This month’s Org of the Month is Epic Change. This non-profit is a pioneer in online fundraising and has a lot of really great things to say. Below is a short YouTube video about the organization.
Help Epic Change right now. Visit Ideablob where Epic Change is competing to win $10,000. Vote on the Ideablob site for Epic Change to help them win.
What is your non-profit about? And what areas do you serve?
Epic Change helps hopeful people in need share their “epic” true stories in innovative, creative and profitable ways to help them acquire the financial resources they need to create positive “change” in their communities. We use donations to provide interest-free loans to local grassroots leaders to finance their community improvement efforts. We then facilitate loan repayment by collaborating with our partners to share their stories through products that generate income. Finally, we “pay it forward” by recycling repaid loans to help fund Epic Change in other communities. Our first project is focused on rebuilding and expanding a primary school in Arusha, Tanzania.
What are the major fundraising programs you have?
Our 501(c)(3) status was approved only about six months ago, and so far we’ve raised nearly $40,000, primarily through small individual gifts made online from our families, friends and colleagues. These gifts have been enabled through the use of a suite of online tools from Network for Good and Facebook to Care2 and LinkedIn. We recently won a $1,000 grant from the Case Foundation and raised over $6,000 in about three weeks through our successful participation in America’s Giving Challenge; we were in the top 5% of nearly 500 participating US-based nonprofits. We always have our eyes out for interesting opportunities; we’re participating in the Ideablob competition right now and we’re submitting an entry to the NetSquared MashedUp contest as well.
While our next steps are to cultivate local fundraising chapters from our current list of supporters, and to reach out to corporate donors and granting organizations for additional seed money, we’re hoping that in the next 3-5 years, we’ll be able to generate the majority of our income through loan repayments and the sales of Epic Change products based on the stories of the people we serve.
What geographic area does your charity serve and where is it located?
Epic Change is a registered 501(c)(3) located in Florida. While our first project is located in Arusha, Tanzania, our next project location is unknown. We imagine that the repayment of our original loan to a school in Tanzania may, for example, eventually fund a clinic in Peru, an orphanage in Eastern Europe or even a program for the homeless in the US. So, the impact of donations to Epic Change are not limited to a particular geographic region.
Any tips on how to approach donors in your area?
Actually, given what we’ve learned so far, and the premise on which our entire model is based, I believe the best way to approach donors in any area is with a detailed, well-told story that personally connects potential donors to your cause, which echoes recent research by Wharton marketing professor Deborah Small. That said, I believe there’s a delicate balance to be played when telling stories to generate interest and encourage donorship. Most non-profits also have compelling stories of happiness, transformation and hope to share. It seems to me that hope and inspiration may be more powerful tools in cultivating potential donors than fear, guilt and sadness.
For one example, check out this story about Glory, a 9-year-old girl who attends the school we’re building in Tanzania. While her incredibly difficult situation is presented realistically, the story is primarily one of optimism and hope. Glory’s story was taken from a blog entry I wrote during our last trip to Tanzania. To me, a blog that’s updated frequently is the single best way to keep donors involved in the story of your organization and the impact of your work. Of course, for donors who aren’t RSS feeders, blog entries can serve as the basis for emails or mailings as well.