Simplified Livestreaming Logistics Brings Value Without Stress to WyoGives and NH Gives 2021
"When it's planes in the sky
For a chain of supply
That's logistics ..."
You may remember this catchy tune, by Nadia Ackerman, from a UPS commercial from the early 2010's. The commercial opens with a vested employee looking straight into the camera, deadpanning:
"Logistics makes the world work better."
With an expanded portfolio of eight giving days in 2021, logistical improvements were a necessary upgrade for the growth of the 'Giving Day Guy' brand.
Regardless of which community they represent, giving day organizers have a lot on their plate, especially when it comes to 'crunch time' -- that six-week-or-so window before the giving day takes place. Additionally, many of those leading giving days around the country are juggling other work priorities, which need to fall into place before and after the giving day itself. Combine all that work stress with the unpredictable angst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many giving day leaders can sometimes feel stuck just waiting for the day to come and go.
The team at WyoGives, based in Cheyenne, has plenty of work to do to keep its giving day humming along. One of the most important parts of my job is to NOT add stress to this team -- and that's where logistics comes in.
Resources, and patience, are already stretched incredibly thin -- which means any additional services brought on to support the giving day must be efficient and stress-free. Maybe four or five years ago, the conversation might be different, but now, the top priority is to add value without creating headaches.
"When the pipes from the line
Come precisely on time
That's logistics ..."
In 2021, I partnered with giving days in eight different communities, across seven states. In the fall, I was blessed to conclude the year with two long-standing clients -- the Community Foundation of Louisville, with Give for Good Louisville; and The Nonprofit Council, which produces The Big Give. It was my fifth year working in Louisville (yes, home of the global UPS hub), and third orchestrating livestreams in San Antonio -- in those two communities, our long-standing relationship has helped us establish a rhythm and customized system that works great for each of them.
How can you create a stage to spotlight dozens of influential voices all around the state of New Hampshire -- all from 1000+ miles away -- and do so without burdening the giving day team on the ground? That's where years of experience and a smooth logistical solution comes into play.
But over the summer, I worked with two new-to-me clients, each of whom represented a new challenge, as state-wide giving days: NH Gives in New Hampshire, in June; and WyoGives, a state-wide giving day in just its second year for Wyoming.
These two giving days had remarkably different livestreaming strategies in 2021, with contrasting logistical approaches. Let's first look at New Hampshire:
NH GIVES 2021
When nightfall hit on the first day of NH Gives back in June, the Giving Day Guy was just getting started.
NH Gives was founded in 2016, and it has picked up enormous momentum over the last few years thanks in large part to viral social media campaigns driven by its communications partner, Brown & Company Design. In 2020, NH Gives created what they called a "limited amount of livestreaming" to embed live on its website, which drove great results through a broad variety of New Hampshire-based voices -- their 2020 giving day campaign raised $3.37M, more than the first four years of NH Gives combined.
In 2021, I was able to partner with the NH Gives team and Brown & Company Design to supercharge their livestreaming strategy even further. The team at NH PBS was on board to lend their space and resources to the livestream, which would be hosted by a pair of local celebrities: Greg Kretschmar of Greg & the Morning Buzz on 100.3 WHEB, Rock 101-FM, The Hawk 104.9, Q-106, and Frank-FM 107.1; and Scott Spradling, an Emmy Award-winning former reporter, anchor and political director for WMUR-TV.
Seated, from left: Scott Spradling and Greg Kretschmar, co-hosts of the NH Gives NHPBS livestream; and Kathleen Reardon, CEO of the NH Center for Nonprofits. Between Kathleen and Greg is Kristin Oliveri, VP of Communications & Marketing for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; standing, far right, is Mary Jo Brown, Founder & CEO of Brown & Company Design.
One unique aspect of NH Gives that I really like -- and have since recommended to other giving day clients that I partner with -- is that, unlike most giving days, which begin and end at midnight on a specific calendar day, NH Gives starts and ends in primetime. As we talked through how to make the most of our collaborative livestream strategy in 2021, I recommended that we position Greg & Scott to host during these valuable prime moments: the beginning of the giving day (so leading up to and through 5pm on Day 1), and the end of the giving day (so leading up to and through 5pm on Day 2).
I knew within our first meeting that NH Gives was coming at its live strategy with a powerful, talented and experienced team on the ground in New Hampshire. With the benefit of having NH PBS's team and space on hand, I recommended that they manage the ins and outs of that part of the livestream -- which turned out brilliantly. The NH Gives team was able to leverage its powerful long-standing relationships to collect both video messages from NH-connected celebrities like Tom Bergeron, and in-studio interviews from influencers including popular NH Gov. Chris Sununu. (My personal favorite message was from former Nickelodeon host and UNH alum Mike O'Malley, a hero of my childhood era.)
While the NH PBS livestream effort was a brilliant composition of what made NH Gives such an impactful day across the Granite State, there was a significant second portion of the NH Gives livestreaming strategy not detailed in their recap: a 100% virtually produced 'post-show' and 'pre-show,' sponsored by Switcher Studio, that lent attention and legitimacy to dozens of the participating nonprofits from around New Hampshire, hosted by a variety of influential nonprofit industry leaders.
After Greg and Scott signed off, from 9pm to midnight, we livestreamed a series of geographically-centered group discussions, dovetailed with pre-recorded content that had been submitted by nonprofits. While the viewership on these streams was not as high as the 'main show' that had been our focus -- that was to be expected. We created a forum for the nonprofits to share the same platform as the more sophisticated NH PBS production.
The June 9 portion of the NH Gives livestream kicked off with remarks from Kathleen Reardon, CEO of the Center for NH Nonprofits. This was the opening of eight hours of remote livestreaming, before I "threw it back" to the team at NH PBS.
The all-virtual production resumed the next morning at 7am with remarks from Kathleen Reardon, CEO of the Center for NH Nonprofits; and with plenty of snacks by my side here in the home studio in Greenville, we streamed all the way through until the NH PBS production resumed with the celebrity hosts at 3pm.
Between the NH PBS studio production and the Switcher Studio-powered virtual livestream, we were able to create nearly 18 hours of blanket live-stream coverage of NH Gives 2021, with more than half of that content coming through Switcher, featuring the kaleidoscope of voices from around the state that represented over 100 of the participating nonprofits.
The NH PBS team and I coordinated so that our livestreams would have a similar look, including the running live stats bar across the top of the screen.
While the NH PBS productions individually earned the highest viewership of the day, by adding in our late-night and day-side shows, we were able to add more than 50% more views and watch time, and more than double the total number of live video impressions.
The numbers on YouTube were particularly striking: the kickoff and finale productions from NH PBS earned average watch times of over 17 minutes apiece (which is objectively incredible); but the supplemental content we created earned impressive results as well, with our morning and noon content on Day 2 combining for an average watch time of more than 15 minutes per view.
One of my favorite livestream bloopers from 2021 came from NH Gives.
NH Gives was a great example of how, by properly assessing our team's strengths and available resources, we were able to take something good -- their clever, comprehensive 2020 livestreaming plan -- and turn it into something great. More importantly, the Herculean efforts of the NH Gives team led to an impressive year-over-year increase in donations from $3.34M to more than $3.8M.
But what if your giving day has no livestreaming plan -- and you don't even know where to start?
"A continuous link
That is always in sync
That's logistics ..."
The second annual WyoGives was all set for mid-July, and when I first contacted their team in the spring of 2021, I'm not sure the idea of a livestream had even crossed their minds.
I was all smiles in July to make it back to Cheyenne to produce livestreams for WyoGives 2021.
The biggest logistical challenge with a day like WyoGives? Geography. While the Align Team -- the group, headed by Jody Shields, that powers WyoGives -- is based in Cheyenne, the state's capitol, the giving day includes nonprofits from all corners of this massive rural state.
While we might've been able to wrangle (see what I did there?) in some influencers from Cheyenne, it was very important to Jody to demonstrate that WyoGives is truly a statewide effort, with an equitable focus on nonprofits from all regions of the state.
Switcher Studio's live guest capabilities allowed us to bring in voices from all around the state of Wyoming with minimal tech requirements, and import that live video into a presentation that included where to donate; the #WyoGives hashtag; and information about the livestream sponsor -- plus, a live running ticker of the ongoing donations for the day.
Moreso than any other giving day I'd ever worked with, a virtual guest approach would be critical to expressing this geographic diversity of voices.
This is exactly where the logistical livestreaming solution that I'd been refining since Give Local York 2020 would pay off bigtime.
I detail every single step of the process, from start to finish, in my course, "How to Livestream Your Giving Day," and with WyoGives, there were essentially no deviations from this standardized process.
So how did we get so many nonprofits from all around Wyoming to take part in our day-long livestream? The answer is in the refined logistics.
As a new client, and without a prior year's plan in place, the WyoGives team trusted me to build a customized livestreaming solution for them that would powerfully represent the impact of the giving day across Wyoming.
The single biggest key (which I really dive into in the course) to this simplified logistical solution? The submissions form.
With the help of Kristie Wilson from The Align Team, we got the form out en masse to the nearly 200 nonprofits that were participating in WyoGives.
From there, the logistics played out exactly as planned. We were able to gauge interest from 33 of the nonprofits -- about 15% of the total, which is right on par with what I've seen from other giving days around the U.S.
I took the spreadsheet and turned it into a day-long livestreaming schedule, which would be hosted by the great Cathy Drzal of The Align Team.
You can see how we introduced the idea of the livestream to the WyoGives participating nonprofits in a 30-minute Zoom training here:
I flew into Denver the following week, drove up to Cheyenne and set up my completely mobile shop at The Align Team headquarters.
All that was left to do (after connecting to WiFi) was execute: at 7am, 8am, 9am, 11am, 12pm, 3pm, 4pm, and 5pm, we went live on Facebook to a welcoming and engaged audience from around Wyoming. The average watch time of all these videos clocked in at 45 seconds -- a terrific figure for any Facebook Live production, much less one that spanned the entire summer's day. Our 5pm broadcast had an average view time of 67.5 seconds (!) -- if you dive deep into my older blogs, you'll see I used to think 12-15 seconds was impressive. This WyoGives stream quintupled that range!
All it took to produce a full day of livestreamed content was an iPad Pro, my laptop, a few additional iPhones and tripods and a couple microphones. All my equipment fits in a backpack and a slick carrying case, which I can bring anywhere in the world.
The WyoGives team hadn't really experimented with live video before, so their first-year results set a new standard. We were able to drive valuable conversations and spotlight organizations from all around Wyoming, achieving that critical top-line goal for Jody and her team.
What do donors mean to the Laramie County Library Foundation? This is an example of the sort of meaningful interactions we capture through livestreaming video during every giving day we partner with.
One more tidbit that became an important theme for me throughout the year: with WyoGives, we were also able to feature every single nonprofit that indicated an interest in being featured. This addresses a painful chokepoint for many giving day leaders who have a certain number of traditional media spots to allocate among willing organizations in the lead-up to the giving day -- using the Giving Day Guy method allows you to offer a valuable forum to many more organizations than before.
In New Hampshire, where the outreach was done a bit differently to a significantly larger group, we were able to either feature live or play a pre-recorded submission from every single nonprofit that indicated an interest. This makes an enormous difference in the year-over-year satisfaction of the organizations that make up the giving day collective.
Whether it's a virtual event, an in-person event or a hybrid approach, I'm looking forward to working more giving days in 2022.
"Bells will ring, ring-a-ding
That's logistics ..."
In 2022, my goal is to apply the models described above to many more giving day markets around the country. Some giving days, like New Hampshire, have their own live-streaming process -- through a strategic assessment, I was able to provide an additional service that added a lot of value without too much extra burden on their team. Many giving days, like Wyoming, either don't have their own live-streaming strategy or perhaps just have something frantic and off-the-cuff in place for the big day -- that is where a tested, tried and true and logistically smooth process can bring significant dividends without adding stress.
I am available to work with your giving day in 2022, though my calendar is beginning to fill up, especially during prime giving day periods. Email me at chrisstrub < at > gmail < dot > com and let's get to work!
Chris Strub is the Giving Day Guy! Since 2017, Chris has produced 20 giving day events in 9 states around the country. Find Chris on social media @ChrisStrub and check out more detailed stats about the eight giving days Chris worked in 2021 on the @GivingDayGuy Instagram account.