Customer Story

How Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen’s Annual Peer-to-Peer Fast-a-Thon Raises Thousands

“Our aim was to reach many people as efficiently as possible,” explained Zakkiyya Reece, Development Assistant at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York City, regarding her organization’s online fundraising efforts

Like nonprofits across the United States and around the world, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen needs to do a whole lot of great work with a limited budget. To maximize their fundraising efforts, the organization chose to run their first online fundraising campaign with CauseVox in 2013. Since then, they’ve continued to streamline their best practices, engage donors, and raise money online — ultimately keeping their nonprofit running, and feeding the hungry in the heart of NYC.

We recently spoke with Zakkiyya about her experience fundraising online using CauseVox. Here’s what she had to say.

Campaign Snapshot

Fast-A-Thon Peer-to-Peer

Campaign’s run with CauseVox: 10

Total funds raised: Over $340,000

About Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

1.4 million New Yorkers are food insecure, in response, Holy Apostles provides roughly 1,000 hot, nutritious meals each weekday.

“We’ve been a symbol of hope and compassion in Manhattan since 1982,” Zakkiyya explained. “We are proud to say that we have never missed a day of meal service in our 36-year history.”

In fact, Holy Apostles is the largest soup kitchen in the New York area. Therefore, they require consistent, year-round fundraising income. “The greatest challenge is operating in the face of the ongoing hunger crisis in New York City,” she told us, adding, “Our top priority is always to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the 1,000 people we serve each and every day.”

A Need + A Solution

In 2013, the nonprofit realized that online fundraising was a great way to reach an exponentially large group of prospective donors. They just needed to find a platform that was:

  • Reliable
  • A Trusted source for payment processing
  • Efficient
  • User-friendly
  • Cost-effective

At the end of the day, Zakkiyya and her team wanted to balance user-friendly efficiencies with a cost-effective program. “Since we are constantly fundraising, the fee structure is something that is top-of-mind. Our aim is… to work with a platform that will allow us as much of the donations to be directed to us as possible.”

They found that CauseVox checked all of these boxes.

CauseVox + Fast-a-Thon

Fast-a-Thon, one of Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen’s biggest annual fundraisers, is an interactive online campaign that runs each November before Thanksgiving. The goal of the campaign is to engage donors in the giving process by both gifting a donation and participating in a fast, without ever leaving their home or office. Participants are asked to eat just one meal one week prior to Thanksgiving in solidarity with soup kitchen guests, many of whom only eat one hot meal a day.

Holy Apostles

Now in its seventh year, the campaign has grown by leaps and bounds “Utilizing the CauseVox platform has afforded us the ability to focus on campaign fundraising, instead of technical issues or anything else,” Zakkiyya noted. She believes that it’s a convenient way for donors to give, and notes that CauseVox’s customer service is an added bonus.

What’s the key to Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen’s success? These are the areas where this stellar nonprofit is excelling.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: This community-driven fundraising technique, which combines gifts raised by personal fundraisers to make a collective difference, allows the organization to bring in upwards of $80,000 during each campaign. CauseVox makes it easy for participants to set up their own fundraising pages, personalize appeals, and share them with their friends and families.

Holy Apostles

Social Sharing: Fast-a-Thon participants are asked to spread the word to their friends and family, online and offline. Many use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share the campaign, while others rely on email.

Holy Apostles

Recruitment: Instead of waiting passively for participants to join the campaign, Zakkiyya and the team actively recruit from their database of donors, volunteers, and other supporters. For example, when corporate volunteer groups come to work in the soup kitchen for the day, they’re reminded of the Fast-a-Thon during their orientation.

Reminders: In addition to mentioning the opportunity in passing, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen also follows up with prospective participants through email. “It’s a multi-pronged approach to remind people about the launch [of the campaign,]” said Zakkiyya.

Friendly Competition: For participants, Fast-a-Thon can be a great way to compete against family members, friends, and co-workers to see who can raise the most amount of money. This friendly competition helps drive more donations, and spreads word of the campaign organically.

The Right Platform For A High-Turnover Industry: All successful online fundraising campaigns have one thing in common: a good platform. For Zakkiyya, a good platform must have a user-friendly interface for both staff and participants, good customer support, and reliability. “No one wants to use a platform or website that isn’t consistent,” she told us.

This was especially important for Zakkiyya, who was new to the organization and tasked with helping to run the most recent Fast-a-Thon campaign. As many of us in the nonprofit industry know all too well, without an easy, intuitive platform, it’s hard to remain consistent and successful while dealing with standard turnover. In the world of nonprofits, easy systems are essential!

A Good Fit

The 5+ year partnership between Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and CauseVox has been very successful. As Fast-a-Thon 2018 nears, Zakkiyya is eager to track the momentum and see the results. “We’re counting down the days!”

Moving forward, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is looking to add more fundraising campaigns to the schedule, and they plan to use CauseVox to help power them. “When you have a captive audience, you want to make it easy on them,” Zakkiyya said.

We’re glad CauseVox is part of the solution!

CauseVox makes it easy for you to manage relationships with your supporters and create personalized fundraising sites, peer-to-peer campaigns, and donation pages, all in one place, while also providing a remarkable giving experience your supporters will love.

You can get started for free and upgrade as you grow. Schedule your personalized 1-1 demo here.

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