Dog adopters stream live, fun-filled fundraiser

Kaley and Joe Mans with Olympia the dog between them
Dancing, challenges, and getting pied in the face were all part of Kaley and Joe Mans’ live online fundraiser for Best Friends.
By John Polis

Four years after they adopted their dog, Olympia, from the Sanctuary, Kaley and Joe Mans decided to show their appreciation by doing something for other animals at Best Friends. Both are online gamers, streaming several evenings a week on their “PartyofII” Twitch channel. They had an idea: Why not put on a creative, fun livestream fundraising event?

In fact, the two of them did and raised a total of $2,200. But it was the type of event ― an online dance party ― that set their fundraising efforts apart from the crowd. They invited friends to play the video game Just Dance, starring Joe and Kaley, and donate to Best Friends.

“Livestream funding for a charity has been around more than 10 years,” says Erin McEwan, digital fundraising specialist for Best Friends. “In 2022, we had more than 40 individuals set up livestream fundraisers for Best Friends.”

Erin says Best Friends welcomes groups interested in hosting livestreaming fundraisers and has even created a digital streaming toolkit for putting one together. It includes talking points, fundraising tips, links, hashtags, and other details to enhance promotion of an event.

Dancing for the animals

In Just Dance, players use their computers and smartphones to mimic on-screen dance routines to a song of their choosing. But in this fundraiser, invitees could select the songs and watch Kaley and Joe dance ― for a donation.

“Getting on camera and dancing is really putting myself out there,” says Joe. “I’m much more comfortable playing a game at my desk on the keyboard. We don’t even dance (off camera). I had to practice, so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.”

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The fundraiser, which lasted several hours, tested the couple’s endurance as they traded off routines, one after the other, and also danced together. “It’s a workout,” Kaley says. “You’re kicking your feet and swinging your arms, just like a choreographed dance routine.”

Besides the dancing, Kaley and Joe invented other wacky donation incentives, such as the opportunity to see how many marshmallows they could stuff into their mouths and ― the pièce de résistance ― watching them smush cream pies in each other’s faces.

“Once we were online, we’d write down people’s names and put them up on the wall to show who had donated,” says Joe. “Besides dancing, we did ‘hot challenges’ for donations where we ate really spicy chocolate and gummy bears. People like to see you on camera suffering for your money. So that was kind of a fun thing to do.”

Choosing the right charitable cause for you

Kaley and Joe had been thinking for some time about donating to a worthwhile organization. “It’s often hard to find the right charity or cause to give back,” says Joe. “But seeing all the testimonials and photos of Best Friends made us feel confident that it was the place we wanted to help.”

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Four years since her adoption, Olympia is loving life in the Mans household. Her vet recently recommended that she get more exercise, so walks and hiking have become a bit more of a priority. Turns out the exercise routine is also helping Kaley and Joe. “She’s motivated us to take better care of ourselves, too,” says Joe.

In addition to raising money for Best Friends, Kaley and Joe livestream arts and crafts activities and cooking projects, and they also do live conversation on timely topics. “But I think our highlight has been with Best Friends,” Kaley says. “We wanted to raise money for a good cause that we believe in. And we also had a lot of fun doing it.”

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