Let’s talk about one of the first documented instances of supporter-driven fundraising. Bruce is the founder of BBDO, a global ad agency, and is often referred to as the one of the first to do supporter-driven fundraising.
In 1925, there was a college in Kentucky called Berea that educated the local towns. The students were poor; they raised their own food, milked their own cows, and made their own crafts. When Bruce visited Berea College, the school was running a deficit. Berea College had two bad options. It could turn down students from education or start charging tuition.
After seeing this, Bruce wrote a fundraising letter to ask for donations. He sent it to 24 of his friends in NY and asked for $1000 each to help kids in the South. He described the student and how they lived to humanize them to the reader and illustrated the urgent need for funding.
The result? All 25 friends donated. In today’s money, they gave $300,000 to provide 250 students with education.
Today, Berea College provides tuition-free education to low-income students. It was the first college in the south to be integrated too.
It only takes one person to make a difference. Bruce made his by focusing his personal network on cause. Read Bruce’s letter here.