Ep101: DonorsChoose.org Talks Flash-Funding, Building Successful Corporate Partnerships

Today on CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Missy Sherburne, Chief Partnerships Officer at DonorsChoose.org, about their fundraising success with flash-funding, crowdfunding and corporate partnerships.

The Rise of Flash-Funding

One recent development has been flash-funding, which is when a funder supports every project within a specific area. For example, a woman in California called DonorsChoose.org and asked if she could fund every project in the state. A few calculations later, a $1.2 million dollar check was enroute to DonorsChoose.org.

This spring, Google funded every project in the Bay Area, and also introduced it to other markets. Flash- funding is quickly becoming the new "Giving Day"!

Why Does Crowdfunding Work So Well at DonorsChoose.org?

When DonorsChoose.org opened shop in 2000, no one, including president Charles Best, expected the nonprofit and crowdfunding to be such a bit hit. "We had no idea that it would be this movement that would impact so many industries and individuals," said Missy.

DonorsChoose.org was built on transparency, choice and accountability - and these are the same attributes that make every crowdfunding model successful.

DonorsChoose.org may be unique in that it attracts donors of all ages, and not just the Millennials that crowdfunding is often associated. "I would guess that our average supporter is in her 40's and 50's," said Missy. "But it depends on the campaign."

"Even our teachers skew older than expected," said Missy. "It's not about technology. It's about teachers who want the best for their students. Our platform helps them achieve their goals."

Sonic Limeades for Learning

On September 24th, SONIC Drive-In announced its 6th Annual Limeades for Learning campaign. 

To kick off this year’s campaign, SONIC is flash-funding a classroom project for all eligible teachers in its hometown, Oklahoma City. A total of 68 Oklahoma City teachers and 2,040 students will benefit from these funds, totaling over $40,000.

In 2014, more than a half million dollars in SONIC donations will go toward public school classroom projects around the country this year.

Sonic is a great example of how companies can use DonorsChoose.org's open API to easily share projects on any web site.

DonorsChoose.org Guide to Recruiting Corporate Partners

DonorsChoose.org's success recruiting corporate partners is impressive. Just check out some of the companies on this page.

Missy had good news and bad news for cause marketers. The good news is that with a lot of hard work you can recruit corporate partners. The bad news is that it never gets easier.

"I wish we didn't have to spend so much time calling new companies," explained Missy. "Throughout our 14 years we've kept up an aggressive outreach strategy."

Missy offered several suggestions and tips for recruiting corporate partners.

1. Focus, focus, focus. At DonorsChoose.org they give a laser-like focus to just 20 key corporate prospects. Do you know who your top corporate prospects are?

2. Never stop learning. Thanks to the web and social media, there's no good reason not to know everything about a company. DonorsChoose.org learns as much as they can from as many sources as possible. Still, face time is critical, so use meetings to ask good questions to gather additional insights.

4. Know a company's "hot spots." These are the places for opportunity and partnership. Stay focused on how you can help them. Think win-win before, during and after the meeting.

This is a great show with lots of teachable moments - something you would expect from an organization like DonorsChoose.org!

Tune in now.