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Fundly Spotlight: Reaching Students Across the World with Online Fundraising

10 Sep

With public libraries, Kindles, iPads, mega bookstores, and periodicals all at our disposal, it seems that there never is a shortage of things for us to read. However, many people around the world lack this luxury that many so easily take for granted. That’s why Megan Weill, Peace Corps volunteer, started an online fundraising page using Fundly to help students in Kenya get the library resources that they desperately need to receive a proper education.

Megan is currently working at Shiduha Secondary School in Kakamega, Kenya which has approximately 200 students that come from her community and neighboring communities. Most of her students are very poor and a large number of them cannot even afford to pay their school fees. While this public school receives minimal funding from the Kenyan government to subsidize the small tuition costs, the sparse resources do not provide the money required to build a separate library building to house much needed English books for graduating students to pass their exit exams. With this in mind, Megan decided to set up an online fundraising website, rallying her friends and family in the U.S., to support her vision of building and furnishing a library with the supplies needed to give her students the best opportunity for a successful future.

Through Megan’s Fundly page, she was able to surpass her $10,000 goal (she raised $10,805!) with the help of 35 donors and 35 supporters: “We reached our fundraising goal and started building the library back in April and as of right now we only need to plaster the outside walls, install windows and doors, and paint the building”. She advises, “don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I’ve found in my experience fundraising that if you are passionate about a cause, people will recognize that and help you out.”

Tips from Megan for other Fundly users:
  • Inspire others to give – “When I was setting up my fundraising page I tried to consider who my audience was and what information they would see as important to have before donating to a cause. I live all the way out in rural Kenya and almost all of the money I raised came from Americans, so I felt that I needed to explain exactly what I was doing in Kenya and why having a library is so important to my school community. When you’re asking people to donate to a cause, you need to explain all aspects of this cause and why you’re passionate about it. This helps them understand why it’s so important to you as well as helps them feel some kind of connection to the project”.
  • Make a donor list – “I started by sending emails out to friends and family, which is who my first donations came from. Then I started sending emails out to various connections I’d made over the years through university and jobs I’d previously held. And some of the people I emailed forwarded my emails to some of their friends and that’s how word began to spread. I also shared on my project on my Facebook two or three times, but I really think that it was my emails that got people interested in my project because they were more personal.”

Fundly Spotlight: Donors Get On Board to Support BioBus

2 Aug

The best part of science class has always been the hands-on activities and experimentation – learning how and why things explode or creating your very own volcano. What kid doesn’t like to explore  and discover the world around them? Unfortunately, not every kid has the opportunity to experiment with hands-on science education.

Enter the BioBus! Based in New York City, this Cell Motion BioBus is a science lab on wheels that runs on vegetable oil, with several donated microscopes onboard can be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. Retrofitted with four solar panels, a wind turbine, and a green roof, the BioBus’ goal is to make science accessible to all. This mobile lab reaches over 10,000 students a year, traveling to public schools across New York City and the country.

Li Murphy is a summer intern for this incredible nonprofit mobile laboratory. With the summer coming to a close, Li’s passion for the BioBus, and how it’s driving science education to communities that lack hands-on resources, stimulated her interest in joining the Mobile Lab Coalition conference in Seattle, WA – the only meeting of this kind in the country. There was only one problem: money. “I needed to fund my own flight and seize an invitation to join in representing the BioBus at the Mobile Lab Coalition. Without Fundly, I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask for the money I needed.”

Li decided the best way to raise the funds to make her trip a reality would be creating an online fundraising page with Fundly. In just five days, Li was able to raise $1,005 ($5 over the goal) in gifts from friends, family, and others.

What tips would Li give to other Fundly users?

  • Paint a clear picture. “I made sure to convey that givers would be contributing to something concrete. I needed money for a flight. Why did I need to fly? To be the best intern I could be for my nonprofit organization. How did I intend to be the best intern I could be? Use my training as a videographer to take footage of the incredible things that my coworkers contributed at the Mobile Lab Coalition Conference. I included some informational Youtube videos about the nonprofit organization and made sure to put a picture of my face with the BioBus in the background.”
  • Cast a large net. “I sent a total of fifteen individual emails, posted the link three times to my Facebook wall, and I sent emails to three different mailing lists from my University student organizations. I got incredible returns and had twenty donors in the span of three days. My largest donation was secured via Facebook in the final hours before I had to purchase a plane ticket, all thanks to the flood of likes from high school friends and random acquaintances alike. I believe my page got forty-three likes in forty-eight hours. This drove my post up in the newsfeed and brought it to the attention of the person, my athletic trainer, who ended up carrying me over the edge to my goal. My campaign was over in five days.”
  • Just because they gave once doesn’t mean they won’t give again. “The most important point is to send and connect to people who have backed you in the past, even just folks who gave you money for graduation. It’s a myth that the individuals who fund you once are done giving to you. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as Andrea Kihlstedt, the founder of askingmatters.com, would say. If you connect with your donors and get them excited about what you do, they’ll be your donors for life.”
  • Say thanks ASAP. “Reach out immediately after the gifts are given using the great donor contact sheet that Fundly generates for you to thank and inform your donors about progress. This will spark uplifting correspondences with individuals who care enough about you to believe in your cause, and these positive messages will keep you trucking towards your goal. This type of fundraising with Fundly facilitates a wonderful opportunity to not only connect but to reconnect.”

Fundly Spotlight: The Ultimate Recycling Project

27 Jul

We’ve all been on camping trips or visited state parks where nature seems to call and we really don’t want to pick up the phone. Unfortunately, there is no voicemail for these situations so we muster up the courage to march up to a fly infested outhouse, take one last breath of fresh air, quickly take care of business, and bathe in Purell afterwards.

While this is an occasional inconvenience for most of us, it is a way of life for much of the world. Now imagine taking this necessary function and converting it into a sustainable way to create fertilizer to improve farming practices in countries that are impoverished. That’s exactly what Fundly customer Ecofinder Kenya is doing with the money they have raised through online fundraising.

Mike Skuja, founder of the Center for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE), realized that by supplying families with an Eco-San toilet the long term benefits to the community can be monumental. At a cost of only $950, “these toilets provide an easy and low-maintenance way to convert human waste to fertilizer through a chemical process of mixing the waste with ash, which, after several months can be safely used on cropland” explains Skuja. “These toilets are more sanitary than the existing pit latrines since they prevent the waste from seeping into the ground and contaminating the water table. Additionally, when combined with environmental education, these toilets help prevent human-wildlife conflict since more productive lands reduce the need for farmers to encroach on fertile wetlands territory, home to hippos and rare birds.”

When Skuja decided to create a Fundly page his goal was to raise $950 for the Otieno family who live on the shores of Lake Victoriain Kenya. Currently he has raised $956 with the help of 20 supporters and 21 donors. Skuja comments, “We have now raised the full amount, and are in the process of transferring the funds to Kenya to get the construction started. We will keep our donors and supporters updated as the construction of the toilet continues.”

What tips would Skuja give to other Fundly users?

  • Add a Video to Tell Your Story – “We think that a compelling video is very useful. We felt that it was important for potential donors to be able to see the Lake Victoria area, and hear from a member of the Otieno Family herself.”
  • Make it Simple – “It is important to give clear, non-technical explanations of what the campaign is about, and why it is worthy of support.”
  • Vary Your Giving Levels – “It is important to have a wide range of giving levels. Our donations for this campaign ranged from $.50 to $200, but we were glad to have the support of our donors at all levels.”
  • Use Your Inner Circle – “Value your inner circle. In our experience, it was these people who really understood the mission of the organization, and the potential of the project. While we were able to draw in others – including some funders who had never heard of CREE – it was this inner circle that donated early and actively publicized this campaign through their own networks.”
  • It’s All About Marketing – “We utilized three primary marketing channels: direct outreach, Facebook, and Twitter. We sent personalized emails to existing supporters of CREE and of the Dunga Wetlands Project… We posted on the CREE Facebook page 11 times from June 10 to July 18. In this way, we were able to galvanize a few supporters who had, up until that time, been more passive, as well as to give the CREE supporter-base updates about a current initiative in Kenya.We used Twitter as a way to attract potential supporters who might not already know about CREE’s work. We used very intentional use of hashtags and other Twitter mechanisms to try to land on the radar of people who were interested in sanitation or human-wildlife conflict, but were not yet aware of the work of CREE. Over the course of this short campaign, we tweeted a total of nine times.”

 

A big thank you to Mike and Ecofinder Kenya for sharing their tips!

Fundly Spotlight: Online Fundraising Benefits Students Abroad

19 Jul

In the United States, it can be easy to take our educational system for granted. While there may be varying levels of excellence offered, the opportunities that a majority of students possess in our country are staggering in comparison to much of the world. With this in mind, Tanzania 365 was started by Marisa Ranieri using a Fundly online fundraising page.

Marisa is currently a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Affairs with a focus in Africa and Contemporary Cultures & Societies.  With a passion for East Africa, she came across some startling statistics in her research.  Though the nation of Tanzania has committed itself to improving the opportunities of its youth, the most recent estimate shows that the current education system is about 85,000 teachers short of being efficient. Not only is this shortage severe, but half of all students do not pass primary school (elementary and middle school) and only 10% graduate from secondary school with the majority of these students being male.

Marisa realized that she had to do something to help this major discrepancy. Her project, Tanzania 365, will be a one-year online documentary of living in Tanzania while she dedicates herself to public service as a teacher in a rural village. While partnering with WorldTeach, an established 501(c)3 organization, she will venture into a foreign classroom to make a difference in countless lives.

With 23 supporters and 22 donors, Marisa has exceeded her goal of $3,650 by raising $4,245! She started off with a great strategy: her game plan was to get 365 donors to contribute $10 each to her cause. On her fundraising page she clearly states that the funds will be used to pay for ensuring internet connectivity, having a pay-phone charged with shilingi so she could contact people in case of emergency, and the cost of providing school supplies for a classroom of 40 plus students. Needless to say, her idea worked!

What tips would Marisa give to other Fundly users?

  • Share Your Passion – “More often than not, it’s the hook, line and sinker for potential donors. People can sense your energy through your words, so don’t hold back!”
  • Repetition is Key – “In order to let people know about my Fundly page, I posted about it on my website multiple times, and included a widget on the right-hand side so people could click and be directed straight to my Fundly giving page. I also posted about my Fundly page on my Tanzania 365 Facebook Page and Twitter accounts, and made sure to @Fundly right there in the message. That allowed for re-tweets by both my friends, and Fundly itself!”
  • Find People Who Care – “When I searched for the kernel of fundraising truth I came up with this: find people who care. Whether that’s your Great Aunt Sally or someone you’ve never met; if you are passionate about your mission and dedicated to seeing it through, you’ll find those people. Maybe they’ll come to you, you’ll go to them, or you’ll meet somewhere in between. Either way, you’ll find success.”

Fundly Spotlight: Ailing Boy Helps Others Through Online Fundraising

11 Jul

While most 9-year-olds are enjoying their summer vacation by traveling with their families, running through sprinklers, and counting down the days until they have to return to school, young Jack Pullman is battling several rare interstitial lung diseases (chILD) and journeys to the UMass Pediatric Infusion Unit for treatments. On one of these many visits to the hospital, Jack realized that something had to be done to update the electronic games and movies there that were few and outdated for the patients to enjoy while they endured their long procedures. With determination and the help of social networking sites, Jack has created an online fundraising campaign using Fundly to garner funds for new PlayStation consoles, games, and movies and to travel to a conference in San Diego to meet other children who are in a similar battle with lung disease.

Jack’s mother Melissa thoughtfully created their page with the following in mind: “I included all about Jack and his condition. What he was trying to do and what our goals were. The most important part I thought were the pictures and how things are worded. You don’t want to say too much so that they won’t read it, but you want to include enough information to get them involved.”

They certainly were able to get people involved; so far Jack has increased his fundraising goal three times, from $5,000 to $10,000 to $15,000, and ultimately to $20,000. He has currently raised $16,623 of his $20,000 goal with 162 supporters following his progress and 168 donating to his cause. In May, he was at $7,757 with 69 supporters and 70 donors; what a difference two months has made!

What tips would Melissa give to other Fundly users?

  • Clearly state your goal. “Fundly allowed us to be super successful; we changed our goal three times!!! People are more apt to donate if they are helping you reach your goal.”
  • Promote your Fundly page and ask others to help. Melissa credits her amazing results to her tenacity in getting the word out about her fundraising page. “I posted it on my own Facebook page. I asked many friends to post it on theirs. I emailed EVERYONE on my email list. I Facebook messaged every big organizations in our area including newspapers, etc. and anyone I could think of. I asked for it to be posted on a web site for where my husband works and where I did work. We work/worked for a police organization that has over 2000 employees. I then reached out to all the retired people.”

Fundly Spotlight: Helping Homeless Veterans

21 Jun

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, we would be remiss not to reflect on the incredible history that our nation was founded upon and the courageous men and women who sacrificed to preserve the freedom which we cherish. At Fundly we have hundreds of charities that we are honored to partner with through online fundraising, we think it’s only fitting to highlight Deshalamar Community Development Corp and their purpose to aid homeless military veterans.

Deshalamar is currently promoting their campaign using a Fundly site with the hope of raising $10,000 for their goal to open The House of Change Veterans Residence located in Amityville, New York. Clarice Miller, Executive Vice President, CEO, and Co-Founder of Deshalamar explains that, “post-traumatic stress disorder, when left untreated, causes many of our Vets to be homeless, while many turn to substance abuse. One in four of the homeless population is an American Veteran. Until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation’s streets, our work remains unfinished. Deshalamar Community Development Corp. is dedicated to doing our part to reach that day.”

When creating their online donation website (http://fundly.com/deshalamarcdc501c3), Miller was sure to include a brief summary about the struggles that veterans are faced with when they return home and a video detailing information about the organization itself and what they are striving to accomplish. Miller advises that “the most important things to include when fundraising online is information on the need and what we can do to address the need”.

Thus far, Deshalamar has raised $1,050 towards its goal and has 31 supporters and 35 donors. Miller credits their early success to adding a donation widget to their websites so that people who are not so computer savvy can easily give. They also utilize their Facebook fan page as well as team members’ personal Facebook pages by posting frequently, as much as twice a day. Finally, when posting the campaign they keep their supporters updated on their progress towards their fundraising goal. Miller advises that “People like to see that others are contributing to a cause and this helped as people made their decision to donate.”

So what tips would Miller give to other Fundly users?

  • Frequent Updates on Progress: “As the funding goal rises, people like to see the progress being made, as well as updating the progress in other efforts being made to raise funds.”
  • Thank Donors: “We give out big thank you’s and shout outs to people who donate even the smallest of donations.”
  • Inclusion of Offline Contributions: “We also keep everyone posted on all our efforts such as collecting donations from local businesses in our area and upcoming charity fundraisers which can be viewed on our websites.”

At Fundly, we would like to express our gratitude for the many men and women who have served our nation in the military. We are excited to see Deshalamar raise money online for their amazing cause and it’s an honor for us to serve those who served.

Fundly Spotlight: Online Fundraising Helps Students Dream Big

15 Jun

Education is the basis for a successful and prosperous future. However, with ever increasing tuition hikes and the challenge that many students face of balancing school and work, a college degree can seem like a far off dream. Astonishingly, 51% of all US students who enroll in college fail to graduate within 6 years.  The good news is that there are people working hard to provide solutions to this problem.

StudentMentor.org is an incredible organization that was created to help low-income students earn their college degrees with the help of mentors in the industries in which they wish to join.  Four out of five low-income college students fail to attain a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. With mentors who can encourage and give insight to these students, these statistics can be a thing of the past. StudentMentor.org has made a great impact in hundreds of young lives; 93% of students say their mentorship has made them more positive about their future and 85% say their mentor has helped them towards achieving their academic goals.

The next goal for StudentMentor.org is to raise their goal of $25,000 for the 2012 school year, which will provide 500 students with mentors. This organization turned to Fundly as a partner in achieving their fundraising goals and so far, they are halfway there. (Please visit their campaign page at http://fundly.com/studentmentor.)

Ash Jafari, founder and CEO of StudentMentor.org, has some valuable advice about creating your Fundly page and getting the word out. “We included a background about our organization, a video, our fundraising goal, relevant statistics about our outcomes, and the Fundly donation widget on our website. It’s important to keep your message relatively brief and concise since people will only take a quick glance at the page. Also, having media or visuals will help bring your words to life.”

With 31 supporters, 52 donors, and $11,420 raised, it’s clear that Jafari and his team are off to a great start with this campaign. “We are using Google Grants to target those people who are already interested in our cause and introduce them to our Fundly donation page. In addition, we modified our homepage so that the ‘Donate’ section appears in the top navigation bar,” explains Jafari regarding the tools they’ve used to reach new donors. “If it’s not working at first, change things up and keep iterating.”

Google Grants provides select 501(c)3 nonprofits with $10,000 a month in free advertising on Google.com.  If you’re not taking advantage of this program, we highly encourage you to apply here.  If your organization already has a Google Grant, don’t forget to create a campaign specifically designed to drive traffic to a donation page on your website.

We would love to hear what advice you have in creating a successful Fundly fundraising page! Please use the comment section below.