The Campus Kitchens Projects’ 2017 “Raise the Dough” campaign raised over $50,000 in just one week

The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger by engaging the next generation of community activists. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CKP partners with schools to share an on-campus kitchen space, recover food, and get student volunteers involved in the fight against hunger by preparing and delivering food in their communities. CKP has over 60 partners in high schools and colleges throughout the United States, and each year they bring them all together to raise money for continuing their mission and expanding their reach with the Raise the Dough Challenge.

A CKP mentor helps a student volunteer prepare for a chili cookoff

In 2017, the Raise the Dough Challenge raised over $50,000 for CKP in one week. Here’s how they did it.

The Campaign

CKP has been using team fundraising on Razoo to bring their campuses together for the Raise the Dough Challenge since 2013. Each participating campus has their own Mightycause page, and they compete against one another to raise the most money for their nonprofit. The Challenge lasts for a week in February.

The Raise the Dough Challenge not only, well, raises dough for CKP, it gets CKP’s student volunteers involved in fundraising and rallying support for the cause.

The Challenge continues to grow with each year. In 2013, the Challenge’s first year on Mightycause, just five campuses participated and raised over $36,000. This year, the Challenge had 27 campuses participating and raised over $50,000.

Planning for the Raise the Dough Challenge

Annie Wheeler, the Community Engagement Coordinator at CKP’s Washington D.C. headquarters, manages the Raise the Dough Challenge with support from her team at headquarters and campus mentors.

“We start off by doing a webinar in January,” Wheeler told Mightycause. “It’s a welcome-back after winter break for students and acts as an introduction and refresher.” The webinar is recorded so it can be used as a resource for campuses throughout the campaign.

Shortly after the kick-off webinar, campuses sign up to participate in the Raise the Dough Challenge. “By February, we have a good idea of who is participating,” according to Wheeler.

Wheeler takes a hands-on approach to getting everyone set up on Mightycause: “I create pages for all the participating campuses, and make sure the branding is consistent across the board. We make sure everyone has access to the logo, and then before the fundraiser kicks off, we give them access to their pages so they can share it and get things going.” Wheeler finds that giving the campuses access to their page at the right time is important to making sure teams don’t jump the gun soliciting donations: “We do have be careful about opening them up too early so we don’t get donations too early.”

Raise the Dough Challenge 2017

Wheeler also creates toolkits for participating campuses. The Raise the Dough Challenge toolkit acts as a one-stop shop for anything campuses might need throughout the campaign. It contains a timeline, sample emails and social media posts, best practices, tips for winning, and basic information about using the Mightycause platform. “We try to give them tools and resources that will help them succeed.”

Wheeler also makes sure to spotlight success stories from previous Challenges. “Now that we’re a few years into this, we have examples of success. We have a couple of schools that do really well and we make sure to ask what they did.” Wheeler then shares those stories with participants to help inspire them as they get ready to fundraise.

Keeping campuses engaged

Leading up to the campaign, Wheeler emails participants on a weekly basis, then ramps it up to daily emails once the Raise the Dough Challenge begins. “I send out regular emails with tips and tricks and things along those lines to help them out. I usually send them mid-week.” The daily emails are “short and sweet,” Wheeler said, and mainly consist of updates on the competition.

The emails have also be used to encourage competition — Wheeler and CKP raised the stakes for two campuses that were neck-and-neck on the leaderboard by issuing a challenge. “The loser had to wear a carrot costume at our annual awards event.”

Being a consistent presence in the participants’ inboxes served another purpose during the campaign: setting Wheeler up as a resource for them. “It reminded them that I was there for them.”

CKP also uses prizes to keep fundraisers motivated. “We have prizes for each place on the top three spots on the leaderboard, plus a prize for the campus that brought in the most donors,” Wheeler told us. “1st place wins $1,000, 2nd place wins $500, and 3rd place wins $100.” The campus that brings in the most donors wins $750. The prize money comes from CKP’s general fund.

In 2017, securing a matching grant proved to be a powerful motivator for participating campuses. “One cool thing that happened this year was that we were able to partner with Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund,” Wheeler told us. Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist. “They matched donations up to a $100 up to a total of $7,500.” The matching grant was fulfilled in just one day. “That was crazy and exciting!”

The matching grant also “added a level of complexity in terms of how to sell it and communicate with people about it,” according to Wheeler. “There were some questions about what kind of donations were matched,” she said.

In order to ensure that all participating campuses and donors understood the rules and terms of the match, Wheeler prepared sample emails and social media posts for the campuses that clearly communicated how the matching grant worked. “The message was ready to go” in the resources Wheeler created, leaving the campuses free to focus on promoting it and getting the message out to their supporters.

Growing bigger each year

One of the keys to the continued success of the Raise the Dough Challenge, according to Wheeler, is taking a long, hard look at each year’s campaign once it’s over. “What’s happened over time is that we’ve honed into the strengths of the campaign,” Wheeler told us. “We became bigger and stronger by thinking carefully about what worked and what didn’t. I think that’s the biggest key to how we’ve changed and evolved.”

CKP is also committed to finding the bright spots of campus’ campaigns and sharing success stories to help inspire other campuses. “We focus on pushing things that have been successful in the past. We’ve been building on the success of each year.”

Bumps in the road

Since the Raise the Dough campaign has been running since 2013, Wheeler and the rest of the CKP crew have the team fundraising game figured out. “We didn’t hit too many snags,” Wheeler said.

They do encounter some challenges that are common for team fundraisers, though. “I think the biggest challenge we face is making sure that everyone gets engaged, and then getting that last push to the finish line.” Wheeler does all she can to keep all of the participating campuses on board, but there are often a few stragglers who need some extra support to meet their goals. “There were a couple of schools that didn’t really jump on board.”

One of the top teams’ cover photos

Even with a few campuses lagging behind, this year’s Raise the Dough Challenge far exceeded its funding goal of $42,000, raising over $50,000.

Advice for team organizers

Wheeler credits the success of the Raise the Dough campaign to planning, setting each campus up for success by providing resources and support, and a willingness to roll with the punches. Her biggest piece of advice for nonprofits dipping their toes into team fundraising for the first time? “Be prepared for any outcome!”

“You might have teams who bail out at the last minute or don’t perform,” Wheeler explained. “But just being prepared will make you more successful,” she said. Being armed with plans to keep the campaign rolling and focusing on solutions that keep campuses moving toward their funding goals has been key for CKP. “Think through all the possible outcomes, or at least as many outcomes as you can think of. Think about how you’re pushing the engagement, as well as what happens if you blow the lid off your goal early.”

Wheeler also recommends mentally readying yourself for the day a team campaign goes live. “Prepare yourself for that first day!” Wheeler described the first day of the Raise the Dough Challenge as busy and exciting and remembers watching the donation counter on the team page anxiously.

Ultimately, the success of the Raise the Dough Challenge rests with the campuses themselves. “The schools with more enthusiastic bases raise more money,” Wheeler explained. Getting them excited and pumped for the Challenge is what organizing a team fundraiser is all about: “If you’re excited about it, others will be excited about it too. It comes through.”

Learn more about the Campus Kitchens Project on their website, and learn more about team fundraising on Mightycause to get ready for your own team campaign!

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