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Don’t Get Lost In The Madness




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


Enjoy the madness!

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Gesture Team Member Spotlight – Erin Phillips

Gesture Team Member Spotlight



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!
  • 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!

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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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Debunking the Myth: Older Donors are Resistant to Mobile Giving


Technology is constantly evolving and reshaping our world. You can see the evidence of it everywhere you look. Cable TV is losing viewers to streaming companies like Netflix. Established newspapers are losing subscribers to online media outlets like Buzzfeed. Landlines are going extinct as people prefer mobile phones.

These changes are happening fast. It might seem safe to assume that people from the Traditionalist (born 1922-1945) and Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) generations are shrugging these changes off and staying set in their ways. After all, you can probably name at least one person who doesn’t know what “wifi” means.

Because of this, you might be hesitant to make online or mobile giving a bigger part of your fundraising strategy. You don’t want to scare away your loyal, long-standing donors, right?

But don’t fret – your donors are more tech-savvy than you think!


Older generations aren’t afraid of technology. A report published by the Pew Research Center about U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 found that “64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.”

You can reach more than half of your target audience through mobile appeals like emails or social media campaigns. And that 64% only covers smartphone owners. Giving campaigns that you run through text messages would also reach your supporters who can’t get rid of their flip phone. Based on the rise from 2011 and 2015, it’s likely that these numbers will only grow in the next few years.

Great,” you might be thinking. “My donors might own phones, but how do I know that they’ll participate in online or mobile giving appeals?

Good question.

According to a donor survey commissioned by Dunham+Company and conducted by Campbell Rinker, “nearly 1 of 5 donors (18 percent) say they’ve used their mobile device to give to a charity’s website [in 2015], up from just 10 percent two years prior.”

The survey continues to show that the largest jump occurs in the number of donors under 40 who used their mobile device to donate to a nonprofit (9% in 2013 to 21% in 2015). However, it also shows that the 60+ donor range nearly doubled, increasing from 7% in 2013 to 13% in 2015.

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that donors are open to online and mobile giving campaigns. If you think about it, people use mobile devices for plenty of everyday interactions, from keeping up with family and friends on social networks to online shopping and banking. Why wouldn’t they be willing to donate to their favorite organizations that way, too?


The rise in smartphone ownership and online giving didn’t happen overnight. There’s still work to be done before the number of donors who use their mobile device to give to a charity shrinks even more. However, these positive trends show it will be worth it to invest your time and money in more online and mobile giving appeals. But how?


Make it as easy as possible for your donors to show their support. The most basic way is to create a short online donation form that is mobile-friendly and easy to find on your website. Add a “Donate Now” button in the top corner of your website. This way, people can get to your form in just one click.


When you buy a new phone, kitchen gadget, or even a walking/talking children’s toy, you get a manual that explains how to use it.

You don’t have to worry about writing a whole complicated book, but following their lead isn’t a bad idea. Show your donors how they can find your online form. Explain how they sign up for your email list. Encourage them to purchase tickets for a fundraiser online.

If you’re using a fundraising technology company like us for your events, you can include directions on how to bid in your event program. You could also create a cute design and hang posters with the directions around your event space. Our on-site staff will be available to assist guests, as well.

Educating your donors on mobile giving will show them how easy and painless it is to support your organization that way.


One thing Gesture’s on-site staff has noticed at events is that older guests act like kids in a candy shop when using the Gesture platform to bid on items and donate. They receive immediate text messages when they’re outbid, can set auto bids on items so they don’t go over-budget, and can watch bids on the most attractive items rise in real-time. And if someone doesn’t have a smartphone or forgets it at home? They pair up with friends or the Gesture staff to check on their items and keep bidding. It’s more competitive and exciting to have the ability to bid at their fingertips.

This is an easy, unique addition to your event. Plus, it’s good for your organization. Guests having fun = more money raised for your cause.

Another way to use technology to make giving more fun is to create visually appealing videos that tug at your supporters’ emotions and/or make them laugh. Sharing them on social media or in email donation appeals will make your ask even stronger.

Create a hashtag on social media so you – and your supporters – can see what others are saying about your organization. Ask people to share pictures, videos, and testimonials.

The possibilities are endless.


Don’t let fear of excluding your loyal donors stop you from making online and mobile giving a bigger piece of your fundraising strategy. If you educate them on the process and make it simple and fun, they’ll hop right in!

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Stories of Hope: National Mentoring Month

Stories of Hope

National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month! In 2002, The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health launched the campaign. Their goal is to raise awareness of mentoring and its positive impact on youth, recruit new mentors, and encourage organizations to get their supporters involved in mentoring.

Various events are planned for the month of January as part of the campaign, including I Am A Mentor Day on January 12, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 16, International Mentoring Day on January 17, and #ThankYourMentor Day on January 19.

Follow #MentorIRL to follow the campaign all month on social media. You can also learn more on their official website.

Gesture is proud to partner with organizations across the country that offer mentorship opportunities. The organizations below are three of many!

Stories of Hope: National Mentoring Month - Big Brothers Big Sisters LogoBig Brothers Big Sisters of America

Mission: Provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has matched adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with children ages 6 through 18 (“Littles”) for more than 100 years. They offer a very broad array of opportunities for both mentors and youth to get involved, including:

  • school- and community-based mentoring
  • programs geared towards African American, Hispanic, and Native American descent
  • a one-on-one mentoring program called “Bigs in Blue” which connects youth with police in their communities
  • programs for children of military families or with incarcerated parents

Gesture has partnered with various chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters and has helped them raise nearly $3 million for their cause.

You can learn more about the organization on their website, or sign up to be a Big!

Stories of Hope: National Mentoring Month - Boys & Girls Club LogoBoys & Girls Clubs of America

Mission: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

The Boys & Girls Club offers programs that help youth become well-rounded adults. Their education and career programs prepare youth for their future and help them find their dream job. Character and leadership programs encourage youth to become responsible and caring citizens. Additionally, they offer health and life skills initiatives, arts programs, and sports, fitness, & recreation programs.

Gesture has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club since 2014 to assist in their fundraising efforts and has helped them raise more than $2.32 million.

“The Gesture staff is always very responsive and helpful, and their on-site staff is friendly and professional with our event guests,” shared Fay Beard from the Lone Star Chapter. “Andy Darin, Bret Dickerson and Brandon Stec were so thorough, informative, responsive and helpful throughout the entire process, and their attention to detail is outstanding. We couldn’t ask for a better team to help us reach our fundraising goal.”

Learn more about Boys & Girls Club on their website. You can also find a club near you to sign up as a volunteer!

Stories of Hope: National Mentoring Month - The First Tee LogoThe First Tee

Mission: To provide youth with educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.

The First Tee emphasizes Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment. Youth ages 7-18 learn these skills through programs on the golf course, in elementary schools, and in youth centers. The First Tee also co-hosts national events and plans leadership opportunities with their corporate partners to further their mission.

Gesture has partnered with chapters of The First Tee to help them raise more than half a million dollars.

“We partnered with Gesture for our biggest annual fundraiser, The Harbottle Golf Classic, which has some unique needs, and Gesture has built a platform to fit them,” Whitney Hillis, Administrative and Events Director for The First Tee South Puget Sound, said. “As an administrator, the platform was easy to use and intuitive. If I had any questions about the program, the Gesture staff would reply right away with answers and/or support.”

You can learn more about The First Tee on their website, or apply to be a coach or volunteer.

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5 Mobile Fundraising Goals Every Nonprofit Should Have for the Year

More and more donors are using their mobile phones to contribute to organizations. Now is the time to revamp your mobile fundraising or get started (if you don’t already accept donations via mobile phones).

If you’re looking to set new goals for your mobile fundraising, you’re in luck! We have five goals that your nonprofit can use. Additionally, we’ll provide you with ways to reach each goal, so you can accomplish even more this year.

Let’s go over the goals we’ll discuss:

  1. Optimize your donation forms.
  2. Start connecting with donors via text.
  3. Host an event with mobile giving.
  4. Find a secure payment processor.
  5. Encourage mobile giving on social media.

Keep reading to learn more!


If you’re already accepting online donations, then you could optimize your forms to make them better for mobile donors.

Setting a goal like this will make your donation forms more convenient for every donor that decides to contribute. Optimizing your donation forms is important because it provides your supporters with an easy way to donate when they are on the go.

When donors have more access to your donation forms, they can make a contribution whenever they are in giving mood. There is no delay in the process if they can just grab their phone and give.

How to accomplish your goal:

It’s important to make sure that you are designing mobile-responsive giving forms. When a donation form is mobile-responsive, the form will adjust to fit any size screen. No matter what device your donors use to give, they will all have a similar experience.  

While having a mobile-responsive donation form is one step in the right direction, you can do even more to optimize your donation forms.

Here are the top strategies you can use:

  • Use donation amount buttons.
    When you include suggested donation amounts on your form, donors can click their desired donation without having to enter in a dollar amount. It makes the process easy to complete on a mobile device. Suggested donation amounts also encourage donors to give more. When donors see the amounts, they’ll think that everyone is using the buttons and want to use them too.
  • Don’t require donors to setup an account.
    Having donors set up an account takes additional time and can be frustrating to fill out on a mobile phone. You want to make the process as simple and easy as possible, so avoid additional steps that might seem unnecessary to the donor.
  • Keep your donation form short.
    A good rule of thumb is to keep your donation forms to one page. That way, it limits the number of fields a donor has to fill out. Donors will be able to see every field they need to complete and gauge how long it will take them.

These tips will help you make sure that your donations are ready for mobile devices.

Key point: If you want to improve your mobile fundraising, you should set a goal to make enhancements to your donation forms. Your donors will have a better giving experience, and you could potentially earn more donations.


Did you know that 99% of text messages are opened within the first five minutes? If you’re not already texting your donors, then you should make it a goal to start!

Most people have their phones handy at many points during the day, which means you have the opportunity to reach out to them using a platform that most donors check on a regular basis.

Connecting with your supporters via text message is an immediate and simple way to communicate. Plus you can include other media to grab their attention and links to direct them to additional information in your messages.

How to achieve your goal:

If you want to start texting your donors, you first need to find a platform where you can accept text-to-give donations and send out mass messages to your supporters.

After you sign up for a text-to-give service, you need to start thinking about what you should send to your donors. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when you send out your text messages:

  • Keep your messages short and sweet. Donors don’t want to read a novel on their phones.
  • Use links to direct your supporters to additional information or to places where they can donate.
  • Don’t send out too many messages. Since texting is so short and easy you might be tempted to send out a lot of messages. Avoid this urge!
  • Encourage donors to respond. Use text messaging to engage with your donors by asking questions or playing mini-trivia games.

Key point: Communicating with donors via text message is another way to raise mobile donations. Supporters can engage with your nonprofit and donate to your cause without having to switch devices.


Your nonprofit should consider hosting a fundraising event that includes mobile giving in a prominent way. Not only will it encourage donors to give but it will also raise more awareness about your cause.

For instance, imagine you’re hosting a school charity auction. You could host a silent auction and encourage donors to make bids on their mobile phones. Donor will get more comfortable using their phones to donate, which could cause them to use mobile giving in the future.

If you’re unsure about what event to host, you could always plan a walkathon. Both large and small nonprofits can handle planning this kind of event. However, the possibilities for your fundraising event are endless!

Just remember to incorporate mobile giving into your fundraiser.

How to achieve your goal:

If you want to host an event with mobile giving at the center, it’s important to figure out who you’re targeting and how you can market mobile giving.

Let’s say you want to host an event for major donors. Certain events, like a gala, will be more suitable to your target audience.

Additionally, you can encourage donors to use mobile giving channels by interacting with donors via text message. You can send attendees:

  • Updates on your fundraising goal.
  • Photos and videos of the event.
  • Messages with instructions on how donors can contribute.

If donors are active on their phones during your event, they’ll find it more convenient to give on their phones, too.

Key point: Planning an event that incorporates mobile giving is a great goal because it can help your nonprofit increase your mobile donations and raise awareness.


One of the concerns donors have with mobile and online donations is security. Your donors will be more hesitant to give if they feel like their information isn’t protected.

It’s up to your nonprofit to ensure that your donors’ information stays safe. And you can do this by finding a secure payment processor. While payment processing isn’t often talked about, it’s an important part of any online donation.

The payment processor verifies that the donation is coming from the right person and transfers the money between accounts. PayPal is one example of a payment processor, but it isn’t the only one out there.

If you’re unsure about the payment process and how you can keep your donors’ information protected, make it a goal to be more familiar with the procedure.

How to achieve your goal:

Find a provider that is PCI-compliant. When a provider is PCI-compliant, they meet certain standards created by the Payment Card Industry to ensure the security of your donors’ information.

Without PCI compliance, your organization could face penalties with fees of up to $500,000. By choosing a processor that follows these standards, you have the tools to make sure your forms are PCI-compliant.

Payment processors also offer different levels of security like tokenization where your donors’ payment information is transformed into a series of symbols and letters called a token. The processor is the only one who can decipher the token.

Once you become more familiar with all the different security measures available, you can search for a payment processor that gives you the level of security that you’re comfortable with.

Additionally, you should educate your donors on how the payment process works so that they’ll be more comfortable donating through mobile phones and other online donation channels.

Key point: Payment processing is an important part of the donation process. It can help put you and your donors at ease, so set a goal to find a secure processor this year.


Your donors are often checking their social media accounts on their mobile phones. It can be another way to connect with your donors and let them know about all the mobile giving channels available to them.

Your nonprofit is probably active on some social media platforms. You can use these platforms to your advantage to make donors more aware about your mobile giving channels.

How to achieve your goal:

If you want to interact with your donors on social media to promote mobile donations, you need to let donors know how they can give on their phones. Post instructions on how to use text-to-give and links to your other donation forms to keep donors informed on how they can give.

Additionally, make sure that your supporters know the number they have to text when they donate. The more places you include your text-to-give instructions and the phone number, the more readily accessible it is for mobile donors.

When it’s convenient, you can expect more donors to use those giving channels.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when encouraging mobile donations on social media:

  • Keep your posts short. If you’re trying to attract mobile donors, they have a smaller screen to view your posts. You don’t want to bombard them with too much information.
  • Include images. When donors navigate their newsfeed, images are going to grab their attention and stand out from the rest of the posts.
  • Add a “Donate Now!” button to your Facebook page. Donors can easily give using your Facebook donation form and return to their newsfeed.
  • Use social sharing buttons on your donation forms. That way, donors can share their contributions on social media. It will help raise awareness about your cause and potentially encourage more donors to give.

These tips will help you stand out when you encourage donors to give using your mobile donation forms.

Key point: If your goal is to get more creative with your social media interaction, you can incorporate mobile donations into the mix with the tips we mentioned above.

Hopefully, you’ve learned about a few mobile fundraising goals that you can incorporate into your fundraising plans.

Now you can start the new year with new ways to encourage donors to give using mobile phones and the steps you need to accomplish your new goals.

John Killoran @Pay - 5 Mobile Fundraising GoalsAuthor Bio

John Killoran is CEO of @Pay, an exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites. John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years. When he is not running a company, he is cooking food for his family and telling his dogs to stop barking.

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Gestures of the Week December 24-30

A helping hand. A friendly smile. A round of applause at a charity event. Universal signs of support that have the power to change the world. Here are the Gestures of the Week December 24-30.

Want to suggest a Gesture of the Week? Post to our Facebook Page or tweet to us at @GestureTeam.

gestures of the week december 24-30 davonnaCancer survivor receives unexpected help for reconstructive surgery

A local breast cancer survivor is now receiving some unexpected help from a friend after she’s inspired many with her countless acts of kindness and support.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 33 years old,” Whittenburg said. “I went through chemotherapy, radiation, the whole treatment.”

Years ago, Whittenburg was working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse at Mercy Hospital, saving up money for reconstructive surgery after having a double mastectomy.

“We had a baby that came through that my heart just went to,” Whittenburg said. “He was premature, no family, no visitors, no home, nothing. [My husband and I] had always prayed about having a third child, adopting a child, but when I got cancer, that obviously went out the door.”

But, the dream of having another child wasn’t so far out of reach.

“I told my husband it was a no-brainer to me,” Whittenburg said. “I called the doctor’s office and told them that I was cancelling my surgery. They asked why and I said because we’re adopting a child.” Read more…

gestures of the week december 24-30 jlawJennifer Lawrence Kept Up Her Heartfelt Holiday Tradition At A Louisville Children’s Hospital

Actress Jennifer Lawrence spent her Christmas Eve giving back to her hometown of Louisville, Ky. The Oscar winner paid a visit to Norton Children’s Hospital to spend time with the patients and staff. According to a local newspaper, Lawrence has been making surprise holiday visits to the hospital since 2013. Read more…

gestures of the week december 24-30 ornamentWoman cross-stitches unique ornaments for child cancer patients

An ornament maker who has remained anonymous until now is getting the recognition she deserves.

Nancy Benedict embodies the spirit of Christmas. Her home is decorated brightly for Christmas with Santa ornaments, statues, dolls and more. She channels her inner Santa and gives presents to children at Christmastime.

For the past three years, Nancy cross-stitched ornaments for families who have children battling cancer. In many cases, she made the gifts for children she never even met. Read more…

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Make Hope Happen
is more than just a motto.

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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1,000+ Organizations have trusted Gesture nationwide

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Gesture partners with many different nonprofit and charity groups all across the country

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