If you’ve worked for a charitable organization, then you know how hard it is to inspire and activate supporters to give to an established nonprofit, let alone one that’s in its early stages. Fundraising is usually one of the major challenges startup nonprofits face. But Look What SHE Did!, a 501(c)3 organization committed to telling stories with amazing women, about amazing women, found that peer-to-peer fundraising was a phenomenal, effective means to rally a new community of supporters and fund their worthwhile efforts.
Because of their tremendous success with two peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, we wanted to spend some time learning about the organization’s experience and key takeaways. We had the chance to chat with Cara Harrington, the Associate Producer for Look What SHE Did. Cara co-led the charge for their second ever fundraising campaign this past year by managing three separate events that fed into the overall fundraising goal.
Here’s what we learned.
Total funds raised: $42,054
Total raised online; $15,540
Campaign length: 1 month during Women’s History Month
Staff for the campaign: 4
About Look What SHE Did!
Look What SHE Did! is committed to bringing stories to light about astonishing women. According to Cara, “We produce brief dynamic videos with all kinds of women talking about unsung women who have changed the world.” In the end, the team at Look What SHE Did! hopes to use these videos to inspire and instill courage and persistence in everyone from young girls to adult women.
When the nonprofit began back in 2014, the founders were making these transformative videos in their backyards. Within two years, they decided to turn their homegrown idea into a full-fledged nonprofit. Today, Look What SHE Did! operates with a small staff (some of whom work full-time jobs elsewhere), and everyone pitches in wherever and however they can.
Challenges & Solutions
Challenges are par for the course in the world of nonprofits, and one of Look What SHE Did’s biggest challenges comes from balancing the team’s good ideas without overwhelming staff members in the process. So, when the idea of fundraising came up, and a large fundraising goal was mentioned, the team was understandably cautious.
After some research, they decided to try CauseVox because they wanted to ensure they received support on the back end. “With a site like CauseVox, we were able to streamline things,” Cara explained. She added that she didn’t necessarily have to worry about tasks such as sending thank yous to the hundreds of donors who gave because this is done automatically. She also appreciated the professional quality and look of CauseVox, which she believed helped add legitimacy to their campaign and cause.
Cara also made note of CauseVox’s easy to use interface and responsive support system and said that these features helped them manage the campaign, even with a small staff. “It was as if we added another member to our team,” she told us.
In their first-ever fundraising campaign, Look What SHE Did! brought in over $25,000 using CauseVox. But they went ahead and crushed their goal during their second online fundraising campaign, ultimately exceeding $40,000!
The Essential Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Features
When asked about the products or services that made Cara’s job as a fundraiser more manageable, she noted a few of CauseVox’s key features, including personal fundraising pages, being able to add offline donations, and automatic “thank you” notes.
Personal Fundraising Pages + Storytelling Features
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns require a team of eager personal fundraisers. This role can be filled by anyone from staff and volunteers to other donors, advocates, and clients. Look What SHE Did! asked members of their board of directors, along with advisory group members and other volunteers to sign up as fundraisers and create their own personal fundraising pages.
On their individual fundraising pages, fundraisers were encouraged to share their own story along with the hashtag #tellHERstory, which is fitting considering how important storytelling is to Look What SHE Did!
Streamlined Data From Online and Offline Donations
When organizing a fundraising drive with multiple events and avenues to give, it’s easy to lose track of the numbers. To avoid this, Cara used CauseVox as ground zero for the fundraising efforts. Whenever they received a donation, whether it was from a live event, a Facebook fundraiser, or through offline sources, they used CauseVox to store the donation amount as an “offline donation.”
This made it incredibly easy for them to track all donations and then upload them to their CSR software program, Salesforce.
Whether it’s a dozen donations or hundreds of them, keeping up with “thank yous” is one of the most time-consuming aspects of fundraising. To help minimize the time commitment without skimping on the job, Cara used CauseVox’s automatic donation receipt feature to thank donors the minute the donation was processed.
Lessons Learned And Future Plans
Now that Look What SHE Did! has completed two years of successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, they have no plans to move away from community-driven fundraising in the future. They’ve set their eyes on expanding their reach and recruiting more peer-to-peer fundraisers next time around.
Moving forward, Cara hopes to continue inspiring their community to give through the stories shared during the campaign. “It’s important to reach people emotionally each time. Just because people have given before doesn’t mean they’ll give again,” she emphasized.
The team also learned the value of proper planning. “It’s important to have a concrete plan,” Cara told us. “During the second campaign, we had a full calendar for emails, updates to be posted, and social media posts.” Having a plan helped reduce overall stress, and gave everyone an idea of what to expect each and every day.
Overall, Look What SHE Did! learned that peer-to-peer fundraising is the perfect way to fund their efforts and bring awareness to their work. CauseVox accommodated their video storytelling methods, and appeared very professional and high-quality. Look What SHE Did plans to continue using their community to drive their efforts, and they are striving to recruit more personal fundraisers for future campaigns.
Congratulations to Cara and the rest of the team at Look What SHE Did! We can’t wait to see what next year’s campaign brings.
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