Every year, the New Orleans Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), WLAE, televises a fundraising event where donated private school tuitions are put up for auction. The public can place bids on tuitions for private elementary schools, high schools, and colleges to get quality education for their children while helping the station raise funds. This year, WLAE had 42 donated tuitions to auction and they hoped to raise $200,000.

Auction Application - PBS Live Broadcast

Live broadcast of WLAE's charity auction, interviewing a student and teacher from the first school of the evening.

WLAE wanted to implement a process for volunteers to take bids on the phone and enter them into a web application that could also show the public the highest bids on live TV and streamed on the web. The auction app needed to keep track of each donated tuition and its associated bids.

Auction Application - PBS Volunteers Taking Bids

Volunteers entering phone bids using an auction application powered by Caspio.

“We decided to go with Caspio one week before our project date,” said Dave Snowdy, Facility Technical Officer at WLAE-TV. “It was so easy to set up the app that we had a working version of what we used within an hour of starting the free trial.”

In previous years, WLAE tried several other ways to manage the auction but they were all cumbersome or very time-consuming. In earlier years, all data was handled on paper and large handwritten display boards. Then they tried using HTML editors to manually update several computer screens. Eventually they attempted hosting an app built in Microsoft Access but the outcome was disastrous – the Access database crashed during the on-air broadcast. This year, WLAE decided to find a better way.

Creating a scalable solution and infrastructure in-house required a large investment that was much more than the available budget. “Equipment that can do all this could total $50,000 or more, but we decided to use Caspio’s cloud along with computer displays,” said Snowdy. “We utilized Caspio’s database platform and infrastructure and all we had to do was create our own custom interfaces to organize the data and present it in an attractive manor on-screen. The point-and-click tools make interface creation very easy.”

Auction Application - PBS Live Stream

Live broadcast showing highest bids directly from the app.

The implementation went so fast that there was ample time for feedback and improvements. According to Snowdy, everyone was impressed with the results and that it was so easy for people to request changes to the interface. Charts were quickly added to the reports so the staff could monitor the fundraising goal in real-time.

Auction Application - PBS Production Room

Production control room where employees monitored the broadcast and the night's bids on the chart on the right.

Snowdy intends on adding even more data input pages, reports and charts for next year’s fundraiser. “All the tools we need are built into Caspio,” he adds.

Auction Application - Chart Powered By Caspio

The internal chart report displays bids and tuition values.

This year, WLAE exceeded their fundraising goal and raised $215,000. 

“Our auction was nearly flawless and ease of use of Caspio’s services contributed to the success,” said Snowdy. “I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Caspio.”

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