Somali Hope Foundation

Fundraising during Covid-19

The transformative power of education cannot be understated. This is why access to education is so critical to the development of healthy communities. The Somali Hope Foundation was created recognizing that education can serve as a beacon of light, illuminating a path for girls and boys to take steps toward a future they truly deserve.

The Somali Hope Foundation is dedicated to providing education access to some of the world’s most underprivileged children. Education empowers individuals to transform their lives and the societies in which they live. It also makes people aware of their potential, providing a means to materialize what they would otherwise deem impossible.


Take SHF’s traditional gala event and recreate it completely online (live-streamed speaker and program, online auction, donation page)

Create consistent branding (logo, slogan, email campaigns)

Update client’s online presence

  The Issue

Due to Covid-19 the charitable sector faced massive service disruption, layoffs and billions in lost revenue and that’s just charities based in Canada. Somali Hope Foundation relies on their annual gala hosted in Ottawa to help fund the operational costs of their K-12 academy in Bursalah, Somalia. Given the ban of large gatherings and the safety of the public a major concern, SHF initially decided to completely cancel their event. This idea was short lived. The youth served by their academy would not be able to return to school in the Fall without financial assistance. With that in mind, the board of the foundation decided to try a virtual gala. SHF sought out Toos to consult and execute the virtual gala.

  The challenge

  • Creating Commitment and Presence: One of the most important things we had to do was develop engaging content to ensure the public was not only interested in our marketing campaign but committed to attending the final event. Throughout the process we had to think of ways we could involve and engage everybody and ensure their participation had a purpose. Keeping everyone committed would help persuade them to log on regularly and stay updated up until the virtual gala. 
  • Building Relations and Trust: Somali Hope Foundation has organized a success gala for 10+ years. How could we develop meaningful relationships between attendees and the organization?  What do we need to do to keep our audience engaged from the moment the campaign begins till the end of the virtual gala?
  • Managing the Switch: With minimal time to transfer a well-loved traditional event to an online format, keeping participants engaged throughout the campaign and event was a new challenge we faced. Developing engaging content and ways to update our participants consistently was the goal throughout.
  • Management of Technology & Virtual Event Logistics: There were many boxes to check in advance of the virtual event, including but not limited to ensuring there was sufficient bandwidth for the event, audio in real-time has to be A1 for the virtual gala to run well, customer support to assist attendees, technology support so the virtual gala runs smoothly across all devices such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones. 


  • Introduce a webinar platform in preparation for the virtual gala.
  • Substitute in-person event, auction, and fundraising with an online version of all three using streaming software for the event, web-based auction for the soft auction and a donation campaign page for the fundraiser.
  • Live stream the virtual gala from multiple host sites.
  • Create multiple communications for distribution to engage participants, donors and long-time supporters of SHF.
  • Utilize an email marketing platform to send automated emails to our participants throughout the campaign for announcements, registration and updates. 
  • Emphasize the importance of the social media platforms being used (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for updates on the virtual gala, speakers, and any upcoming news.


  • Updated website material and pages. Website became the hub for marketing, registration and general information for participants.
  • Participants were actively engaged throughout the virtual gala with unique opportunities to hear from content experts, participate in question and answer sessions, and the chance to outbid their fellow attendees on items.
  • The email marketing campaign was a success as it resulted in more followers on all social media platforms, increased public awareness of the Somali Hope Foundation and the mission of the annual galas.
  • More donations started to flow in through the GoFundMe page and the bidding war for the online auction continued throughout the whole campaign and into the final minutes of the bid validity period.
  • The virtual gala was executed perfectly, attendees and participants had an exceptionally high audio and video quality view throughout the night.