Saigon Children’s Charity: hybrid fundraising ball

Exhibited by
Nguyen Thi Lam Quynh
Added
November 04, 2021
Medium of Communication
Virtual
Target Audience
Individual donors
Type of Charity
Children
Country of Origin
Vietnam
Date of first appearance
2020

SOFII’s view

This is a great example of a charity reacting smartly and innovatively when confronted by the reality of the pandemic. Saigonchildren could have decided to cancel their annual charity ball and take the inevitable fundraising hit. Instead, they were bold and pivoted to a hybrid virtual/in-person event that ensured participants’ safety while preserving the fun and vibrant atmosphere of the past. Volunteers were on hand in eight venues to ensure all went well, and the charity made great use of modern technologies too. As a result, Saigonchildren delivered a smash hit ball, complete with a successful auction. And they achieved three times their intended target in the process.

Summary / objectives

The 12th Saigon Summer Ball by Saigonchildren took place on 12th September 2020. Although the event was established more than a decade ago, this time the charity innovated substantially, moving fundraising online to maximise social distancing and guarantee the safety of all guests.

Background

Saigon Children’s Charity CIO (Saigonchildren) was founded in 1992 to help disadvantaged children get an education and an equal start in life. Saigonchildren works exclusively in Vietnam to overcome barriers to education for children, including poverty, geography, knowledge, and disability. 

Creator / originator

Nguyen Thi Lam Quynh, events manager at Saigonchildren

Special characteristics

The event was the Vietnam’s first charity gala dinner to offer a full virtual experience that met social distancing requirements. Guests had the option to host private parties at their homes or restaurants, with unique culinary experiences prepared by many of the city’s top chefs – delivered or cooked at each location. Televisions were set up at each venue, broadcasting the live-stream show. Carefully packaged food and drink, along with a surprise goodie bag, were sent to each guest who chose to enjoy the event in the comfort of their home. 

We were delighted to see so many of our guests embracing the new format of an online auction, bidding, and buying raffle tickets on their mobile phone three weeks prior to the event. We also prepared a printed auction book for each guest, with a QR (quick response) code provided for each item so they could scan and bid immediately. The event featured a virtual performance by singer Thao Trang and a video with a donation request was provided by production company May Production.

You can watch the stream of the event here.

Merits

We divided the auction items up based on the interests of each group of guests and arranged delivery to each venue. This was a big job! Our director even carried a Lady Dior handbag around the city to several venues. Anything can be possible if you make a good plan for it. We developed a detailed delivery plan, including a list of items, quantities, and times to deliver, putting one person in charge at each venue. For high-value items, we prepared handover notes for people to sign off. We had to be very detail orientated. 

  • Eight private parties in four districts.
  • 100 ‘ball at home’ hampers delivered across town.
  • Eight teams of volunteers on-site at each private party gathering from eight to 40 guests.
  • 200 guests connected through a live stream via screens, WIFI, tablets and webcams so guests could see each other.

Results

The event goal of US$50,000 was reached in the first 30 minutes of the online bidding process, with bidding wars breaking out between the different venues. The total raised was US$140,000 – three times our fundraising target, achieved by spending half the budgeted costs.

Final notes

It was raining heavily during the event night, and we experienced a power outage, resulting in ten minutes disconnected on the livestream. It was a reminder that you need to prepare for any eventuality. We also learned how important it is to recruit experienced volunteers and then to divide your team into small groups, one to run each venue of the event. Doing something new and unusual can be scary at some points, so we made sure to check on our team members, encourage and support them. Productivity is important, but meaningless if people’s mental wellbeing is ignored, because they will soon be burnt out. We made sure we avoided this risk.

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Saigon Children’s Charity decided that their 12th annual summer ball would be a mixture of virtual and in-person events, to ensure the safety of participants.
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The organisation streamed the various activities between eight different locations.
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Hospitality was provided by five renowned chefs, with volunteers on hand to provide for attendees’ needs and ensure everything went smoothly.
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Participants could bid for prizes via their mobile phones.