This post was co-authored by Miyoko Brunner, External Relations Senior Coordinator.

While nonprofits certainly need support in ways other than monetary contributions, we cannot accomplish our goals if we don’t have the funding. We love our spring fundraising campaigns because they provide an opportunity for WITNESS supporters of all levels to contribute based on their capacity and have their support multiplied. But what about reaching new audiences through a campaign whose primary goal is to raise money? Can it be done? And just because you can, should you?

Donations vs. Awareness?

As mentioned in our last post, our pro-bono team at the advertising agency RAPP did a great job incorporating our two-fold campaign goals of raising funds and awareness into the video they created for Project: FOCUS (watch a short excerpt below). We want the viewer to donate, but also to join a community of engaged supporters who want to learn more and stay involved.

RAPP essentially created a mini website for the project (we even got shortlisted for the FWA Awards). The site opens with a personal story from a survivor of a human rights violation, filmed by a WITNESS partner, then unfolds into a carousel through which the user can scroll to read about and watch video from a number of current and past partnerships. At any time, the user can click to donate on our Crowdrise project page.

Think Outside the Box

To ensure that WITNESS’ mission was clearly articulated throughout the entire user experience, we did something that makes many organizations a little uncomfortable – we allowed an external source (RAPP) to talk about our work in their words. We educated the RAPP team on our various programs, from our partnerships to the camera app we are currently developing with The Guardian Project, and then waited to see how they interpreted our materials.

Keeping our messaging accessible is a constant challenge. We are faced with keeping language fresh and interesting while presenting the full scope of WITNESS’ campaigns and initiatives in a way that is comprehensible at a glance. So it was helpful to see how RAPP chose to communicate what we do. Their messaging focused on the power of the viewer to make a difference. The user makes a choice whether or not to navigate their way through the site – choosing whether to proceed through the video, learn more, see more videos, share and/or donate. The site emphasizes the role of visual imagery in catalyzing change, reinforcing that video is often the first step towards fostering dialogue and accountability around a human rights issue.

The ability to easily access and share a wide range of WITNESS campaigns has proved successful for us thus far. We are currently 27 days into our campaign and we’ve raised $55,972 or 80% of our $70,000 goal. And perhaps more compelling, the majority of Project: FOCUS supporters are first time contributors!

Events Can Accomplish Both Goals

We had a chance to engage with some of these supporters on Monday, May 16th at a Project: FOCUS event at the Empire Hotel Rooftop in New York City. The event was a successful fundraiser, raising $5,000 for our spring challenge, but was also great opportunity for WITNESS staff to connect with our local community of supporters on a personal level in an informal atmosphere (thus increasing awareness). Check out pictures from the night here:

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped share and support Project: FOCUS. There is still time left to take advantage of the challenge – thanks to a generous supporter all donations are matched dollar for dollar through June 3rd.

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