1. If I put it online, it will raise money.
“*If you build it, they will not necessarily come.” Simply putting a campaign online does not mean that it will raise the money you want it to. Crowdfunding works when you make it work, it requires careful planning, strategizing, and fervent promotion. You need to let people know about your campaign, why you have a campaign, where to find the campaign, and how to donate. Once they’ve donated, you need to let them know how to share it. We love Kickstarter, it’s the world’s biggest crowdfunding site. But you’d be surprised to find out that people don’t just cruise around on it looking for projects to donate to. 85% of people who donate to a Kickstarter campaign donate to only one campaign. That being said, there are tons of great projects on Kickstarter and I highly encourage you to cruise around on it to look for projects to donate to.
2. I don’t need a video.
You would be very surprised at how little it can cost you to make a video. Not having enough money to produce one is a flimsy excuse with the amount of free software you have at your disposal. You can make a video by adding voiceover to a slideshow of photos if necessary, or even just use text to tell your story. No matter what your budget is, making a call-to-action video gives you control over how your campaign is shared, because your audience views it the exact same way every time. It takes the guess-work out of having your supporters explain your cause for you. And people like watching and sharing videos. It’s that simple. I highly encourage you to watch this video. Its success is due to the quality of its message and cleverness of its expression, not its (miniscule) budget.
3. People know about my campaign.
They don’t. You have to let them know about it, and probably more often than you think. As previously stated, 85% of Kickstarter donors only donate to one campaign, and that’s because they were directed to a specific campaign by a friend or family member. You need to ask people to donate. The more personal your solicitation, the more likely it is to turn into a donation. Putting a status update about your campaign on Facebook is great. Messaging somebody is better. Calling somebody, telling them about the campaign, and walking them through the donation process on the phone is what (Sir) Richard Branson would do.
4. I need expensive rewards to incentivize donors.
Fancy rewards may seem nice, but you have to ask yourself if your donors really want an iPad or do they just want the good feeling they get when they support a good cause. Rewards can be both tangible & experiential. Video thank you’s can be recorded with a webcam or phone, are free, and can be posted to your Facebook/website/blog. They make people feel special and put a face (yours) on the campaign. You can also do things like write songs, cook dinners, offer tours of your facility, handwrite thank you cards…get creative. There are more ways to minimize reward costs than you think.
5. Once I hit my goal, my job’s done.
Congratulations on hitting your goal! But hitting your goal and thinking your work’s done is like getting married and thinking you don’t have to worry about relationships for the rest of your life. You’ve still got to handle all the logistics of your rewards, as well as keep fundraising. Hitting 300% of your goal is exactly 3x better than hitting 100% of your goal. I recently read a great feature in Time magazine about Kickstarter, and it touched on the fact that some of the most successful campaigns raise more money than they have the capacity to deliver on. Hitting 100% of your goal should be a given, not a surprise.
Nonprofit Video Documentary Series
Currently WeDidIt is looking to film and interview the best and the brightest of NYC area nonprofits. We are looking for organizations that make a daily impact in people’s lives, have a great mission, or even do a thankless job that needs more exposure. We want to tell YOUR story.
Here’s how you can be a part of this:
First, you need to APPLY HERE. Only 10 nonprofit organizations will be selected for the documentary series. If you are interested, please take a second to fill out the form and tell us why your organization should be chosen. The application deadline is October 26th 2012. We’ll announce the selections 1 week later on November 2nd.
We will notify those selected to work with us, and you will be assigned to a WeDidIt team member. Your WeDidIt team member will start by working with you to determine the best way to capture and tell your story. After looking at our filming schedule, you can select the times that work best for you. Then our video crew will head out to your nonprofit’s location in NYC and spend a little time capturing great footage and interviewing 1 or 2 staff members. Ideally, we’d like to chat with the folks who can best tell your organization’s story: founders, development staff, social media/marketing staff members, etc.
We will cover ALL of the costs of capturing and editing the story, all you have to do is show us what makes your organization great. Once complete, your organization will be highlighted on our blog and website, where people are making significant donations ($116+ per person avg) to causes that resonate with them.
The WeDidIt team is passionate about helping nonprofits crowdfund. If you don’t know about us yet, click here and take a minute to hear what our clients have to say about working with us. Not only do we want to ensure nonprofits raise the funds they need, but we also help them tell an engaging story at the same time.
Any questions…? Shoot us an email or tweet, and we’ll be in touch shortly.
This week we’re pleased to share a guest blog post from Kristin Laus at One Job Per Child, an awesome organization with a unique mission. Now we’ll hand the mic to Kristin…
Beginning in 2006, Karl Hartley, the founder of OneJobPerChild began to see the opportunities in outsourcing labor components of his existing real estate practice. He quickly became aware that the early adopters of this were simply seeking to lower labor costs, treating Virtual Assistants as expendable, cheap labor. Karl realized this myopic approach was missing the very greatest asset presented to an employer: the infinite capacity of the human mind and how it might better one’s own business.
Karl found that his Virtual Assistants possessed amazing talent to problem solve as well as to create better systems and standards of work. Above all, he found that the younger employees with NO prior experience produced the best results. How was this even possible? Was it because someone took a chance on them? Because of their age were they simply more open to learn online technology? While he never found an exact answer to this question, one thing became abundantly clear: the intellectual capacity and drive of these kids was mind-blowing.
Karl realized there was an amazing commodity value in something heretofore deemed worthless from a financial standpoint. Instead of “Look at all those poor, starving, helpless people with flies on their faces”, it became “My gosh, look at this amazing pool of untapped potential and infinite intellectual resources!”
This marked the birth of OneJobPerChild.
OneJobPerChild students (aged 12-18) will be paired with a mentor and will begin learning English, Skype and the Google platform (Google Drive, Calendar, Gmail, Google+, etc), all while being paid to complete their modules. Having successfully completed these modules, the student will then choose a high demand online job and complete the necessary training (while being paid) to become qualified to perform it. The student is then able to work online, earning more than 200% of the wage in his/her local community, taking him/her out of poverty forever.
OneJobPerChild can track a student’s progress online in real-time so the mentors can keep track of how the student is doing. Our donors can also see exactly how far their donation is going and how far their student has come. We even have a poverty line which (while morbid) is exciting when you see a student break above that and never fall below it again.
After years of testing the platform in limited areas of Afghanistan and the Philippines, OneJobPerChild is ready to launch in an expanded area including Bolivia, Mexico and Peru. We intend to license our platform to Non-Governmental Organizations to enable them to use the program in their already established relationships in third world countries. This will also enable us to expand and reach even more communities.
We are an online nonprofit and are excited about the possibilities in online crowdfunding and raising awareness through social media. We have used online crowdsourcing sites to get ideas and get volunteer assistance. It’s great to get feedback from different people all around the world and not be limited to our own personal contacts. We’re tackling a worldwide problem and we value the brilliance that people all over the world can share with us.
We’re excited to work with WeDidIt because they, too, are just starting out and it seemed like a good match. At OneJobPerChild we are educating young people to become entrepreneurs and we wanted to support other entrepreneurs like those at WeDidIt.
We think the future of fundraising for nonprofits is crowdfunding. Members of our management team have been involved with nonprofits before and have seen firsthand how the old-school fundraising methods have been a drain on both the employees’ and the boards’ time and energy. We want to work with our students and not be obsessed with the next fundraising event or mailing campaign. “Christian begging” isn’t what we want to do. We are of the opinion that only the nonprofits who do online fundraising will be the ones to survive in the future.
OneJobPerChild is also a radical departure from other nonprofits because our platform tracks the students progress, so donors can see for themselves, online and in real-time, what a difference their donations are making in a student’s life and watch a student’s income increase. This approach removes the barriers from the donors to the recipients and the donors know their money isn’t being thrown into some black hole, which makes the donor feel good, helps the student and, hopefully, encourages the donor to continue giving. Our program is self-sustaining and is able to continue without additional assistance from donors. We certainly ask for continued donations, but it’s not to ensure the survival of the program, rather to facilitate its global outreach.
From the beginning, WeDidIt has been a software and consulting company. Crowdfunding is a new - and to some an unfamiliar - fundraising model for non-profits; and understandably, not everyone is a crowdfunding expert. That’s where WeDidIt comes in; we’re crowdfunding experts. We’ve worked hands on with every single campaign we’ve launched so far - WeDidIt acts as an extension of your team. We believe that our hands-on approach to our clients is why we’ve seen so many of them succeed (91% of our clients reach or exceed their goal, as opposed to Kickstarter’s 45%…a little backdoor bragging). Currently we are working on ways to expand our ability to help nonprofits reach a wider audience in their crowdfunding campaigns. To do this, we’re consolidating our knowledge & experience into materials that everybody can read & watch to give them the tools and resources they need to develop, launch & promote their own successful crowdfunding campaigns. To do this, we recently ran two events: an online webinar and an in-person presentation.
Webinars can be a great way to do a presentation for a geographically dispersed audience and (barring any technical issues like loss of internet connection) you can record them, so the entire audience experience can be saved and disseminated to people who couldn’t attend the live presentation. They also allow you to address questions on the spot. For all those interested, you can check out the content of our webinar on developing, launching & promoting a crowdfunding campaign here: Script, Slides.
Even more effective than webinars are in-person events. Smiles and handshakes can do things emails and conference calls only ever dreamed about. Free beer and pizza help too (thank you Brooklyn Brewery & Two Boots). Our own Ben Lamson & Su Sanni gave a fantastic presentation on the crowdfunding industry, how and why campaigns succeed or fail, and how WeDidIt is bringing it all to non-profits. Event planning can be difficult and nerve-wracking, but when you plan and execute properly, there’s really no substitute. They’re also not as difficult as you think. For those of you based in metropolitan areas, there are probably more free or cheap solutions to party-throwing that you didn’t realize.
The awesome people at New York’s Wix Lounge offer a free co-working space that we were able to rent out (for free) and even promoted the event for us. We also got promotion through BeSocialChange, DoGoodBuyUs, and our relevant MeetUp groups. The turnout we got was outstanding - it really proved to us that people do help people, and that former interns/current college students really can eat a whole pizza. Organizations like these exist all over the country, and more often than not are putting people with common goals under the same roof to gather knowledge and business cards for free, or for a nominal cover charge. And giving them beer & pizza.
We also had our video crew there filming the entire shebang, so expect documentation in the near future.
Our in-person event is happening on October 3rd at 6pm at the Wix Lounge in NYC. It’s a deep introduction to crowdfunding. Attendees will receive: Ideas, courtesy of the WeDidIt team & refreshments courtesy of the Brooklyn Brewery.
The webinar will take place on September 26th on the internet. It will cover the same material as the in-person seminar for the people who can’t make it to NYC on October 3rd.
Both will be educational. Ideas will be discussed. We hope any/all of you can make it. Follow the links above for attendance.
Here’s why we’re doing it.
Let’s start with one of my all-time favorite quotes:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
Education is one of the most valuable resources we have. It helps us better ourselves, our situations and our surroundings. It rivals experience as one of those things you just can’t have too much of. We’ve spent the past year educating ourselves on crowdfunding. We’ve done it by jumping into the deep end and running crowdfunding campaigns, religiously monitoring the crowdfunding scene, reading everything we can get our hands on and asking questions to everybody who could weigh in.
A goal we’ve had is to become thought leaders - students that become thinkers that become influencers - in the crowdfunding world. In the coming weeks, we’re putting our money where our mouths are and trying to do Eleanor proud. Both the webinar and the seminar are our way of contributing to the crowdfunding mind-space. The goal is to spread our ideas on successful crowdfunding to the people and organizations that need it most.
See you there.
*we didn’t actually build or land the Curiosity rover
And, for good measure, my second favorite quote:
“One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”
The music nerds of the world can thank Lou Reed for that one.
When you build a business, it’s easy to do two things:
A healthy measure of both keeps things moving forward. I wanted to take some of today to discuss the future. One of the things we want to become great at is putting together organizations that can help each other. This isn’t just non-profits - there are people in all kinds of capacities trying to change the problems they see in the world. We want to help them do it by connecting the dots for them; by building some collaborations. Here’s one we’d love to see happen.
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Reebok Foundation
The right to walk is something we all share as humans. We celebrate our bipedal accomplishments: our children’s first steps, runners that changed the world, moments in film history. It’s important to remember that this is a right that’s been stripped from some. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. Pairing them with an organization that celebrates athletic accomplishments would be a great way to raise awareness for the cause, as well as fundraise through creative initiatives.
The Reebok Foundation can always just donate money to the cause - that would be great, but we’d like to see it get even more fun by leveraging what Reebok does best. Let’s design shoes for people living with paralysis. Let’s design shoes for the researchers looking for a cure. I’m seeing these peaking out of the bottom of a white lab coat. A portion of every pair of shoes designed by or for researchers & people living with paralysis can go back towards the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to help them continue looking for a cure to spinal cord injuries. Combining an advertising campaign with a fundraising campaign would allow the Reebok Foundation to raise awareness through the advertisements and funds through sales.
I guess we’re just a crew of dreamers here at WeDidIt. So we’ll continue to write more about our ‘dream collaborations’ in the future. In the time being, feel free to suggest other potential dream collaborations. We’d love to hear your thoughts…
How do you measure an athlete’s strength? How much they can put up on the bench? How quickly they can sprint the 100m? Or swim the 400m IM? Let’s talk numbers:
9.58 – the number of seconds it took Usain Bolt to run 100m in Berlin, 2009.
243.84 – the number of seconds it took Michael Phelps to swim the 400 IM in Beijing, 2008.
15,400 – the total number of miles Lance Armstrong biked to win the Tour de France. Seven times in a row.
Now let’s talk some different numbers:
2,889,187 – the number of Jamaicans that Usain Bolt empowers every time he steps onto a track
211,000,000 – the number of Americans who watched Phelps win in Beijing.
Athletes carry more on their shoulders than their last names. They show their strength on and off the field. They empower their communities – whether those communities are their neighborhood, town, city, or country. A handful inspire the world. The United Athletes Foundation (UAF) is a non-profit organization that leverages the inspiration professional athletes give to their communities by focusing on giving back. Their mission is to improve the lives of the athletic fraternity and society in its entirety. These aren’t small goals. But these aren’t small problems. And these aren’t small athletes.
A few more numbers:
66 – the percentage of people beneath the poverty line in the Southeastern District of Baltimore.
71,008 – the number of seats in the M&T Bank Stadium in the Southeastern District of Baltimore.
52 – the number on Ray Lewis’s Ravens jersey. This will be his 17th season wearing it.
Lewis is a Baltimore institution. He sees the needs of his community first-hand when he drives to the stadium every Sunday. He’s also the Vice Chairman of the UAF. Lewis and the UAF’s President and Executive Director Reggie Howard (who played seven NFL seasons) are currently running an initiative in partnership with Consumer Education Services Inc. (CESI), Builders of Hope & the Ameri-I-Can Foundation to revitalize blighted communities. They’re developing quality, safe, affordable housing and teaching financial literacy to the new homebuyers and renters moving into the renovated houses.
The crucial aspect of this project is its emphasis on not only building houses and filling them with families, but on providing education on financial literacy so that they can improve their circumstances. It’s a project that will be paying returns for generations. A donation today will still be helping in 20 years when the kids in these families buy and fill their own homes.
The UAF have put together an all-or-nothing campaign to raise $10,000 in 45 days. As of today, they have 21 days left to raise $7,435. We show support for our communities’ athletes every time they step on the field and get to work. Let’s show our support for the work they’re doing off of it. Donate here. Then share the campaign with your friends so that they can contribute too.
Not too long after college, I took on the side project of co-founding a media production company and recording studio. Which was A LOT of fun. I gotta admit, this project turned out to be an extremely rewarding and important experience in my life. My successes - and failures - in the music industry taught me a lot about how social media is changing the way we do business. For the most part, the people and organizations that have the resources (talent and capital) are the examples everyone else looks up to. But it’s clear that the big players are experiencing the game-change too. For example, a lot of music artists and labels try to establish relationships with radio station DJs to gain airplay and increase record sales. But think about it..when was the last time you consistently listened to the radio? Don’t get me wrong - those relationships are still valuable. But it’s a fact that fewer and fewer people are relying on the radio as their primary source for new music. How much do you think we’ll listen to the radio 10 or 20 years from now?
Now for unsigned - and even some signed artists - they must not only create great music but also promote themselves and their music as a brand. Which is very hard to do. Major labels have million dollar budgets to spend on marketing and album promotion. An up & coming artist has few if any dollars to spend on promotion. So what’s an artist to do? Flip the funnel.
The lessons I learned from the music industry apply directly to the nonprofit space. Both scenarios deal with people and organizations fighting to spread their message - with little to no resources in comparison to the major players. When we compare nonprofits to musicians, and their supporters to fans, you’ll see that building and engaging your donor base can be done the same way as building a fan base. (Illustrated by our buddy Seth Godin…one of those ways includes flipping the funnel.)
Flipping the funnel is the idea of giving your fans a megaphone and letting them broadcast your message to their own friends and supporters. Artists jumped on this bandwagon early with the advent of mixtapes and street teams. And before social sharing there was simple file sharing. So while record labels cringe at the idea of having music given away for free - Artistic instinct supports that many free listeners is far more valuable than a few paid listeners.
Some of the most successful artists of the last 10 years got their start by giving the majority of their music away for free. This is a perfect example of “flipping the funnel”. Rather than trying to control what your fans or supporters do, you give them the power to control, share, and respond to your message. Yeah sure - this does go against what traditional corporations and business schools teach us about corporate communications. But it seems like going against the status quo is highly rewarded today. File sharing, the broader internet, and social media are examples of how the times are changing. This message applies directly to nonprofits. If you put your message directly in the hands of those who care about it, you have just enabled them to spread your cause.
This is the true power of social media. Allowing your supporters to do just that, support you. Rather than spend millions on a Super Bowl ad, why not generate some awesome and free content that people will WANT to share with their friends? With the power of social media, those shares can reach thousands – if not millions – with simply the click of a button. Do you know of any examples of how organizations are flipping the funnel? Share your thoughts and fill us in….we’d love to hear from you.
Oscar Winberg here, the intern, aka Distraction Jackson. I’m currently studying business at NYU and I’ve been interning here at WeDidIt for about 5 months. Being an intern at a startup is unique. I feel that I get to be a part of many things that wouldn’t be possible in more traditional internships at bigger companies.
Here at WeDidIt the day-to-day is never the same, and that is the nature of startups. One day I will be writing a blog post and another day I could be researching potential marketing opportunities, or haggling with FedEx for the best package size. The best part about startups though, in my opinion, is that you get to work and engage with all the people who make the decisions. As I’m writing this, Ben, cofounder, is sitting next to me and Su, other cofounder, is across the room. There are not many internships that gives you such a close relationship with the people in charge and I’ve learned a lot from them.
WeDidIt as a company is at a really exciting stage in its life and I’m super excited to be here and help all these guys out. In the process, I’m getting valuable experience that I can translate to future jobs and work relationships.
In the meantime, I will be working hard here at WeDidIt to make sure it will be a success, both for the team, who are hardworking, dedicated, and great guys, and for the non-profits WeDidIt help launch fundraising campaigns for. The future is exciting here at WeDidIt.
Nurturing the relationships between agriculture, trees, people and animals - this is agroforestry, and it’s what Trees for the Future (TFTF) does. Think Johnny Appleseed for the 21st Century. Speaking with David enlightened me to a variety of issues regarding deforestation that TFTF seeks to solve. For example, in parts of Africa where TFTF operate, deforestation isn’t primarily caused by logging corporations (Sting can take a breather). Rather, in most cases, it’s caused by a natural, indigenous cause: population increase. There are a lot of people in an area that isn’t used to having a lot of people. And people need to eat. To eat, they need to cook and to cook they need firewood.
This deforestation has a severe impact on climate at the local level. For example, in Tanzania, deforestation on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro has allowed hot air from the savannas that surround the mountain, to reach the summit, which accelerates the melting of its glaciers. Rather than try to simply stop local farmers from cutting down trees, TFTF works with local farmers to provide them with basic resources and educate them about agroforestry - planting more trees, improving soil quality, and reversing the effects of deforestation. What they’ve accomplished so far is fantastic (to put it in perspective, they operate in 21 countries and are aiming to plant 17,000,000 trees this year). To keep it up they’re aiming to scale the organization for further growth over the next few years. To do this, funding is necessary.
I asked David to fill me in on some of his & TFTF’s fundraising successes & nightmares. This is a question I ask every Founders Group member because we want to find out what makes fundraising difficult so that we can make it easier. There has been absolutely no shortage of fundraising nightmares that I’ve heard about. David caught me off guard when he said “Let me tell you about a successful project we ran.”
… “I’m all ears, David.”
David proceeded to tell me about how TFTF leveraged their facebook, twitter, email lists as well as their own personal social networks to raise awareness fora project in Haiti that really needed help. Through their efforts, they raised over $4,000 in 3 weeks. I was thrilled.
“That, David, is a crowdfunding campaign.”
This is the kind of initiative and success we’re trying to promote with WeDidIt, and hearing it work for an organization that had never done it before made me & the rest of the team here extremely confident that crowdfunding can work for anyone. We’ll be running a campaign with TFTF in the near future and I can’t wait to help them raise well over the $4,000 they did on their own. Until then, there are several ways to get involved. I would highly recommend starting by watching their 50 Million Trees and Counting video. You can make a donation to help them plant trees, join their mailing list, even start your own project for them. And as always, be sure to like their facebook page and follow them on twitter.