How a Small Nonprofit Raised $380K Through International Crowdfunding
The Internet has changed the way we communicate, effectively rendering distance obsolete. Everyone and everything is a click away—so long as there’s Web access—opening new avenues for international fundraising.
One of those avenues is crowdfunding, which can provide a solid secondary revenue stream for organizations of all sizes. Just ask Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH), a small nonprofit based in Arlington, Va.
In need of a funding boost to help expand its education programs in Uganda, AAH needed to look beyond its U.S. donor-base. In partnership with GlobalGiving, a community that provides crowdfunding tools and training for nonprofits, AAH first laid the groundwork for its online fundraising efforts. It asked volunteers and supporters in Uganda and other countries to share stories with friends and family, and on social media, developing a network of support and awareness prior to the campaign. It also reached out to the Ugandan diaspora worldwide, building on the personal connection to the work.
The word-of-mouth approach was a success. The first crowdfunding campaign made a modest $7,000, but subsequent campaigns built upon the buzz, connecting organically with locals and leaning heavily on previous supporters. To date, AAH has raised more than $380,000—the majority of it from former international volunteers, donors who were close to the situation on the ground and saw firsthand the impact of AAH’s work.
“Fundraising overseas may seem overwhelming, but it can be done—even on next to no budget,” said Maureen Dugan, executive director for AAH. “The key for us has been to leverage our U.S. support base and to ask them to share their experiences with [our organization] with friends, family and colleagues overseas. We also actively encourage folks from other countries to go to Uganda to volunteer with us. We follow up with them and encourage them to share their story once they are back home. This has been particularly helpful.”
Related story: International Fundraising: Getting Started in the Big World of Global Giving