Seven years ago, Scot Chisholm’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Not being one to sit around and swim in sadness, Chisholm did what he knew best. He got busy raising funds for cancer research to get involved and work toward a cure, not just for his mom, but for all the others like her.
He started off with what he thought we be an easy event to organize—a pub crawl. In his first event raised $1,000 and, soon, friends and colleagues began asking him to organize these events for other charities. He and business partner, Pat Walsh, began throwing events for a range of nonprofits and even using their business prowess to consult with the organizations. Through these projects, they experienced a constant frustration when it came to the types of software available for fundraising. So they decided to create their own.
StayClassy is an online fundraising platform for nonprofits to raise money and organize their supporters. After years of testing their concept with dozens of nonprofits, their initial idea has evolved into what is now an industry-leading online fundraising solution for charities, foundations, churches, schools, clubs, and more. They are the secret to fundraising success for thousands of organizations nation-wide. StayClassy works with such organizations as Invisible Children, Oxfam America, Pencils of Promise, Quicksilver Foundation, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
StayClassy’s latest evolution is the annual CLASSY Awards, the largest philanthropic award ceremony in the country, which is happening this weekend in San Diego. Hundreds of thousands of votes have been cast and everything will culminate in philanthropy’s biggest night, the CLASSY Awards’ red carpet award ceremony, on September 22.
Chisholm and Walsh continue to expand the ways in which they can help grow, support and raise capital for vital nonprofit organizations through both StayClassy and the CLASSY Awards. In preparing to speak at the CLASSY Awards’ inaugural Collaborative event this week, I dug into their business model and was pleasantly surprised to discover three pillars of uncommon sense in their innovative online methodology for nonprofit fundraising:
1. Make making a difference personal.
For Chisholm, StayClassy was a very personal business idea. His undeniable fervor has poured over into the detail and care with which he has developed their technology platform. He and his army of fundraising experts constantly educate and inspire customers to approach fundraising with the same level of passion and personalization he had during his very first pub crawl.
2. Use the best in technology to help you punch above your weight.
Most people hadn’t heard of Invisible Children or Pencils of Promise when they first signed up on the StayClassy platform. And it’s fair to say that many of the millions of people who have donated to those organizations may not have a clue who StayClassy is, but that’s not the point. StayClassy exists simply to empower non-profit organizations and individual fundraisers with the best fundraising technology available. Period.
3. Get actively connected to the broader community of social entrepreneurs.
It’s easy as a tech startup to spend days and nights behind your oversized Apple screen and invest all of your marketing dollars in PPC and SEO. But StayClassy understands the importance of sitting at the center of this conversation, which is probably one of the reasons the CLASSY Awards exist. Their annual awards not only serves as a great viral marketing engine, but it provides an added value to all of their customers who can come together every year, network, learn from one another and grow stronger through the process.
[Image: Flickr user Hervé BRY]