Success Story: Trinity Habitat raises $100k+ with Givebutter Livestream, Team Fundraising

Written by
Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Success Story: Trinity Habitat raises $100k+ with Givebutter Livestream, Team Fundraising

In this video, Mark from Trinity Habitat for Humanity in Ft. Worth, Texas shares how they used Givebutter to raise $100k+ to build back hope - one home, one family at a time. You are going to walk away with a wealth of nonprofit fundraising and marketing knowledge from this success story because Mark is giving away:

  • What is making their Habitat Builds Back COVID-19 emergency relief Team Fundraising campaign so successful
  • Why they chose Givebutter as their fundraising platform (Hint: useability!)
  • Helpful nonprofit fundraising and marketing tips to get the most out of Givebutter for Livestream and matching gift fundraising
“One of my favorite things about Givebutter is that it’s evolving so quickly. I love following the roadmap of the new features being released. I love how interactive that is. I love how much the Givebutter team wants to know what’s going on, how the platform’s being used, what could be better. I just feel like I constantly see these new features just as I need them, just as I want them. Just as I was wanting to do this Livestream, I got an email saying, “And now you can do Livestream on your page!” That’s something that I just so appreciate about Givebutter because it’s not this stale piece of software that was built 15-years ago. It’s really on the leading edge of fundraising, constantly.” 

Campaign at a glance


View campaign

Full video script

Rachel: Hey there, Rachel here with Givebutter. And you are just going to love today’s success story. I have Mark here with me today from Trinity Habitat (for Humanity) in Fort Worth. And he is going to be sharing why he turned to Givebutter to help with emergency funding during the coronavirus. He’s also gonna share what made them choose Givebutter as a fundraising platform for their campaign, top tips and tricks - you’re gonna walk away with a wealth of knowledge about fundraising and marketing, I promise! - and you’re also going to walk away with inspiration for getting the most out of the Givebutter platform. Mark - thank you so much for representing Trinity Habitat and for joining us today!

Mark: Yeah, happy to be here!

Rachel: So just to start: could you tell everybody a little bit more about who you are and of course, many listening are probably familiar when they hear Habitat for Humanity, but if you could share more about Trinity Habitat… what makes you all special in what you’re doing?

Mark: Sure! So, I’m the Marketing and Engagement Director at Trinity Habitat for Humanity. That is the Habitat affiliate that covers the greater Fort Worth area in Texas. So Trinity Habitat builds strong neighborhoods and families primarily through the construction of affordable homes. We’ve been blessed to be doing that for over 30-years. Last year, we celebrated our 30th anniversary and that represents more than 700 families that are now living in quality, affordable, safe homes throughout our area. So yeah, that’s a little bit about what I do.


Rachel: That’s incredible. I mean, congratulations to and the entire Trinity Habitat team. 30-years! 

Mark: Yep, 30-years!

Rachel: So, let’s talk a little bit more about your current campaign, Habitat Builds Back. 

Mark: Yes.

Rachel: What is your fundraising and marketing strategy for that?

Mark: So, the idea around Habitat Builds Back is - as we were getting into the COVID-19 and of the issues surrounding that (as everyone has been dealing with that) - we were having to make really difficult decisions about what we were gonna to do with our mission. You know, we build quality, affordable homes alongside families. On average, we have 800 volunteers that come out every month to build those homes. When you go from 800 volunteers to 0 it makes a big difference to our bottom line with what we’re able to accomplish and what we’re able to do. As we see certain partners and donors not able to give in the ways they were in the past with the uncertainty… things were kind of just slowing down. So we ended up cutting the production of our homes in half. We were on track to build 59 new homes this year in our area and we had to make that difficult decision to cut that in half. So part of Habitat Builds Back was just the idea of being able to - as we start to imagine what life looks like on the other side of COVID-19 or at least as we’re making our way out of that - you know, how are we gonna build back? So we created the Habitat Builds Back campaign, So we wouldn’t have to cancel the construction of any more homes this year. Cause when you have to cancel the construction of a Habitat home it’s never a fun or easy decision to do. You know, that’s not just canceling the dream of owning their own home… but for a lot of our families, it’s that dream of greater financial security, greater financial stability, being able to live now in a healthy, safe home. To be able to say to families: “You know, we were on track to do that this year but it may be next year or maybe even further out.” It was really difficult. We didn’t want to have to do that with any more families. We wanted to keep building. We wanted to partner with the community and figure out how we could build back. That’s the idea behind Habitat Builds Back. 


Rachel: So it’s that forward-thinking of “What are we gonna do after this? What’s next? Because what we just walked though we do not want to happen to any other family.”

Mark: Exactly, yep.

Rachel: Okay, so, what was the fundraising and strategy behind getting there? To be able to build more houses.

Mark: A few different things. We definitely wanted to take advantage of the Giving Tuesday Now. There was just a lot of buzz around that. We’ve done giving days in the past, and they’ve been successful and everything, but a lot of times some people just hear it that day or the day after and different things. So we decided to use Giving Tuesday more as a launching pad for our campaign as a giving month. So our campaign actually started on Giving Tuesday and is going through the end of the month. So we’re right in the middle of the campaign. So that was some thoughts there. We wanted to with some past donors, we wanted to connect with our audience through social media, and we also wanted to connect people with our Habitat families that are in their homes right now… what they’re dealing with and going through. And so, on our Givebutter page, our top featured video is actually a little drive-by video that I created with our families where I just hopped in a car, and drove by their homes, and from a safe distance, checked in on them and asked them how they were doing and heard their stories -

Rachel: Mark, what do you think about maybe sharing like a minute of that video? Because I watched it and I think it’s really impressive.

Mark: Yeah!

Rachel: Are you open to it?

Mark: Yeah, yeah!

Rachel: Okay, let me share my screen… you guys are gonna love this video, it’s so good!

Rachel: I love the signs that they made, too. Those were so encouraging. So Mark: what else were you gonna share about? You have the video at the top of your campaign...


Mark: Yeah, and so those stories that I heard from our families - I really had no idea what I was going to hear when I set off in the car that morning. And I met with probably 12 of our families. And it was so amazing to hear their stories. So those were the stories I wanted to share throughout the campaign whether it was through the video or sharing a quote of their testimonial or things like that because it really exemplified what we were trying to go for. And that was that because of the past support of our Habitat donors and the support of our volunteers and those that shop our Habitat ReStore or donate there - it was THE difference for our families being able to weather the COVID-19 crisis. Because they were in a home where they had financial stability. Ms. Ruth that I met with - it had been over a month and she hadn’t gotten a check or even been able to get through to unemployment but because of her affordable mortgage, she said, “I’m doing okay. I can wait for the process to work out cause I’ve been able to build up my savings.” Or, Janessa that was on there, she built her home last year: “If this happened last year, I don’t know what I would have done. I wouldn’t have been able to take the leave and the financial cut that went with that to be home with my kids to homeschool them. I don’t know what I would have done last year.” So I wanted to share those stories so that people could see a real-life example of what financial stability, what a safe home can mean to a family when things go wrong and things have gone really wrong and have become really difficult. And when things go wrong, it’s when you need the rock, the financial stability of a home.

Rachel: So, what I hear you saying is your campaign strategy was to use Giving Tuesday Now as your launching point, and make it a month-long campaign which I think is brilliant - because I think you’re right. So many people miss it on the day of! It’s just a short 24-hour period. Especially now, when the news cycle is so noisy. I think it’s so smart you decided to stretch it out a little bit. And then second, just highlighting success stories of people who have had homes and how they’re benefitting from your mission.


Mark: Definitely. I think, too, with stretching it out… because Givebutter offers the ability - we activated the option to fundraise. If people just hear about it one day, they not gonna fundraise and get it out to there group that same day. So we wanted to allow that time for people to fundraise as well.

Rachel: That’s a great point. So you’re talking about the Team Fundraising portion right here.

Mark: Yes, yep.

Rachel: Awesome. So, could you tell us a little bit more about why you choose Givebutter? You were talking a little bit about it… to have a landing page for the whole month. What about Givebutter specifically made you want to choose it for this campaign?

Mark: So we first started using Givebutter last fall. We had our 30th anniversary and we had a big backyard bash party that was coming up. And we had just been in search of a new platform that was easy. And honestly, the biggest thing that caught our attention right off the bat was we wanted people to be able to make donations via Venmo. 

Rachel: Nice!

Mark: We found Givebutter and it was just such a wonderful team and the solution was almost 100% what we needed. The week before the event, we worked with y’alls technical team and they launched the Express Checkout specifically so we could use it for our event. So it made that Venmo process even smoother and faster and PayPal and all of those. So we have had success on 3 or 4 campaigns since last fall through Givebutter. I actually was gone on paternity leave and the team had actually set something up a little different for Giving Tuesday. I got back about a week before Giving Tuesday and said, “This is great groundwork but we’ve got to do it on Givebutter. It’s just going to be so much better.” So we just shifted and moved everything over to Givebutter, and I think we’re all really happy that we did.

Rachel: That is really amazing. It sounds like you choose Givebutter for its useability - it’s usable for you. And a lot of times we get feedback that it’s easy for donors as well. I see that your donors on the right hand side of the Supporter Feed have made so many heartfelt comments on the side and just seem to be really engaged. And donor engagement is incredibly important for one-off campaigns to build success for the future. So what have you seen for your donors and how they’re interacting with your campaign?


Mark: Yeah definitely, that’s one of the other big reasons for us. Like you said that user-friendliness. That was the whole reason we went with Givebutter last fall and continue to go with Givebutter is that it’s user-friendly. We’ve used other giving platforms and Peer-to-Peer fundraising platforms and the feedback constantly was, “We were confused! We didn’t know which step to do first.” With Givebutter, it just kind of works. And that’s what we’re looking for. Especially when somebody is ready to make a donation…. we‘ve done all we can to share our stories, tell our mission, give them a link, and at that point, it just has to work. With Givebutter that’s how it works. And with Givebutter, people can give how they want to give and I think that’s one of the biggest things for us… if they wanna give via Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, or just credit card, they can do that. Just that user-friendliness. And also we see people engage a lot more with the comments on the side because of the donation flow, it’s easy! People just do it! People add a picture or add a little gif and it just brings the little donor feed on the side to life as people are doing those little things. All of those things… user-friendliness, donor engagement… those are all reasons we go with Givebutter.

Rachel: What would you say about any other feedback or tips that you would give others who are using Givebutter on their campaign page about the way you are marketing your story? Because that REALLY stood out to me when I looked at your page. You have this great visual, it’s easy to understand, quotes from beneficiaries, where the money’s going, a hashtag, your livestream event - we haven’t even talked about that yet! - you just make it really easy to follow. That’s what stood out to me. What was your thought process behind that?

Mark: So I guess a few different things. We obviously want to start with the video because we want a video is more compelling than an image. So we started with a video at the top. People’s attention spans are so short. So the idea was to put the information on there in as bite-sized of a way as possible. So I started with two of our strongest quotes - which are actually quotes from our video. But not everybody’s going to watch the video. So we want them to see that. Then it’s just sort of a prioritizing of the next most important thing for people to see. I really try not to build to the most important thing. I always try to start with the most important thing because that may be the only thing someone sees.


Rachel: That’s right.

Mark: So with the layout of the page, we have the advantage - in a past life, I was a web developer. So I can do those different things and make that little green box look like. But I think it’s something that anybody with a basic knowledge of HTML or CSS could add - it could also be an image. I don’t think that’s a necessary piece of it. The Givebutter tool is very easy: I want to make this bold, make this italic, add an image here, add an another video here… just trying to make it easy for people’s eyes to flow down and make it look good. 

Rachel: And it does!

Mark: I don’t know, anything else I can add onto there?

Rachel: Yeah, you could expand a little bit more on your Livestream experience. You had shared with me prior to this call this was your first experience with Livestream and I think you’re in really good company with people listening. So what are your lessons learned about Livestream fundraising?

Mark: Yeah, so this was the first time we had done a live concert. We had partnered with Wynn Williams who is a good friend of our organization and a wonderful artist right out of Fort Worth. He loves us and loves our mission and he said, “Hey, how can I help? And we said, “Well, you know, we’ve got this Giving Tuesday Now coming up… what do you think about doing a Live concert with us?” And he said, “Oh I’d love to do it.” So we kind of did in a way where we linked up Facebook accounts and he ran the feed from his account and it went through ours… what I did when the event went Live - cause we had our drive-by video that was normally at the top, I moved that down and I put the Livestream at the top as the main video. So that even people coming during the Live event, I didn’t want to lose that great drive-by thank-you video… so I just added it temporarily down at the bottom, switch the Livestream. The other thing is that we promoted the Givebutter page as the main place to watch the concert. They could see it on Facebook they could see it in their app or whatever, but we promoted everybody to come to the Givebutter page. So that what we use is - you’ll see on the screen there - trinityhabitat.org/buildsback… we always whenever we have a campaign we have a central URL that is the main place where we would try to send everybody. When we have our North TX Giving Day, we’re raising funds in a single day for one house, it’s trinityhabitat.org/oneday, so all of our advertising is around that. So trinityhabitat.org/buildsback always forwards directly to the giving page. So then people aren’t having to remember the givebutter… they just have to remember our one link. So anyway, so we promoted that as where to go to watch it so people could see the Livestream concert on the Givebutter page so at the same time they could see the donation feed coming in.


Rachel: Right.

Mark: So this video that you’re showing there was replaced with the Livestream and the donate button there… as a new donation would come in, people would see it come while they were watching the concert. Then once the concert was over I very easily took off the Livestream as the main video and took it out of the story and took it back at the top. It was about 30-seconds to have it flipped back to the way it was before the Livestream.

Rachel: Mhm. I think that’s brilliant that you point that out. You have so much autonomy as to where you’re going to locate Livestream. Because some folks may not know that. They may think the Livestream has to stay up there once you put it there but like you said, it takes 30-seconds to go right back if you want it to. But it is beneficial to keep it there at the top while it’s Live because as you said, people can donate while they’re watching at the exact same time.

Mark: Yeah, and if they were watching on Facebook or in the Facebook app we were telling them to go over there and donate and do different things. And those who were watching on Givebutter it’s a lot more fun to say, “Click the button right above me to donate. You can see when you make a gift you can join this person right over here!” Our artist Wynn Williams was going back and forth in between songs and giving shout outs to different people for their gifts and thanking them. I think it was just a fun way of keeping people engaged and doing something a little bit different.

Rachel: Mhm. Right. And I’m glad you pointed out what Wynn was doing, and I also watched part of the Livestream because it came across as so genuine. So for anybody whose watching right now, if you’re going to take a look at this campaign - which you definitely should - go ahead and click “watch replay.” And you can take note how they ran their Livestream. Wynn just really had a real conversation with everybody watching. It wasn’t incredibly scripted as other Livestream fundraising campaigns can be or for other organizations should be - but this really worked! It felt real when you were watching it. It wasn’t just a performance, but a conversation. Like everyone was together and making an impact for good. So thank you for sharing that with us because we’re all still learning about Livestream. It’s totally new for most of us. Do you have any other tips, tricks, lessons learned about Givebutter? You’re pretty savvy, so maybe if you’re thinking, “People may not know this, but I tried this on Givebutter or used that…”

Mark: Yeah, definitely. So not necessarily Givebutter specific, but just in general. We used a matching campaign for this.

Rachel: Right!


Mark: We found that is one of the most effective ways - we don’t overuse it, you know, if people always see it can get overused - but once to twice a year we do a match. So we go out to our larger donors or sponsors and ask them if they’d be willing to make an additional donation or contribution to inspire others to help inspire others to be more generous. That’s kind of our pitch to those donors and sponsors. And it really excites them to be able to know that their gift is doubling up. It’s not just that they’re supporting our mission but that their large gift can be something that inspires others. “Yeah, hey, if other people come together and get together $50,000, I will match that.” It’s really exciting for people to be able to know that their donation goes even further during Habitat Builds Back. That $50 becomes $100. That’s something that I think is great to use sparingly, but when it’s important. With Givebutter itself: there are just so many things that I love about it - I’ll get to another as well. But one of my favorite things as well is beyond its user-friendliness and all the things that we’ve already discussed - is just that it’s evolving so quickly. I feel like I love following the roadmap of the new features being released. I love how interactive that is. I love how much the Givebutter team wants to know what’s going on, how the platform’s being used, what could be better. I just feel like I constantly see these new features just as I need them, just as I want them. Just as I was wanting to do this Livestream, I got an email saying, “And now you can do Livestream on your page!” That’s something that I just so appreciate about Givebutter because it’s not this stale piece of software that was built 15-years ago. It’s really on the leading edge of fundraising, constantly. That’s a big thing. Other tips that I would have - is, I think the thing for me when it comes to the fundraising… really identifying those kind of champions for our organization ahead of time and reaching out to them with a personal invitation to fundraise. Whether it’s members of our board, or we have a group of ambassadors associated with our organization, even staff members - our staff is extremely passionate about our mission which is very cool to see - finding those people and reaching out. Not just counting on the fact that people will go to the page and see a fundraise button and know what that means. We proactively reach out to our champions and say, “Hey, click the fundraise button first to set up your page and be the first donor to your page!”

Rachel: Yes!

Mark: Those are kind of proactive steps we take from the fundraising side of it.


Rachel: That’s great. Thank you Mark for what you said about innovating because truly Givebutter innovates because we’re inspired by the adaptability of charities like you. I mean, you’re trying new things on this campaign - we’re learning with you! Like you said Livestream - we launched Livestream two weeks after most stay at home orders were in place for most places but that was because of people like you giving us feedback. So know that we love people like you giving us feedback from you guys and that’s what makes the platform better. Another thing that you shared that I just want to highlight that you mentioned: try new things like Livestream but keep foundational things in place as well… matching gifts, best practices in team fundraising like personal invitations, giving instructions… I think there can be a temptation in times like this to try all new things and forget some of the basics. I really appreciate and admire that Trinity Habitat has been balancing both.

Mark: Yeah, yeah definitely. 

Rachel: To close, I just want to say thank you so much for your time, for representing Trinity Habitat. Your story is inspiring to us and you’re so close to reaching your goal! We’re cheering you on - you’re almost there! And the whole Givebutter community can’t wait to celebrate with you guys. Thanks so much for doing this today.

Mark: Awesome. Thank you, Rachel, and to the whole Givebutter team for all that you do. We’re just so grateful for this platform and to be able to have it. We love to share with as many organizations as we can - we have so many people who ask us: “What is this Givebutter thing that you’re using?” We love to share it. And to have a platform like this at an affordable price is just really important, so, thank you!

Rachel: Thank you, Mark. Take care!

View campaign: Habitat Builds Back

Get started on Givebutter - it’s free →

Written By

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