3 Critical Insights This Theater Nonprofit Learned About Camp Technology

Random Farms Kids’ Theater fits the “upstart” profile to a tee: A teenager started a theater in her parents’ basement in Chappaqua, New York. That was more than 20 years ago. RFKT has since become a widely publicized success, with a long list of actors going on to professional careers on the stage and in TV/film.

But problems with technology were holding back the theater and its founder, Anya Wallach. After a series of technology disasters, she decided that RFKT needed the support of a global company like ACTIVE and our conversation with her highlighted several key insights about technology.

Download Anya’s story.

1. Make choices based on service, not size.

As Americans, we sometimes have a love/hate relationship with big business. We tend to champion “the little guy”—as well we should. We admire and support small businesses because of their personality, ingenuity and pluck. At the same time, we love the dependability of large corporations like Amazon and Apple. Both small and big businesses are the lifeblood of American consumers and our economy.

After extremely disruptive experiences with what she called “fly by night” companies, resulting in lost revenue literally overnight, Anya found the support she needed with ACTIVE’s dependable infrastructure: 

“We looked for a camp management software with the staying power of a global organization that wasn’t going to shut down in the middle of the night, leaving us with no one to call when we had problems.”

2. Measure all the results.

Because of previous problems with technology, RFKT had to rebuild trust with parents. “Parents couldn’t separate Random Farms from the registration provider, so it created a lot of bad will about the program,” says Rebecca Nichols, operations manager.

Before, Rebecca spent 100% of her time—at least 30 hours a week—communicating with parents about issues and managing breakdowns. “Now, with Camp & Class Manager, we don’t hear from parents about registrations—no news is good news!” she adds.

The cost savings in Rebecca’s time “more than covers the cost of the software,” Anya says, “and that doesn’t even count what we’re saving on sunk costs.”

In addition, Rebecca is now able to take on other things, such as the website and fundraising, as well as managing customer and donor relationships, and brainstorming program improvements. These are all activities that impact revenue.

3. Shared mission counts.

At 16 years old, Anya started RFKT because she wanted to produce fun plays with neighborhood kids. Now she has 11 full-time employees who serve 1,000 kids and 10,000 audience members every year. And her outreach program is nothing short of amazing!

Read the case study just to see all that she’s doing and why we’re so proud to be able to help Anya do it by taking the mundane aspects of her job off her plate and help her build relationships with her customers and donors.

Download the Random Farms Kids Theater Case Study now.



3 Steps to Refresh Your 2018 School or Camp Marketing Plan

You’re about to plunge deep into marketing your summer programs. As you do, are you finding your messaging and tactics a little stale?

As you set goals for a new season, it’s a good time to revisit your marketing strategies with these 3 steps:


Reflecting on your marketing plan this time of year can give you a good overview of your recruiting cycle and which tactics work best at every step in the process — including information sessions, enrollments, and actual attendance.

Generate a report of everywhere you’ve spent time and marketing dollars in the past year. Where are you getting a strong ROI? Where are you not? According to TrackMaven, “At its most basic level, ‘good ROI’ means that for every dollar put toward marketing, the business gets more than a dollar back.”1

In addition to ROI, other metrics, such as website traffic, form conversions, and event attendance, can help you see how your marketing efforts have helped you progress toward actual revenue. Measure these results against benchmarks in your industry as well as your own performance history.2


For most schools and camps, fall was prime season for recruiting events and promotions, but now is the time to plan how you’re going to engage during the remaining months until your upcoming programs.

Based on your review of what’s working and not working, you can adjust past strategies and strengthen areas needing improvement. High on your list should be following up with past participants and every single query you’ve gotten from new prospects. If you haven’t already mapped out your promotions, consider new ways and places to advertise.

Maybe it’s time to try something completely new or outsource some aspects of your marketing.

Learn how our consumer demand generation program can build buzz for your program.


In a recent blog post, we talked about the high capacity of Facebook ads to target the audiences most likely to be interested in your camp or school. But when it comes to trying out a new advertising medium, it’s easy to become a little squeamish.

How much time will it take to learn a new medium? Will you get your return on investment of money and time? When it comes to Facebook advertising, it may help to know that marketers are leaping aboard3:

  • 95.8% of social media marketers said Facebook produces the best ROI among social media platforms.
  • Nearly two-thirds of advertisers said they planned to increase their investment in Facebook advertising in 2017.

However, to be effective with Facebook ads, experts say it’s important to know what you’re doing.4 That’s where it’s easy to get spooked. But it doesn’t cost very much to get started with Facebook ads, and there are lots of online resources to help. Check out this guide for newbies from AdEspresso or this one from online marketing guru Neil Patel.

If Facebook ads aren’t for you right now, here’s a quick review of marketing ideas we’ve suggested recently on our blog. If you haven’t tried one of these yet, now’s the time!

  1. Design a quick landing page for one of your fall previews or promotions.
  2. Inspire word-of-mouth promotions on social media.
  3. Get going with Google Analytics.
  4. Build buzz on Instagram before, during, and after your event.
  5. Test the power of video by creating a short, selfie video to promote or follow up on an event or class.

Remember, we’re always here to help!


1and2TrackMaven: What is a Good ROI for Marketing Campaigns?

3Hootsuite: How to Advertise on Facebook

4Neil Patel: What is Facebook Advertising?

Get Inspired in 2018 With Our Let’s Talk Kids Ted Talk Playlist

Everybody loves a good TED Talk. And you can find “playlists” all over TED.com with talks focused on particular topics and audiences. As inspiration for 2018, we decided to make a “Let’s Talk Kids” playlist, curated especially for YOU.

This idea required no small amount of digging. As youth leaders in schools, camps and enrichment opportunities, you’re a diverse audience with vast interests. But there’s something for everyone on this list. Check out these “ideas worth spreading,” according to TED. Continue reading

7 Techniques to Calm Upset Kids

Imagine a child who’s frustrated, angry or agitated. Normally, she might throw a tantrum, speak sharply to a friend or sit in sullen rebellion, refusing to participate in the activities around her.

But what if this time, instead of reacting to or internalizing her feelings, she retreats to a quiet corner of the room. She picks up a water bottle full of glitter and shakes it. She breathes slowly, in and out, while watching the glitter slowly settle to the bottom of the bottle. How does this make her feel? Continue reading

Keeping Kids Safe From Abuse

Sexual predators have been at the center of national conversations this fall, with #MeToo going viral on social networks in the wake of Hollywood scandals. With 12 million comments, posts and reactions in less than 24 hours, #MeToo shed light on the numbers of those victimized by sexual harassment and assault.1

The issue is especially relevant for educators and administrators working with children, as there’s no higher priority than keeping kids safe. Continue reading

3 Tips for Social Media Fundraising

Social media is rapidly influencing the tone, tools and methods traditionally used for all kinds of communication—including fundraising. Last spring the website Nonprofit Tech for Good reported that 21% of peer-to-peer fundraising dollars are the result of a direct click-through on social media.1

But social media has a way of making us feel agitated and overwhelmed, especially when it comes to developing and managing effective strategies for our bottom line. So, let’s take a deep breath, and consider the long game. You may not be a social media expert, but if you’re at the helm of a private school, youth organization, or camp, you already possess the foundational skills for an effective social strategy. Continue reading

This is How Your Technology Creates Magic For Parents

Parents are stressed. If there’s one thing they crave, it’s simplicity. For things to work as they should. For the technical details of child-rearing to be easier so they can focus on the weightier matters.

Tim Hudson, founder of SixBySix Performance Lacrosse Courses in England, knows this. And he weaves that understanding into his mission and operational strategy. Continue reading