The challenge was to create an experience that kept the music and inspiration of the Los Angeles Philharmonic front-and-center, while also making it as easy as possible to donate to support the work of the orchestra, including learning programs like the signature initiative YOLA (Young Orchestra Los Angeles).
In February 2021, the Los Angeles Philharmonic premiered their virtual gala: Icons on Inspiration. Honoring and following the example of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s past galas, this one would also be an online destination, open to all, and a way for donors to support the work of the LA Phil.
The orchestra created new recordings for the event, filmed on-stage at the Hollywood Bowl, and these were linked by interviews between the LA Phil’s Music and Artistic Director, Gustavo Dudamel, and iconic supporters of the LA Phil, including Julie Andrews, Common, Katy Perry, and Yuja Wang.
The LA Phil and Made teams had previously completed a lot of work to optimize the online path for donations and memberships, including the addition of mobile wallets such as Apple Pay into the checkout path, and reconsidering the user journey for donors so that extraneous questions and prompts are moved to the confirmation page, after the user has completed the donation. The challenge for the gala was to shorten this loop even further, so that viewers could complete their donation without leaving the gala page.
What we did
There were two main parts to the work involved to create this virtual gala experience within laphil.com.
First, the video content itself was located in a block that would remain sticky on vertical screens, so that users of mobile devices could interact with the rest of the page while maintaining focus on the primary content. Youtube Premiere was used as the video provider, because the gala was intended to be open for all, and the Premiere functionality within YouTube allowed the pre-recorded gala movie to be presented as if it was being live streamed at the publicized time of the gala. The video then automatically remained available ‘on demand’ for thirty days after the premiere date.
Second, we created a new in-page donation ‘widget’ that could be added to the page underneath the gala video. This page component allowed a user to make a donation selection and then make payment by using Apple Pay or PayPal, without leaving the gala page itself. A ‘pay by card’ method was also retained, allowing users to continue down the regular online checkout flow if desired.
The widget interacted with LA Phil’s Tessitura ticketing and CRM system via Made’s own BlocksOffice middleware platform, and the mobile checkout options built on previous work we had completed for the orchestra, which had delivered a 78% decrease in ‘time to conversion’ in their main purchase path. We had previously moved the ‘additional questions’ often asked during a donation or membership transaction, such as recognition names and the declining of membership benefits, to the confirmation page. This allowed donations to be collected much more quickly, using one-click payment methods such as Apple Pay. We replicated this approach in the gala donation widget, by collecting payment via Apple Pay or PayPal and then asking these questions, updating Tessitura as users made selections on the page.
Finally, we undertook a load profiling exercise to ensure that the interactive elements of the page could handle large amounts of traffic at the time that the gala event went live, without impacting the overall loading behavior of the page (heavily cached as standard) or the required interaction with back office systems such as Tessitura or payment processors.
Icons on Inspiration launched to great acclaim on February 6, 2021, and remained available ‘on demand’ for around a month. By the second week, the Los Angeles Philharmonic met their donation goal for their gala. The gala also received critical praise, with the LA Times applauding the Los Angeles Philharmonic: “Icons does redefine what an online fundraiser can be.”