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Leading Edge Fundraising Releases Launch-a-thon Feature and Other Updates

Launch Far Reach blog

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, user experience, and fundraising, Leading Edge Fundraising is, well, leading the way in helping student athlete organizations raise funds. With its Launch Fundraising platform, Leading Edge took paper-based fundraising digital—making student athletes’ phones their most powerful fundraising tool. 

In the past year, the Launch platform has unveiled new features, improved usability, streamlined backend costs, and more. Let’s look at the evolution of the custom software system as of late.

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The biggest update to the Launch Fundraising portal this year was Launch-a-thon, which is a one-hour sprint, if you will, for the students to raise funds, compete, and meet fundraising goals. 

“Launch-a-thons create a fun atmosphere for the kids,” said Todd Gladson, CFO/COO at Leading Edge. “Each student brings in 25 names to text and call, and they get to watch their stats on a live leaderboard…complete with a ‘cha-ching’ money noise when each sale and donation comes through.”

Launch leaderboard

Leading Edge tested the Launch-a-thon concept originally by integrating a third-party application that ran the power-hour portion of fundraisers. Having validated the idea, they knew they needed to bring the functionality into the Launch platform. 

“Building our own Launch-a-thon functionality gives us more control over the experience,” Gladson said. “We have more control over branding, text messages come from the kids, and they raise more money that way. Plus, they can see how they’re doing and how much they’ve raised, which provides more accountability and better results.”

The kids have fun with friends in a supportive environment while fundraising. That atmosphere helps them gain confidence and raise more money. Overall, the Launch-a-thon feature offers flexibility and better outcomes for Leading Edge, coaches, students, and donors. 

User Interface Enhancements

In addition to the Launch-a-thon functionality, Leading Edge has also been focused this year on user experience (UX)—particularly on the mobile experience part of their cross-platform web application

“Mobile is where most of our transactions are happening because people click on the link from a text on their phone,” said Gladson. “We wanted to make things look clean and modern, and we didn’t want users to get bogged down in the experience.”

Leading Edge wanted to match their experience to what people are used to using across the internet, which meant a cleaner design, an easier checkout process, and streamlined payment collection. To find out what their users wanted, they conducted user interviews and looked at other apps they use. Then Leading Edge designed the mock-ups internally and Far Reach implemented them.

Launch Mobile Product - phone

A few of the specific usability updates include:

  • Enhanced layout for the order screen
  • More prominent countdown
  • Additional information about the team and the fundraiser
  • Cleaner layout of products available for purchase
  • Clearly visible progress stats 
  • Better checkout process on both mobile and desktop

Leading Edge has gotten good feedback on the usability changes and seen positive movement in their key performance indicators (KPIs) since the updates. 

A Bigger Focus on Donations

During the usability updates, Leading Edge put more of a focus on donations. When someone comes to a fundraiser page, they have the option to buy various products, depending on the fundraiser, and/or make a donation.

Launch Mobile Donate - phone

“We’ve adjusted to put the focus on raising a dollar amount instead of selling a certain number of things,” said Gladson. “We’ve increased our average customer spend, which means more money raised and better prizes for the kids at the end.”

Leading Edge has grown their revenue a lot in the past year, and they attribute much of that to the Launch-a-thon feature as well as the focus on donations. Leading Edge makes more money (and the kids get better prizes) when the students raise more money, so these updates are practical, bottom-line focused, and good for all involved.

Azure Auto Database Scaling 

Some enhancements can’t be seen by users, and that’s the case for this last update. Because of the seasonality of Launch platform usage, we recognized there was an opportunity to use Azure features to automatically scale database resources up and down as needed. 

For example, during a Launch-a-thon, the database is ready with plenty of resources to keep the site up and running quickly. However, overnight, in test environments, and during times when they don’t run as many fundraisers, the database can be scaled back without risk. 

“We had outgrown our previous hosting plan, and Far Reach approached us with this option and it made sense,” said Gladson. “It gives us better control and we can crank the nozzle up or down so there’s no throttling.”

Automatic database scaling saves money while maintaining expected uptime and processing speeds. 

Always Enhancing

Technology and the Launch Fundraising portal are a big part of Leading Edge’s business and their success, and they plan to continue investing in the system to stay ahead of their competition. 

“The system makes our reps’ jobs easier, and they’re central to what we do,” said Gladson. “We’ll continue to add to the platform, make updates, and improve user experience. Our experience with Far Reach has been great over the five years we’ve worked with them, so we’ll continue partnering to keep building.”

Do you have an idea for a custom platform that would put you ahead of your competitors, help your customers, and make a difference in your business? Reach out.