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What Do Disneyland and Crowdfunding Have in Common?

2 Apr

Every year, millions of families flow through Disneyland’s amusement parks, gorging themselves on overpriced fast food and thrilling at themed rides.  Why do all of these people spend exorbitant amounts of money on just a few days here?  One reason: Disneyland has invested an extraordinary amount of energy, thought, and money into creating an experience for its patrons, to create what it calls “The Happiest Place on Earth”.  People aren’t there for the rides or the cotton candy, they are purchasing the chance to transport themselves (or their children) to a land of princesses, Indiana Jones, and chipmunks.

What many fundraisers don’t realize is that their donors aren’t making a simple financial transaction when they donate—they are purchasing an experience.  The experience of giving back, of contributing to a cause larger than themselves, or simply supporting a loved one.  The experience that each donor is expecting or hoping for when he or she gives may vary by campaign, but if you use the tools embedded in the Fundly platform such as video, images, customized email templates, and automated thank-you notes, to name just a few you can significantly improve the overall experience for your average donor.  And I promise you, when you deliver an incredible giving experience you will win ardent supporters, who will pass the word on to other potential advocates and donors.

As you work to build a captivating experience for your donors consider the following ideas:

  • Nothing Beats Visual: If it were possible, you would want every potential donor or supporter to experience your cause and solution in-person.  The emotion that an in-person experience evokes can never be fully replicated by any other medium.  But the next best way to tell your story is through visual media. Make a video of yourself explaining why your cause is so important to you. Post pictures of your solution in action.  Give the donor the feeling that she is right there, experiencing the pain, joy, and intensity that you are in that moment.
  • Reduce Frustration: In addition to evoking emotion through powerful storytelling, another key component of the experience is making the process of listening, empathizing, and giving as seamless as possible. Spend a moment thinking about this, from first contact to actual donation what does your donor experience? Does your flow make sense? What can you do to make it even more effortless to contribute to your cause?
  • Long-term engagement: Lastly, perhaps the most powerful experience you can provide someone with is the sense that they are needed.  That they are an integral part of your organization’s long-term success.   Explain to your donors that you are in this for the long-haul, and that you want them to feel the same way.   And treat them that way.  Don’t just hit them up when you need cash.  Tell them about your challenges and triumphs. Keep them informed of your progress, and share your goals and visions for the future.

If you engage your social network thinking of a donation as just a financial transaction you should expect a cold, impersonal response fitting of that approach.  On the other hand, you can give them an experience they won’t forget, and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by willing supporters and fellow change makers.

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes at curtis@fundly.com.

Is Fundly the fundraising world’s Easy button? Kind of, but not really…

22 Mar

From time to time an interesting question comes up in our initial conversations with customers as they ask  “How exactly does Fundly help me raise donations?  Do you provide me with donors? Access to new potential supporters? If I connect my campaign to Facebook, won’t people come in droves to donate like I’ve seen on so many of your successful case studies?”

At first glance, it may certainly seem as though Fundly is the secret sauce driving outsized donations for organizations that use our platform.   However, Fundly is just one piece of the puzzle in successful crowdfunding.  Organizations must have an existing base of supporters that they can tap into in order to effectively crowdfund.  Once that is in place, Fundly’s platform is able to kick-in and turbo charge the fundraising process in two ways:

Fundly Simplifies the Ask:

Ask any volunteer what the biggest barrier to fundraising is for them and the response is almost always related to the “ask”. The fear of imposing on someone on behalf of something you care about can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and let’s be honest it can be a drag to get out there and pound the pavement. I know, I’ve sold countless Makahiki tickets as a Cub Scout in Hawaii.

This is where Fundly starts to shine! Countless design and development hours have gone into a ridiculously simple and easy product that allows anyone to create and promote a cause in just minutes.  Seriously, check out this page created by an 8 year-old! From there Fundly automatically begins updating each volunteer’s Facebook Wall and other social networks with posts about their fundraising activities. That means little to no effort is required of volunteers to “ask” their friends and family members to support their cause.

Fundly Enables You to Tell Your Story:

You have a unique and powerful story to tell.  There’s a reason that you and your colleagues invest countless hours and a great deal of energy promoting your cause.  Your ability to harness this story and tell it will directly influence your fundraising results. Fundly helps you and your volunteers to tell your story in three ways:

  1.  Parent/Child Campaign Relationship: Fundly campaigns are built in hierarchical layers, with child campaigns pulling content from their parent campaign. In other words, if you invest the time upfront to develop a compelling story for your campaign, as volunteer fundraisers sign up to fundraise for your campaign their pages will seamlessly pull your original content onto their volunteer pages as well!
  2. Visual Media: A picture is worth a thousand words and meaningful videos can be incredible catalysts for creating positive emotional connections and driving donations.  Fundly’s current site and upcoming design enhancements feature visual media front-and-center, meaning you can showcase your cause with a variety of assets and medium.
  3. Templates Galore!: As a part of our effort to make social fundraising as simple and pain-free as possible we’ve developed all sorts of compelling templates geared for different audiences including volunteer fundraisers, donors, and casual supporters. These templates allow you to quickly spread an effective message that directs people back to your campaign page so you can reach as many people as possible.

Fundly isn’t a silver bullet for your fundraising needs…  But it can be a powerful enabler that allows you to more simply and fully access, expand, and strengthen your existing community of supporters.

Give a Fundly campaign a spin if you haven’t already, and we’re always interested in hearing your thoughts, comments, or questions!  You can reach me anytime at curtis@fundly.com.

5 Mar

Hello Fundly Community!

I am stoked to be here at Fundly and wanted to take a moment to share why I joined Fundly and what I hope to bring to the table.

Why Fundly?

I looked at a number of startups before joining Fundly, and there were several distinct reasons why this opportunity stood out:

  • Quality of the Team: The first thing that impressed me about Fundly was the high-caliber of the executive team.  The people Dave (our CEO) has recruited, from sales to engineering and everything in between, have deep experience and are at the top of their game.  Everybody quotes Steve Jobs on this, but it’s so true: “Build a team that pursues the A+ players. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players…in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.”  Fundly’s got a team stacked with A+ players, and I’m thrilled to work with and learn from them.
  • Leading Technology & Product: Our product team has and continues to push the limit on creating a product with a user experience that is unparalleled in the market—it’s dynamic, intuitive, and powerful.  Our engineers have built the Fundly platform using the latest technology and development methods out there.  Ruby on Rails? Check. HAML? Check. Coffeescript? Check.  If those terms don’t mean anything to you, it’s okay—rest assured that it means a faster, simpler, and more convenient fundraising experience for you!  And let’s be honest, anyone that has been on the site knows it looks sleek and beautiful!
  • Opportunity for Impact: Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Fundly has the tremendous opportunity to impact the world for good.  Crowdfunding in the way Fundly is approaching it has the potential to be a truly disruptive phenomenon (there’s a reason innovation guru Clayton Christensen is on our Board of Advisors), democratizing the world of fundraising by making it so much easier for individuals to share and give to efforts they care about–in short: enabling more people to give more to meaningful causes.  That’s a cause and a journey I’m excited to join.

What Do I Bring to the Table?

I’ve spent a large part of my time working with non-profits and social entrepreneurs—organizations like Ashoka, Acumen Fund, Kiva, and Teach For America.  The culture, insights, and innovative program models that these incredible organizations possess will be leveraged on behalf of the organizations we work with.

I’ve taken a somewhat circuitous route to Fundly, but one that I think will serve the customers that I work with well. Most recently, I spent time at innovation and growth consulting shop Innosight, founded by Clayton Christensen.  From working with hospitals in India to strategizing in boardrooms with Fortune 500 CEOs, the structured thinking, strategic planning, and impact-oriented innovation training that came with that experience will be applied towards helping our non-profit customers achieve their goals.

I’m passionate about seeing each one of our customers succeed, and look forward to meeting and working with many of you over the coming months.  Feel free to contact me anytime at curtis@fundly.com.

Curtis