Case Study: How Oceana Kept Their New York Gala Afloat Through Givsum

by | Jul 9, 2021 | Case Studies, Fundraising

Unable to conduct their normal in-person galas due to pandemic restrictions, how would the Oceana New York Gala raise funds needed to continue their important work?

Oceana is an international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, dedicated to achieving measurable change by conducting specific, science-based policy campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals. Since it was founded, Oceana has protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean and continues to restore the world’s ocean victory by victory.

We were able to sit down with Carolina Quijano, Manager of Oceana’s Donor Relations and Events, and discuss how Givsum played a quintessential role in online fundraising and event management during COVID-19.

Oceana’s Fundraising Challenge

Oceana has three major fundraising events each year. The first is their SeaChange Summer Party, which takes place in Laguna Beach, California. Carolina was quite familiar with Givsum, stating, “Givsum has been an integral part of the event and has been for many years, used to recruit and manage volunteers for our event”. The second fundraiser is hosted in Los Angeles, California, a backyard concert called Rock Under The Stars featuring iconic bands such as The Grateful Dead. Oceana’s third major fundraising event is their New York Gala, which is hosted annually by Susan and David Rockefeller. The New York Gala brings together world renowned philanthropists, Fortune 100 leaders, conservation trailblazers and award-winning celebrities devoted to ocean restoration.

When COVID-19 hit, Carolina explained that Oceana was faced with the same problem as everyone else: how would they meet their fundraising targets? With their New York Gala coming up and everyone suffering from Zoom fatigue, how would they deliver an experience to their donors that would inspire them to continue giving at historical amounts?

Carolina and the rest of the Oceana team began brainstorming. They committed themselves to putting on a world class virtual event. Oceana hired a creative director to provide exclusive, high-quality content. Along with that came the realization that the nonprofit needed more than just a digital payment tool. They needed a comprehensive platform that would help manage their event and provide their guests with an easy and convenient transaction experience. One that would be on par with the reputation of their past events.

That’s where Givsum came into play.

“When we started fundraising for the event, we realized that this was the time to implement an online checkout process that we didn’t have in place before. Before Givsum, we always handled donations via check or credit card, which we processed ourselves. Even though we had been thinking about making that change for years, and Givsum was always part of that conversation, this year, we knew the time had come. It was something that if you’re going to go virtual, you have to go all in and use the technology that’s available to do things right.”


Carolina Quijano

Oceana’s Manager of Donor Relations and Events

From the user experience to receiving funds in their organization’s bank account, Carolina described all processes as quick and easy. Oceana continues to use the Givsum platform as a powerful tool even as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted.

“There was no question that the best partner for us would be Givsum”

oceana new york gala

When asked what set Givsum apart from any other type of virtual fundraising platform, Carolina answered promptly and without hesitation. The first advantage- she noted- was the price. She compared the Givsum platform to other fundraising platforms, stating that if Oceana would have gone that route, it would have cost the organization “thousands and thousands” of dollars.

The second advantage was Givsum’s volunteer and event management tools, especially when it came to recruiting volunteers for events like their SeaChange Summer Party.

The third advantage was that Givsum listened to Oceana’s needs. Givsum prides itself on building its platform with its user’s requests and suggestions in mind, which was a major plus in Carolina’s eyes.

Finally, donations. Having the option to allow the donor to voluntarily pay the transaction fee was important to Oceana. Not all fundraising platforms have that option and Oceana found that Givsum’s fees were significantly lower than other alternatives (because Givsum doesn’t charge any hidden fees).

Thanks to Givsum, Oceana was able to successfully host their 2020 New York Gala, featuring Jane Fonda, Ted Danson, and Sam Waterson. Here at Givsum we’re proud to host Oceana on our platform and are excited for future partnerships to come:

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