support.

I leave you with this….Giving Tuesday is more than just a day of generosity. For local community non-profits, it’s a lifeline, a beacon of hope, and a testament to the power of collective action. As we embrace the ethos of this movement, we strengthen our communities, ensuring they thrive, adapt, and continue to serve those in need. Your contribution, no matter the size, can make a profound difference. So this Giving Tuesday, consider looking locally, and witness firsthand the ripple effect of your generosity.

Servant Leadership in the Nonprofit World

By: Jennifer Downes, CFRE

In the realm of nonprofit organizations, where the pursuit of a greater good takes center stage, the concept of leading with a servant heart resonates with exceptional relevance. The unique challenges and noble aspirations of the nonprofit sector call for a leadership style that prioritizes service, empathy, and collaboration. Let’s explore how leading with a servant heart can be a catalyst for transformative change within nonprofit organizations.

  1. Mission-Driven Leadership: Nonprofit leaders, driven by a passion for their organization’s mission, find resonance in servant leadership. A servant leader in the nonprofit sector places the mission above personal ambitions, channeling their energy into serving the cause and empowering others to do the same.
  2. Empathy in Action: Servant leaders in nonprofits demonstrate a deep sense of empathy for the communities they serve and the individuals involved. Understanding the needs and challenges of beneficiaries allows leaders to make informed, compassionate decisions that have a lasting impact on the lives they touch.
  3. Collaboration for Collective Impact: Nonprofit success often hinges on collaboration and partnerships. Servant leaders recognize the power of collective impact and actively seek to collaborate with other organizations, community members, and stakeholders. By fostering a culture of teamwork, leaders can amplify their organization’s reach and effectiveness.
  4. Volunteer Engagement and Recognition: In the nonprofit sector, volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations. Servant leaders understand the importance of valuing and recognizing the contributions of volunteers. Acknowledging their efforts not only fosters a sense of appreciation, but also inspires continued dedication to the cause.
  5. Stewardship of Resources: Nonprofit servant leaders approach the stewardship of resources with a mindful and ethical perspective. They prioritize transparency and accountability in managing funds, ensuring that every dollar is directed toward advancing the organization’s mission and making a tangible difference.
  6. Adaptive Leadership in the Face of Challenges: The nonprofit sector is often confronted with dynamic challenges, from external crises to evolving community needs. Servant leaders excel in adaptive leadership, navigating uncertainties with resilience and agility. Their focus remains on serving the greater good, even in the face of adversity.

In the nonprofit sector, where the stakes are high and the impact is profound, leading with a servant heart is not just a leadership style, it’s a commitment to a cause greater than oneself. By embracing mission-driven leadership, practicing empathy in action, fostering collaboration, valuing volunteers, ensuring responsible stewardship, and adapting to challenges with resilience, servant leaders in the nonprofit world can inspire meaningful change and leave a lasting legacy of positive impact. In the pursuit of a better world, the heart of a servant leader beats in harmony with the aspirations of those they serve.

Fostering Collaboration and Sustainable Impact

By: Heather Frank, MA, CFRE

I truly believe that nonprofit organizations are catalysts for positive change, addressing pressing social issues with passion and purpose. To achieve their missions effectively, nonprofits often collaborate with partners and engage consultants who bring diverse expertise to the table. Building strong relationships with these stakeholders is crucial, and it comes with a set of responsibilities that contribute to successful collaborations and sustainable impact. Let’s break this down.

1. Clear Communication and Expectations

One of the primary responsibilities of a nonprofit in any partnership is maintaining clear and open communication. From the outset, it’s crucial to establish mutual expectations, goals, and define the project scope. Transparent dialogue ensures that all parties understand their roles and responsibilities, fostering a sense of trust and cooperation.

2. Respect for Expertise and Contributions

Nonprofits should value and respect the expertise that partners and consultants bring to the table. Collaborations thrive when all stakeholders feel valued for their contributions. Recognizing and acknowledging expertise not only enhances the working relationship, but also encourages each party to go the extra mile in supporting the nonprofit’s endeavors.

3. Timely and Fair Compensation

When engaging consultants or collaborating with partners, nonprofits must adhere to timely and fair compensation practices. Paying consultants promptly for their services and providing partners with the necessary resources to execute joint objectives demonstrates the organization’s commitment to their success.

4. Supportive and Inclusive Environment

Creating a supportive and inclusive environment is essential for fostering successful partnerships and collaborations. Nonprofits should actively involve partners and consultants in decision-making processes, as their insights could lead to more effective strategies and solutions. Moreover, promoting a culture of inclusivity and diversity enriches the organization’s overall perspective.

5. Transparency in Financial Matters

Maintaining financial transparency is paramount when dealing with partners and consultants. Sharing budget allocations, resource utilization, and financial reports instills confidence in the organization’s integrity. Transparency enables partners and consultants to understand how their efforts contribute to the overall impact and ensures accountability in the use of funds.

6. Feedback and Learning

Nonprofits should actively seek feedback from partners and consultants to improve their collaborations and enhance the organization’s impact. Encouraging constructive criticism and being receptive to suggestions fosters a culture of learning, leading to continuous improvement in the organization’s practices.

7. Long-Term Relationship Building

Building long-term relationships with partners and consultants is advantageous for both parties. By investing in these relationships, nonprofits can create a network of like-minded organizations and experts dedicated to a shared vision. Long-term partnerships often lead to more sustainable and impactful change.

In the end, collaborations with partners and engagement of consultants play a pivotal role in the success of nonprofit organizations. By assuming responsibilities such as clear communication, respect for expertise, fair compensation, inclusivity, financial transparency, feedback, and long-term relationship building, nonprofits can foster a culture of trust and mutual support. These responsible practices not only strengthen collaborations, but also enhance the organization’s ability to create lasting, positive change in the communities they serve. Embracing these responsibilities paves the way for impactful endeavors that leave a profound and meaningful social impact.

Recipe for Success

By Kim Perry

When it comes to cooking up the perfect STUDIO 4Forty fundraising event, there’s definitely a proven recipe for success that boils down to the basics: the right ingredients, timing, and following our step by step best practices. 

But as the best cooks in the event kitchen will tell you (aka our expert Project Management dream team), thankfully we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to applying our formula. Just like recipes can be adjusted based on desired serving size, our event formula is not one-size-fits-all with signature ingredients being measured and appropriately scaled. 

From budgeting, venue capacity, market size, sponsorship and ticket pricing, to name a few key variables, every detail (aka essential ingredient) is assessed to ensure we advise our nonprofit partners on proper measurement so the end event results achieve every goal. 

Case in point: For our Farm to Table(aux) nonprofit partners in Pontiac, Illinois, and Sun Valley, Idaho, we modify our recipe accordingly for markets of their size, which are vastly smaller than our significantly larger markets like Atlanta and Los Angeles.  

While we always mindfully tailor our measurements, the winning formula never changes, which is why many of our smallest markets have become our most successful events. Take our Wine Women & Shoes Midland, Texas, team as a shining example: they launched our event with barely any emails in a database, applied our recipe with ingredients re-measured and added over the years. Tomorrow, the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center celebrates its glorious ten-year WWS anniversary with over $2 million raised {net} and a sellout crowd of over 500 in attendance. 

But with every recipe, the best chefs agree there’s always a secret ingredient that sets their masterpiece apart. What’s ours you ask? You’ll just have to join our STUDIO 4Forty nonprofit family to find out! 

Contact our Director of Business Development Kim Perry to bring one of our signature events to your community.

Timing is Everything

Blog Post by: Ashlee Meier

Is it a good time to chat/learn/commit to something? Isn’t that always the question in our fundraising worlds!

When it comes to hosting a successful event, there’s a saying that certainly holds true: timing is everything! From selecting the right date, to approaching sponsors, to releasing ticket sales and orchestrating the event day schedule, strategic timing plays a crucial role in maximizing both the guest experience and potential revenue. 

Our fabulous Project Manager, Christie Howard, discussed the nuances of balancing communication timing with the start of a new school year in our most recent blog post, Balancing Communications. Today, we’ll dive into the numerous ways that timing can make or break your fundraising event, because it is, indeed, EVERYTHING!

1. Picking the Perfect Date:

Choosing the right date for your fundraising event is paramount. A date that clashes with other major community events, school closings, popular travel weekends or holidays can significantly impact attendance. Research local calendars to ensure your event doesn’t coincide with competing events. Also, consider the time of year – outdoor events may be better suited for mild seasons, while indoor events can thrive in any weather. 

We recently kicked off our fall event season the last weekend in August with 3 events that, although wildly successful, struggled with both ticket sales due to events happening so quickly after the start of the school year, and event day heat for outdoor elements. Avoid that when selecting your event date if at all possible! 

2. Sponsorship Outreach Timing:

Securing sponsors is a pivotal part of fundraising events, and timing plays a vital role in this process. Reach out to potential sponsors well in advance of your event date, giving them ample time to consider your proposal and allocate funds. Aim to approach sponsors when they’re finalizing their budgets for the year or quarter and build in plenty of runway for follow up. 

3. Ticket Sales Timing:

Releasing ticket sales at the right time can make a significant difference in maximizing ticket purchases and event attendance. Launch ticket sales when there’s enough excitement around the event without getting lost in the shuffle of other activities, travel or holidays. Create a sense of urgency with strategic pre-sales and limited offerings of VIP or table packages. 

4. Curating the Ideal Event Day Schedule: 

The flow of your event day (or evening) can have a huge impact on guest engagement and revenue generation. There is a delicate balance between having enough time to enjoy all the elements and having too much time, giving guests space to warm to the idea of participating, while focusing them on key activations. You’ll want to ensure the big picture event schedule is structured strategically, and that the Run of Show and/or speaking elements fall within the window of critical mass. High-energy segments, such as live performances or auctions, are best placed when attendees are at their peak enthusiasm.

5. The Fundraising Focus:

While it’s important to create an enjoyable experience for your guests, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal – funding your incredible work! Strategically time moments throughout the event when you’ll make fundraising appeals. Placing revenue activations thoughtfully in your space layout so guests experience them in the proper timing is key, along with the placement of live auction and paddle raise within your show flow. 

6. Post-Event Follow-Up:

Timing doesn’t end when the event wraps up. Within a day or two after the event, send out thank you emails to attendees, sponsors, and volunteers. Include a recap of the event’s success, the total amount raised, a link to event photos on your social media site, and how the funds will be used. This swift follow-up reinforces the impact of their participation and keeps your cause top of mind. Better yet, start solidifying commitments for next year’s event while they are still enjoying the after event glow!

Mastering the art of timing is a crucial factor for the success of events. From selecting a date that avoids competition, to approaching sponsors at the right moment, timing can determine the level of engagement, attendance, and ultimately, the funds raised. By paying attention to these key timing considerations, you can create an event that not only captivates your guests, but also drives significant support for your cause. Remember, it’s not just about when you hold your event, it’s about making every moment count!

Our team at STUDIO 4Forty are pros on all aspects of event timing and would love to help you increase your impact through one of our signature fundraising events. Contact Kim Perry to learn what’s available in your market! 

Balancing Communication

Blog Post By: Christie Howard

Where did summer go? It feels like just last week we were preparing for vacations, summer camps, and what proved to be a chaotic summer schedule. And although summer as a whole has flown by, why is it that the last couple of weeks before school officially starts back up always feels like fundraising purgatory? As fundraising professionals, we are feeling the lag in sponsorship commitments and event ticket sales. In some cases, they have come to a halt altogether. We have expressed before how the timing of your fundraising event should strategically align with when your target audience will be able to attend, and this is still the trend going into the Fall. The same can be said for the timing of your communications as our donors and sponsors are compartmentalizing the ways they give and support with the seasons of their personal lives.

Although we are all feeling the frustration of lower email open rates and unreturned phone calls, consistency (and faith in our past donors) is key. Put yourself in their shoes and remember that at the end of the day, we are all human and all experiencing this end-of-summer chaos. If you feel like you are struggling to balance the many challenges that life is throwing your way, chances are your potential donors and sponsors are feeling the same and have plans to catch back up!

My personal inbox is inundated with emails regarding my three kids going to three different schools, two of whom are starting at new schools. I am also planning for a busy fall travel season with STUDIO 4Forty and thinking about how that will affect my kids’ activity schedules. As you can imagine, this comes with lots of stress and a fear of the unknown. But, like many donors who may be experiencing similar situations, I fully intend on catching up on those fundraising and event-related emails at the bottom of my inbox once my kids are back in school and we are back on a somewhat more consistent schedule. 

So as we think about the timing of our communications, and how we are engaging with our communities, we don’t want to overwhelm, but we also don’t want to be overlooked. The hope is that our past donors will go looking for our event in their emails or on social media, but how can we be sure? It can be a true balancing act!

Over the past year, we have seen our nonprofit organization clients struggle with timing, whether it relates to communicating during certain times of the year (much like now) or balancing communication between a multitude of events and fundraising campaigns. Creating a solid PR & Marketing plan and staying consistent with outreach still proves to be the best method. This season is shifting, with summer coming to a close, so continue to embrace that change and don’t be afraid to adjust your strategies with the adjustments of each season. Keep going with your communication plans and treat those donors like you would a close friend. Check in, circle back, and listen to what it is they want and need. 

If you are one of our STUDIO 4Forty clients, we are happy to help you build a custom PR & Marketing timeline around your events. If you are not a current client of ours, you can join in on the fundraising fun by contacting our Director of Business Development, Kim Perry, to learn more!

Stepping Outside the Box

By Heather Frank, MA, CFRE

If I have learned anything over the years, it would focus on the ever-evolving landscape of social impact and the role non-profit organizations play in addressing societal challenges. To create lasting change, some non-profits have embraced a bold and innovative approach, stepping outside the box, and challenging conventional norms. By daring to be different, these organizations are driving transformative community change, making a significant impact on the lives of those they serve. Let’s explore how non-profits are breaking barriers, embracing innovation, and focusing on community change.

1. Embracing Innovation for Greater Impact

Non-profits that step outside the box are not afraid to embrace innovation in their strategies and initiatives. They understand that sticking to traditional methods might limit their potential impact. By adopting new technologies, creative ideas, and modern approaches, these organizations can tackle age-old problems with fresh perspectives.

2. Fostering Collaborations for Collective Change

Collaboration is a key characteristic of non-profits that focus on community change. Recognizing that they can achieve more together than alone, these organizations actively seek partnerships with other stakeholders, including government bodies, corporations, local community groups, and even for-profit entities. Such collaborations pool resources, expertise, and networks, leading to more holistic and sustainable solutions.

3. Empowering Local Communities

Rather than adopting a top-down approach, innovative non-profits prioritize community empowerment. They involve local residents in the decision-making process, respecting their knowledge and insights as experts on their own challenges. By empowering the community, these organizations ensure that initiatives are more tailored to meet the specific needs and aspirations of those they serve.

4. Measuring Impact and Adapting Strategies

Non-profits that challenge the normal are meticulous about measuring the impact of their projects. They collect data, solicit feedback from beneficiaries, and conduct evaluations to assess the effectiveness of their efforts. Armed with this information, they make data-driven decisions and are not afraid to adapt their strategies if needed, ensuring that they are continually improving their approach to creating change.

5. Risk-Taking and Learning from Failure

Innovative non-profits are unafraid of taking calculated risks. They understand that some initiatives might not yield the desired outcomes, but they view failures as learning opportunities. By acknowledging mistakes and leveraging them as stepping stones to improvement, they refine their approach and become more effective change agents.

6. Advocating for Policy Change

Stepping outside the box also means engaging in advocacy and policy change. These non-profits recognize that policy reform is a critical lever for systemic change. By advocating for policy shifts at the local, national, or international level, they can address root causes and create lasting, widespread impact beyond their immediate projects.

It is not a secret that non-profit organizations that challenge the normal and focus on community change are pioneers in the realm community mission expansion. By embracing innovation, fostering collaborations, empowering local communities, measuring impact, taking risks, and advocating for policy change, they demonstrate a commitment to creating meaningful and sustainable transformations. These trailblazing organizations inspire others in the non-profit sector to step outside their comfort zones, push the boundaries, and find novel solutions to address complex societal issues. Together, they are shaping a future where positive change is not just a distant dream but a tangible reality for communities around the world. 

Back to Basics

Blog Post by: Jennifer Downes

As spring travel is winding down, I sit back and reflect on all the different elements that occurred during the season. Whether it was amazing Shoe Guy fundraising, exploding sponsorship dollars, marvelous Mission Moments, over the top productions, or crazy travel stories, it’s a journey to look at all the pieces.

One of the biggest highlights was experiencing some of our long term partners increasing their overall live auction and cash call revenue lines significantly. To express the joy that occurred with our clients is indescribable. The “secret sauce” to this achievement was that our partners trust us, our coaching, and with that we went “Back to Basics.” 

As we begin the current year’s planning process, we review the prior year’s event and all the different elements. What became apparent with some of our clients was that they had swayed too far from our best practices and needed to reestablish the foundation that was created in year one. And that’s exactly what we did. 

Always keeping our guests’ experience and revenue focus at the forefront, we adjusted and tweaked different areas to ensure our revenue activations occurred in just the right way.

A few examples of elements we adjusted were: narrowing down the revenue activations to only a handful for the entire event, creating the correct flow within the space, and selecting the right individuals to go onstage during the seated program. These are only a few examples of the different pieces we adjusted, but every detail matters as it all adds up when producing high caliber events.

One of the biggest adjustments we made was who would take the stage to conduct the live auction and cash call. Ensuring you have the right person for this piece is incredibly important as this can make the energy in the room either feel awkward if done incorrectly, or it can become a special moment where a community gathers together to support an amazing cause if done right! We worked with our partners to outline the best auction packages, ensure their impact statements were strong, and that our motto remained in the forefront – “Back to Basics”. Guess what?!?! It WORKED!

Whether you’re a Director of Development, CEO, or a volunteer supporting a nonprofit organization with an event, I highly recommend taking the time to evaluate where the event started and where it is now. It is easy to focus on refining and refreshing the guests’ experience, but unfortunately that means that the basics that were created in the beginning years can sometimes get lost. Take some time to compare the growth that has occurred, areas you can adjust, and always keep the guests’ experience and revenue flow at the forefront. Going “Back to Basics” can never steer you wrong. 

Want to learn more about STUDIO 4Forty and how we serve nonprofits across the country? Email me at


Blog Post by: Allie Duggan

Influencer is no doubt a term you have heard a lot lately, and in my mind it is not something I initially associate with nonprofits or fundraising, but it is an association we should begin to make. With the next generation being the future of fundraising, influencers represent a key aspect of continued philanthropy for your nonprofit. 

The Role of Influencers in Nonprofit Fundraising

Influencers can play a significant role in nonprofit fundraising by leveraging their large social media followings to promote your mission. This is the perfect opportunity to promote your campaigns and events, encouraging their followers to become donors and attendees of your cause.

Working with influencers can also help you to reach a new audience that you may not have been able to reach otherwise. Influencers cast a wide net with their audience and typically have followers from a diverse range of demographics, allowing nonprofits to reach a bigger audience.

Nonprofits can also use influencers to reach younger donors. Many influencers have a significant following among younger audiences, who are often less likely to donate to nonprofits, especially without being introduced to them in some sort of social way. By partnering with influencers, you can reach these younger audiences and encourage them to support your causes and steward them to become life-long donors.

How Nonprofits Can Work with Influencers

Nonprofits can work with influencers in several ways to promote their causes and raise funds for their organizations. Here are a few ways you can collaborate with influencers:

  • Sponsored posts – Nonprofits can partner with influencers to create sponsored posts promoting their cause or event on social media. These posts can include a call-to-action for followers to donate or purchase tickets to attend their event.
  • Social media takeovers – Nonprofits can have influencers take over their social media accounts for a day or a week. The influencer can promote your cause and give their following a closer look into how they can help support your mission and impact their community.
  • Event hosting – Nonprofits can invite influencers to host events promoting their cause. This would be a great opportunity for committee recruitment. Not only are you building your committee, but you would be broadening your donor base as well. 
  • Event personality – Nonprofits can invite an influencer to attend or even emcee their fundraising event. Aligning your organization with a familiar face in the community can bring a fresh new aspect to the event.

Working with an influencer brings a fresh approach to donor procurement and can open a lot of new doors for a nonprofit. Jump on social media and see who is making an impact in your community, they just might be a perfect fit to partner with you!

Know your “Why”

Blog Post by: Jessica Mathews

I am assistant coaching my 12 year old daughter’s volleyball team, and her head coach is big on facilitating a growth mindset and team bonding. We have been talking to our girls about what makes them want to play volleyball and what makes them try hard; their “why.” 

Over the last decade and a half of being in the nonprofit world, speaking at events, and engaging with community members, I was often asked, “what is your ‘why?’” Although a very simple question, I always found it hard to answer, because there are so many answers and they can change.

After reflecting on this simple, yet complex question, I was able to find my “why” varies from day to day, and role to role. My “why” is constantly evolving and changing, sometimes drastically and sometimes minimally, but it all comes down to one thing… making a difference. My “why” in my work life is making a difference in the organizations and clients we serve. My “why” for my daughter is being a role model to my 12 year old and setting a good example for her. My “why” in coaching volleyball is teaching these young girls the skills they need to be successful as a friend, a teammate, and an athlete. My “why” for my family is creating a home where everyone feels loved, supported and valued.

I take the opportunity to reflect on each of these “whys” when I can, but especially in times of stress. Burnout can come rapidly when planning events and in seasons of constantly being busy, but it’s how we overcome the burnout that makes a difference. Finding your “why” can encourage you in times of stress, tiredness, and despair to continue to push on towards your true reason for doing what you do. 

What is your “why?” What are you striving for? These are more than just goals. These single or multiple reasons are what motivates us to do better and be better. If you are feeling burnt out or unmotivated, take a few moments to dig deep and think about your “why.” And then share with a family member, friend or coworker. With support, encouragement, and frequent self-reflections, you can be successful in fulfilling your “why.”

We teach our children about learning their “why,” but we need to remind ourselves. So, what is your “why?”

What to Look For In An Event Software

Blog Post by: Krista Elmore

You’ve made your preparations, carefully strategized ticket prices, and are ready for an incredibly successful event day. So the big question is, how will you capture all of your event sales quickly and efficiently?

Ideally, you’ll have an event software that can capture all of your pre-event and event day sales in one comprehensive system. As you’re exploring different platforms, I’d suggest considering the following:

  • Donor Software Integration – Does it easily integrate with your donor software system? Many programs do not necessarily automatically integrate with your donor software system, but they will allow you to capture the same information, export the data, and import it into your donor software with minimal disruption.
  • Ticketing – Be sure to select a system that allows you the flexibility to create different ticket types at different price points, has a user-friendly interface for guests when purchasing those tickets, and will allow you to capture the necessary contact information for each guest.
  • Revenue Packages – Is it easy to add all of your event revenue packages, from sponsorship levels with their associated ticket allocations to raffle and auction packages? How easy is it to track and add those sales on the day of the event? 
  • Bid Numbers – We’re big fans of bid numbers per guest/couple over here at STUDIO 4Forty. Does your software system allow each guest or household to have their own assigned bidder number? How easy is it to assign that during registration?
  • Mobile Bidding – While using mobile bidding for silent auctions was growing in popularity already, the pandemic really made mobile bidding a necessity. Now, many nonprofits implement this fundraising tool to great success. Is mobile bidding offered through the software, and if so, can you send text messages directly to your guests to encourage them to bid?
  • Registration & Check Out – Take a tour of the user interface for registration, entering sales, and check out to get a feel for how user-friendly it is. You’ll likely have volunteers of various skill levels and familiarity working registration and check out at your event, so be sure that your chosen system is easy to navigate. We want the registration and check out process to be as quick, simple, and efficient as possible. 
  • Keeping Credit Card Info – This goes along with the necessity of bid number association. Make sure your event software can swipe a guest’s credit card at registration and keep it on file (securely) throughout the event duration. This will make entering sales quick, will allow guests to purchase or bid without having to pull out their credit card each time, and will expedite your post-event sales batch to close out your event.

Want to know our favorite event software? Email me at and I’ll connect you to the best!

A Fundraising Maven’s Perspective on Working with STUDIO 4Forty

Blog Post by: Kim Perry

Our most successful STUDIO 4Forty event partners share a common denominator: they set goals and work to achieve them. One of our brightest stars – the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center – has truly been one of our most coachable and collaborative teams now celebrating their 10th Wine Women & Shoes Midland anniversary with over $2 million raised (net). 

I sat down with MRCCAC Board Member and Event Chair, Lauren Blackketter, to uncover what she has learned over the past decade and what wisdom she can impart for new teams wishing to mirror her organization’s success: 

S4F: How did WW&S fall onto your radar and what value did you see in bringing the event to the Midland community? 

LB: When I joined the MRCCAC board, we were looking for a signature fundraiser. Some board members had concerns that men didn’t want to talk about sexual assault. I remember thinking, “why are we asking men then?” and started looking for fundraising ideas that targeted women. I found Wine Women & Shoes through a Google search, reached out for additional info, and presented it to our board. Within a month we signed a contract and started planning! 

S4F: As one of our greatest WW&S success stories, what three best practices do you attribute to your phenomenal decade raising over $2 million {net} from the event? 


1. Checklists! From the planning timeline in the How To Guide to the day-of to do lists, checklists are one of the most valuable tools for ensuring you don’t miss something. They also allow you to easily move through the process with a large team, as everyone can see next steps and jump in if you get pulled in another direction.

2.  Yearly reviews with the S4F Project Management team. Early on, my goal was to have no “dings” after an event, but I’ve learned that this constructive feedback are not dings, and they help your team grow and learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the event. I keep several years’ worth of reviews and routinely check them when planning a new year until they become second nature for us.

3. Staying true to the event. It would be easy as we’ve grown to shift away from the model in some ways, but this event works because it’s the perfect hybrid.  It’s a mix of fundraising event / shopping trip / and girls’ night out. The type and volume of music, the lighting (our longest discussion EVERY YEAR is what level to set the lights), the mix of vendors and wineries to suit all tastes, and the layout to promote flow while having enough seating and tables. Women return year after year because we fine tune each detail. 

S4F:  Your team could have built your own event from scratch but instead chose to license WW&S – what have you found to be the most rewarding aspects of our licensed event model? Has WW&S exceeded your goals? 

LB: Building charity events from scratch takes a TON of work. Even just implementing an already proven model like WW&S is a lot of work in a new market. To be able to take a model that’s proven to work in other markets and tailor it for ours allowed us to focus our time on cultivating donors instead of conceptualizing event elements. I love that ideas are shared across all WW&S markets, like King of Sole or Buy a Spot boards, that allow all STUDIO 4Forty partners to benefit from new ideas. It’s also incredibly helpful to have a team of fundraising professionals to go to when you hit sticky issues, and to have someone on hand the day of our event who had done this so many times already. It feels like one big community, and that community definitely always has your back. 

WW&S has by far exceeded our goals! One of my favorite WW&S stories is from our first year: It had been a little rough launching the event, and when I picked Heather Frank up from the airport, I told her it wasn’t going to work for us. She told me she was absolutely sure it would, and she thought we would net over $100,000 with our first event. I laughed and told her there was absolutely no way, and she made me promise if it did, that I would chair it one more year. We made just over that $100K mark that first year, and now after nine years, we’ve grown from 325 guests to over 550 each year and have netted over $2 million total for the MRCCAC! 

S4F: What three pieces of advice would you give to any new STUDIO 4Forty partner? 

LB: First, I would say listen to the project management team. These ladies know what they are doing, and they work so hard to understand each individual market, team, and nonprofit. Second, surround yourself with the best possible team. This is a huge event to put on, and you’ll need good people beside you. Lastly, don’t get discouraged. You will have potential donors who don’t choose your nonprofit to support, and despite your best efforts, things will go wrong at the event. You can’t take these setbacks personally – you just have to learn and grow from them! 

Check out MRCCAC’s 10th annual Wine Women & Shoes event in Midland! Thank you to Lauren for her kind words and sharing this wisdom with us! You’re a true example of success and have absolutely changed the trajectory of your organization in the Midland community and beyond.