Open Challenge Success Stories

Read what other Open Challenge participating organizations have done to raise $4,000 from 50 donors and earn a permanent spot on GlobalGiving's site. Use these examples to craft your organization's Open Challenge fundraising strategy!

Make Your Donors an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Organization: Atlas Corps

In 2008, Atlas Corps raised $33,000 from 1,650 people in America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation and Parade Magazine! The organization used several strategies to accomplish this phenomenal task including creating a Youtube video to explain the Challenge to potential donors (watch the video that they used in the 2009 America's Giving Challenge organized by Causes, the Case Foundation, and Parade Magazine), and establishing "Campaign Captains" who each committed to finding at least 10 people to donate.

Most uniquely, one Atlas Corps volunteer came up with an extremely clever and effective incentive: he agreed that if 100 of his friends donated to his project he would ride his bike from Washington, DC to Great Falls, VA (about 18 miles) in his underwear!

This incentive turned out to be extremely effective. Not only did 100 of his friends donate, but the volunteer actually took a nearly naked bike ride. Don’t believe us? Well there’s a Youtube video to prove it.

Check out Atlas Corps’ current project on GlobalGiving.

Teach Your Advocates to Mobilize their Networks

Organization: IMIFAP

IMIFAP was the first place winner in GlobalGiving’s November 2009 Challenge, raising $21,443 from 136 donors! The organization’s 35 staff members were the key drivers of donations to IMIFAP’s project during the Open Challenge. Before the challenge began, the organization taught staff members how to reach out to their personal networks. Shoshana, the project leader, described the main activity in this process as “network mapping” with each staff member. This process helped bring in a number of smaller donors.

With IMIFAP staff leading the charge into bringing in smaller donors during the Open Challenge, the President and Vice President of the IMIFAP also contributed by reaching out to their networks and bringing in higher-level donors. The organization used every channel that was available to them—staff, board members, newsletter subscribers— while competing for the bounties in the challenge.

Learn more about IMIFAP.

Develop a Multi-Faceted Fundraising Strategy

Organization: St. Vincent de Paul Community Development Organization

St. Vincent de Paul Community Development Organization came in third place in GlobalGiving’s November 2009 Open Challenge, raising $15,546 from 238 donors! The organization is a small, Kenya-based organization with a modest list of supporters. They were able to succeed in the Open Challenge by thinking strategically and developing a plan before the Challenge began.

Lucy, the project leader, worked closely with Christina, an American friend and volunteer to set realistic goals. They worked together to reach out to friends, family, and co-workers and got people personally invested in and excited about the success of the project! They emphasized how important it was to them personally that the organization succeed and made personal phone calls and appeals for donations. Being sure to send frequent reminders, Lucy and Christina used the sense of urgency, by stressing the deadline, to compel donors to give now. Finally, Christina also hosted several off-line events during the Challenge, including a garage sale, to raise extra funds for the project.

Visit St. Vincent de Paul Community Development Organization’s current projects. 

Assemble a Core Group of Recruiters

Organization: Critical Exposure

During the 2009 American Open Challenge, Critical Exposure won two prizes, one for the most donations received, 615, and the second for the second largest amount raised, $15, 669. According to Adam, the project leader, the organization accomplished this remarkable feat using three approaches: setting a goal, organizing a core group of recruiters, and stressing the sense of competition.

The staff of Critical Exposure took a critical look at their network and decided to go after the prize for the most donations. Adam explained that their supporters didn’t have a lot to give, but they were passionate about the organization and mobilize a large number of supporters.

With the goal set, Critical Exposure developed a core group of “recruiters,” who were given the task of finding 5 more recruiters, who would then find 5 more recruiters, and so on. To built momentum, the organization established an internal raffle. Anyone who was responsible for bringing 5 donations to the project was eligible for the raffle, the prize for which was a digital camera.

With a raffle in place, and a passionate group of recruiters, Critical Exposure was able to stress the sense of competition among supporters, emphasizing how close their project was to its fundraising goal, and the importance of each, individual donation. Adam says that “people really got into it;” each donor felt like a team player!

Visit Critical Exposure’s current GlobalGiving project.

Target the Diaspora

Organization: Blind People's Association (India)

Blind People’s Association (India) came in second place in the March 2010 Open Challenge, raising $17, 292 from 122 donors! Blind People’s Association (India) decided to reach out to Americans, realizing the value of GlobalGiving’s tax deductibility. As a result, the organization decided to target Indian Diaspora in the United States by encouraging their staff to reach out to friends, family, and networks in America.

Blind People’s Association (India) also put a large emphasis on customer support. Specific staff members were designated for 24/7 support—answering any queries from donors or potential donors and following up with each and every contribution within 24 hours. Bhushan stressed the importance of these follow ups, which acknowledge the donation and provide updated reports on how their money was being spent.

Visit Blind People’s Association (India)’s current projects.

Use Social Media as an Avenue for Personalized Outreach

Organization: Light for Children

Light for Children raised $5,230 from 58 donors in the November 2009 Challenge using Social Media such as Facebook! Sebastian, the organization’s Chairman, outlined what worked for Light for Children during the Open Challenge:

  • Individualized Facebook messages that encourage the receiver to reply!

For example: Hi John; it’s been way too long since we last hung out.  Was it last year or the year before?! Still got that girlfriend of yours?! I’m busy down here in Ghana working with the HIV clinic… We are currently doing a fundraising push so that we can get medicine for children with HIV. Would be cool if you could mobilize your friends… perhaps get your parents to donate. Thanks! Talk soon.

  • Facebook or Skype chat. Use the chat feature on Facebook or Skype to guide your contacts through the donation process. People feel special when you dedicate time to them and they are comfortable to chat. Remember to ask more than just monetary donations – give people options of donating energy, time and their own social network to your cause. It only takes 5 minutes to donate with your Visa!
  • Individualized emails. Dedicate time to write emails with love, utilizing your personality and belief in your own project to win hearts and minds.

On the other hand, Sebastian explained that mass emails were less effective for Light for Children because the receiver didn’t feel the sense of a personal appeal.

Light for Children’s success is a great example of how Social Media can be an important part of an online fundraising campaign!

Visit Light for Children’s current projects on GlobalGiving.