By Raimy Rubin
Reading Time: 10m
Yeshiva Elementary School is a modest educational institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They don’t have a lot of major donors, but they are energetic, resourceful, and will do whatever it takes to build the best school they can for their students.
Smack in the middle of the COVID pandemic, they turned to crowdfunding and totally changed the way they fundraised. They have only become more resolute in their growth mindset since the pandemic has ended.
Here is the story of YES Milwaukee’s journey to crowdfunding success.
The year was 2020, and YES was looking for ways to expand its donor base and reach beyond its geographic confines. They also needed to move away from the traditional dinner-model of fundraising due to pandemic restraints.
One of the school administrators had an idea. He had some contacts that could start putting together matching money that they could use to inspire smaller gifts. That small pool of money soon grew larger.
Fueled by unbridled enthusiasm, the school launched its first crowdfunding campaign with a $180,000 goal where every donation would be matched. To their surprise (but not to ours), they surpassed their goal, landing at $201,681.
Both in 2021 and 2022, YES raised $230,000, anchoring their budget and giving the school the operating budget it needs to create the happy environment their students need to thrive.
Here’s what YES had to say about what they did and how it went.
Year 1 – Surprising Success
The first campaign was actually the easiest because we knew how much we didn’t know. We asked a lot of questions. It felt like we got extra hand-holding from CauseMatch. We were zoned in on potential mistakes and we were really focused.
The Year 1 ambassadors had a positive experience and came back in Year 2. In Year 2, they had a positive experience and came back in Year 3.
They are raising a lot of money.
Focus on Ambassadors
The Ambassadors get into it – really into it. We scheduled the 2022 campaign around two specific ambassadors who combine for around 100 donations for a total of about $13,000 from our alumni. I spent a lot of time working with them to set them up so they felt good and confident.
They are not fundraisers by nature. These are just guys who work the phone and sit there for a couple of hours and text and call and text and call and text and call. When you’re able to get them excited about a project, they get to work.
The Power of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
One of the school parents set a fundraising goal for himself. His brother, who doesn’t live in Milwaukee, got frustrated that there weren’t more people in the family stepping up to help.
So his brother gave $1700.
It just so happens that this brother was talking to a philanthropist in New York and talked him into matching his donation. So the two of them each gave $1700. When you multiply those two $1700 gifts times the triple-match of the whole campaign, it equals more $10,000. That money was not on my radar. That’s the power of the Ambassador.
In each of our three campaigns, the most significant donations came from people that I never would have known to call or thought to call. You can’t predict who in your Ambassadors’ circles and are going to step up and give real money.
Even for the people who are on my radar, if I call them, they’ll give me $100, maybe $200. But when someone closer to them calls, you can get much bigger donations.
The CauseMatch software is great. It does exactly what we need it to do, both the public-facing site and the internal dashboard. The Ambassador Command Center does exactly what you need it to do.
It’s designed for people exactly like me to do exactly what I do. Like I was the intended target audience. I could see exactly which volunteers were on track to hit their goals and which needed a little extra motivation.
The Visuals Bring The Campaign To Life
The option for Canva graphics is affordable and gives us a lot of flexibility. We save thousands of dollars not having to find our own graphic designer.
The Campaign Messaging
The writing is fantastic. It saves us time and headspace… and it’s better than what we could come up with. The writers at CauseMatch talked to us for 45 minutes and produced everything we needed: website copy, email copy, thank you copy, WhatsApp copy.
The CauseMatch Team
There is a huge advantage to working with people who specialize in their fields. And CauseMatch is full of specialists.
Contact us today to learn how CauseMatch can help produce results like this for your nonprofit.