From Hillary to Charidy: An Interview with Roxanna Ayers, ESQ – New Fundraising Specialist at Charidy

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At Charidy, we bring you a team of dedicated and passionate individuals, with the experience, education, and understanding to make your fundraising and marketing endeavors a success. True visionaries and ambassadors for social change; men and women who live and breathe the burning desire to create positive change in the world.

We are excited to introduce Roxanna, our newest team member, who has chosen Charidy as the next chapter in her long and fruitful career of changing lives.

 

How did you get involved in political campaigns?

I’ve always had a passion for what’s going on in our country, for politics. And while I was in college, I loved being involved and getting students to vote, and I wanted to find a way to parlay that into something related to my academic studies, which is how I ended up as an intern at then Senator Hillary Clinton’s office.

At first, it was intimidating as a college senior meeting with these massive personalities, but just being in a room with them and seeing how fundraising works on that level, and what a really cohesive network could look like—it was inspiring.

 

Why did you choose to pursue Law?

After leaving college, Law seemed like the best way to have an impact on issues that mattered. At the same time, I loved campaigning and fundraising, so I took a year off before starting at Loyola and decided to get my feet wet with a few campaigns in California.

At that time everything was archaic, from the way people were campaigning to who was able to campaign. A regular person just wasn’t allowed into the system. It was unfortunate because there are many effective people who care about the community, and who can and should be running for office, but our system has a lot of prohibitive structures in place to keep that from happening. Unless you were well connected, it wasn’t going to happen.

That’s what drove me to create my own political consulting firm during my second year of law school.

 

What are you most proud of from your time running your own firm?

We worked with a lot of minorities and women. We helped the first African American woman get elected to a city council outside of LA and another woman elected to the Assembly in a district in which a woman never held office.

These were people who were very active in the community and who wanted to run, but lacked either the organization or the support. Together, we had to come up creative methods for fundraising and marketing.

 

How did you implement creative marketing strategies?

We did something called “Fix the Sidewalk,” which raised money for a cause the community could rally behind. Sidewalks in LA are a death trap. But there’s a program that will pay for half the sidewalk in front of your property to be repaired, if you supply the remaining funds.

The problem is a lot of neighborhoods don’t have the money to throw down. We had a woman running in an economically depressed area, so we decided that 50 cents of every dollar raised for this campaign would be donated to repair the sidewalks of one street.

And the idea was why should we fundraise for nonsense, let’s take the money we raise and put it to work now. This was key, because it demonstrated a commitment to making a difference even BEFORE getting elected.

 

What caused your shift from political campaigns to fundraising for NPO’s?

I finished law school at the end of a heavy campaign cycle. Despite everything, I still felt I wasn’t making the impact I could be making. And I realized if I wanted to use these skills to make an impact, then I should work in Nonprofit and raise money for great causes. This led me to working as a fundraiser at a women’s shelter in Miami.

But what I soon found out was that working inside a nonprofit is completely different than working as a consultant.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced?

To really understand, close your eyes and imagine a woman and her young child at your doorstep, begging to sleep anywhere, even on the floor, but you have to turn them away because the shelter is at capacity.

And then you get in your car, drive home, where you have a warm bed and all the creature comforts you take for granted, while this woman and her child have nowhere to go. Knowing this, you still have to focus on fun, creative ways to engage donors, while all you want to do is scream, “I have a woman here who has nowhere to sleep, YOU need to do something!”

But you just can’t do that.

The final straw was the Gala. We’re talking a dinner where the minimum price for a seat was thousands of dollars. So much money went to renting the space, hiring caterers, and flying out a well-known artist for the event.

And I kept thinking, why are we exhausting so many resources just to end up raising only 10% of what we spent?

 

And that led you to seek out more effective methods of fundraising?

Yes, I was approached by another fundraising platform, created initially to accept donations, but eventually held matching campaigns of its own.

The company wasn’t open for very long. We had a small staff and limited resources. It was like LA campaigns all over again—calling people, showing up at their offices, trying to show them how we can do more with what they have.

It was a real learning experience.

 

What did you learn from your time there?

I learned that good communication is crucial. And it’s not just email vs. Whatsapp. It’s being able to identify what’s at the heart of this person’s cause, and how it can be incorporated in both my message to them and the way we shape a campaign.

One of the biggest mistakes people in the industry make is to look up an organization’s website and stop there. What many don’t realize is that this person probably didn’t write the website—it might not be their language or even the images they like, but updating the website was such a huge step and expense for them, by G-d they’re going to tell you to visit it.

But this is not how you’re going to build a connection with your client.

 

How do you build that connection?

You have to find out what makes this person tick. Look up who’s on staff and go on their personal social media pages. Let them do the talking. You have to get past the rehearsed rhetoric and get to what really matters, to the core of that person, and why they chose this cause.

Because what you might find out is that this is their tenth director of development job. And it’s a mistake to come at someone by trying to connect with them by where they are at now professionally.

Turnover is very common—boards change, they demand new people, and also people get frustrated or burned out at one organization, and they go someplace new. So while they might feel deeply for their current organization, this might not be the cause they’re really motivated by when they make their private donations.

 

What’s your advice to NPO’s looking to grow and be more creative with fundraising?

Get ahead of the curve.

Many people we work with at Charidy say, “I’m coming to you because my board says I need to do a campaign.” Don’t be that person. Don’t wait for your board to tell you to do your job. Be an initiator. There can be a lot of apprehension when approaching your board with a new, interesting idea. Don’t be afraid to be shot down. Use it as fuel to come back stronger next time. And like any good idea, keep pushing. Eventually everyone catches up.

Five years ago, NPO’s wouldn’t touch Facebook. But today, every NPO has a Facebook page.

 

You’ve had quite the journey, from Hillary to Charidy. You finally feel like you’re getting that return on your investment?

Absolutely. I feel like I’ve finally found the perfect balance of consulting, running campaigns, making an impact, and implementing fast, inexpensive solutions for NPO’s to raise funds.

Every campaign teaches you something. It’s a moment to connect deeply, to understand what drives individuals (and the masses) to rally behind one mission.

I’m in my happy place.

Let’s Cut the “Small” Talk

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There’s a growing misconception that Charidy is only about the big campaigns. And that if you, a small, grassroots organization, are looking to launch a $20,000 campaign, we aren’t for you.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your small organization is what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning; what motivated us to start Charidy in the first place.

When an organization approaches us, the first thing we ask ourselves is how we can help that organization reach their fullest potential. To do more than what they are already doing— more than what they did yesterday. To share their unique story. And to inspire new donors across the entire spectrum of givers.

What we do for larger NPO’s only enhances our performance. With them we gain the experience, insight, and the know-how, which can then be translated and applied to smaller campaigns. So that, together, we can motivate big and small givers, activate your social equity, and be recognized above the tide of solicitations on the internet.

Our team of twenty five members, most of whom grew up working within the world of nonprofits, are here to assist you in all your fundraising and marketing endeavors, actualizing our belief that at Charidy, “Giving Means More.”

We are here to challenge you to take your organization to the next level and to increase your impact by 20%, 30%, or even 50%. True success is not about crazy high numbers. True success is to constantly exceed expectations. To run that extra mile. To increase your donor base from twenty to thirty givers. In just a few short years, we have assisted hundreds of our current clients in making the leap from doing $20k campaigns to several hundred thousand dollar campaigns!

While most NPO service or software providers charge upfront flat rates that small non-profits simply can’t afford, our price points are designed especially to accommodate smaller NPO’s. We receive a percentage of your total campaign goal (only if it succeeds). And so, for example, if you are launching a $20,000 campaign, we receive $580. What most people don’t realize is that without the infrastructure, donor base, and resources of big NPO’s, smaller campaigns often require more work.

And we are eager to help them succeed.

All of us are standing at a pivotal point in time at the apex of a “people powered” social revolution.

Today, in the US alone, only 2% of the population’s income is being given to charities.

We are here to change that.

So let’s cut the “small” talk. There are no “small” campaigns, only modest beginnings and huge opportunities. As a team, we can make the world a more giving place. A place where the slightest ripples can change the tide. And we do this by starting at the bottom, working our way up, with common goals and smart work.

Meet Your Team

Copyright © Charidy 2016 - charidy.com/team

Fundraising is about as scary as playing Pokemon Go blindfolded while skateboarding uphill. As any fundraising professional would know, determining the best fundraising strategy using what seems like both a worldful and a handful of options, can be daunting and scary if not given proper direction.

 

At Charidy, we understand our clients need for reassurance, guidance, and expert advice. That is why our team members build on their many cumulative years of nonprofit fundraising and marketing experience, working for and with nonprofits all over the world.

 

Our greatest asset is our people, our handpicked crew of 21 professional team players. Our diverse experiences have enabled us to understand the needs of various organizations in all stages of growth and development. We are not only emotionally invested in your cause, we offer sophisticated technical support, and pride ourselves in our ability to not only create visions, but to fulfill them.

 

We are a shoulder to lean on, a brain to pick, and a hand to hold. What’s more, we are global. With team members located on three continents, we work round the clock. So whether you have a food bank in NYC, an animal shelter down under, or an orphanage in Israel, we are here for you.

 

To meet our team up close, visit charidy.com/team.

Introducing Corporate Matching | DoubleTheDonation Integration

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Our philosophy has always been simple: help people give more. We enable you to truly monetize and maximize your social equity, bringing in new money for your organization. But what if I told you you had access to even more new money than you ever imagined. Billions.

Introducing corporate matching integration powered by doublethedonation.com!

Chances are, many of your donors’ employers will match their donations to your organization. In fact, 18 million people living in the US are eligible for a corporate matching program right now.

We are now gonna get that found money to you!

In addition to the 4x match, we’ve now made it easy for every donor to submit their Charidy donation to get matched by the company they work for.

How it works:

  • Step 1 – Once they’ve donated, donors are prompted to see if their company offers a matching gift program
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  • Step 2 – Donors type in their company name
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  • Step 3 – Donors access the forms, guidelines, and instructions they need to submit their matches!
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  • Additionally – they’ll be provided this information in an email (screenshot of email)

 

The moment after someone makes a donation to your Charidy campaign there will be an optional prompt to submit it to get matched by the company he/she works for. This prompt will also be in the email receipt. 

Yup, it’s that easy! No heavy lifting required!

We’re excited to see how much newfound funds will be generated for your organization!

All the best,

The Charidy Team

FAQs

Will the corporate match be included in the campaign goal?
No.

When will I receive the corporate matching funds?
Every company is different but the average time is 30-90 days.

How many people will actually do this?
Based on doublethedonation’s research about $2-3 billion is donated through matching gift programs each year with another $6-10 billion going unclaimed.

How To Raise Big, Without the Big Fear

In a recent WhatsApp group chat with some of our clients a director of a non-profit that just raised a substantial sum on Charidy posed to me the following question:

Now that we’ve run a  successful campaign, how do we deal with the possible perception that our organization now has all of the money it needs?

This is a common and reasonable concern. You’ve publicly achieved success in fundraising and now you fear a drop in contributions. Your thinking may be as follows: “If people think we have a lot of money, won’t they stop giving?”

While I understand the question, we need to consider whether or not the fear is legitimate. I’m not referring to a general fear of success (that’s a whole other article in itself), but rather the fear that publicly raising a large amount of money will prove to be detrimental for a non-profit.  Is there really such a thing as being “too successful”?

It depends.

As a general rule, raising large sums of charitable donations publically is the very best thing you can do to nurture a “giving culture” among your supporters and community. People want to be part of the winning team. They want to be associated with success. Human nature dictates that people much prefer to feed a growing flower than to water a dying weed. I have found that the more successful the organization, the more people will want to invest in it.

The troubles arise when an organization fails to be transparent and clear about how the money is being utilized. If you do not show your audience  how you will employ the funds, you risk losing them and they will wonder: Where does the money go? Some may even start to suspect that the funds are just being used to line the pockets of the organization’s leadership.

However, as long as you are transparent and communicative with your donor base about what  donations are being allocated towards, as well as demonstrate that you are investing it wisely, the sky’s the limit to how much money you can raise without feeding into the notion that you have “enough”.

I tell anyone who has had a successful fundraising campaign on Charidy, or on any other public fundraising project, that they must immediately follow-up the campaign by showing donors the results through increased programming, or simple messaging.

Provide updates about what your organization has done. Show photos of the kids who were able to go to school, because of your scholarship. Show them the cement being poured for the new facility that you’re building. Show them the rice growers who now have the equipment they need to earn a living thanks to your organization’s efforts.

If you demonstrate results, you will succeed in further energizing and inspiring your donor base. People are happy when they see the fruits of their investment, and then they’ll be itching to know when they can join  your next fundraiser so that they can continue to contribute to your organization and all of the fantastic work it does.

Demystifying Charidy’s 100% Success Rate

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What do you think about when you hear the phrase: “100% success rate”?

If it sounds too good to be true, I empathize. Trust me, I totally get why that sounds over the top.

And yet I can tell you with a straight (smiling) face that Charidy has a 100% success rate.

This means that out of the 450 campaigns we have run since our inception almost two years ago, every single one of them have reached their fundraising goals. Collectively, we’ve raised $35 million for a variety of organizations ranging from $4,000 to $1.7 million.

And while we’re certainly ecstatic about our achievement, it does arouse a justifiable level of skepticism in those familiar with the crowdfunding industry. To most insiders, a 100% success rate just doesn’t seem realistic.

In any competitive industry or competition for that matter, even the people at the top tend not to succeed every single time. Even Shaq missed the hoop now and then.

In the Crowdfunding industry that Charidy exists in, including  power players such as GoFundMe, Crowdrise and Indiegogo, the vast majority of campaigns do not reach their goals.

Crowdfunding has exploded in popularity in recent years and those who follow the space see campaigns fail left and right. In fact the average success rate on Kickstarter is 44% and by some estimates only 9% on Indiegogo. All of the above considered, it’s understandable why some are dismissive of a claim to a 100% success rate from any crowdfunding platform – let alone a small, disruptive newcomer like Charidy.

So what’s the secret to our success? What is our “special sauce” that has enabled us to  maintain this unthinkable high standard. Before I explain what sets Charidy apart, allow me to break down how a typical crowdfunding platform works.

A crowdfunding platform is a website that makes it easy for people to raise money for a cause or a product. On these platforms, users can display their perks, descriptions, pitches, and videos. The platforms also provide users with tools to structure their campaigns effectively and hook them up with a community of potential donors or funders fostering an environment of cross pollination between givers and those raising funds. On some innovative crowdfunding platforms, such as Rockethub, basic crowdfunding and marketing training is even provided to help users boost their results. As a result, Rockethub, has a much higher success rate (66%) than most of the leading platforms.

To sum it up: No need to build your own fundraising website, they’ve done it for you and will share it for a fee. Some will even throw in some marketing tools and training to increase your chance of success. And hey, if you’re really lucky, they’ll introduce you to a community of donors and funders via their homepage and email list that will add some fuel to the fire. It’s a pretty sweet deal. It’s helped tens of thousands of creative projects and nonprofits raise billions. With a success rate ranging from 9-66%.

But not 100%.

Here’s what we do differently, and I’ll break it down into four categories:

  1. Vetting

For starters, Charidy only works with nonprofits – 501c3 organizations – and specifically nonprofits that already have an existing donor base. There are 1.8 million nonprofits in the US.  But the number of active NPO’s is, let’s just say, much less. Our strict vetting process ensures that every nonprofit we work with is active and has a history of fundraising. Our goal at Charidy is to maximize the giving potential of your existing support base. If you’re not really helping anyone, we can’t help you.

  1. Goal Setting Algorithm

On top of that, we make sure the fundraising goal is ambitious yet attainable based on the organization’s fundraising history and the increases that a typical Charidy campaign will do. We have an algorithm that we use to asses each organization’s potential. One part of the algorithm is; we know that the average donation on a  Charidy Campaign is $125 – that tells us a lot when it comes to figuring out how many people we need to donate to your campaign. It took time to amass this data. We started very small with a $4,000 campaign and worked our way up. Today – only two years later – we have data from over 50,000 donors, 70,000 donations and 450 organizations. We use that experience to come up with your goal amount.

  1. The framework

Once we have this data, we then put our all-encompassing framework to work. Our 24 hour only, quadruple match and all-or-nothing recipe is a unique motivational formula that truly energizes and inspires the organization’s donor base to give, and to give more than they ever have. Once they see the features, and the impact they can make with their donation, they’re hooked. We’re talking modest donors who give $5 all the way up to major donors who give $360,000. True story.

  1. Training program

Finally, we provide marketing training to our clients to help them maximize the success of their campaigns on Charidy. I’m not talking about some recorded YouTube videos, I’m talking about a catered service. Every organization is assigned a Fundraising Specialist who will train you from kick off to touchdown. We have developed a step by step marketing program for the organizations to follow, along with a reservoir of resources. The fundraising specialist will ensure that the organizations does not go live until they have completed the program. Until he/she is confident that they are well positioned for success.

Our philosophy, which has netted these stellar results, is that if we learn everything we can about a client’s history, put our unique formula to work, and stay hands on throughout the process there really is no reason why the organization should fail. I sometimes guilt myself by thinking that if they do fail it will be primarily our fault, because we didn’t hold the organization accountable to follow through on our program till the very last click.

In conclusion:

A strict vetting process that includes the organization’s history of giving reflected against Charidy’s data of increasing abilities, our all-encompassing framework that includes every level of giver and personal training has allowed us to maintain a 100% success rate thus far. How long will it last? Well, that’s up to you, the donors of the world.

If a campaign falls in the forest…

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Since our inception, Charidy has successfully managed 370 campaigns; helping each of them to reach their ambitious goals. While leading platforms boasts success rates between 9%-66%, Charidy is proud to maintain a 100% success rate in the crowdfunding space. Charidy’s success is, in large part, due to our unique framework but equally as important is our ability to personally train and guide each organization, step by step, to position themselves for success.
Charidy training and service includes:

Fundraising Specialists

Every organization is assigned their very own Fundraising Specialist who will help guide and train them from kick-off to touchdown. We begin by evaluating your organization and helping you decide on an ambitious yet attainable goal amount. We then walk you through our proven marketing plan in order to magnify your scope of reach. Each of our Specialists will utilize their extensive experience in marketing, communications and nonprofit fundraising to position your organization for success. You are in good hands.

CLICK TO MEET OUR FUNDRAISING SPECIALISTS 

Campaign Package

We have answered the great philosophical question: If a campaign falls in the forest it does not make a sound. You need a plan. A thorough, well researched and proven marketing plan to ensure that thousands of people know about the campaign and are engaged enough to act. It’s about the right timing, the right subject lines, the right content, the best way to encourage volunteers to join the effort and so much more. Participating organizations will receive a Campaign Package that is updated on a regular basis with all the resources, checklists and training guidance that you will need.

REQUEST CAMPAIGN PACKAGE

Training Webinars

We host weekly webinars on the four different stages of a Charidy Campaign. Webinars include:

  • 1/4: Introduction to Charidy
  • 2/4: How to secure your matchers
  • 3/4: Rock the Clock: Step by Step Charidy promotion for Organization Leaders
  • 4/4: Rock the Clock: 10 steps on being a great charidy influencer (for volunteers)

VIEW WEBINAR CALENDAR

We look forward to holding your hand as we walk you through our proven system, ensuring your campaign is fully prepared to maximize your donor potential.

Moshe Hecht

Chief Fundraising Specialist

Committees Need Commitment.

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QUESTION FROM RENEE
In 2015, we will be celebrating both our Church’s 135th anniversary, along with our Senior Pastor’s 25th anniversary. It is my intent to make this a joint effort. Would it be practical for me to begin forming a team to help in the development of this event?

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Hi Renee,

First of all, congratulations on the tremendous milestone for the Church and the Silver Anniversary of your Senior Pastor!

The short answer to your question is: absolutely! Whether you are planning an event, setting up a fundraising campaign or coming up with a communications plan, you need people to help share the work load and use their own resources to accomplish your goals. This is why organizations like to set up committees. It ensures you have enough hands to get the job done, and expands your marketing and fundraising reach by using the networks and resources of other people around the table.

Let me give you a helpful suggestion when you begin asking people to join a committee, which is most often done for event planning and fundraising. Make sure to clearly explain the roles and responsibilities of serving as a committee member. Let them know you want people who will role up their sleeves, and help make the event a success. Way too often, people volunteer to serve on a committee only to fade into the background without providing the needed help. They may be well intentioned, or they may want to see their name in lights on the event invitation. Either way, it is important to identify and recruit people who will get the job done.

When I make the pitch to prospective committee members, I like to remind them that if they work hard on the committee, they will find tremendous satisfaction with the final product. Like anything in life, if you work hard at something, the end result is all the more gratifying.

Best of luck, Renee!

Jonah Halper, MPA
Managing Director, ALTRUICITY