Launched last year by two female founders, The Adventure Project is a nonprofit leveraging the power of micro-giving to support social enterprises in developing countries. Jody Landers, a blogger with six kids and Becky Straw, Charity: Water’s former director of water programs, co-founded the nonprofit because of their passion to build a space where small donations could create big impact for social enterprise.
After The Adventure Project raised an impressive $50,000 dollars in a single day, I asked Landers and Straw for their top tips (in their own words) for creating a successful online campaign.
Over 30% of the wells in India and Africa are broken. Most wells break within the first two years, and there are no mechanics or spare parts to fix them. So we were inspired to create a movement geared towards filling an important niche. We created a partnership with Water for People, with a goal of helping them to hire and train 186 well mechanics in rural India. Once those mechanics are trained and working, they can sustainably provide clean water for 930,000 people.
March 22nd is World Water Day, which was a perfect opportunity for us to rally for this cause. We have a great partnership with The Prem Rawat Foundation (which has been funding water programs internationally for many years), and they agreed to match all donations raised within 24 hours up to $25,000. It gave our supporters a common mission and deadline. As the clock ticked down, the excitement grew, and we were able to track our donors scrambling to help meet our goal through our Facebook page and Twitter hashtag.
Instead of coming to our donors with a detailed impact report, we distilled and shared only the key facts. We kept the message consistent and easy, saying, “It only takes $550 dollars for you to help one person to become a well mechanic in India. That person will receive the tools and training to maintain 50 wells, ensuring clean, sustainable water for 5,000 people.”
Obviously, there’s a lot more to this business model, but we didn’t want to bog down the reader with everything but the kitchen sink. We wanted individuals to feel empowered by a simple solution and understand the basic facts.
Ten days before World Water Day, we actively began the campaign internally. We have only 1,600 email subscribers and 2,000 donors. Without a huge donor base, we had to reach people personally. We’re not confrontational about it, but we get our greatest response rate when we email people directly, instead of through email blasts. It takes a lot of time on our part, but it’s worth it. The night before World Water Day, we had enlisted 200 people who agreed to blog or share our message online. Those 200 people were the key drivers behind the campaign’s reach, directly driving $14,000 in donations to their personal fundraising pages.
We created an assets page that included banner ads, facts about the issue, sample tweets, and even a button to our Pinterest board full of water images. The goal was to make it easy for our supporters to grab and share the message. On World Water Day we had three interns staged to thank donors via email, while attaching a Facebook cover image. The goal was to make donors feel appreciated and part of our team.
To be honest, we were both extremely nervous to launch such an ambitious goal, and were unsure if we’d make it. But by 11 p.m., we had crossed the $25,000 mark, which triggered the matching grant from TPRF; over 500 individuals contributed. The $50,000 will create 100 jobs for future well mechanics, bringing sustainable water to nearly half a million people in rural India. It was a phenomenal example of how social media can impact social enterprise.
Thus far, The Adventure Project has raised over $67,000, which will create 122 jobs in rural India. Their goal is to reach $102,300, which will create 186 jobs for well mechanics (the operational capacity of the program this year). To check out The Adventure Project’s progress, visit their fundraising page.