The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

CLASSY Awards 2012

The following is a post by Diana Hand, GuideStar’s senior marketing manager.

Inspired. Motivated. Passionate. That’s how I felt after attending the 4th Annual CLASSY Awards Weekend. Getting to hear from and collaborate with some of the top innovators in the nonprofit industry for a full day, taking a night to honor those nonprofits who have changed lives immensely, and getting to know the faces behind some amazing missions was nothing short of incredible.

The CLASSY Awards Weekend consists of two major events: The Classy Awards Collaborative and the 4th Annual CLASSY Awards.


The CLASSY Awards Collaborative was held at the San Diego New Children’s Museum and included presentations by some of the top leaders in the nonprofit industry while offering time to collaborate with nonprofits that face the same common issues we all are such as: How do we get Millennials engaged? How do you cut through the clutter to communicate your story when other nonprofits have the same mission? How do you expand your donor base? How do you get one time investors to become recurring donors?

Mustache Much?

At the Collaborative I attended a presentation by the Movember CEO & Co-Founder, Adam Garone, one of the men behind the infamous mustaches. I was intrigued last November when I started seeing a handful of my male friends posting daily social media updates on their Movember mustache, and not only did it seem like they were having fun with a great cause, but I was also enjoying the photos and the different places they took their ‘stache.’ An idea that started out for fun and spread like wildfire into an incredibly successful philanthropy, I had to know the secrets behind the creative campaign. How do you make an idea get so big, so quickly?

Garone’s best quote of the session: “Shut up, you’re talking too much.” Garone said he only hits his subscribers four times a year with email communications about the Movember campaign as to avoid pressure to fundraise and keep the campaign fun. Other great takeaways from Garone:

  • Donors want something tangible that they can do now (something I also took away from my second session below)
  • Never underestimate a room full of people – you can do a lot when there is passion and fun behind the cause
  • Don’t lead with fear-based tactics
  • Don’t say YES to every potential partner – it’s hard to say no, but that’s what shapes you as an organization.
  • Be smart about how you integrate within social media – that’s how people are interacting right now.
  • Inspire people to create their own content and share with networks.
  • The reason people fundraise for a specific cause is because they trust you. Donors are giving because someone they know and trust is making a commitment to change.
  • Make it easy – the vast majority of the Movember participants had never fundraised before.
  • No fundraising minimums – don’t pressure people to raise or commit to a certain amount.

Get us while we’re hot.

Diana Hand

The second presentation I attended was by StayCLASSY CEO and Co-Founder Scott Chisholm on how to create a movement with Millennials. He began with “The reason we are all here is an idea.” Being a Millennial myself, the term idealist is part of my daily vocabulary.

Where are the Millennials? Online. “Technology is that microphone our generation is just waiting to use.” How true is that? The most popular philanthropies today have taken social media by storm and have found a way to get Generation Y inspired to make changes with this world. With many nonprofits tightening their belts on budgets, this is a great market to try to tap into with a smaller out of pocket cost. Another point by Chisholm was that our generation is so NOW. What can we do NOW for what we believe in? Don’t tell me to wait until next spring to make it to an event, or start raising money – how can I donate, participate, or share my story now about the causes that matter to me most? And, after I do that, what do I need to do next? My own humble opinion: Get us while we’re hot. I’m passionate about a few very important causes, but if one cuts through the clutter and takes my attention, gets me engaged, and keeps me interested throughout the year, that is where I’m going to get involved most.

Communicate and Create!

Now was time to get our hands dirty and break out into our collaborative sessions. Trying to help where I could as a Millennial, I joined a session with The Flatwater Foundation, which is dedicated to getting people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones access to mental health therapy and support. The Foundation was looking to find a way to get their supporters engaged year-round. We broke up into groups of five and all got a chance to share and brainstorm ways to make this happen. Without divulging the solution, let me just say how great it was to be able to work with people both in and out of the nonprofit sector, in organizations small and large, sharing ideas and experiences from a variety of different cause areas. It reminded me how brainstorming with different groups of people across focus areas brings out some of the best creative ideas and solutions.

StayCLASSY San Diego

Saturday brought the ceremony we had all been waiting for, the 4th Annual StayCLASSY Awards. When they say it’s the Oscars or Tonys of the nonprofit sector, they aren’t lying. With the ice already broken between strangers from a previous full day of conversation, brainstorms, and connecting, everyone confidently transformed into their semi-formal glam and walked down the red carpet for a quick paparazzi shot before entering the San Diego Civic Theatre to hear the announcement of winners. Throughout the ceremony I laughed, cried, smiled, found a way to relate, and most of all – became inspired. Throughout the 16 awards you want to jump out of your seat multiple times and help make a change. The nominees from across the nation have collectively impacted the lives of over 2 million people. See the nominees and winners here.

GuideStar was thrilled to be a sponsor of this event, and I was so happy I could attend. We can’t wait to be a part of these awards again next year. Did you attend or follow online? What part of the ceremony affected you the most?

Topics: Awards