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  • Writer's pictureChris Strub

Case Study: #BigGive2019 San Antonio

On Thursday, March 28, more than 28,000 donors contributed a sum of more than $4.7 million to 545 participating nonprofits as part of The Big Give 2019.

Scott McAninch, CEO of The Nonprofit Council, interviews Renee Garvens, Chief Development Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, at The Big Give 2019 Kickoff Rally at Hemisfair.

2019 was the sixth year of The Big Give, South Central Texas's 24-hour online day of giving. With more than $20 million raised in its first five years, The Big Give is one of the nation's most successful giving days. And for 2019, The Nonprofit Council emphasized a robust social media strategy focused on live-streaming video to reach donors both locally and around the world.

The Big Give 2019 festivities began on the eve of the big day, March 27, with a 60-minute kickoff event at Hemisfair in downtown San Antonio. More than 100 nonprofit representatives gathered at the park to demonstrate a collective sense of energy, which The Nonprofit Council captured through a unique Facebook Live strategy.

At the rally, Scott McAninch, CEO of The Nonprofit Council, and I took to the stage to address the rowdy crowd, and offered them the opportunity to share their organizations' stories on our Facebook Live channel.

As you can see in the full video, many organizations were very eager to take advantage of the opportunity to be on camera. Traditionally, the kickoff rally for The Big Give is an opportunity for traditional media channels to come down and film maybe a 30- or 60-second story; using Facebook Live, The Nonprofit Council was able to capture on video nearly 13 minutes of interviews with key nonprofit stakeholders.

There are several important things to note about the production of this particular video:

1) The use of Switcher Studio. The video was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus, but we were controlling the production quality of the video using a third-party app called Switcher Studio, on a second iPhone in my other hand. (At the start of the video, Jerry Moore from The Nonprofit Council is assisting with recording as I am on stage with Scott.)

This revolutionary app allowed me to post lower thirds on the screen, including the bar at the bottom of the screen designed to drive traffic to the website,, as well as include the event hashtag, #BIGGIVE2019. I was also able to post a graphic with Scott's full name and title periodically throughout the broadcast. These graphics and titles make the video infinitely more watchable than a chaotic approach to diving into the crowd with just the Facebook app open.

2) The microphones. As you see in the beginning of the video, there is a 'house' sound system that was blasting through the park, which allowed us to communicate with the crowd in person. But the two microphones we used for the Facebook Live broadcast were different -- they are my two Samson Go Mic microphones, which connect to a small digital receiver that is attached to the back of one of my two iPhones.

The mics also feature customized 'I AM HERE' mic flags, which add a touch of professionalism to the broadcast. Interviewees felt like they were appearing on a specific channel, rather than just speaking haphazardly into a mic.

The microphones worked as well as we could've possibly hoped in this instance, as we were just feet from a professional sound system blaring loud music on a sunny springtime day. Even in the face of very loud background noise, both Scott's voice and the voices of the interviewees cuts through, allowing the viewer to listen in and understand what is taking place at the rally.

Using Switcher Studio in conjunction with the Samson Go Mic pair allowed us to create a style of Facebook Live broadcast that sets a standard for giving days around the United States. This 13-minute Facebook Live video allowed us to truly capture the flavor and the feel of the Big Give 2019, by surfacing and amplifying the voices of community influencers from a broad variety of local nonprofits.

But that was just the beginning.

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After an energizing night's sleep, I joined the team from The Nonprofit Council at a conference room at The St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio, for a 6 AM sharp start time. Minutes later, we would initiate a live-streaming video strategy designed to shed enormous amounts of attention on the giving efforts taking place around South Central Texas.

With four tripods, four iPhones, an iPad, a motion stabilizer, a Zomei ring light, two big-screen televisions, two MacBooks and a branded podium, in addition to those Samson Go Mic's, the team from The Nonprofit Council and I proceeded to broadcast live on Facebook 27 times in a 19-hour time span.

Mercedes Alhaj appeared on a number of Facebook Live broadcasts throughout the day, announcing prizes that had been won by nonprofits during The Big Give 2019. Here, she makes an announcement during the 4 PM hour.

While 27 broadcasts may sound like a lot -- well, it is. But as anyone familiar with a giving day will tell you -- there is no shortage of subject matter to discuss, especially when you're able to connect with both the nonprofits and sponsors alike.


Our live video approach for The Big Give 2019 was a true collaborative effort. All three team members from The Nonprofit Council -- McAninch, Moore and 'Money' Mercedes Alhaj, who manned a pair of poster boards that listed periodic prizes -- appeared regularly on the Facebook Live broadcasts.

Jerry and I took the show on the road numerous times throughout the day and into the night, starting with a 7 AM visit to a local Catholic school that was serving pancake breakfasts to donors. You can see our visit to Blessed Sacrament Academy here (there is an audio issue early in the video that is quickly addressed).

As you can see in the screenshots above, we were able to utilize Switcher Studio to create a style of broadcast that truly mimics what you might expect to see in a more professional setting -- and we were able to create it live, with no post-production. I was able to create a graphic with name and title for Sister Odilia Korenek, and even use multiple cameras at once to show eggs being prepared and pancake breakfasts being doused in warm syrup. Meanwhile, the website where people can go to make a donation,, was shown on the screen during almost the entire broadcast. In a 20-minute visit to the academy, we were able to create 9 minutes and 16 seconds of video content that can be viewed year-round and even used by The Nonprofit Council in preparation for The Big Give 2020.

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Our video strategy for the day also included on-air touch points with companies that were invested in their own Employee Engagement programs. The Argo Group, located just a few blocks from The St. Anthony Hotel, was hosting a breakfast event of its own, which Jerry and I attended with some of our video equipment. Within just a couple of minutes of arriving, we were able to broadcast the remarks of Dave Snowden, a vice president at Argo Group, and catch him for a brief interview afterwards.

Employee engagement is a major point of emphasis for The Big Give, and The Argo Group ended up raising more than $13,000, leading the pack of 12 participating companies around the South Central Texas area. By not only visiting with but broadcasting live on Facebook with the Argo Group, the Nonprofit Council is able to show companies around the region why they should also get involved with The Big Give in years to come.

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The dynamic nature of Switcher Studio also allowed us to incorporate the voices of those whom we were not able to visit in real life. Over the months prior to The Big Give 2019, The Nonprofit Council had asked participating organizations to submit short videos that we would air on our own Facebook Live broadcasts during the 24-hour period.

More than 30 nonprofits sent in videos, and over at the 'Social Media Corner' of the conference room at The St. Anthony Hotel, I was able to play each of those videos as part of the interactive broadcasts we were creating. I used Switcher Studio to mirror what was being shown on the big-screen television behind me onto the main frame of the Facebook Live broadcast.

Using Switcher Studio's inset feature, I was able to move videos back and forth onto full screen while still keeping an active live shot, which added to the interactivity of the broadcasts.

By collecting these videos in advance, we were able to create an enormous multimedia collection of hyper-local content that was highly relevant to the audience and served the needs of the participating nonprofits. Thinking to the future, the ability to incorporate submitted videos also allows us the opportunity to possibly share donor stories, sponsored segments, or even pre-produced video pieces that can debut throughout the day. The possibilities are endless.

And by using Switcher Studio's dynamic picture-in-picture capabilities, I was able to seamlessly play these videos while still appearing on screen, which made for a smoothly produced broadcast that still strongly mimic'd a professional style production.

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Having the big, open conference room with a large step-and-repeat allowed The Nonprofit Council to invite in sponsors and local influencers throughout the day. One of the highlights of The Big Give 2019 was an in-depth, live conversation with philanthropist Harvey Najim, of the Najim Family Foundation.

Najim, who has donated over a hundred million dollars to local causes around the San Antonio area over the years, joined McAninch for an interview that allowed them to discuss in-depth the issues facing nonprofits in the region, as well as possible solutions.

In addition to Najim -- an annual contributor to The Big Give 2019 -- numerous sponsors rotated in and out of the conference room at The St. Anthony throughout the day. The most viewed piece of content we created all day was with Jorge Zeledon-Castillo, of Zeledon-Castillo LLC. Zeledon-Castillo's company sponsored a prize block in the afternoon, and Zeledon-Castillo, whose company printed all the Big Give branded materials in the room, joined Moore to announce the prizes his company had sponsored. With 32 shares, this video gained more than 2,300 organic views on its own.

Our series of Facebook Live broadcasts also included a cameo appearance -- via video -- by local celebrity Spurs Jesus, whose words were particularly relevant on this day, as March 28 was the day of the jersey retirement ceremony for San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili.

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All things considered, The Big Give 2019 social media strategy was an overwhelming success. With multiple hours of high-quality content shot and uploaded live over the course of 19 hours, the stories that were captured and shared will provide ample subject matter for The Nonprofit Council to break down, repurpose, re-share and re-strategize moving into The Big Give 2020.

Without question, having these videos in hand will allow The Nonprofit Council to show examples at their upcoming training camps and kickoff sessions as to how to use Facebook Live to create highly relevant, hyper-local content that drives donations and achieves objectives.

Cumulatively, the Facebook Live broadcasts collected over 8,000 views on Facebook.

On March 28 alone, The Big Give SA Facebook page gathered 4,080 minutes of video viewed. For the period of March 27 to April 2, there were 5,914 minutes of video viewed -- a 9,287% increase over the previous seven-day period.

The Big Give SA Facebook page had an organic reach on March 28 of 11,884 people -- more than 121 times the organic reach of the page earlier in the week.

There was an extraordinary spike of reactions, comments, likes and shares on the big day, and the data bears out that this is a hyper-local and engaged audience. The very clear vast majority of viewers and engagers on the Facebook page during this time frame were based in San Antonio, with others in New Braunfels, Austin and other nearby local communities.

There was a spike of new organic followers on March 27-28 as well -- 50 organic followers on March 27, and another 132 on March 28.

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While The Nonprofit Council had been using Facebook Live video on a weekly basis in the lead-up to The Big Give, the production value and strategy that was put in place on March 28 was a massive undertaking that set the bar high for future giving days.

Facebook Live may seem omnipresent, but it's only been available to all users on Facebook since April 2016. It is still considered a massive behavioral change for the average Facebook user to consume live video on an ongoing basis.

Providing a platform that highlighted all the above activities and stakeholders -- the nonprofits, the sponsors, local philanthropists, influencers and user-generated content, all in a single day -- was an adventurous approach for The Nonprofit Council. It is encouraging that the viewership gained was a hyper-local and highly engaged audience, and the production value added by the accompanying software and technology made for content that is immensely re-watchable.

And while almost all of the content lived on Facebook, there was plenty of attention being paid to #BigGive2019 on other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram. Although we didn't spend much time engaging on Twitter, @TheBigGiveSA was still the most engaged and mentioned Twitter handle of the day, with 194 interactions. #BigGive2019 was seen to be trending on Twitter at least once during the mid-morning in San Antonio, as scores of nonprofits supported the conversation on Twitter. Tweets tagged with #BigGive2019 gathered millions of impressions, with one video Tweet from Cherrity Bar picking up more than 415,000 impressions on its own.

Over on Instagram, more than 1,700 Instagram posts were tagged with the hashtag #BigGive2019. We showed many of those posts on our Facebook Live broadcasts throughout the day as well, using the Tagboard feature built into the GiveGab platform.

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After the dust settled, The Big Give 2019 ended up raising more than $4.7 million for more than 500 nonprofits in the South Central Texas region. The social media efforts of all of the organizations contributed to the wave of attention and ultimately, contributions, to the big day. With a full year to prepare for The Big Give 2020, it's exciting to see what the Nonprofit Council will put in place for next year.

The Big Give 2020 will take place March 26, 2020. Visit for more information. Check out all the videos featured in this blog post and more at Chris Strub is the 'Giving Day Guy,' and he's available to work with your giving day in 2019-2020. Contact Chris via email at chrisstrub <at> for more information.

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