Harlem Wizards Pivots to Virtual Events with Help From Sweet! By Blue Sky

Working with Blue Sky Collaborative’s Peer to Peer Fundraising Platform Provides Harlem Wizards With a Customized Website for Conducting Its WizFit Challenge for Kids Online

Situation/Challenge

The Harlem Wizards professional basketball team are a performance entity that typically stages 450-500 wildly successful fundraising events each year for schools and nonprofits across the U.S., raising over $3 million annually.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the Wizards had to cancel their live ticketed events and come up with another way to bring in revenue.

“We had always wanted to do a donation-based fundraiser, so I thought we could create something unique around basketball and offer it virtually,” said Todd Davis, president and CEO of the Harlem Wizards. “We came up with the idea for the WizFit Challenge, but we wanted to find a company that could understand our vision for it and be creative with us. “There are a bunch of peer to peer fundraising products out there, but most of them are only available in a box and that’s it. We needed customization for our fundraising program and only Blue Sky offered that.”

Solution: Sweet! by Blue Sky

By utilizing the Sweet! by Blue Sky platform, the Harlem Wizards were able to successfully pivot from staging live ticketed performances at schools to conducting virtual donation-based fundraising events during the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, the Harlem Wizards launched their virtual fundraising events program, the WizFit Challenge, built on Sweet! that offered K-12 students a combination of fun, fitness, tricks and character education along with a safe and engaging means to support their school by collecting donations.

The WizFit Challenge involves students watching a series of six interactive videos though which they get fit, learn tricks, have fun and are coached on character by the Wizards. The schools sign up for the Challenge and get the students’ parents to sign up their kids. With the Slam-Dunk Software developed by Blue Sky, the parents create a unique and fun fundraising page for their kids on the Blue Sky-customized website and share the page with family and friends, providing an easy platform to make donations to the student’s school. Students earn prizes for just entering the Challenge and then for completing the six WizFit Challenge videos, along with Wizard Souvenirs for achieving donation levels. Whether or not they get donations, students win prizes and have fun with the Challenge. When students complete the WizFit Challenge, they receive a customized interactive celebration video program, followed by an optional live, high-energy Zoom meet and great with the Wizards players.

The Harlem Wizards had a specific look and key features in mind for the WizFit Challenge website and Blue Sky did what it took to make it all happen. Blue Sky pulled the Wizards’ ideas and vision together into a well-designed, easy-to-use site that provides continuously updated information on the kids’ Challenge participation, fundraising efforts and prizes earned in a fun and colorful way.

Sweet! Outcomes

“The kids’ progress with completing the six WizFit Challenge videos as well as with the fundraising is tracked and visible on each kid’s page because of the customization provided by Blue Sky,” said Davis. “By helping us create this program, Blue Sky has become like a partner with the potential to help us bring in huge revenue. We see the WizFit Challenge potentially bringing in as much revenue as doing 500 Wizards events around the country, which would be an amazing outcome for everyone involved.”

By enabling the Wizards to bring the WizFit Challenge to fruition, Blue Sky helped them add a fundraising program that will reach a wider audience and be an option for smaller schools that don’t have the space to host a Wizards game. 

“We’ve conducted over 20 WizFit Challenge events so far that have been outstanding and the amount raised in each event has exceeded our expectations,” said Davis. “By going to the Blue Sky dashboard, I can see everything that’s happening at each school participating, including how many kids have signed up, how many are active with doing the videos and how much money each has raised. Before setting up this virtual program, we would be doing almost 500 games each year and it was crazy how much time and effort I would have to spend to get a handle on what was going on with each event. By developing this customized program with Blue Sky, I can get the full picture.”

The virtual fundraising options Blue Sky enabled and created for Harlem Wizards and other customers during the pandemic allows non-profits and charities to scale their fundraising campaigns beyond local events and provides them with a broader reach and opportunities going forward.

Harlem Wizards and Blue Sky are exploring the possibility of also boosting automation of the Wizard games to reduce the administrative labor that’s required behind the scenes of conducting a live event.    

“I love the idea of getting to my desk in the morning and going onto Sweet! by Blue Sky to see exactly how every event is doing ¾ how many tickets have been sold, how many volunteers we have on committees or working on the team, and what the schedules are,” said Davis. “Right now, everything is done mainly through paperwork and using Google Drive and Dropbox to share documents, so it’s very cumbersome.”

“We wanted to work with a company that really saw the vision and the potential of what we’re trying to do and that’s what we realized with Blue Sky,” concluded Davis. “In the middle of the pandemic, we found ourselves with no revenue coming in and trying to exist on government assistance, but with the core group of committed, creative people we have and help from Blue Sky, we pivoted and everything turned around for the better.” 

To view the Harlem Wizards’ WizFit Challenge site developed by Blue Sky, visit https://wizfitchallenge.harlemwizards.com/about.asp.

About Blue Sky Collaborative

Blue Sky Collaborative was founded in 2002 on the belief that peer to peer fundraising is the best way to empower communities to drive impact and make unprecedented change. Several hundred organizations, charities, non-profits, and schools in multiple languages use Blue Sky Collaborative’s fundraising software, which supports events and campaigns of all types and helps to raise millions of dollars every year.

Blue Sky Collaborative offers clients easy-to-use peer to peer fundraising sites that are designed and branded their way and grow their fundraising while keeping costs low and transparent. The SWEET! and Blue Sky Give platforms exist as a direct result of user input and experience and the company’s commitment to collaborate with clients on a software system that puts them first. From donors, executive staff and volunteers to teachers, sponsors and committee members, fundraising success is a team sport on which Blue Sky serves as a valuable partner.

Blue Sky Collaborative has offices in metrowest Boston, Massachusetts, and Annapolis, Maryland. Contact us for more information on how you can raise more funds using virtual events.