What is the problem?
As the full-scale war began, the military had numerous needs that the state could not fulfill for various reasons. Volunteers, public organizations, and charitable foundations stepped in to support the army. Research shows that in 2022, the number of registered charitable organizations in Ukraine increased nearly eightfold, with 6,367 new charities opened.
Many volunteers, charitable foundations, and public organizations actively gather donations for Ukraine's armed forces, such as local military needs and humanitarian assistance. On the surface, the rise in fees for essential items is a positive development. However, abundant similar advertisements can lead to "advertising blindness." When people encounter multiple almost identical events on their Facebook or other social media feeds, they become desensitized and view them as typical campaign flyers.
Therefore, there is a high probability that the crucial and essential campaign could easily be overlooked. Consequently, potential donors may not be attracted to these events with sufficient attention. This leads to the pressing question: how can the campaign be effectively arranged to grab people's attention and motivate them to contribute, either financially or through spreading the word?
What is the solution?
It may sound odd, but there is actually a science behind effectively closing fundraising campaigns. A large part of the success lies in how the campaign is presented and in establishing proper communication with the audience. Nadiia Pikul, the head of the "Dopovidai" project, and Serhiy Lukachko, executive director of the initiative, shared with Rubryka some techniques and helpful tips that can aid the creators of fundraisers for the military in reaching their goals.
How does it work?
"Dopovidai" is a non-profit public organization that offers a platform for authors to publish collections for the benefit of the military and assists in securing collective funding for projects proposed by the authors.
The crowdfunding platform "Dopovidai" was derived from the Ukrainian abbreviation "ДОПОМогу-ВІйськовим-ДАЙ," which translates to "Provide Help to Military." It originated from the "My City" public projects accelerator, established eight years ago by the IT group "Netpeak Group." In the past year alone, the platform has raised over UAH 11 million for humanitarian and military assistance projects. Due to the increasing number of fundraisers for Ukraine's armed forces, the "My City" team decided to divide their areas of operation at the beginning of 2023. While "My City" will continue to execute significant social projects, a separate platform called "Dopovidai" will now focus on military fundraisers.
"We created this platform to assist public organizations and non-profit foundations in raising funds for our defenders' needs," Serhiy Lukachko, director of the "Vidpovidai" platform, says: "We all know about major funds like "Save Life in UA," "Serhiy Prytula Foundation," and "Hospitaliers," which gather billions to aid the military – and that's fantastic. However, countless local volunteers and small foundations emerged in 2022, tirelessly working to fulfill daily requests in their communities. It was crucial for us to lend a helping hand and serve as a support system for these individuals."
The "Vidpovidai" platform verifies organizations and individuals who submit projects and enters into an official agreement with them. This agreement requires the project authors to provide updates on the use of funds and ensure that they are directed toward the specific needs of the military. Drawing on their extensive experience, the Dopovidai team also assists authors with fundraising and providing legal and accounting support.
The platform provides authors with their own checklists and instructions on how to raise funds effectively. The manual also includes a list of social activities, ranging from promoting one's collection on social media to reporting to donors. These guidelines can benefit anyone who starts a campaign for projects contributing to Ukraine's victory.
What are the pieces of advice of the creators of the "Dopovidai" platform?
Where to begin?
The initial step is to make a precise and consistent post. Clearly state the individual or cause for which you are raising funds, and provide their background information and current situation. Be specific about the purpose of the funds and why it is crucial.
Concise and straightforward writing
Every collection is essential, both to its creator and in general. However, it is unnecessary to highlight this in the title or description. Similarly, using all capital letters or excessive exclamation marks will not garner the desired attention. Instead, a concise and attention-grabbing title could evoke emotion or pique the reader's interest more effectively.
Another crucial aspect of any collection post is its content. Rather than including a lengthy explanation of why this specific car was chosen for the collection over others, providing a concise overview of its technical details is more effective.
"The project's brief description is crucial, as not everyone is willing to read a lengthy one. To engage people's interest, it should provide a comprehensive overview of the project in just a few sentences. For instance, if it involves raising funds for a car, the description should mention the type of car, its destination, the required budget, and the significance of supporting the project. We kindly request that all relevant publicly shared details be included," Serhiy Lukachko says.
Tell the story
Boring statistics won't captivate people's attention. That's why experts suggest having volunteers share stories on the "Dopovidai" platform. Share your own story – why this event is important and the story of the individual you want to support. Including a brief video or photo of the person who will receive the car or other donations will grab attention and help make a connection.
"When people come across posts about car collections on social media, they're not supporting the car collection itself — they're supporting the emotions that this or that post evoked. We know there are many similar fundraisers, especially for things like cars, generators, Starlinks, and wheels because they can be expensive. However, the authors can use this chance to express their true motivation and personal story, explaining why they want to help their loved ones. Because often, the individuals for whom the funds are being raised are close to the heart – they are friends, family members, or acquaintances, and their stories are incredibly diverse," Serhiy explains.
Serhiy Lukachko also suggests that the story should not be simply a long block of text but rather consist of 2-3 paragraphs accompanied by a short video address. This approach would yield more impactful outcomes.
Beginning a collection is only half the challenge. It's a common issue among new volunteers that after publishing their collection, they tend to neglect it and let it run its course. However, promoting the fundraiser is crucial.
Today, you could send a request to repost to several dozen friends. Tomorrow, you might write a letter appealing for help in collecting from several entrepreneurs. Another day, you could hold a raffle and offer a prize as a donation. By constantly reminding and keeping the collection "alive," there will be a better chance of closing it successfully and quickly.
Make sure to utilize social media platforms to promote your initiative actively. Get your family, friends, and coworkers involved and ask them to share information with their social networks. Create a concise press release and send it to local news outlets. Share an update on your progress and express gratitude to those who have already contributed to the collection.
Don't complain, and try not to get angry
Serhiy Lukachko suggests that if fundraising is not progressing, one should refrain from expressing frustration and directing it toward subscribers in the post. It would be more beneficial to ask for assistance and provide a step-by-step guide on how they can help. Serhiy personally learned this helpful tip through his own experience.
"We had an urgent fundraiser that we were hesitant to back. I expressed my sadness over this because it was a very important cause. As a result, people started asking how they could support it. I later realized that people needed instructions."
There's no need to be scared either
Many local volunteers and organizations may hesitate to seek help from businesses or entrepreneurs for fear of rejection. However, it should be noted that while larger companies typically support significant funds, they may be unable to assist with more minor, local requests. Therefore, it could be beneficial for these individuals to consider contacting a traditional Odesa coffee shop or a small IT company in Lviv without hesitation.
Compile a roster of 10-15 companies within your city that have the potential to offer support. Extend an invitation to these companies to promote your brand on their social media platforms and allocate a percentage of their profits toward the successful closure of your collection within a specified timeframe. Often, business owners may be willing to assist but are unaware of your situation until you share your story and make your needs known.
Serhiy Lukachko emphasizes the significance of building a community around oneself: "Currently, Vasia has made a charitable donation, and shortly, he will offer his development services for free, as he is a skilled developer. Alternatively, an individual has generously contributed 500 hryvnias and will assist in procuring a car from abroad. It is imperative to gather individuals and collaborate with them, as besides monetary contributions, people often display a willingness to offer physical assistance or aid in fundraising efforts but are unsure of how to do so. Cooperation is essential in achieving successful outcomes, as working together strengthens us."
Each cup of coffee sold contributes funds towards purchasing a car for Ukraine's armed forces. The picture is illustrative.
"Dopovidai" strongly recommends incorporating additional activities into the collection and offering specific rewards for good deeds. For instance, a sleeve engraving the project or charity fund could be given to individuals who donate 1,000 hryvnias. In comparison, a Russian dry ration could be provided to those who donate 5,000 hryvnias. Such incentives will prove to be highly effective and enjoyable for participants.
"Individuals will have a sense of involvement in this narrative. Possessing a military cartridge at home or work is a constant reminder of one's contribution to the project. This is far more gratifying than simply paying a fee and awaiting a final report. The feeling of belonging is crucial. This is evidenced by the popularity of items such as "Azovstal" bracelets [bracelets made of steel from Azovstal, a plant in Mariupol; the Battle of Azovstal took place on the site, resulting in the Ukrainian defenders finally surrendering after over a month of resistance – ed.] or "Mits" salt [the last batch of salt from Soledar, currently occupied by the Russians – ed.], serving as tangible mementos. These items don't need to be professional merchandise; rather, they should hold personal significance to the creator or be connected to the military, the intended beneficiary of the collection," Serhiy Lukachko suggests.
Reporting is important
Benefactors must clearly understand how their donated funds were utilized and who benefitted from them. Not only does this contribute to a positive reputation, but it also encourages continued donations. Additionally, the trust earned by adequately acknowledging the use of funds can attract new donors. It is essential to send a message of gratitude to all donors and provide them with a report detailing the allocation of the funds after the fundraiser concludes. This level of appreciation and transparency can inspire ongoing support for the organization.
A lone soldier on the battlefield is not truly a warrior
Volunteering is incredibly challenging, and not everyone participating can fully grasp their capabilities. Over a year after its commencement, the extensive invasion has left many volunteers feeling drained and lacking motivation. It can be overwhelming to organize and conduct a successful fundraiser independently. This is why seeking aid from crowdfunding platforms, influential figures, or even trusted allies is crucial.
Does it really work?
Thanks to the "Dopovidai" platform, numerous volunteers have procured essential military equipment and ammunition. This includes items such as shoes, thermal imagers, drones, and ambulances for combat medics. The platform has raised over 4 million hryvnias for nearly 40 projects.
Serhiy shares a story that left a strong impression on him. Right at the beginning of the "Dopovidai" project, they opened a collection to raise funds for a car for a paramedic. Despite facing continuous communication challenges (since the paramedic they bought the car for was stationed in a high-risk zone), they successfully managed to carry out the project.
"In his own car, one of our acquaintances bravely rescued soldiers in tough conditions. In just one day, our car collection effort managed to raise 145 thousand hryvnias. One foundation even offered to simply donate a car because this story was so heartwarming and in line with the current trend. But the most uplifting part was that the car owner we collected for remained positive and dedicated to his work despite all the difficulties. People like him provide motivation and inspiration to keep going."
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