Success Story: Matt’s Walking to a Better World

Matt

“My name is Matt Napier and I want to see an end to world poverty.
During a trip to Nepal 11 years ago, I first realised how bad poverty can be in developing countries. I couldn’t face going back to my home in Australia and leaving these poor people behind when the only difference between us was the country we were born into. I had all the opportunities in the world but was wasting them, so decided to set my focus on becoming a voice for the world’s poor and since then have become an anti-poverty advocate.

Now, I’m no expert in International Development or a genius with a cure for the world’s ills, so what could I do? I decided to undertake extreme long distance adventures and use this to raise awareness of poverty, talk to schools and politicians and raise much needed funds for projects that I believe have the greatest chance of stopping the cycle of poverty.

So, in 2012 I cycled 3,800km across Australia and then in 2013 I bounced an Aussie Rules football from Perth to Sydney. These adventures were so successful that I then set my sights on Africa and in 2016 I walked 2,300km across southern Africa from Walvis Bay in Nambia to Maputo in Mozambique. I raised $62,000 through four separate chuffed campaigns (one for each of my charity partners) and also gave out over 200 soccer-balls to schools and community groups along the way. Oh yeah, did I mention I kicked a soccer-ball the whole way!?

This year I am walking 1,860km from the southern border of Namibia to the northern border with Angola. It will take me through some of the harshest terrain on earth including the Namibia Desert and the infamous Skeleton Coast. This year I have two charity partners – Empower Projects and Caritas Australia – and aim to fund a specific project through each of them. Each project is unique but the thing that they both have in common is that they work with the communities to identify their needs and solutions that will work for them, and then they support them to implement them in a way that is sustainable and will create long term change.

I am currently one week into my 7 week journey and although I am finding it a bit tough at the moment, I am encouraged by the support I have received and the emails I get from Chuffed telling me when someone has donated.”

Go Matt! Learn more about his mission by checking out his Chuffed.org campaigns:

We’re hiring: Customer Support Advocate (London)

Chuffed.org Workshops

Customer Support Advocate (London)

The very brief version

Customer Support role in rapidly-growing, VC-funded, social-cause tech startup, changing the world.

Who is Chuffed.org?

We’re a purpose-led company that’s transforming how people think about charities around the world. Instead of thinking of the charity muggers harassing you on your way to work, we’re making the face of charity awesome, exciting projects that people want to be part of.

Since launching in October 2013, we’ve raised over £9M for close to 5,000 projects in 20 countries. We’ve reunited a Somali refugee mother with her son that she hadn’t seen in 23 years; we’ve helped legalise medicinal marijuana for the terminally ill; we’ve transformed how the Vanuatu Government does disaster relief… and a lot more.

What you’ll be doing?

You’ll be joining our London-based team as we grow to get our product from thousands of campaigners to hundreds of thousands. You’ll be responsible for:

  • Support (80%): You’ll be providing email support to our amazing social cause campaigners and donors. This will be both technical support (how to use the platform) and crowdfunding strategy support (how to run a crowdfunding campaign). Campaigners love the real human connection they get with Chuffed.org, so being empathetic while communicating clearly in writing is important.
  • Coaching (15%): You’ll become a coach to potential campaigners on how to succeed in their crowdfunding campaigns. Don’t worry, we’ll train you on what works from our experience with over 5,000 campaigners. This will be both in person and on Skype
  • Advocating (5%): As you’re the closest person to our customers, you’ll be reporting back to the team on what customers find exciting and confusing about the platform so that we can build an even better product.

In addition, as you get more familiar with Chuffed.org and our customers, we expect everyone in the team to contribute their ideas and opinions on how we can support more organisations better. You might be involved in brainstorms, feedback sessions and customer interviews.

 

What we’re looking for

Culture

  • You’re empathetic: we’re looking for someone with an ability to understand what the world looks like from their point of view. When they’re confused and frustrated, you’ll need to be understanding and helpful
  • You care: we’re a purpose-led company and we love working with people who care about the world around them
  • You learn: there’s a lot to learn about how Chuffed.org and crowdfunding works – and it changes all the time. You’ll need to be curious and have the willingness to be over the small details as well big things
  • You’re independent: we’re a small team distributed across London, Sydney and Melbourne. You’ll be part of an office of 3-4 people, but we generally work at high pace, in different locations and timezones and often quite independently. We’ll give you a lot of flexibility on where and how you work, as long as you get your work done.
  • You play nice: because we all love coming to work and we want you to too

Experience

  • 2 years experience in a customer service or support role or other relevant experience

Bonus points

  • You like building systems that make your job easier – and that make it easier to train others on what you do
  • You like and want to learn more about tech and startup world
  • You’ve worked with the non-profit/charity/advocacy sector before

The details

  • Based in WeWork London Field (E8 4RU)
  • £22-25k salary + 0.1-0.5% equity
  • You’ll report to the CEO (London), and work closely with our Growth Manager (London)

 

Why work for us

People come for the social mission, they stay for the team. We’re a fast-growing social enterprise, that’s backed by some amazing tech investors (Blackbird VC and Bevan Clark) but retains our social mission at our core. We even created our own legal structure over in Australia – the Social Benefit Company – to let us do that. We’ve worked in the social sector for years and changing how it raises money for the amazing work that it does is something that we deeply care about. We’re the place where you can do work that you care about and be part of a fast-moving company at the same time. We also allow for flexible, distributed working to cater for parents.

You can read more here:

 

How to apply

Send us an email to [email protected] with your CV and a cover letter talking about who you are and what you care about.

Applications close 30 April, or when we find the right person.

We’re hiring: Front-End Developer (Sydney)

Chuffed.org Workshops

Front-end Developer (Sydney)

tl;dr

Front-end developer job in rapidly-growing, VC-funded, social-cause startup, changing the world.

Who is Chuffed.org?

We’re a purpose-led company that’s transforming how people think about charities around the world. Instead of thinking of the charity muggers harassing you on your way to work, we’re making the face of charity awesome, exciting projects that people want to be part of.

Since launching in October 2013, we’ve raised over $13M for 4,500 projects in 20 countries. We’ve reunited a Somali refugee mother with her son that she hadn’t seen in 23 years; we’ve helped legalise medicinal marijuana for the terminally ill; we’ve transformed how the Vanuatu Government does disaster relief… and a lot more.

What you’ll be doing?

You’ll be joining our Sydney-based team as we grow to get our product from thousands of campaigners to hundreds of thousands. You’ll be responsible for:

  • working with the engineering team to build new ways for social cause campaigners to build communities and raise funds and new personalised experiences for donors
  • implementing the experiments and new products that the Growth team wants to test – this will be a mixture of front-end/design work as well as building back end features:
    • Possible activities include: creating landing pages, changing user flows, improving email designs, improving tracking, creating adaptive education in our campaign editor and more
  • instrumenting our app to collect the right data to measure the impact of experiments, gain deeper insights on how users are engaging with our product and where they’re leaking out. We use Segment, Mixpanel and Google Analytics, but are open to others
  • working with the engineering team to ship code every day

As you get more familiar with the product and our customers, you’ll be providing input on what growth initiatives we should pursue too.

 

What we’re looking for

Culture

  • You care: we’re a purpose-led company and we love working with people who care about the world around them
  • You learn: because there’s always another JS framework around the corner and a better way of making our customers happy
  • You play nice: because we all love coming to work and we want you to too

Technical

  • Experience in JS/HTML/CSS (mid-level, about 3 years)
  • Familiarity with PHP (we use Laravel) or a willingness to learn
  • Experience with Angular, React or other modern JS frameworks

Bonus points

  • You’re data driven, curious about what customers value and why they behave in certain ways
  • You’ve worked with the non-profit/charity/advocacy sector before

The details

  • Based in Darlinghurst, Sydney
  • Competitive salary package: we’ll normally pay a mix of cash salary and equity
  • You’ll report to the CEO (London), and work closely with our engineering and growth teams in Sydney, Melbourne and London

 

Why work for us

People come for the social mission, they stay for the team. We’re a fast-growing social enterprise, that’s backed by some amazing tech investors (Blackbird VC and Bevan Clark) but retains our social mission at our core. We even created our own legal structure over in Australia – the Social Benefit Company – to let us do that. We’ve worked in the social sector for years and changing how it raises money for the amazing work that it does is something that we deeply care about. We’re the place where you can do work that you care about and be part of a fast-moving company at the same time.

You can read more here:

 

How to apply

Send us an email to [email protected] with your CV or any links you have to apps you’ve built, github repos, portfolios. We love getting applications that talk about what you’ve built and why you care.

Applications close when we find the right person.

Architects of Hope

Following the US Executive Order halting refugees and migrants at the end of January, I sent this email to the Chuffed.org Team:

Team,

As you all would know, two weekends ago in the US, President Trump issued an executive order to halt all US refugee intake for 120 days, bar Syrian refugees from the US indefinitely and severely restrict travel to the US of citizens (including dual nationals) of seven majority-Muslim countries.

Upon hearing this order and reflecting on its effects, I spent much of that weekend buried under the weight of fear. It wasn’t just the act of turning our backs on people in their hour of need that triggered this, or the fact that green card permanent residents were no longer able to return home to their families, but the built in ideology that foreigners, and in particular Muslims, should be judged a threat until proven otherwise.

As a perpetual foreigner, that ideology terrifies me.

The fear that I felt in response to this policy pales in comparison to the fear felt by people fleeing for their lives. It is wrong to arbitrarily deny them the hope that a life in our countries brings, especially after years of vetting, waiting and despair. To then treat them as a threat is undeniably callous.

__

In the year I was born, race riots ravaged Sri Lanka. People of one race judged another to be a threat and burned them on the streets. That’s what happens when a Government implicitly or explicitly sanctions fear of a particular group.

In a more welcoming time, we were lucky to immigrate to Australia, which took pride in its multicultural identity. To be sure, it wasn’t perfect; it did debate each wave of migration but it didn’t define its national conversation around deciding who they let into the country and the circumstances in which they came.

As an immigrant, that generosity that Australia showed – that idea that I was welcome and not a threat – created a sense of hope. Hope that I would be treated fairly. Hope that people cared about me. Hope that even though we didn’t know each other, we were on the same side. Hope as an immigrant is a powerful emotion. It’s the thing that gives you the ability to contribute, to integrate, to learn and to create.

Chuffed.org was born out of hope.

And immigrants.

The majority of the Chuffed.org team live in a country that they weren’t born in. For those who were, everyone has at least one parent that wasn’t born in that country. We’re a team of immigrants, who work every day to make the countries we call home better for everyone.

As immigrants, we have to ask ourselves, how do we respond to what’s happening in the US – with hope or with fear?

It’s easy to let fear guide us. It is fear that guides our urge to shout at people who we disagree with. It is fear that guides our desire to flee to the comfort of our social media echo chamber. Fighting fear with fear is momentarily satisfying but that’s about it.

The only way to overcome fear in the long term is to consciously create a world of hope for everyone. Especially for our fellow citizens whom we don’t see eye-to-eye with. That’s why we need to build a community that supports and encourages people who bring hope to the world – particularly to those who need it the most.

The Anne Moon‘s who bring hope to refugees imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru, the Phili and Rob’s who bring hope to the homeless freezing on London’s streets, and the Jeanna’s who bring hope to the women of Alaska so that their rights will be protected. These amazing people, and thousands more like them, are our architects of hope.

If we can design the world with their plans to guide us, we’ll create a fear-proof world,  one that can’t burn down.

Prashan Paramanathan, CEO Chuffed.org

Hey Australia, we’re getting your donations to you faster

There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your campaign funds hit your bank account. And we want you to have that feeling even faster than before.

To date, when supporters donated via credit and debit cards to your campaign, you had to wait 5-15 days after your campaign ended before you got your funds. That’s changing today for all new campaigns.

So what’s changing, exactly?

For all new campaign that start from today, donations made via credit and debit cards to Australian campaigns will be transferred to your nominated bank account in 2-day rolling cycles. That means all the donations made to you today, will be sent to you in 2-days time – with the exception of weekends and public/bank holidays. If that’s too frequent for you, you can change this to weekly or monthly.

How do the changes work?

In order to make this happen, we’ve partnered with Stripe – a global payments platform. We’ve actually been using Stripe in the background for all our credit and debit card payments for a number of years already.

Going forward, when you start a campaign in Australia and choose credit/debit card payments, you’ll now need to create and connect an account with Stripe. It’s a <5 minute process and is integrated into our system, so you’ll barely notice.

Then, everything works as normal. Someone donates to your campaign. That donation gets transferred to your Stripe account and then Stripe transfers the donations to your bank account automatically in 2-day rolling cycles.

No more waiting around until after your campaign ends to get your money.

Magic!

 

Some FAQs

1. What if I’ve got a campaign running in Australia already?

For existing campaigns, you’ll still receive your credit/debit card donations 5-15 days after your campaign ends. When you create your next campaign, you’ll be on the new system and need to connect a Stripe account so that we can send your funds to you more frequently.

2. Will this effect non-Australian campaigns?

No. Full steam ahead for campaigns in all our other supported countries. This brings Australia in line with what we’ve been doing everywhere else for a while.

3. Who are Stripe?

Stripe are a global payments system that handles billions of dollars of payments every year around the world. They’re also incredibly reliable and lovely people. You can read more about Chuffed + Stripe here: Stripe leaves Aussie Non-Profit Platform Chuffed.

4. How do I get my donations less frequently?

Sometimes getting transactions into your bank account every day can get really messy – particularly for the accountants – and you’ll want to receive funds less frequently. To do that, you’ll need to:

– Log into your Stripe.com account (www.stripe.com)

  • Click on your name in the top right
  • Click on ‘Account Settings’
  • Click on ‘Transfers’
  • In the ‘Transfer Schedule’ click on ‘Change Schedule’
  • Choose the frequency you want and click on ‘Save Schedule’

All future transfers will then be on the new schedule that you chose.

2016 on Chuffed.org

As 2016 came to an end, all my social media feeds were flooded with doom. Status updates breathed a heavy sighs of relief, ‘Thank God 2016 is over’. The posts pointed to Trump, Brexit, David Bowie, Carrie Fischer, George Michael, Prince… as a sort of doomsday list, dredging out a feeling of hopelessness.

But those lists miss a lot of amazing things that happened in 2016. They skip over the people who witnessed misfortunes and still had the courage to act. They miss the people who did the right thing, even when the odds were stacked against them. You weren’t on those list.

2016 was a huge year of hope on Chuffed.org. It was a year where communities banded together and started to build the foundations for a society that we can be.

In 2016, you supported these wonderful women

You created the first Aboriginal women’s health retreat based on Indigenous medicineYou supported our best female scientists to become our future leaders in Antarctica

In 2016, you supported refugees stuck in the crisis

In 2016, you supported the lives of our animal friends

In 2016, you supported 2,600 campaigns

And that’s not even scratching the bottom of the barrel! In 2016 you supported nearly 2,600 campaigns because they appealed to your sense of justice and vision for a better world.

It is with absolute certainty that I predict (I admit, that’s a bit of an oxymoron) that this community, our community, will make 2017 a year in which the world moves forward in the right direction.

Because we know, that whatever happens, you’ll band together as a community and help each other.

How Crowdfunding Saved The Sawtell Cinema

In July 2015, a small community group in regional Australia raised over $142,500 to save their local cinema. In this case study, campaign manager, Stephanie Ney, takes you through:

  • How they designed their ‘sponsor a seat’ campaign
  • How they used Facebook and networking to build a launch list
  • How they leverage offline channels for their online campaign

 

Background: The end of an era and a new hope

Seventy-Four years ago in a small town on Australia’s east coast, Doris and Alan Brissett purchased the local Community Hall with a grand plan to create the town’s first cinema. They added some wooden tiered seating, a projection room and the Sawtell Cinema was born. For three generations the Sawtell Cinema remained in the Brissett Family.

In that time, the cinema has faced many disasters. In 1955 the original building was destroyed by a mini-cyclone. In 1989 and again in 2009, floods damaged the cinema. Each time, the community stepped forward to support their local icon. But then digital projection arrived, and the cost to switch over was too much. The Brissett family put the cinema on the market in March 2012 and when no buyer came forward, in December 2012, the cinema closed.

Sawtell Cinema - the original building

For two years Sawtell Cinema waited for the community to show their support yet again. In January 2015, a group of local patrons stepped forward and purchased the original building with a grand plan to transform it into a 21st century cinema, but retain its quaint, historic feel.

The refurbishment would cost $1.4M. While most of that was raised privately, the patrons wanted to find a way to involve the local community in the saving of the cinema and to help them feel like they, too, were part of history-making.

They decided to run a crowdfunding campaign. In just over two months, the Sawtell Cinema blasted through its initial $75,000 target and ended up raising $142,500.

What follows is a step by step account of what they did, told by Stephanie Ney, who ran the campaign with Stephanie Hunt.

 

Preparation: Setting the stage

We started preparing for the campaign in January 2015, with the aim to do a soft launch of the campaign in June and an official event-based launch on 4 July.

The right campaign

The first step for the team was deciding what type of campaign we’d run. While we could have run a “capital appeal” type of campaign, and gone after pure donations, we found in our research, that the successful theatres/cinema campaigns used a ‘name a seat’ type program. For $X, donors got the perk of naming rights or sponsorship of a seat.

We wanted the perks to acknowledge people’s contribution and make them feel like they owned a part of their local cinema. As a bonus, we also designed rewards as a way to get the word out (through bumper stickers/t-shirts) and to get people into the cinema once it re-opened.

The Sawtell Cinema rewards and perks

Here’s what we chose:

  • $25: Join the “I Saved Sawtell Cinema” fraternity with the bumper sticker/choc top reward – redeemable when cinema re-opened;
  • $75: A t-shirt package, so people could see you were a supporter;
  • $150: double tickets to a screening at the cinema with David Stratton;
  • $500: A ‘name a seat’ plaque in the big cinema;
  • $750: A ‘name a seat’ plaque in boutique cinema;
  • $1,000: Dinner for two plus movie screening with David Stratton;
  • $2,500: Your silhouette painted onto the cinema’s ‘wall of fame’;
  • $5,000: A private screening/party for 40 of your closest friends in boutique cinema.

In addition, everyone who donated above $500 also got their name on the Honour Board in the foyer, under exclusive headings such as ‘A-listers’, ‘Directors’, ‘Cameos’, ‘Executive Producers’, ‘Producers’, ‘Patrons’.

A celebrity ambassador

One of our favourite ‘name a seat’ campaigns was for the Isaac Theatre in Christchurch, which had Sir Ian McKillen as its patron. We wanted our own, local patron.

Through an Armidale contact, we had a connection to David Stratton, and approached him to be the campaign Patron and he generously agreed. We leveraged David everywhere – he was the centrepiece of the video and he was in our perks. This not only helped broaden our media appeal, it helped with branding of what Sawtell Cinema is all about; regional, independent, quality films, and a community’s cinema.

The video

No crowdfunding campaign would be complete without an awesome crowdfunding video and we were lucky enough to have some seriously creative locals (Zakpage.com) film not just one, but a series of videos that showed how ‘cinema is part of everyday life’ featuring locals and our campaign patron, David Stratton

We released the primary 90 second video on Facebook in the lead up to the campaign and a new video each week of the campaign. We got Screenwave – an outdoor cinema company – to show 30 second versions before their Cinematinee screenings and we put up a longer 4-minute version on our website. Having locals star in the videos turned out to be just as important as having a celebrity – not only does everyone want to share a video that has them or someone they know in it, the video created a sense of pride and community.

Building a list

When we first started planning, we read How to Raise $15,000 in 50 hours by Rob Caslick which is a great starting point. It emphasised the importance of names and lists and developing an ‘inner circle’ of people to champion the campaign with you.

This is what we did to establish a list. We set up a Mailchimp account and decided that we’d focus on growing that database.

The first natural list of supporters to leverage was the old ‘Friends of Sawtell Cinema’, a group of passionate locals who banded together back in 2009 when the cinema flooded. Through the ex-President of the campaign, we contacted the 300 people on the list and invited them to join our mailing list (by clicking through on the email).

Other groups had formed since the gap was left in the marketplace when Sawtell Cinema closed, like the Coffs Harbour City Council who ran Coffs Movie Club and Screenwave, who were running fortnightly ‘Cinematinee’ screenings at the local theatre. We promoted our campaign to these groups, and they were issued with invitations to join our mailing list and be kept up to date with all the latest on Sawtell Cinema.

Next, we started a Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/savesawtellcinema. We were planning to keep it on the down low until we had prepared our database/mailing system, but it accidentally got shared and within 3 days we had over 3,000 likes.

We then had to convert the Facebook audience to our email list which we did by posting links to our email signup page regularly on Facebook. This is important because it’s a lot easier to miss a Facebook post than it is to miss an email.

We quickly set up our website at www.sawtellcinema.com.au and again, put more links there to join the mailing list. We also directed people to our website via Faceboook in its first couple of months.

Stars

At the same time, we developed our own ‘Inner Circle’ of people who would be our ‘stars’ and frontline in promoting our work (what Rob Caslick referred to as his ‘foot soldiers’ in this Chuffed.org Case Study). We selected people who were passionate about the cinema, culture and the arts and were well-connected in the community – the movers and shakers and key influencers of the Coffs Coast if you like. Their email connections with various groups helped build the loyal groups of supporters of the campaign and reach people who had the means and the commitment to donate.

 

Showtime: The launch that kept on going

The Unofficial Launch

Our official launch date was set on the 4th July 2015. A week prior, we opened up the campaign in a “pre-launch”. We sent out an email only to supporters who had signed up to our mailing list, and as a special reward, they got first dibbs on all rewards – important as the number of seats to be sponsored were limited. This was a great way to not only thank people who had signed up with us, but it also meant that when the official launch happened, we already had money on the total.

Facebook

Facebook is also the ideal platform to unveil something like the refurbishment as it happens and give our followers a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look.

To drive our social media campaign and assist with the workload, we set up a communications steering committee.

Our first Facebook strategy was to take photos of locals and ask them to share their favourite Sawtell Cinema memory or tell us why the Cinema was important to them. We posted these on Facebook – along the vein of the ‘Humans of New York’. This was not only easy, as everyone had a story they wanted to tell, it was very sharable. People love seeing themselves online – and this again assisted with building community.

We also shared photos of the old cinema and had a ‘Sawtell Saturday’ section sharing beautiful nature photos from our community. As a bonus, people started sharing their own special photos of Sawtell Cinema, which were easy to repost.

Media/PR

Media support was very important, particularly for those not on Facebook. We established a number of media partnerships, including community and commercial radio stations, ABC Coffs Coast and Arts Mid North Coast, the local paper, Coffs Coast Advocate, plus sent regular media releases to a range of newspapers, radio and television stations.

Community radio station 2AIR FM were particularly supportive, and in the lead-up to the crowd funding campaign gave regular hour-long interviews with various people involved in the campaign, including the architects, designers, steering committee members and crowd funding campaign team.

Offline

The week leading up to the launch, we decided to accommodate offline donations so people could pay by either cash or cheque on the day, as many of our audience are not web-savvy and don’t feel comfortable making online contributions.

The mechanics around this meant preparing forms at the last minute for each reward level and having to manually enter donations to the ‘back-end’ of Chuffed.org during the day. This was important as many of our rewards were limited, and so it would have been disastrous to sell one offline that had already sold out online. On launch day people also requested to make electronic funds transfer directly to our bank, so we had to quickly set up a system to accommodate this as well.

These tools then let us do a number of things offline.

We went out to various social groups and networks and gave live presentations on what we were trying to achieve. With the Chair of the Investor Group, we spoke at breakfasts, lunches and dinners with Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Probus, social groups, business networks – encouraging them to support the campaign.

We had our local Post Office take offline donations across the counter throughout the campaign and this greatly assisted particularly the older market who deeply loved the cinema take part in the campaign. Over $10,000 was raised through the Post Office alone.

In May the Investors held an Auction to sell some of the old equipment and features of the cinema that would not be used in the refurbishment – including all the old seating. We decided to open the cinema the day before the auction as a Community Day so people could come in and have one last look at the cinema before the renovations began. The Auction also gave locals the chance to pick up a piece of Sawtell Cinema history – and we ended up raising $10,000 towards the refurbishment, plus saved money in removing, relocating or ‘dumping’ the old fixtures. It all added to the inclusivity. This event by itself got broad media coverage on radio, print and television.

More broadly, we thought it was important to have a visible presence around the community, so we produced some marketing posters and flyers that were distributed to cafes and retail outlets across the region. Huge movie size posters were framed in the display windows on the outside of the cinema, promoting key events such as the Auction, the Facebook campaign and the crowd funding campaigns and rewards.

Without a doubt, all these offline strategies paid off. Of the $142,500 raised, $57,800 came from offline donations.

The Official Launch Event

We decided to do a live launch event on 4 July during the annual Sawtell Chilli Festival which attracts up to 10,000 visitors to the main street of Sawtell. We thought this would assist with media interest plus give us an opportunity to physically sign people up to donate to the campaign on the day. We opened the doors to the cinema foyer one more time and a group of our ‘Stars’ volunteered on the day, all modelling the limited edition ‘I Saved Sawtell Cinema’ t-shirt.

Local computer business, Coffs Computing, provided iPads so our volunteers could assist people with making donations. We fitted out the Box Office as a photo booth and photographed and interviewed people after they made their donation for Facebook content. The architects, g2 architects, provided a live computer aided design walk-through of the new cinema so people could see the vision and understand what they were signing up to support. The result – we ended up having a motza of a day, making $22,000 in donations on just that one day.

Once the campaign started, we sent regular updates to the Inner Circle; had a regular spot on 2CHFM updating progress and encouraging support; almost fortnightly interviews on ABC Coffs Coast; and many features in the local paper. The Facebook campaign started thanking our supporters, including individuals, groups and businesses, and giving milestone updates which were widely shared. And we made the local news a couple of times.

 

The Results

The Sawtell Cinema Crowdfunding Campaign results

We could never have guessed the success of the campaign. We thought it would be fabulous to reach $50,000 in total and yet, in four weeks, we reached our target of $75,000. We re-set the target to $125,000, which meant we would be able to buy the new screens & curtains as well as the seats, but again, I didn’t actually think we would make it. But make it we did. In the last 10 days or so of the campaign, we pulled in $30,000 – taking the final amount raised to $142,500.

Maybe even more extraordinary was how far the story spread – we ended up with donations not only from across Australia but also from around the world, as far afield as Turkey, France, Japan, UK and LA. In total, 480 people donated to our campaign. And our story was picked up by the Sunday Telegraph, and many online arts and film hubs, such as Regional Arts NSW, Arts NSW, ScreenNSW, Create Australia and Inside Film.

 

How to raise $15,000 in 50 hours – includes email templates and tools

Rob Caslick

In early 2013, when we were on the hunt for our very first crowdfunding campaigns, I met up with Rob Caslick in a rather unglamorous hotel lobby in King’s Cross, Sydney. Rob was an engineer by day but at night transformed into volunteer-extraordinaire, running a weekly Organic soup kitchen for 50 people at his parish church.

We chatted about a potential campaign for the soup kitchen, but it wasn’t until November that year when Rob approached us about a Refugee Rooftop Garden he wanted to crowdfund, that we really got down to battle planning.

Rob launched their campaign on December 2. In 50 hours, he’d hit his target of $15,000. By Christmas he’d raised $30,000, been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC Radio, and was fielding calls from the 7:30 Report and TV celebrities wanting to be part of the campaign.

Here’s how he did it – in his own words

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HOW TO RAISE $15,000 IN 50 HOURS

To say that the Refugee Garden had a long incubation period would be a massive understatement. I had been talking up the idea for 12 months to anyone who’d listen but it wasn’t until a meeting with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which is located directly above the Soup Kitchen I ran, that the idea for the Rooftop Refugee Garden idea really became a reality.

Then of course there was the issue of money. We had planners cost out the project and the absolute minimum we needed was $15,000. We did the usual thing of applying for grants, but when they didn’t work, we turned to crowdfunding.

The team at Chuffed talked us through exactly what we needed to prepare to make the campaign a success and since I have a military background, I thought I’d theme the campaign as a military battle.  It added an element of humour to the campaign (at least to me).

Here’s my battle strategy.

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Tactic A: Multiply myself with foot soldiers (worth $5,000)

By myself I could only raise so much, but with 10 of me, we’ll clean up

After stripping my Gmail contact list and realising I had about 500 people to send the campaign to, it became pretty clear that only sending the campaign to that list was going to be a failing strategy. The team at Chuffed suggested that I needed a list closer to 3,000 people to make the campaign work and the only way to do that would be to recruit more people to the cause.

Step 1: Recruit your soldiers

I knew foot soldiers for this campaign were going to come from three sources:

  1. People involved in the project:  I  had the full project team commit early – the landscape architectural company produced a budget, the structural engineer looked for drawings and started to comment on how much weight we could hold.  All of these people became automatic soldiers.
  2. The super keen-beans: While I’d been talking up the project to anyone who’d listen, I kept note of the ones that got excited. They also became automatic soldiers.
  3. General recruitment: One month before launch date, I sent this recruitment email to my 500 Gmail contacts:

Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 6:41 AM

Subject: Rooftop Garden update and Invitation to tour Wayside Chapel Rooftop Garden

Hello team,

We are about to launch a crowd funding campaign to raise the funds to build our garden above JRS. I am looking for some campaign soldiers. You get a free Refugee Garden T-shirt and all I ask is that you send out an email to all your work colleagues and friends on December 1st. Asking them to donate to our project. The email will be a link to the campaign website (www.chuffed.org) where we will be hosting our campaign.

I met with Indira Naidoo who set up the Wayside Chapel Rooftop Garden yesterday. She has invited us to tour the garden with reverend graham long. They have a great garden with bees and indigenous herbs.

The tour needs to be a Thursday and I have penciled in November 28 at 5pm. Let me know if you would like to be involved.

Rob Caslick

Four weeks out from the campaign, we’d recruited 15 foot soldiers.

Step 2: Engage your foot soldiers like crazy

These 15 foot soldiers were pure gold. They were our first donors and our biggest evangelisers. I wanted them to feel part of the inner circle – like they were part of the team, not like I was asking them for something.

We did three things with them:

  1. Three weeks out, we sent out the campaign to the soldiers and asked them for feedback.
  2. Two weeks out, we  personally called every soldier and ran them through what the attack plan was.
  3. 7 days out, we leaked the video to the soldiers and updated them on the great contribution of other soldiers so far.  The email was really the first call to action.  We asked the soldiers to send out the link to all of their friends now and be ready for battle on the next Monday – Launch Day.  I made it super-simple for people to share the campaign by actually typing up an email for people to use.  Honestly, it felt a little controlling but I thought it would help to maintain a unified message.This is the email we sent:

Date: Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 6:47 AM
Subject: St Canice’s Rooftop Garden for Refugees – “Meet James”

Hello Soldiers,

Thanks for offering to go into battle for the Refugee’s Garden in Kings Cross.  The campaign runs for December and January,  but our target is to raise $15k by Christmas. This gives us about three weeks starting Monday December 2.

We need to go in hard.

We have selected the finest 15 soldiers.  Your campaign mission is to raise $1000 each and/or send the campaign link out to 500 people.

We have had a lot of support so far.

1. Corporate Katrina Torres has designed a cool tshirt for people who donate $50

.  Sargent Christine Manfield (celebrity chef and author) has offered to cook for the first 40 people to donate $150. Dinner will be in the garden mid Feb 2014 (no pressure).

3. Lieutenant Danielle Zorbas has put together the attached campaign video.  Thanks also to Frances Yeoland for her graphics, Dappled Cities for the music and Mr James for being part of this campaign.

VIEW 3 MINUTE VIDEO HERE

Your first mission: Please can you send out an email to your friends, colleagues and clients this week, with a link to this video introducing them to James and establishing the need for the garden.
For convenience I have typed up the below email for you to copy paste.  (Feel free to amend to suit).

The campaign goes live on Monday December 2.  We will ask you to send a follow up email on Monday afternoon to officially launch the campaign and to start collecting donations.

Feel free to call me with questions or comments.

A sincere thank you again for being part of this.

Rob Caslick

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Dear ????

Meet James.  A new resident of Australia.  From arriving by plane, James had to wait almost 5 years for his refugee application to be processed. He suffered depression and anxiety.

His story is common.

To help James and other Asylum Seekers living in Sydney we are building a garden. The aim of the garden is to provide a place of meaningful and familiar activity.  An opportunity to give back to the community by growing foods for the soup kitchen below.  An opportunity to start engaging with the community and improving conversational skills.

Please watch and share this 3 minute video we have created.

http://youtu.be/60585gUgzi0

Our goal is to raise a total of $15,000. All help welcome.  Our campaign starts next week.

We are offering the following perks to donors:

1. Donate $50 and receive a Refugee Garden t-shirt,

2. Donate $75 and receive tickets to the cocktail opening of the garden,

3. Donate $150 and receive tickets to Dinner in the garden with Christine Manfield $150 (40 tickets only) date mid feb

4. Donate $250 and receive 1 x Garden Membership (Cocktail + Dinner + Tshirt)

5. Donate $2000 and be an official Garden Sponsor (4 x garden memberships plus recognition on plaque. Plus invitation to future harvest events)

6. Donate $5000 and be an official Garden Founding Partner (4 x garden membership plus greater recognition on plaque and invitation to future harvest events and free hire of the garden for corporate event)

 

Please help raise awareness by sharing this video and campaign with others.  I will email you again on Monday when the campaign goes live

Regards

Soldier A

 

You’ll notice that I quite explicitly talked about the actions that other soldiers had made. This was deliberate. Talking up the contribution soldiers have already made, inspires the other soldiers to action.

If we had more time we would’ve had a launch party with the soldiers. By the Friday before launch, I had soldiers calling me up asking me when the damn campaign would open – all their friends were already asking them how to donate. To keep the momentum (and the suspense) up, I sent out this email to the soldiers:

Date: Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 5:59 AM
Subject: Early Success

Soldiers,

Well done.  Our preemptive strike has been successful.

Many people are already emailing me wanting to donate.  Once the campaign goes live donations are simple.

The plan now is to finalise our online crowdfunding campaign.  I plan to do this on Saturday.

On Monday please be prepared to send out your emails again.  Studies suggest that people are more ‘giving’ after lunch.  I aim to send some out at about 130pm. Tuesday’s after lunch are also a good time.

Rob

 

Step 3: Launch hard or go home  

“Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.”

– Sun Tsu: The Art of War.

The first three days are do or die. If you don’t get to 30-40% in your first few days, you’re dead in the water. Since we didn’t really have our own list to launch to, launch day was all about getting the foot soldiers revved up. Again, I used the pre-written email tactic to make it super easy to share:

Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:05 AM

Subject: It’s almost time

Soldiers, Time to break out the face paint.

The campaign goes live at 1pm. Our campaign message: We understand Christmas is a time of giving. If you give to one charity this Christmas, please give to us.

Here is the link to our campaign. https://www.chuffed.org/project/rgkx/

From 1pm, please also copy the link into your social media or press share/like when you see others have done it. I have typed up the below email for you to send. Feel free to amend to suit or create your own.

A sincere thank you for your support in the campaign so far. See you on the other side!

Rob Caslick

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Dear Friends/Colleagues,

It can take five years for a refugee application to be processed. This means five years in limbo without work permits and without meaningful, five years of vulnerability, without family and friend support networks.

We are building a rooftop garden for these asylum seekers. But our rooftop garden will grow more than food; it will grow opportunities. Opportunities for refugees to participate in familiar activities and grow traditional foods. Opportunities for meaningful activities during periods of uncertainty. Opportunities to increase self worth. We understand that Christmas is a time of giving.

If you give to one charity this Christmas, please give to us. It’s not all about giving, in return for your donations, we are offering t-shirts, a dinner with Christine Manfield, a cocktail reception and garden memberships.

Click here for more: https://www.chuffed.org/project/rgkx/

Soldier A

 The result was extraordinary. We raised $4,724 in our first day. A third of the way there.

Step 4: Keep the momentum going by keeping your soldiers updated

The momentum of Day 1, spilled over to Day 2 and by the end of the day we were just shy of $7,000. Thanks to Tactic 2 (below) by Day 3, we hit our target. At each milestone, I emailed the soldiers to keep them excited – everyone loves to be part of a team that’s winning.

Here’s the email after Day 2:

Date: Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 5:50 AM
Subject: Almost half way

Soldiers

You have fought well.  In just over 36 hours we have raised $6734.  We have only 7 tickets to Christine Manfield left!

This afternoon back up arrives.  An email goes out to the entire Parish of St Canice’s. If you yourselves were going to purchase tickets to Christine [one of the perks] please do so before 2pm.  If you can’t and would like me to put a ticket aside for you, let me know.

Rob

And here’s the Victory email, where we decided to raise the bar:

Date: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Subject: Victory – $15,000 raised.

Soldiers, you have fought a great fight.

Together we raised $15,000 in one of the fastest social crowd funding campaigns in Australia. Congratulations, to each one of you.

No doubt, there will be more battles to fight. But with the huge support we have had it gives me confidence and courage that we are on the right path. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

As a thank you, I have added your names down for a t-shirt and a ticket to the opening cocktail event. The intention is to leave our campaign live and go for $20k. An additional 5k will allow us to build a pergola with hanging vines and a seated area for reflection.

A huge thanks to our friends at Chuffed.org. They have mentored me in this campaign and also provided us with a $1,000 bonus. (2,000 if we get to 20k). Enjoy your day.

Rob Caslick

 

Tactic B: Leverage the influencers – people who care about the same things that you do but have far wider reach (worth $8,000)

The second part of our battle plan took a very similar approach to the first, but with a different audience – the influencer organisations. We had been working with quite a few partner organisations at the Soup Kitchen for quite a while and I knew they were extremely influential in the food industry.

Two months prior to the campaign starting, I began engaging with two large influencers (Food Connect and Feather & Bone) about the campaign. I asked them if we could add their logos to our Chuffed page to add credibility and weight to our campaign and then asked if they could send out the campaign to their mailing lists.

Here’s an example of the email I sent:

Date: 27/11/2013, at 12:26 PM

Subject: F&B Logo

Hi Grant and Laura,

The campaign for the garden will go out to quite a few people next week.  I was thinking to put the Feather & Bone logo as a supporter of the kitchen and garden.  Is this ok with you?

Rob

 

I can’t overstate how important the support of these influencers was to our campaign- and in particularly the email that they sent out. They multiplied our reach several fold, celebrated our victories with us, and added credibility to the project.

Click here to read the email that Feather & Bone sent out to their mailing list.

And here’s what happened when these two influencers sent out their emails:

The Welcome to Australia team (a refugee support organisation) also helped by reposting our campaign on their Facebook page – the post received 455 likes and 28 shares.

All these influencers had one thing in common – they all cared about an issue that we also cared about. Luckily for us our campaign hit two big issues – food and refugees.

Our main lessons

So, all in all, here’s my top 5 things I think you need for success:

  1. Listen to the guys at Chuffed.  Without doubt their advice helped us raise more money.  They have done this many times before and actively helped us better engage our audience. They did everything from helping us write emails and media releases to campaign strategy advice to fielding calls from the media.
  2. The campaign is won or lost before it begins.  It is all about the four weeks prior to the campaign and how you launch. If you don’t launch hard, you won’t make it.
  3. Multiply yourself.  Allow other people to own your campaign.  Don’t just ask people to donate, ask people to treat the campaign as their own and have them raise funds for you.  The more ownership they have the more money they will raise.
  4. Engage the influencers.  Our campaign had a huge kick once the influencers told their audience.  The best influencers are people who already support you, but next in line are people that care about the same issues you do. Involve them early, make it easy for them to share your campaign, and you’ll be amazed how much their support will mean.
  5. Confidence matters. When you communicate to your soldiers, you have to remain in control and remain confident of success. You don’t start a battle by telling your soldiers ‘if we’re lucky we might win this one’.

And finally, running these campaigns is hard work, particularly if you’ve got a day job! Just check out the times those emails were sent! But it’s also extremely rewarding – we didn’t just raise $30,000 for our garden, we built a whole community around it.

That’s the power of crowdfunding.

– Rob Caslick