In this video, Nolan from BBYO shares how they rallied the LARGEST Jewish teen Livestream giving experience with Givebutter. He'll share:

  • How BBYO pivoted their annual in-person event to Livestream during this pandemic
  • What made BBYO's Livestream so successful
  • Livestream tips and tricks
  • Words of advice for those of us who are new to Livestream fundraising
"The same standards that we have for a 5,000-person international convention, this has a potential to reach so many more people than that through Facebook and Zoom. I think it’s important to remember while keeping it simple and clean that this [Livestream] has the potential to reach so many. Treat it like you would with your biggest event - be as intentional about it. Definitely practice!"


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Full video script

Rachel: Hi everybody, Rachel here from Givebutter. I have Nolan joining me here from BBYO. How are you doing today?

Nolan: I’m great, how are you?

Rachel: Doing good! To start, would you mind telling us a little bit about who you are and what BBYO does?

Nolan: Sure, I’m Nolan, like you said, and I work for BBYO typically based out of Washington, DC, in our international office, our headquarters, which helps to coordinate our programs that touch about 80,000 Jewish teens worldwide and 50+ countries throughout the year. We do that in leadership development programs, Jewish enrichment experiences, sports - really any and everything you can think of that teenagers would be doing is where we are. We’re at a local level, regional level, and international level really putting on events and experiences for teens to help them grow into positive, enriching, mature adults as they age and filling a really important gap in the life cycle of Jewish teens… providing them a safe space to grow up, explore their identities, to make friends, to build connections - all around the world.

Rachel: I love it. So I heard you rallied the LARGEST Jewish teen giving experience in the world, recently, raising funds with other nonprofits for various nonprofits with the Jewish Teen Philanthropy. Could you tell us more about that?

Nolan: Yeah, so this was a part of our J-Serve initiative, which has taken place for the last 16-years. J-Serve is a collaborative effort from a bunch of different Jewish organizations - and some non-Jewish nonprofits - it’s a project of Good Deeds Day which is a multinational organization that brings together community service efforts of Youth Services of America... basically it’s a whole bunch of organizations that basically believe that teens really have the power to impact the world in a positive way. We’ve been doing J-Serve for 16-years, and the 15-years prior it’s been an in-person, local experience. So teens gather in their local city, their local community and they either do direct service projects or philanthropy projects or advocacy projects or something that brings together all of that to really stand up for communities that need it… to lend a hand usually one day a year, but as a celebration of year-round effort. So not just for that day, but to say, “Hey! We’re the Jewish teens of [insert city around the world here] and we are excited about helping to improve the world!” This year, as we looked at what to do, with only a few weeks’ notice, we realized everything was moving virtual and we wanted to adapt our team to where the world is right now. We threw together basically a full-day lineup of experiences that was on our BBYO on-demand platform, which is our new Jewish space for teens worldwide during this time of uncertainty. We threw together this day of philanthropy, advocacy, and service projects as part of a worldwide philanthropy campaign which we did with the Jewish Teen Funders Network. And that basically brought the teams together to do a giving circle model, where they are raising collective money that they themselves use on our Livestream to decide where that money goes across four organizations that they choose themselves that are impacting the world right now with the current Coronavirus issues. So it was a really wonderful, really successful day. We saw teams from dozens of countries jump into learning sessions to advocacy workshops to philanthropy experiences. Then we had a live concert with an artist during the afternoon as an energizing rally. And then like I said we wrapped it all up with our Livestream where teens participated in giving circles and decided how to allocate those funds according to the organizations and the communal pool that they raised.

Rachel: I mean… incredible. Amazing. How quickly you were able to pull that together. How dynamic - you turned around your entire day of giving and like you said, you ended the day as a Livestream and you used Givebutter to do that - to host and display your Livestream after, right?

Nolan: Yeah, so we are good friends of Givebutter. Like I said, we’re working with teens and they demand the latest, the coolest, the best in everything. When we were looking very quickly at where we were going to collect these funds, how we were going to organize our networks in regions and teams and chapters and allow them to fundraise on their own - but in this really decentralized but also all rolling up to one major campaign. There was only one way that we could think of to do that which truly was Givebutter, right away. Which is not even sales-pitchy at all. Really, I don’t know another site that can do it. Givebutter, the team was just so amazing at getting it up and ready so quickly for the experience for the virtual event to make the Livesteaming work so - and to really integrate it all so that we could have our teams with social sharing so that we could really make it a successful day with such short notice and it was really an excellent solution to be used.

Rachel: Well, thanks for saying that. It sounds like you wanted to turn to Givebutter’s Livestream feature because it was engaging for the teens. They almost demanded that of you, which I love how you said that. If you don’t mind, I’d love to share my screen so that those who are watching can get a look because your page is just a “101” in what to do on a Livestream fundraising page. So, everybody, that’s looking: they have a leaderboard, everybody that’s involved, a compelling story -

Nolan: Yeah and one of the things I’m looking at that made me so thrilled throughout the whole day is these comments on the right side. Knowing some of these teens personally, and seeing them rally their communities, and watching it come in in real-time was super special. So, you know, seeing their parents or their grandparents give and write a nice little comment, “Great job Caleb! Good luck raising money for this important cause.” It warmed my heart throughout the day to see it and being able to interact with one another in that way was really special. Knowing that we couldn’t be in person, or connect, or have a phone bank, or do something altogether but as best as we can creating that feeling online is what made it so special.

Rachel: Right, yeah, that live supporter feed - it looks like people were really engaged with yours, which is really touching to see. Everybody who’s looking can see that the Livestream is just front and center so it makes it really compelling for people to hop right on and people can - including me, I’ve watched it after it went live! - you can still watch the video after and even make donations now if you want to. So, I would love to share a minute intro of your Livestream, for folks that haven’t had a chance to try Livestream or see one yet, haven’t seen one yet on Givebutter, or at all - because I thought you just did such a phenomenal job of bringing people in to the story.

Nolan: Yeah, thank you. Let’s do it!

Rachel: So good! I loved it when someone in the corner when they mentioned Cleveland they were like, “Yeah!!!”

Nolan: I think that that’s - and watching it again - is one of the highlights of these virtual experiences, seeing all of the people, ya know? One thing that we’ve really leaned into is doing a meeting format where you can see everyone, not always a webinar where you can only see the speakers. And it’s for that moment of, “Yeah, Cleveland!” right? That’s the connection that I think people are striving for and that this allows you to have, really. It’s something special. Like they said, it’s not something we planned for. But it’s something that we pulled together. I think it’s a testament to our network and our teams really and what they want and what they’re pushing for, no matter what the situation.

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Rachel: So Nolan, tell me: what are some of your other lessons learned going Livestream for this event.

Nolan: Yeah, I think that one thing that we saw with the donations, and you mentioned that you can still donate now, is that we saw a lot of donations after the Livestream, which was obviously just an extra bonus and special. I learned we could have even capitalized on that more. Maybe our stream could have felt a little more like a phone-a-thon, where we were saying, “Hey, if you haven’t donated, be sure to check out and donate!” And obviously, on the Givebutter platform, it’s right there - you can’t miss it. I think that’s one of the things we learned - definitely using the Livestream and fundraising page to play even more off of each other. While we planned this for the culmination of the day, it also was also the launch to some of the exciting things that happened after. So, being intentional about that was something we could have done. And I think the other was just really making sure that everyone felt seen and heard. With such a diverse teen network around the world - you saw some of those experiences that were listed there… but all of the different places listed out were on purpose because we want people to feel like they are a part of our movement, not separate from anything at all. No matter what country or what project you did for the day… so just creating that community every step of the way, I think was really, really important.

Rachel: Right, yeah, I agree with that. Are there any tips and tricks you’d recommend for folks who are totally new to Livestream too or are about to head into their first Livestream experience maybe for something like Giving Tuesday next week on Givebutter?

Nolan: Yeah, I think the best basic is really keeping it simple. Recognizing that in the same way that your in-person gala, in-person event, or whatever it might be, you want it to feel special and it doesn’t have to be over-complicated. You know, just having people share their personal stories, just having the faces and stories behind it, for us is what made it really meaningful. I think it doesn’t need fireworks, so to say, to believe in your mission. I think mission drives. And even if you’re doing something that’s just a few people on a Livestream, and you’re hosting and having them share how your organization has impacted them… or how your organization is adapting to the current times. They want connection, they want stories, they want to be able to really see and hear that they can find themselves in these places. And they can, you know, it might feel like everything is totally different than it was a few weeks ago, but if your organization is there, you’re standing strong, you’re continuing steadfast with your mission - I think sharing that in a real clear, simple way is important with them. That’s what we did with this Livestream. That’s what it showed, I think. We’re not gonna back down, we’re not gonna stop, things might change but we are who we are, and we’re gonna stick to our mission, really, at our core.

Rachel: So what I hear you saying is: keep it simple, stay mission-driven, and share engaging stories so people feel connected to your community.

Nolan: Yeah, and I think the only thing I’d add is something I think everyone knows, which we saw definitely in our Philanthropy campaign at the time: just be really compassionate and sympathetic to everyone’s experiences at this time. So many people are struggling with health issues, with economic issues, with all kinds of things… as many of our organizations are doing Giving Tuesday campaigns, fundraising campaigns - that is more important now than ever -  our donors’ lives have changed, too. So, adapting and being sympathetic to that as like a blanket on top of it all is just something really important to keep in mind. I don’t think it means don’t ask, but just be careful about your ask and do it in a compassionate way.

Rachel: Yeah, be sensitive, I agree with that. I think you did a great job modeling that for all of us. It seemed like your script was just so thoughtful. Can you share with everyone - how did you do that? It seemed to run so smoothly - did you do a trial run?

Nolan: Lots of Google Docs and What’s Apps. We did have people hop on a little bit before the speakers and do a trial, which is really helpful. And I think reminding them that, you know, it is like an in-person event, keeping it tight and keeping it clean. And even in thinking of that for ourselves in writing and scripting it, it’s important. The same standards that we have for a 5,000-person international convention, this has a potential to reach so many more people than that through Facebook and Zoom. I think it’s important to remember while keeping it simple and clean that this has the potential to reach so many. Treat it like you would with your biggest event - be as intentional about it. Definitely practice! For us, I think the core issue is - how do teens feel passionate about it and be involved? We’re not writing a script for them and giving them a script and saying, “Great, read this, go ahead and hopefully this feels comfortable!” It’s a collaborative effort with our speakers and with our team to say, “What message do you want to share with everyone? And how can we write that together so that it reaches the audience?” And really just giving it the weight that I think it does have. Just because it’s virtual, doesn’t mean that it’s not important.

Rachel: Right, that collaborative effort really did come across. So I guess just in closing - if there are some people who are on the fence or a little bit nervous about trying Livestream, what would be your encouragement or advice to them?

Nolan: I think that everything we have been doing is like dipping your feet into the water and seeing how hot it is or how cold it is. And you don’t know! We have no idea what’s going to stick. But really, what do you have to lose? As long as you’re doing it well and you’re trying I think that shows - your community and your supporters and your network will see that you’re adapting and that you’re trying. So I think that my best advice would be: try it! Dive in. Try one thing. Try another thing the next week if it didn’t work. Alter. Take feedback. That’s what the last few weeks have really shown us at BBYO is that everything is a trial and everything is worth a try. It’s a time to innovate and be creative. Everyone’s at home, they’re sitting around on their computers, waiting for something to happen… if you can provide a compelling experience, go for it! Why wait until things are back in person? And who knows what will happen when things are back in person? Maybe virtual is a nice compliment to in-person events? Maybe it’ll be the new thing the world has crafted. Who knows, we have no idea. Go for it, try it out - really, I think you have nothing to lose.

Rachel: Thanks for that. It’s organizations like BBYO that inspire Givebutter to be adaptable, and do something new for us, too. Livestream was created in less than two weeks as a response to help folks like you do the incredible work that you do. Kudos to you and the entire BBYO team, J-Serve, for inspiring us, challenging us, pushing us forward! Incredible work. Nolan, thanks so much for doing this.

Nolan: Thank you! And thanks to the Givebutter team - really, I mean, it was the perfect union. We said, “Hey, we want to do a Livestream event.” and Givebutter said, “Hey, we’re almost done developing our Livestream technology.” We married the two, and it was beautiful. So thank you to your team.

Rachel: Thank you, take care!

Nolan: Thanks!

View campaign: J-Serve International Teen Philanthropy Campaign

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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