Case Study: Urgent Action Fund Engages And Inspires New And Active Supporters

Urgent Action Fund launched their first-ever crowdfunding campaign on Razoo in the Spring of 2015 to celebrate and honor mothers by raising funds for women’s human rights defenders. Beginning in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, the campaign exceeded its goal and raised $5,040 for support a rapid action grant to evacuate two young girls in distress in Afghanistan.

This campaign, branded: Celebrate Mothers. Celebrate Activists. created an inspiring and engaging message to active supporters and engage new donors.

Campaign Strategy

With a mission to support women and girls standing up for equality, Urgent Action Fund uses online, text and mobile funding applications to provide rapid grants — up to $5,000 — to support women’s rights activists around the world, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Iraq, Russia and other countries where women are most targeted. This Mother’s Day, they created a an online crowdfunding campaign to fund their next rapid grant.

Due to the nature of their rapid response programming, they did not know what the grant would be used for while they were fundraising. Because they could not describe exactly where the funds would go, they made the campaign more tangible in two key ways. The first was to connect the donor’s gift to the Mother’s Day holiday, and create a time sensitive and specific ask, linked to a donor’s emotional connect to their own mother, or a strong woman in their life. The second step was to highlight the amazing stories of recent grantees, to provide historical impact of their successful work. They took the opportunity to share personal stories about how their organization has been making a difference in the lives of women who are constantly under attack.

This story like Zarmina’s below, created a strong personal connection between these donors looking to honor their mothers with these strong activist women around the world.

“Zarmina, according to her family, is “the only girl working outside, the one who did not stay traditional.” But to the Taliban, she was a threat, because she advocated for and trained women police o cers, and because she had assisted an American reporter with a story. In July 2014, Zarmina received a “night letter” from the Taliban, a death threat. It was marked “№185”. The 184 previous recipients of the night letters were all dead. Urgent Action Fund provided funding that enabled Zarmina to evacuate from Afghanistan and pursue an asylum request.”

Once UAF developed their messaging and theme for this campaign, they used multiple channels to spread the word. Rather than sending blast communications to all of their supporters at once, they segmented their database to send more targeted communications to specific groups. UAF also secured a matching grant for this campaign, which was then displayed on the Mightycause fundraising page and built into communications strategy to highlight this “double-impact” opportunity.

Beyond developing a strong theme and inspiring messaging, this campaign called supporters to three distinct calls to action, each a hallmark of the power of crowdfunding. On their Mightycause fundraising page, and built into their messaging, UAF called supporters to: donate, share via social and create peer-to-peer fundraisers on their behalf. The potential of crowdfunding differs from traditional fundraising models in the desire to be social. Through organic social media reach and shares, a campaign story and ask can for far beyond the organization, and spread virally to net networks of potential supporters.

Peer-to-peer fundraising just takes this concept to it’s next step. Instead of just spreading the word, P2P fundraising allows for nonprofits to empower the individuals that support them most to leverage their networks to raise more funds and engage new donors by activating their personal networks on behalf of the organization.

The Impact

This campaign raised approximately $3,900 from 35 donors in just 72 hours. In less than 2 weeks, they were able to reach their goal of raising $5,000+ by Mother’s Day to support women and girls standing up for equality. All told they had 60 individual supporters, with over half being new donors to the organization.

After the funds had been raised, Urgent Action Fund received a grant request from a women’s rights organization based in Afghanistan. This group was requesting financial support to rescue two sisters, who were daughters of a prominent activist leader. They were starting to receive threats against their lives, making daily activities, such as attending school, too risky to continue. Even more harrowing, the same extremist group making these threats had murdered their mother in 2012 for her commitment to advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan. Urgent Action Fund used the funds raised from the campaign to make a rapid grant to evacuate the girls to safety. In addition to being safe, these two girls were able to return to school, and will continue the legacy of their mother to protect and advance the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

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