WeDidIt is an online fundraising platform for non-profits.

Posts Tagged: nonprofit


Nonprofit Video Documentary Series

Help us tell your story 

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. 

About WeDidIt:

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.

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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.


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I started WeDidIt because I am a passionate believer in crowdfunding. My previous career as a social media consultant helped me understand the idea of empowering your supporters and creating discussions through social media engagement. Future generations will take it for granted that you can go on the Zappos Facebook page, lodge a complaint and get a thoughtful response. I’m far from a dinosaur, but I too grew up in an era of waiting on hold for the next available operator. When the economy crashed, the nonprofit clients I worked with were hit really hard. Anyone whose passionate enough to work at a nonprofit knows that fundraising and development is like the lifeblood of the organization. So to lose an expected grant or corporate sponsorship can be devastating. In short, funding sources were drying up and their organizations were suffering.

Through my involvement with a side project that involved launching Kickstarter campaigns, I eventually realized that the success Kickstarter was having with creative/artistic-types could be applied to nonprofits. I thought…crowdfunding would not only help nonprofits raise the funds they needed, but it would also increase their social media presence and their donor engagement. The bottom line: crowdfunding is not just about the funds raised, but also about making sure the crowd has fun doing it.


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It’s easy to think that because our friends and families are socially enlightened that the majority of the world is as well. After all, Obama unambiguously stated his support for gay marriage, and well-respected public figures like Anderson Cooper are stepping proudly out of the closet and into the spotlight. I asked Robin McHaelen, the Executive Director of True Colors Inc (TCI) to pick one thing she wishes the public was more aware of. She told me:

That things are both better – and they are not. Some LGBT youth come out and the people in their lives go, ‘whatever’. Those youth go on to lead happy and productive lives.  Others come out and get thrown out, or beaten or even exorcised…  Those youth use substances, attempt suicide, run-away, are truant, sexually act out and are homeless at significantly higher rates than their peers.”

This is (and should be) an eye-opener for modern Americans. It certainly was for Robin. While completing her master’s at UConn, she researched LGBT advocacy groups in the Hartford area. There was one group. Broaden that search to the entire state of CT: two groups. To use Robin’s words: “In short, LGBT adolescents were an invisible and under-serviced minority.”

To fill this gap, TCI was born. Since its inception in 1993, TCI has “educated more than 25,000 participants; provided resources and training to hundreds of school and agency programs; contributed to the formation and/or continuation of the more that 160 existing Gay/Straight Alliances; launched and manages CT’s only LGBT youth mentoring program. Our work has helped to create a safer, more inclusive environment for LGBTIQ youth in school, at home, and in the community at large.” They’ve managed to do this by rolling out a variety of programs and initiatives, including:

  • One-on-One Mentoring Program
  • Annual Conference
  • Youth Leadership 
  • Safe Harbors Task Force/Foster Parent Recruitment
  • Cultural Competency Training
  • Spiritual Institute

Managing this many initiatives demands, of course, a reliable stream of funding. When I asked Robin to elaborate on some of her fundraising successes and failures, she candidly told me that they’d had so many bad fundraising experiences that they started calling them ‘fund-losers’. TCI runs three fundraising events per year that Robin refers to as “marginally profitable, but don’t bring in anywhere near the kind of income they should.” 

When we discussed online fundraising, Robin informed me that TCI brings in about 20% of their individual donations through a ‘donate’ button on their website, and that this should be an area for significant fundraising potential. Since TCI utilizes facebook & twitter in their mentoring program and their mission is to help young people, they’re already well on their way to activating a substantial group of new fundraisers.

By leveraging their social media assets, TCI should be able to foster an even greater sense of community and solidarity for the kids they support. They can also grow their networks of kids, mentors, supporters and resources by letting their kids use their social media acumen to recruit new donors and believers. Increasing awareness, accomplishing mission goals and raising funds are all essential in helping TCI succeed. We’ll be launching a WeDidIt campaign with them in the coming months, but you should get involved today:

True Colors Inc Website 

TCI’s facebook

And check out some photos from TCI’s annual conference:

TCI’s annual conference is the largest and most comprehensive LGBT youth issues conference in the nation. Nearly 3,000 youth, educators, social workers, clinicians, family members and clergy participate in more than 150 workshops, films, activities and events over the course of the 2-day event.


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When Megan and I discussed non-profit fundraising, she told me one story that’s going to stay with me for a long time. Placer were told they’d be getting a surprise visit from the California fire marshal. This meant they had very little time to raise $1,200. Megan told me how they were worried and struggled to find the funds, and when I said “well you’re still up and running, so obviously you raised the funds.”

“Yeah,” she said, “we let somebody go.”

It was awful to hear – a bad situation no matter how you look at it. The silver lining that Megan & I discussed from here however was that with online fundraising, and crowdfunding in particular, we’re trying to eradicate situations like this. WeDidIt wants to be able to help raise $1,200 in two weeks. In one week if need be. The traditional methods of nonprofit fundraising like throwing galas and applying for grants are great ways to get larger donations, but they take a lot of time and preparation.

Megan put this really well: “[Small nonprofits’] budgets are small enough that they cannot access simple services like proper business checking and credit cards or apply for certain grants. Competing for donation dollars is also extremely challenging because small nonprofits do not have marketing budgets – the majority of time, effort and budget go directly into delivery programs and services. Having options that help build capacity can make a world of difference for a small nonprofit.”

Megan – you nailed it. That’s what we’re trying to do with WeDidIt. We want to help you raise money when you need it most without spending (extremely) valuable staff hours and other resources. I asked Megan about her thoughts, hopes and even reservations about working with WeDidIt. She told me: “ I have seen what crowdfunding has done for other forms of business and I do think it can be applicable to the nonprofit sector. Crowdfunding helps excite people and helps instigate conversations. I am really excited about the reach crowdfunding could have.” Regarding working with a startup, Megan said that she wanted to work with a company that would listen to her suggestions. We’re listening.  

PNC needs outreach. When I asked Megan about her ideas for programs and activities she’d like to do but can’t at PNC’s current capacity, she had a list ready to go. She wants to get more people outdoors, and that should be something we can all get on board with.

Check out PNC’s website and like their facebook page. Follow them on twitter and (for our Golden State readers) pay them a visit. They’re doing great work and believe me, it’s worth helping them keep doing it.

You can also get in touch with me:

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You can’t go to the grocery store these days without hearing about social media. It’s been credited with everything from a new way to communicate with your customers, to saving lives in disaster areas, and helping topple corrupt regimes. Social media has come a long way from being a means for college boys and girls to check out who was in a relationship with whom. It’s amazing that social media has evolved from this to changing the way businesses communicate with consumers. This can be applied to fundraising in a very unique way.

Traditional fundraising methods, whether they be a 5k race or annual gala, all end in the same way. That is, collecting donations by check, cash or credit card. The difference between crowdfunding and traditional fundraising is the fact that crowdfunding is integrated with social media. This may seem like a minor detail but let’s explore it a bit further.

In traditional fundraising, a first-time donor swipes their credit card. You are then given their name, shipping address and any other information they voluntarily give you. The transaction ends and you move onto the next donor. In crowdfunding, someone makes a donation and they are automatically prompted to share your fundraising campaign in their own social networks. The benefits of this are two-fold.

Firstly, you have just expanded your potential donor base without having to lift a finger. Secondly, you have just received valuable information about your donor. Without having to fill out any forms, your donor has just told you how old they are, where they live, the size of their social network, the brands they prefer and…the list goes on.

It’s these donor demographics that make social media and crowdfunding so special. Not only are you investing in the most effective form of advertising - a personal endorsement from your donor to their friends and family - you are getting a free analysis of the demographics that support your cause. This is priceless information that most companies will pay top dollar to obtain. You are getting it for free while raising money for your cause. This is the true power of crowdfunding.


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The most important part of a campaign video is having a strong call to action. Getting across all the relevant information about your organization is important, but the video will be pointless if the viewer isn’t inspired - or doesn’t know what the next steps are - to get involved and help out. If your goal is to get the viewer to donate, the next steps are easy to outline. Actually inspiring them to donate is where you will need to create a compelling message. 

Here are two videos that do a good job of inspiring their viewers.

The first video is the Holstee manifesto. Holstee is a company that promotes “lifestyle design with a conscious”. Their manifesto is so inspiring it has gone viral, with over 600,000 views on YouTube. The call to action here is pretty amazing because it is vague enough so that it can apply to anyone. What the video lacks is a clear direction for what you should do next. Since Holstee is a company that doesn’t promote consumerism, it makes sense that their manifesto’s intention is to simply inspire you to live your life rather than to get you to buy something.

The second video manages to combine inspiration and call-to-action. The message of the video can resonate with a wide range of audiences because everyone, rich or poor, has struggles in their everyday life. Appealing to the struggles we all face allows the video to drive home its message. The message - or call to action - is simple and clear.

Both these videos did a great job of portraying their message with imagery, voice over and music. In doing so they were able to appeal to the viewer, increasing the likelihood that their call to action will be heeded. This applies directly to a crowdfunding video. Your goal should be to create a video that inspires the viewer and tugs at their emotions. In doing so, you are much more likely to get the viewer to take the next step and make a donation.


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Almost every smartphone comes equipped with a video camera these days, and most computers come with video editing software. The question is, just how easy is it to turn a video shot on an iPhone or other camera into a short movie? I decided to start messing around in iMovie to see if I could create a short movie with video I shot on my phone in one day. 

Having never edited a movie before, I consider myself a true novice. I started by familiarizing myself with my iPhone’s video camera. Though it is just point and shoot, I did a little research and found some tips that helped me get the most out of my iPhone. (Keep the shots short - 10 sec., zoom with your feet - never zoom during a shot, always go wide with the view - never shoot in portrait mode, always in landscape.)

Shooting the video: With Mark’s help, we made up a rough script before we began shooting. For each clip we used our imagination to come up with a funny or interesting way to get our message across. When we finished shooting, I emailed the clips to myself and downloaded them to my computer. (I used email because I tend not to trust hitting the “Sync” button in iTunes after accidentally erasing my phone a few times).

Editing the video: My biggest fear was learning iMovie. Luckily, this fear was completely unfounded. Mark had some experience with iMovie so he gave me a brief 20 minute tutorial. iMovie is surprisingly intuitive and easy to learn. There are tons of tutorials out there on Youtube. I even learned a little GarageBand for editing the music in our video.

We got the basic video edited and completed in about 3 hours. The whole process actually took a little bit longer once we discovered sound effects and other fun features in iMovie. We decided to add a few effects but actually learned a lot of useful tricks from just playing around in iMovie. My conclusion is that editing and shooting your own movie is a lot easier than one may think.


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Ten years ago, online shopping was only for early adopters or products that were hard to find locally. These days, people are buying everyday items like toilet paper online - anyone? This is just one example of how the internet has changed our lives. What does this have to do with fundraising? Well, many nonprofits still rely on traditional fundraising methods, such as direct mail campaigns and annual galas. Online fundraising is not intended to replace these methods of fundraising, just as is not intended to replace Target.

Online shopping and online donations are simply means to diversify options for donors and shoppers. Of course there are donors that still prefer to give by mail or come to the annual gala, just as there are still shoppers who prefer to buy their soap at Target. But the simple truth is there are a lot of donors - especially young ones - who will only donate money online. 

Let’s draw an analogy. Cartoon Network originally aired content only for children. With most of their audience in bed by 9PM, Cartoon Network would simply air reruns late at night. This is where Cartoon Network came up with a brilliant idea. After 9PM they would start airing adult oriented cartoon shows, calling it “Adult Swim”. This way they could keep their traditional audience during the day and reach out to a new audience at night. Also, when younger viewers outgrew their favorite shows, there would be options available to keep watching on Cartoon Network.

Online fundraising works in exactly the same way. Keep your traditional donors, but reach out and engage new and young donors. The wave of online fundraising through social media is right now, and remember, if you’re not riding the wave, then you’re standing on the shore.



One of the most essential aspects of any successful crowdfunding campaign is what’s called a ‘call-to-action’ video. These videos are generally 2-4 minutes long and are put together with one simple goal: get viewers to do something. Think of them like commercials. Some are more effective than others, but they tend to follow certain sets of rules and they all have the same end goal: to inform you about their organization and convince you to spend money.

A great example is insurance commercials. Several major insurance providers have been following the same pattern recently to get viewers to buy their insurance, and funnily enough the strategy they’ve been using is more or less the same way to make a successful call-to-action video for a non-profit: memorable spokespeople. Think about Progressive, AllState and Geico. Chances are, if you’ve watched television in the past six months, you’re picturing these three:

In their commercials, none of these three waste much time quoting figures or statistics, their goal is to give you something to remember when you think about spending money on insurance. Successful call-to-action videos employ the same principal.

Believe it or not, extensive research has gone into the psychology behind social giving and video production. Across the board, successful videos have stories and central, memorable characters. This is because people relate to people better than they relate to numbers - nonprofits & charities have more success when their videos focus on (for example) one hungry child, one rescue dog, etc. The goal is to elicit emotion in the viewer. This engages them on a personal level and that is when they are inspired to donate to your cause.

As our nonprofit clients gear up to start producing their own call-to-action videos, this is a lesson that I think should be taken to heart. If you’re raising money for general operating expenses, the central character & their back story could be that of your nonprofit’s founder, a particularly affected staff member, or a person who has been helped by your nonprofit. If you’re raising money for a specific project, for example building a school in an impoverished area, focus on a student who the school will help. People like helping people.

And as a personal side-note, I met the AllState Mayhem guy in Union Square. His name is Dean Winters. He was super nice, absolutely hilarious, absurdly charismatic, and he bought me a drink when I told him he was hilarious in 30 Rock.




We just wrapped up our Friends & Family campaign. I wanted to share some insights into how our sales training helped us conceptualize & develop our campaign.

From day one we said we needed to be personally experienced in crowdfunding in order to offer first hand advice on how to develop, launch and manage a WeDidIt crowdfunding campaign. We finished our Friends & Family campaign last Friday at $6,340 - 127% of our $5,000 goal. Obviously, we’re extremely happy and proud. I wanted to talk about how we managed our campaign and offer some tips on how our sales experience helped us strategize for our campaign.

Me, Su & Ben all come from a sales/business development background and we treated our 30-day $5,000 goal in much the same way we would have treated a monthly sales quota. Achieving an all-or-nothing fundraising goal is very similar to hitting a sales quota: both require preparation, implementation & execution and in both cases, if the specified dollar amount isn’t achieved, no money changes hands. Way before our campaign launched, we set ourselves each the individual goal of raising $1,000 towards the campaign from our own friends & family and then we each made lists of people we expected to donate and how much we could expect from them. Between Su, Ben, Nick and myself, this accounted for $4,000 (80%) of our goal, leaving $1,000+ to come in through 3rd parties, word-of-mouth, and peripheral members of our own social networks (people we hadn’t expected to donate who did).

The first day the campaign went live, our goal was to play a numbers game. We wanted to let people know that the campaign had launched, direct them to the site, and build exposure for our cause on a broad scale. We did this by posting facebook status updates, updating our twitter accounts and sending mass emails to our friends & family. As the campaign progressed, we started getting in touch with the people we’d put on our lists by calling and/or emailing them directly. Once they’d donated, we asked them to help spread awareness for our cause by personally asking one of their friends or family members to donate. This took us to over 50% of our goal by week three and provides an essential lesson in sales/fundraising - the more personal a solicitation, the more likely it is to be successful.

We also had a number of ongoing, non-time-consuming initiatives during the campaign - the ‘little touches’. The first was to publicly thank people who donated. For example, I posted updates to facebook & twitter that tagged people in my social networks who had donated. It’s a great way to show your appreciation and also to let everybody else in your social networks know that people are believing in your cause. We also made a point to follow up with people who said they were going to donate. Another valuable rule of sales is that ‘verbal’ contracts (“I’ll sign on Friday…”) don’t count for much except theoretical dollars (which are way harder to spend than real dollars). Crowdfunding donations take less than 3 minutes to make, so when somebody says they’ll donate but don’t do it right away, chances are they’re going to forget. I kept a list of friends who said they’d “get around to it” and politely reminded them to donate as the campaign continued. Thanking donors and reminding donors-to-be took me less than 15 minutes a week and brought in hundreds of dollars.

The final piece of sales advice I want to share is that you never want to be short of your goal in the last week with no idea where the money’s coming from. In sales we call this ‘closing week,’ and it’s where you either make money or you don’t. With seven days left in our campaign, we were 29% shy of our $5,000 goal, but because of our planning, we knew exactly where we would get the final 31%. Our preparation allowed us to call in all the stragglers who had said they would donate, and since we over-compensated we ended up exceeding our $5,000 goal by 27%.

And don’t forget that “coffee is for closers,” so never stop looking for ways to solicit donations. 




It’s 2012 - which means it’s time to answer the B-movie question: “Will machines one day take over the planet?” The answer is a definitive yes.  From cell phones to checkout counters, no one can dispute that “skynet has become self-aware” and computers now rule our lives. Example? People text and email while driving their car. Aside from allowing you to text while driving, these machines are not here to destroy us. Rather, they are here to make our lives easier.  The hard part is understanding how to use these tools to work efficiently for you.  Let’s look at fundraising in the new Millenium.  Do people want to make donations online? And if so, how do you find and engage these donors?

Let’s do a quick review of the Millenial Donors’ Study, a survey on donors between the ages of 20-35 and my source for this article. The study found that the majority of donors gave to a charitable organization through traditional routes - checks, raffles, private solicitations, charitable organizations’ websites, etc. Interestingly, those who gave online scored a much lower percentage. However, the respondents also suggested that they prefer to give through online tools. The message? People ages 20-35 want to give online, but organizations haven’t caught on to the technology of making online giving lucrative!

Thus, if donation based organizations want to reach out to the next generation of donors, they will have to evolve their methodology. Does this mean traditional fundraising is dead? No, not at all. Online giving is simply another tool to add to your fundraising arsenal and to diversify your resources. Part 2 will go over some added benefits to online fundraising.