Crowdfunding isn’t a perfect science. One of the big reasons we consult with the non-profits we work with is because every non-profit is different - they have varying missions, donors, social media networks, and different needs when it comes to getting their feet wet with crowdfunding. Successful crowdfunding requires identifying an organization’s strongest assets and discerning how to best leverage them. These assets range from a strong social media following, to a message that people identify with passionately, to a gorgeous celebrity philanthropist who wants to put their face on the cause. A great example of leveraging existing assets is the campaign we ran a few months ago for the Boys Club of New York (BCNY). The campaign was to raise money to purchase textbooks for their college-bound alumni.
One of our co-founders, Su Sanni (the tsunami), is an alumnus of the BCNY. From day one Su was passionate about giving back to the organization by helping them raise funds. After we got in touch, we quickly discovered that they lacked one of the most essential crowdfunding resources: an official, centralized social media network. No BCNY Facebook, no BCNY Twitter. This made traditional campaign promotion difficult. Their existing donor base was generally older, active, and not well versed in social media. Most donations were made via check, aka snail mail. After meeting with them, we identified one unique asset they could leverage by piggybacking off the strong social media networks of their alumni.
While the organization lacked a centralized social media presence, they did have an arsenal of former BCNY members who were passionate about the organization and were more than willing to help them raise funds. We recruited 12 of them as satellite fundraisers or ‘co-chairs’. With them on board, we developed a unique strategy: the BCNY already had a call-to-action video in the barrel, so we had each of the 12 co-chairs record their own 10 second personal appeal and we made 12 videos, each with its own unique personal appeal from an alum to be distributed in his personal social networks.
The co-chairs sent the videos out via email appeals, Facebook posts, Tweets, phone calls and carrier pigeons. Through their social networks, the campaign found a home online and the BCNY exceeded their $10,000 goal. We were able to drive traffic to the campaign page, and for the internet-averse donors we simply provided them with step-by-step instructions for making an online donation. It was a 45 day adventure in creative crowdfunding that underscored our vehement assertion that video content is the most effective way to share a fundraising campaign. We learned enough from it to earn the campaign a spot on the ‘WeDidIt Success Stories’ page on our up-and-coming website redesign. We also got to help out some college freshmen with their reading lists.