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See the latest news about our upcoming events, fundraising tips and partners.

Gesture Observes Mental Health Awareness Month

Since 1949, National Mental Health Awareness Month (also known as Mental Health Month) has been observed in the month of May. During this month, organizations working to create awareness around mental health spread the word about mental health through word of mouth, the media, local events, and more.

One in five U.S. adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and nearly everyone is impacted by mental illness affecting those they are close to. This month is a key time of year for organizations that take action on mental health issues in both local communities and on a national level to gather support and awareness.

Here are some ways that local and national organizations dedicated to helping those with mental illnesses can use this month as an opportunity to gain awareness of their organization:

  1. Use hashtags to reach out to those who are interested in your cause on social media. For Mental Health Month, use #BH365 (Behavioral Health 365) and #MHM2017 (Mental Health Month 2017) or #MentalHealthMonth. Tagging posts and photos will connect you to like-minded people who may be interested in donating to your organization or attending your next event!
  2. Create content that will both interest and help readers. As the experts on mental health, no organization is in a better place to advise on ways to approach someone with a mental illness or recognize warning signs than you. Use your expertise to create content that will be helpful to anyone in need of information as well as attract viewers to your website!
  3. Reach out to local news or media and offer/ask to participate in an interview. This will allow you to spread word about the importance of your organization’s work in the realm of mental health to a broad audience. You can also use this opportunity to put a plug in for your next/upcoming event!
  4. Encourage your staff and volunteers to share personal stories related to mental illness. At Gesture, we hear too often from organizations that one of the largest challenges they face is the stigma against mental illness and receiving help for it. If your staff and volunteer members feel comfortable, ask them to share with their friends, family, and/or followers why they’re dedicated to the cause.

Gesture makes it easier for organizations to focus on their important work in communities instead of focusing on fundraising logistics.

One organization we work with is Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri, based in St. Louis, MO. A long-time partner, they say:

 

“Thank you for all the work you did in preparing us for our first-ever bidding by phone event. It was a true partnership and your team at Gesture was top-notch.

We are a small agency – full staff of nine – and knew we needed professional help to make the event run smoothly, especially for check-in and check-out. Gesture was, in a word, fantastic. Check-in was super smooth and check-out was a dream, even with guests trying to make a quick escape due to an unexpected snow fall.

The auction itself was a very nice success and our guests loved bidding by phone. Time and time again we heard, “it’s so easy and fun to bid.” It truly is easy and your staff was very attentive to those who needed bidding assistance. You kept telling us not to worry because it’s such a simple process and, of course, you were right.

We don’t want to do another gala without you.”

 

Thanks to Gesture’s easy-to-use product, Mental Health America is able to focus on their guests at events, and worry less about registration, check-in and check-out, bidding, and product help.

See more about Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri here.

 

If you are passionate about the missions of Mental Health America and like organizations, Gesture encourages you to reach out to local organizations and donate to their cause! Tell them Gesture sent you.

 

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Six Tools to Amplify Your Fundraising Efforts

Any successful nonprofit can tell you that to retain its donors and recruit new members, they need to pay attention to new marketing trends. Today, studies show that 86% of nonprofits use social media to market their organization, 27% use mobile content, and 20% use mobile apps.

Nonprofit organizations should expect to see mobile-related numbers increase in the coming years as marketing in general shifts towards mobile. The goal of any nonprofit is to be able to serve its public and fulfill its mission. In order to do that, they need to run successful fundraising campaigns utilizing various tools and platforms.

Here are six tools that help nonprofits meet their fundraising goals:

 

 

1. Social Media

Social media isn’t just for selfies. If your nonprofit doesn’t have a Facebook page or Twitter account, you should get on it. In fact, Instagram is also growing in popularity and nonprofits are taking advantage of the impact of visual images to mobilize people to donate. Here are some tips on how to maximize your fundraising on each:

  • Facebook. It’s easy. Facebook added a “Donate Now” button that all nonprofits can add as a call-to-action button on their page. It promises a one-stop, secure donation platform.
  • Twitter. Make sure you create a hashtag for your donation drive and/or nonprofit. Encourage those who donate to share the hashtag. That way you can spread the word further and also track shares and tweets about your nonprofit.
  • Instagram. Use this platform to post photos that create an impact. Demonstrate the needs of the community that the donations will serve. Show photos of donations in action, so your supporters can see the results of their contributions.

 

2. Email

Email is a popular communication channel that can’t be ignored for fundraising efforts. People are often more open to leaving their email address in the Contact Info field than to sharing their mobile number with organizations.

With tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact you can easily systemize your contact lists, segment them, customize email templates for different campaigns, and schedule messages.

Keep in mind that your donors can open emails on mobile, so keep your subject lines short and sweet, and include big and clear call-to-action buttons.

 

3. Event Management Software

An often overlooked strategy when it comes to fundraising, but easy-to-use and effective, event management software can make a difference with ticket sales and overall donor experience. Making it easy for donors to buy a ticket and access information about the event means higher conversions. You can check out Gesture’s Guest Management platform which helps you keep track of ticket sales, donations, and other fundraising efforts in real-time. 

 

4. Mobile Optimization and Bidding

As the world moves more and more towards mobile domination, it’s come to the point where nobody can afford to ignore mobile optimization anymore. People are trained for rapid responses and streamlined mobile experiences.

If your nonprofit’s mobile site doesn’t load fast enough or make it easy to donate through mobile, you’re losing out to other nonprofits who are mobile ready.

Mobile users behave differently than desktop users, so your mobile site has to reflect that. Make the following adjustments to your mobile site:

  • Less images for faster loading time.
  • Shorter text that fits easily on a smaller screen.
  • Accordion menus to economize space on the screen.
  • Shortened sign-up forms that make it easier to fill out on a mobile device.
  • Prominent call-to-action button (like “Donate Today”).

If your organization offers mobile bidding, you will be able to quickly capture donations and bids for auctions from donors’ phones. Partner with an organization that offers mobile bidding and fundraising technology, like Gesture, in order to manage the implementation and processing of mobile bids and donations.

 

5. Texting

Texting works well as a donation platform in a world that is increasingly mobile dependent. In fact, since last year there was a 205% increase in mobile donations. People are more likely to respond to a text than they are to an email or annual report.

Text-to-give has had some incredible results, the most famous campaign being the Red Cross’s earthquake relief drive for Haiti that raised $32 million via text donations. You can try Gesture to enable your attendees to donate directly from their mobile devices.

Also, text messaging is a great way to grow the number of attendees at your fundraising events, and this leads to the increase of your donation income. For example, by using TextMagic SMS software, SAWA-Australia sent event alerts to their supporters and increased ticket sales that way, while People In Need were able to stay in contact with their volunteers.

 

6. Social Website Partnerships

Welzoo is a website that’s dedicated to nonprofits; users just need to make it a start page in their browser. Visitors can pick their favorite nonprofit or submit their own nonprofit as their preferred organization.

Each time you go online with Welzoo, they make a donation to your nonprofit (maximum donation of 6 cents/day per person). By having organization members, staff, and supporters use this site, your donations can start to add up.

Every nonprofit wants to meet their fundraising goals to improve the conditions of the people or environment they serve. With effective marketing tools, fundraising events are more successful, helping to build the resources and reputation of your organization. Use these tools to inspire both new and old donors to give.

Tracy Blanchard is a seasoned writer and blogger. She covers various topics from nonprofit marketing to productivity hacks to customer loyalty building. You can reach her on LinkedIn.

Tracy Blanchard

Tracy Blanchard

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Tip

Capturing the fundraising power of millennials

Millennials — otherwise known as Generation Y, digital natives, Generation Me, Generation Rent and echo boomers — are generally defined as those born roughly between 1980 and 2000. The group is increasingly making their presence known with an estimated 75.4 million millennials currently living in the United States.

Millennials are now commanding the largest wallet power of any generation, with estimates of $200 billion annually for 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers. Many for-profit companies are taking notice of generation’s market power, yet many nonprofits lag behind and need to refocus efforts to embrace and engage the new largest generation to capture their potential fundraising power.

Charitable organizations, including cultural centers, hospitals and social service agencies, herald myriad causes — many that appeal to the millennial generation. Millennials can be passionate about causes, particularly those that impact others. They are drawn to causes that make a difference and desire to become part of something that offers a lasting, powerful impact.

Embrace involvement

Millennials like to learn more before they commit to engaging or donating to causes. They seek more information about what a nonprofit does, who they help and how they work. Millennials also enjoy experiential activities. They look for ways to become involved with nonprofits through an activity, event or other hands-on volunteer opportunity as a way of better understanding the mission.

Be welcoming. Invite millennials to learn about a nonprofit’s good work through involvement. Include the generation in planning a fundraiser, friendraiser or annual drive. Assign specific tasks at your next activity. Embrace millennials’ resolve to become involved, and you’ll not only gain more hands-on help but also a chance to nurture and build a future board of directors and future mid-level donors.

Millennials offer fresh faces at fundraising activities helping even the most celebrated 25th-anniversary event feel new and exciting. As a major part of today’s workforce, millennials may open doors to new networks of individual, group or employer-based donors.

Connect with millennials to identify new ways to share your cause to funding resources. The tech-focused generation may be connected to younger companies that are growing faster than ever before and may be seeking to partner with charitable organizations.

Connect through technology

Most millennials are native tech users and constantly remain connected to people, information and organizations. They grew up using smartphones, laptops and tablets. Constant connectedness is a fact of life, and millennials prefer instant access to technology. Millennials elect to seek information on the spur of the moment through their smartphone or tablet device desiring immediate answers to questions.

Millennials are also social both online and offline and enjoy sharing their experiences with friends and colleagues. Take advantage of their vast social networks and provide ways to reach and build loyal next generation donors.

Use technology to push stories about your organization via social media platforms, making it easy for millennials to find out about you and then share your stories, helping you to quickly build a circle of followers via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat postings and shares. Nonprofits need to become more attuned to using engagement tactics to help expand donor databases with the expansive millennial generation market.

Use storytelling techniques. Use social media to further your cause by telling stories. Post pictures. Integrate videos into your communication. Feature the people who’ve benefited from your services.

Draw a direct line between your mission and the work you’re doing. Websites and information materials must tell stories about the immediacy of the work an organization is doing. Messages can be crafted featuring those you help a well as messages from important people connected to the cause sharing their inspiration to support and give.

Ignite donations

Embrace technology by incorporating it into everything you do. You’ll reap the benefits of streamlining efforts and uncover information you can put to good use with donor profiles and planning.

Become mobile friendly. Make sure your website is a mobile-based so it is easy to view, read and access at any time on any device. Be sure to prominently display the donate button, making it easy to give.

Be sure to give clear meaning to other call to actions such as ways to volunteer, spread the word or download specific materials. Integrate technology into fundraising processes to unleash efficient systems that will help you save time and help you raise more money.

Re-examine your fundraising activities. Make it easy and convenient for guests to donate. Digital-centric millennials prefer online and mobile options to purchase event tickets, or register to volunteer or participate in activities like silent or live auctions.

Make it exciting. Use technology to drive incentives to the event participants. Look for more revenue streams by including options off-site or remote participation to help increase donations and spur up demand at an actual event.

Technology provides valuable back-end support to donor database, volunteer and event management and creating reports. Modern tools help free up valuable resources better spent engaging more donors and igniting a continual flow of support and fresh prospects. Technology helps reduce costs and streamlines many fundraising pain points into a simplified more productive process.

Nonprofits that take notice of millennials behaviors and preferences by embracing more hands-on involvement, interaction via social media and mobile friendly websites can open the door to more revenue both now and in the future.

About the Author

Jim Alvarez is the founder and CEO of full-service fundraising technology company Gesture. Gesture has helped nonprofits across the country raise over $300 million since 2011 through the use of technology. Alvarez is the recipient of the Chicago Innovation Award and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award for his innovative idea and launch of Gesture. Alvarez drives the growing company to make hope happen for nonprofits developing innovative ideas that embrace technology.

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Hear From Our Team

healthcareblog

Many healthcare organizations have fundraising for their cause down to a science. For the most part, their process of obtaining funds through donors and sponsors run without a hitch. Sadly, in this technologically evolving time, some institutions still fall short of goals that are within reach. At Gesture, our team of Account Managers always share some helpful insight that would not only ensure seamless fundraisers, but maximize funding across the board.

The traditional modes of fundraising that institutions such as hospitals use include: cocktail nights, casino nights, a physical paddle raise, and of course larger scale annual galas. Although these are already great ways to raise money, our Account Managers provided us with small, simple tips to improve on these methods that could significantly increase funding opportunities.

Here are a couple quick tips:

  1. Open your silent auction early! If silent auctions are opened earlier not only will there be more time for donors to explore auction items, but there will be more time for the bid price to increase to maximize funding opportunities.
  2. It is important to keep in mind that more able and willing donors appreciate and look forward to higher end galas and dinners to attend. This reinforces the importance of black tie events for hospitals because bigger budget galas attract larger income donors. Nothing makes a premium impression like glitz and glamour.
  3. It is imperative that an institution such as a hospital interacts with a vast audience. Hospitals influence communities, draw a large donor base, and even benefit from brand recognition. This can and will play as an advantage when seeking donations, funding, and sponsorships. Corporate Donation Guide
  4. Items such as extravagant trips and cruises bring in a significant amount of attention and bidding competition from willing donors. In addition to these trips, VIP experiences at award shows, back stage passes at concerts, club level seating at sporting events, and meet and greets with celebrities were highly valued items.
  5. You may not have contact information for all of your guests and supporters, so be sure to promote via social media. If you have celebrity or high end connections ask for a simple retweet and share on their social media. Sponsors should also be mentioned and asked so they can spread the word and utilize their own networks to support your cause.

 

We hope that our Account Managers were able to provide you with some helpful insight that will assist you in hosting smooth and successful fundraisers for years to come. Applying their observations and small improvements to traditional methods of fundraising can and will help your institution reach its goals and make hope happen.

 

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Don’t Get Lost In The Madness

 

marchmadness-1

 

March is filled with excitement and the country will have its eyes on the “big dance” these upcoming Thursdays-Sundays. With this in mind, here are three tips to avoid getting lost in the mix of the March Madness and create some fun fundraising campaigns around this monumental event.

 

  1. Treat social media as a platform, not a promotional tool: Social Media will be filled with March Madness talk. Instead of being one of the many posting the same old puns and plays on words, create buzz around your cause with specific and positive messaging that draws in a reader to become passionate or increase their support for your cause.
  2. Tell a Compelling Story: They call it March Madness because there is a buzz in the air and the excitement is overwhelming. Stories run rampant around the teams that are participating, many of which are heart-warming in nature. Position your messaging to connect with active and inactive donors. Tell your story via social media and your public website. This is a great time to film an uplifting video or publish a story about how you are making an impact.
  3. Participate or Invite Donors to Participate in a Bracket Fun-draiser: There are tons of people looking for different ways to participate in the madness of March. Create a pool or some type of bracket game around the tournament where the proceeds will proportionally go back to your organization, but the winner can get something cool! Maybe an auction item that did not sell at your event or was recently donated.

Our team is always looking to provide more insights on how to raise more, but if you have questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at partners@gesture.com.

 

Enjoy the madness!

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Tip

Gesture Team Member Spotlight – Erin Phillips

Gesture Team Member Spotlight

 

erin

Erin Phillips

Senior Account Manager, Chicago, IL

 

Erin has been with Gesture for four years, since she first started as a Gesture Pro in May 2012. In her current role as Senior Account Manager, Erin manages a team of Account Managers (AMs). These AMs work directly with our charity partners to provide support and guidance as they prepare for their fundraisers and auctions.

What initially drew you to Gesture?
I worked my first event as a Gesture Pro in May of 2012. At the time, there were only a handful of full time employees and I agreed to work a few events to help out a friend. I was working a full-time job but thought it would be a great idea to try something new on my days off.

It only took one event for me to see the impact the Gesture team and technology had on the success of the organization’s fundraising. Not only were the donors having fun, but the client gave hugs all around for making their lives easier as well. From then on, I was hooked! I quickly realized that this is exactly where I needed to be.

What positions have you held as a Gesture employee? How did it lead you to the position you currently hold?
I went from a Gesture Pro to an On-Site Manager to an Event Production Manager and then to my current role as a Senior Account Manager. It sounds like a lot when you jot it down, but really it’s been a natural transition seeing the full scope of the event from all sides!

Tell us a little bit about what it’s like watching the company grow from your perspective.
There are so many times where you’ll hear someone referencing the “old days” but what’s funny is the quote unquote old days that they are referencing might have only been a year ago. That’s a testament to how quickly things at Gesture grow. It’s been so exciting to grow with a company that’s always innovating.

What is your favorite part about working at Gesture?
Each day is another opportunity to help charities exceed their fundraising goals. Gesture’s mission, combined with working with technology and the best team ever, makes each day worth coming back for!

How many events have you worked?
I’ve worked on-site at 100+ events and have been the Production Manager behind the scenes for nearly 300.

What has been your favorite event, and why?
Each March Ronald McDonald House Charities Chicago hosts their annual gala and I make it a point to be able to go. They do a great job keeping things light and fun but ensuring that guests know their mission and reason for opening up their hearts (and wallets) that evening. I also love attending school events. One of my favorites was themed “College Days.” The parents got to dress in their spirit wear and play all their favorite college games all while raising money for their kid’s school.

What would your co-workers be surprised to learn about you?
I show pictures and talk about my English Bulldog all the time. I think they’d be surprised to know that up until a year ago I was actually scared of dogs. I never imagined myself getting my own!

When you’re not at work, what do you do to keep busy?
I spend as much time as I can with my 3 year old nephew and 1 year old niece. They are a handful but so funny and so much fun! If I’m not with them you can probably find me picking up knick knacks at Homegoods!

When you were a kid, what was your dream job?
Olympic gymnast. Things obviously took a turn along the way.

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Stories of Hope

ama_bannerIn 1964, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease. In response, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson designated February as American Heart Month in order to spread awareness about the various heart diseases and their causes, as well as all the ways they can be prevented.

The month-long event is still relevant today, as heart disease and stroke are still the leading causes of death for both men and women in America. However, this often can be prevented when people are educated and know how to make healthy choices.

Gesture is proud to partner with organizations across the country that provide services to those struggling with heart disease, offer programs that educate the public on heart disease prevention, conduct research for cures for the various cardiovascular diseases, and so much more. The organizations below are three of many!

Stories of Hope American Heart Month - American Heart Association LogoAmerican Heart Association

Mission: To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Since 1924, the AHA has grown and now includes 156 local offices. They also created the American Stroke Association in 1997.

They offer:

  • CPR training
  • Education on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices
  • Guidelines for healthcare professionals that help them provide quality care to their patients
  • Education for lawmakers, policymakers, and the public as they advocate for changes to protect and improve the health of our country

Gesture has partnered with various chapters of the American Heart Association and has helped them raise nearly $2.2 million for their cause.

You can learn more about the organization on their website.

Stories of Hope American Heart Month - The Children's Foundation logoThe Children’s Heart Foundation

Mission: The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF) is a not-for-profit organization that funds the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects (CHD).

Betsy and Steve Peterson founded the Children’s Heart Foundation in 1996 in honor of their son, Sam, who died of multiple organ failure brought on by a sudden heart-related collapse when he was eight. CHF is the country’s leading organization solely committed to CHD research funding. They also collaborate with other organizations in the congenital heart defect landscape to plan events dedicated to raising funds for research, lead advocacy efforts with a legislative conference in Washington, DC, and more.

Gesture began its partnership with the Children’s Heart Foundation in 2016 and has helped them raise more than $321,000.

Learn more about the Children’s Heart Foundation on their website.

Additional Organizations

Gesture also partners with smaller, local organizations that support families dealing with heart disease. These organizations include:

  • Jessie’s Heart Foundation provides support for children with heart disease that reduces emotional, physical and financial stress for the family.
  • The Greg Olsen Foundation Receptions for Research has a program called The HEARTest Yard. This program supports families of children with congenital heart disease who are treated at Levine Children’s Hospital in North Carolina.
  • Saving Tiny Hearts Society is passionately dedicated to eliminating Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) as a major health concern. They fund revolutionary life-saving research for the #1 Birth Defect worldwide, to improve, prolong and save the lives of countless children born with CHD.

In total, Gesture helped these organizations raise $364,200 in 2016.

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Chicago Animal Welfare Organizations Turn to Technology to Meet Their Fundraising Goals

Animal welfare organizations nationwide are working towards ending overpopulation of homeless animals and building No Kill communities. Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl reminds us of the importance of the effort as Chicagoans cheered on shelter dog Foster (pictured), from Chicago’s One Tail at A Time, no-kill nonprofit, who represented team Ruff in the annual event this year.

Animal Planet - Foster

Mobile fundraising technology company Gesture is a proud supporter and partner of animal welfare organizations such as One Tail at a Time, PAWS Chicago and many other humane societies across the country. Since its inception in 2011, Gesture has worked with more than 25 animal-welfare organizations and has helped raise more than $5.5 million for their causes.

“Many animal welfare organizations began as grassroots organizations that grew into small, local nonprofits providing essential services in communities across the country,” shares Gesture’s CEO and founder Jim Alvarez. “We are grateful for the chance to help animal welfare organizations reach their fundraising goals and make giving to their cause accessible to a wider audience,” adds Alvarez.

One of Gesture’s largest animal welfare charity partners is PAWS Chicago. Working together since 2014, Gesture has helped PAWS Chicago raise nearly $2.5 million across multiple fundraising events.

“Since 1997 when PAWS Chicago opened its doors, Chicago has seen over an 80 percent drop in the number of pets euthanized. This takes hard work from a small staff, large volunteer force and donations from our community of supporters. Partnering with Gesture has helped us increase funds raised at our signature events so that we can continue to save the lives of more homeless cats and dogs,” says PAWS Chicago Founder Paula Fasseas.

A partnership with Gesture makes it easy for donors to give to their favorite organizations and makes it easy for organizations to reach donors where they’re most engaged: on their mobile devices.

Nonprofit charity partners are raising more money through an innovative, easy-to-use platform packed with tools that make it possible for nonprofits to integrate technology into all aspects of their fundraising campaigns. The efficient technology platform allows charity partners to streamline fundraising functions enabling them to fully manage and drive successful campaigns. Gesture’s platform enables ticket sales, registration and guest management, the ability to host silent auctions with mobile bidding, manage live appeals and auctions, text to give campaigns and various other fundraising campaigns.

Animal welfare organizations and other nonprofits interested in learning more about how Gesture can help jumpstart 2017 fundraising can contact them by calling 888-748-2323 or filling out this form.

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Gesture Can Complete the Puzzle

Fundraising Puzzle - Banner

Think of your fundraiser as a puzzle, and all of the different aspects of your event prep and night of activities as the puzzle pieces. Your fundraiser won’t be complete until each piece comes together.

While overlooking one small piece won’t ruin a puzzle, it does make an impact. Gesture eases the pressure and stress of event planning for nonprofits – but how?

Fundraising Puzzle - Guest Management

Know who’s coming to your event before it happens! Sell tickets, use our drag and drop seating management system, update guest information, and more.

  • Easily Seat or Group Your Guests – The Seating Management drag and drop tool is the easiest way to manage tables and golf foursomes for your event. Simply drag guests or groups into their appropriate table/foursome and you can even send them a text with their assignment information!
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  • Sell Tickets and Register for the Auction – The Gesture platform is an all-in-one platform where you can sell tickets for your event and pre-register donors for your upcoming auction and when they arrive at the event, the website is the exact same and they are ready to give.
  • Accept Donations and Sell Add-Ons – Looking to get a head start on fundraising for your event? Utilize the easy Donate Now feature of Gesture’s Guest Management platform to collect donations from donors as they register. You can also sell add-ons like raffle tickets or organization branded items through the same order form.

Fundraising Puzzle - Simple Check-in and Checkout

Registration is quick and painless so donors can start bidding sooner. With pre-registration, automatic registration via integrated ticketing, and importing capabilities, we’ve got you covered.

  • Eliminate the lines by allowing guests to start bidding before the event begins.
  • Give your guests the VIP treatment by sending text notifications for seat assignments and foursome groupings.
  • The quick capture of mobile numbers and email addresses allows for easy communication during and after the event.

Fundraising Puzzle - User-friendly Platform

There’s no software to download or device to manage. Donors bid from their own phone or computer and remain up to date with SMS outbid notifications and status banners on every item.

  • Donors can easily bid on items or donate to an organization from our web-to-mobile platform, which looks the same no matter what device they’re using.
  • Send custom text messages throughout your appeal. If you’re setting up an auction, users will automatically receive a text message alerting them when they’ve been outbid with a link that takes them directly to the site.
  • Administrators can set up and update their site from any device, at any time through an easy-to-use platform.

Fundraising Puzzle - Ability to give from anywhere

Guests can easily donate from their phone anywhere, at any time. Donations can be made via text message or directly from the auction site.

  • Electronic bidding and donating allow your entire community of supporters to participate in the auction, even if they cannot physically attend an event. This allows you to maximize your overall revenue.

Fundraising Puzzle - On-site Event Staff

No phone? No problem! Our staff will act as personal shoppers during your event to ensure each donor has the white-glove experience they deserve.

  • Your Gesture On-site Manager will be your point of contact and event manager at your event, supervising the Gesture Pros and overseeing the agreed-upon run of show.
  • Gesture Pros can show guests how to place bids or donate to the organization as well as act as personal bidders for those who don’t have a phone.

Fundraising Puzzle - Real-time Dashboard Reporting

Monitor every aspect of your event, available at any time with our real-time dashboard reporting. Our admin interface is mobile friendly so you can access your dashboard on the go!

  • Your dashboard includes a comprehensive view of the revenue activity, payments and outstanding balances, guest information, bid history, top items, top bidders, batch reporting and more!
  • All data is available for export (CSV, Excel, PDF or Print) and can be formatted for easy transfer to your donor database or CRM.
  • You can access and download guest data from the Gesture real-time dashboard at any time.

 

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With more than five and a half years of experience in helping nonprofits find success with their fundraising events, Gesture and its staff of professionals are here to help you!

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How to Benefit from the Super Bowl Hype

Super Bowl Hype - Header

One of the biggest sporting events in America is coming up, and with it comes the start of the busiest fundraising season of the year.

Wouldn’t it be great if people were as excited about your fundraiser as they were about the Super Bowl? Wouldn’t you love for all of the money that people will spend on Super Bowl parties and appetizers be donated to your organization instead?

While no one can make those two wishes come true, there are plenty of ways to incorporate the Super Bowl into your fundraising so you can benefit from all the football hype.

 

Super Bowl Hype - Subheading 1

Bring your organization into the Super Bowl conversation by creating your own fun, over-the-top commercial to advertise one of your programs, an upcoming fundraiser, or your organization in general. Corporations spend big bucks on creating the perfect 30-second spot, but all you need is a smartphone or video camera, a basic movie editing software, a friend, and your creativity.

Most people have easy access to some type of video camera. You can use a smartphone, tablet, or actual video camera.

The good news is, video editing software is just as easy to access – and easier to use than you think. If you use a Windows computer, you can download Windows Movie Maker for free (download here and learn how to use it here), while Mac users can purchase iMovie for $15 (download here and learn how to use it here).

You have the equipment, now you just need an idea! Use past Super Bowl commercials for inspiration. Some are hilarious, others pull at your heartstrings, and some are just plain bizarre. You can take any of these approaches when creating your commercial. Write a script, enlist the help of co-workers, friends, or family members, and start filming!

Once it’s ready, share on social media. To reach an even bigger audience, use #SB51 (the official hashtag of the 2017 Super Bowl), or tag the NFL or the Super Bowl’s social media pages.

 

Super Bowl Hype - Subheading 2

People love gambling, especially when it comes to big games like the Super Bowl. Tap into that spirit by creating an appeal like a Touchdown Pledge Drive! Donors can choose to pledge $5, $20, $50, etc. per touchdown scored by the Patriots, the Falcons, or both teams in Super Bowl LI. Send the appeal to your supporters through email the week leading up to the game and encourage them to participate with posts on your social media accounts.

You can give live updates throughout the game on February 5 on your social media accounts to keep donors in the loop. This has the potential to grow your number of social media followers, as well as raise more money for your organization with little effort on your part.

These two ideas can help your organization get an extra boost towards 2017 fundraising. Have another idea or example? Email us at marketing@gesture.com!

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In the News: Company Solutions: Embracing Technology In The Digital Age

CBS Small Business Pulse featured a great article about Gesture and how its embracing technology on all levels. We provide mobile fundraising technology that helps nonprofits across the country raise money for their causes. We also embrace technology in our day-to-day business practices in order to provide the best services to our partners.

You can find the article on CBS SF BayArea, or read it below. Contact us to see how we can help you raise more at your next fundraising event!

Company Solutions: Embracing Technology In The Digital Age

By Deborah Flomberg

Embracing Technology In The Digital Age

If you’re one of the many small business owners who hasn’t fully embraced all that modern technology has to offer, then you might truly be missing out. Whether your business is a technology-based organization or not, there are advanced solutions of all kinds to help you reach new customers, organize your existing databases and make your life easier on a day-to-day basis. You just have to be willing to step out of the box a little to see all the different solutions that are available today.

Gesture is one example of a high-tech organization that has truly found ways to take advantage of the many different technological solutions on the market. The Chicago-based company is a fundraising technology organization that has helped raise more than $320 million for charity partners since it was founded in 2011.

“We integrate a mobile fundraising platform with expert planning and dedicated onsite professional event teams to work with charities to meet their specific event fundraising objectives,” explains CEO and Founder Jim Alvarez. “Gesture also offers year-round services that help charities build fundraising campaigns and keep focus on making hope happen nationwide. Gesture’s innovative technology platform is packed with tools that allow their partners to fully manage their fundraising campaigns. These intuitive products make it easier for donors to give and reach them where they’re most engaged: on their mobile devices.”

For a high-tech organization like Gesture, embracing other solutions has been crucial to its success. As Alvarez explains, “We recently upgraded our CRM to Salesforce and it was life-changing for our team. We now have insight into customers and can integrate with all our other tools.” Alvarez also recommends using other effective tools that have been helpful for him in the past as well. “Don’t be afraid of technology. Experiment with lightweight technology tools and services, like Zapier and Webflow, that can make a positive impact with little investment.”

Technology is changing fast, and it’s important for any business owner to keep up with it as best as he or she can. One of the quickest ways to embrace the modern age is to focus on mobile. “Fully investing in making a great mobile experience has been essential for Gesture,” Alvarez explains. “People live on their phones, and if you do not deliver a great product that empowers them to have everything they need right in their pocket, then you are letting your customers down.”

Start by ensuring you have a strong, mobile-friendly, responsive website design. Look to app-designers to help you learn how to find new ways to interact with your customers, and find different solutions to keep your product or service handy as each customer picks up his or her phone. Then you’ll see the many different ways embracing technology can pay off for your small business and, most importantly, your bottom line.

This article was written by Deborah Flomberg for CBS Small Business Pulse.

Read the article on CBS SF BayArea

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In the News: Valpo’s Jim Alvarez brings fundraising into the 21st century

Inspired Living, a magazine based in Northwest Indiana, featured an article about our CEO Jim Alvarez and why he founded Gesture.

Find the full article on Inspired Living, or read it below. Contact us to see how we can help you raise more at your next fundraising event!

Valpo’s Jim Alvarez brings fundraising into the 21st century

By Mark Loehrke

Jim Alvarez brings fundraising into the 21st century - Inspired Living, Joshua Albanese

Photo credit: Joshua Albanese

As odd as it might seem to pair the graying world of old-school, traditional fundraising with the fast-paced, cutting-edge world of mobile technology, it is perhaps odder still to learn that one of the innovators of the movement to bring those two worlds together is a Valparaiso resident who heretofore had enjoyed success as an options trader, a tanning salon owner, a golf club inventor and a proprietor of a haunted attraction called the Amhurst Asylum.

However, despite this unlikely background—which didn’t necessarily portend his stewardship of a technology-driven firm devoted to streamlining and modernizing the fundraising endeavors of hundreds of charitable organizations across the country—Jim Alvarez seems to have indeed found his calling with Gesture. Drawing on his experiences from having attended many charity events over the years—many with a silent auction component—Alvarez saw a pronounced opportunity to relieve some of the traditional pain points associated with these types of functions.

“I knew there had to be a better way to handle things like long registration lines, pen-and-paper auction bidding and slow, confusing checkout processes,” Alvarez says. “Most of the people coming to these types of events have a fair amount of discretionary income and they’re people who aren’t used to waiting in line very often, so it’s kind of strange that they suddenly have to wait in line to make a $10,000 donation. It didn’t make any sense to me.”

Looking to remedy this situation, Alvarez sold his chain of tanning salons and started Gesture in 2011, with the goal of helping organizations get more out of their worthwhile fundraising efforts by modernizing many of those outdated processes through the use of mobile technology, with everything from event registration to auction bidding to checkout and payment moving to the palms of patrons’ hands. Perhaps not surprisingly, Gesture wasn’t initially an easy sell to organizations that had grown accustomed to running their events a certain way over the course of years or even decades.

“A lot of our success at the outset was dependent upon how innovative the charity in question was,” Alvarez explains. “Some places couldn’t imagine the idea of people using their phones to bid on an auction item, for instance, while others seemed to get it right away. This was definitely new territory for a lot of charities, so there was a lot of education and trust-building in the beginning.”

Those trust-building efforts paid off, however, and Gesture quickly began bringing in more business than even Alvarez had expected, as more and more organizations saw the potential efficiency of features such as streamlined pre-registration for events, text notifications for auction winners and mobile payments at checkout.

“The goal was always just to help our charity partners manage these processes much more efficiently,” Alvarez says. “When we started, we were like Harry Potter—we’d come in with this amazing new technology to help them get more bids than they’d ever imagined, so they would look at us like we were magicians. But all we were really doing is helping to make their process a little bit better.”

These days, as technology has improved and mobile fundraising methods have become more widely accepted, Gesture has grown to a team of almost 70 employees helping to improve the fundraising efforts of hundreds of organizations. From some of the biggest charities in the world such as the American Heart Association and the Make-A-Wish Foundation to pro sports franchises like the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks to dozens of smaller independent organizations (including Opportunity Enterprises in Valparaiso and St. Mary’s school in Griffith), the company has helped its clients raise more than $400 million over the past five and a half years. In a career spanning dozens of disparate interests and pursuits, it’s an accomplishment that Alvarez finds especially gratifying.

“I’m really proud of the team we’ve been able to build here,” he says. “It’s great that the work of all of our charity partners is the underlying cause that we’re supporting, and I think that shared cause gives us a great motivation and advantage going forward.”

About Inspired Living
Inspired Living magazine is for women living in Northwest Indiana who enjoy fashion, home décor, entertaining, and supporting the Northwest Indiana community through business and philanthropy.

Using beautiful art and relevant content, Inspired Living aims to resource women with current trends in style, food, beauty, design, and health; promote local businesses through editorial and advertising opportunities; and keep Northwest Indiana residents informed about and engaged in local social events.

Filled with local names and faces, Inspired Living magazine aims to be the authority on style and culture in Northwest Indiana.

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People want to act on what’s important to them, to contribute to the success of something that matters. But often the business of charity interferes with the experience of giving. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with organizations to capture each helping hand, each friendly smile, and each round of applause by turning inspiration into action.

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