#GivingTuesday: The Power of Crowdfunding, Social Media and Collaboration

Without an operating room, anesthesia, recovery unit or air-conditioning, the small clinic in the town of Montrouis, Haiti makes the most of its limited resources to provide disadvantaged Haitians with medical care.

On a trip to Haiti that included a visit to the Life Connection Mission, Megan Silk found herself in the middle of a procedure to remove a local woman’s cancerous tumor that was larger than the volunteer American doctor and non-medical personnel on-hand had expected. Megan Silk can’t forget the woman, who died two months following the mastectomy. That’s why she gives to the Life Connection Mission, she says, “to change the lives of the people in Haiti and give back to the place that changed my life.”   

Megan Silk’s account, captured by #MyGivingStory, is a thread within the fabric of #GivingTuesday, a global charitable campaign designated for the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which, along with the United Nations Foundation, designated the 24-hour period as a time for consumers to encourage each other through social media to donate their time, talents or cash to a cause or organization. 

From cash to the American Red Cross to clothing for the homeless, #GivingTuesday has emerged as an annual international, philanthropic ritual falling on the heels of the busiest shopping days of the year. As a prelude to the frenzy of giving that takes place just before the end of the year, #GivingTuesday ignited $168 million in charitable donations worldwide last season, up 44 percent from 2015. Meanwhile, volunteers pledged thousands of hours to assist their neighbors and those in need.

With the clock ticking toward #GivingTuesday, Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform UHelp.com, said many businesses, nonprofits and civic organizations across the world are scrambling to put their benevolent campaigns in order. The key to finding the perfect place on which to host #GivingTuesday campaigns is research. Compare the options and select the platform best suited for the cause.

“#GivingTuesday is all about spreading the word,” said Hikind. “So, connecting with potential donors at the right time through email, social media and online content is a strategy in itself.”

The global day of giving, she said, is also a good time to integrate social media campaigns and evaluate current strategies, including branding measures, fees, data-gathering mechanisms and overall support.

“There are so many opportunities, including prizes and promotions, for groups to get more out of #GivingTuesday and raise extra funds,” said Hikind. “Send updates often and don’t forget to say thank you throughout the campaign.”

Megan Silk keeps a photo on the inside cover of her notebook of the deceased Haitian woman she had briefly crossed paths with at the Life Connection Mission. In the days since, the struggling clinic, as a result of crowdfunding, now has a full-time Haitian doctor and a nurse. Silk still wonders if the woman would have survived if she had regular access to hospitals and doctors.

“I hope to see it thrive and help more and more people,” said Silk. “That is why I give to Life Connection Mission."

Where should I start my fundraiser?

About the Author: This Research Associate completed a comparison of all crowdfunding websites.



Strategies for Moving Community Service into Action  

Taking initiative to give back to the community is rewarding and fulfilling in so many ways. Besides the altruistic reasons, personal benefits can be gained as well.

Amanda Chen, in the Huffington Post, finds that generosity can lower stress levels, and lead to more happiness at work and a longer life. Consider these strategies to utilize community service to help others as well as yourself.

  1. Volunteer time with the elderly: Many senior centers have programs that offer young people time to spend with the elderly in a community setting where visitors may not be frequent. Every nursing home or senior community center has different rules, but reaching out to staff to express a desire to volunteer is a good place to start. Stories that these older people share are often inspirational. I have volunteered in nursing homes and have found that these stories are abundant, interesting and educational.
  2. Offer free tutoring to elementary or high school students: One great way to give back may is offer expertise as a tutor in math, English or social studies. Many students need help with homework, or studying for a test. A tutor often increases both a student’s knowledge and confidence in the subject. Call the school’s tutoring center or responsible faculty to learn how to help.
  3. Volunteer with a nonprofit that sends packages to troops overseas: Many organizations including Operation Gratitude and Operation Troop Support collect items for servicemen and women. Men and women who serve in the armed forces sacrifice comfort and risk their lives to protect the freedom of all Americans. Coordinating the delivery of care packages is a great way to give back and show support and appreciation for all they do.

Don’t put off giving back. Create a community service crowdfunding campaign and invite close family members, friends and coworkers who are supportive of your cause to join your team. We recommend adding at least three members to help divide the work for your daily marketing campaign. Ask them to make a small $5 or $10 contribution to help kick off your community service campaign. You will always have the personalized support of UHelp, our free crowdfunding platform.


About the Author: Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for www.UHelp.com



There’s no Place like Crowdfunding: Smithsonian Clicking Heels to Hip Hop

When Hollywood’s most famous footwear needed a little polishing, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History turned to crowdfunding to rehab Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

The world’s largest museum and research complex is clicking its heels again, this time to the tune of hip-hop.

Energized by previous campaigns, the Smithsonian added some bounce to its fundraising steps earlier this month by surpassing a crowdfunding goal of $250,000 that is required to produce a major anthology of the history of hip-hop and rap.

The partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture seeks to create an anthology of more than 120 tracks on nine CDs as well as a 300-page book with essays, liner notes and never-before-published images – all examining the musical, cultural and social force of hip-hop.

Drawing upon the likes of old-school pioneers, such as the Sugarhill Gang and Roxanne Shante’ up through Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, the collection will offer a “perspective on the African-American experience and its impact on American culture.”

For a pledge of $10,000, donors can take one friend for a tour through the NMAAHC guided by Questlove, an American percussionist, DJ, record producer and journalist. Other gifts, including a copy of the anthology for a donation of $100, are more affordable.

“Smart museums and cultural organizations are taking advantage of crowdfunding to finance projects,” said Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free fundraising platform UHelp.

Federal funds keep the Smithsonian afloat, but the national institution founded 171 years ago by a private donation to the U.S. government also relies on private support for large projects.

Prior to acquiring the $300,000 needed to rehab the nearly 80-year-old slippers worn by Judy Garland in the landmark 1939 film, the Smithsonian raised funds for the National Air and Space Museum to conserve the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore for his walk on the moon. The campaign attracted $719,779, well above the $500,000 goal. 

Hikind said crowdfunding is all about creating momentum and museums are in a unique position to feed off grass-root interests to acquire support.

In a shift toward the ways arts and cultural projects seek funding and find success, UHelp can be the first step toward centralizing the energy that builds publicity to locate the much-needed backings.


Smithsonian National Museum of American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture

#crowdfunding #fund #hiphop #smithsonian #museum #africanamericanhistory #rap #wizardofoz #art #culture

About the Author: Staff writer for UHelp.com

Exploring Ancestry: Using Crowdfunding to Discover your Family Tree

Who are you? It's a deceptively simple question to ask, but it can be a far more difficult one to answer. After all, we are all products of our parents, but our parents are also the products of their parents. Therefore, it stands to reason that the more we learn about our ancestors, the more we learn about ourselves; so much of who we are depends on where we came from.

Discovering where you came from, on the other hand, is often a far trickier question to answer. Ancestry is rarely complete. A lucky person may be able to trace ancestry back through multiple generations via a variety of on-hand resources (birth records, census information, business documents, etc.). Yet, just as often, people find themselves with only a single name, city or immigration date from which to work. Even so, it is a start. With the right tools and enough time, even the most mysterious ancestry can be rediscovered.

First, you are going to need the proper tools as well as the funds to obtain them. That is where crowdfunding comes into play. Genealogy, after all, is all about family, and seeking donations from family members to discover more about their history simply makes sense.

Among other things, crowdfunding provides individuals with the means to

  • test their DNA,
  • access private historical-record collections,
  • query state and federal record repositories for extended periods and
  • arrange for the examination of one-of-a-kind materials, such as
    • newspaper archives,
    • university errata,
    • scientific repositories,
    • medical reports,
    • genealogical studies and
    • and military dossiers.

Crowdfunding also provides the necessary resources to compile these often-fragmentary materials into a cohesive lineage document, which can be further examined and explored. Indeed, with the help of crowdfunding, the process of investigating your family tree never needs to end, as there are always new family members to discover—family members who can make a donation to continue the adventure. Who knows where the trail will lead?

Crowdfunding makes the mysteries of the past accessible to those in the present, and there is no better way to crowdfund than UHelp. Safe, secure and free, UHelp will help you discover your ancestry today.

About the Author: Staff writer for UHelp.com

UHelp: When Farmers Talk Turkey, They Talk Crowdfunding

Not long after purchasing a 12-acre parcel of land, Micha and Andrew Ide found themselves – much to their dismay — talking turkey. The birds they were raising had found a way to sidestep the electric fencing and fly the coup into the vegetable fields of neighboring farmers.

“It was either, find a solution and raise the money or stop raising turkeys,” said Micha Ide, from the farm in Snohomish, Wash.

Instead of approaching the bank for a loan to borrow enough money—somewhere around $4,000—to build an apparatus to keep their birds at bay, a couple turned to the internet and a crowdfunding platform designed to connect farmers and food entrepreneurs to backers. Micah and Andrew Ide are thrilled at the support they received.

“We’ve had so many of our current customers contribute, which blew me away because they’re already paying for our meat and the fact that they’re willing to pay more to support the farm is amazing,” said Micha, who used the funds to build a “turkey tunnel” that provides enough space for their flock of 100 heritage turkeys to roost, forage and explore.

Crowdfunding platforms, such as UHelp, allow entrepreneurs and organizations to create campaign pages for their projects online and seek funding to bring their concepts to life. To acknowledge their support, farmers offer rewards that can range from T-shirts and produce to farm tours.

While crowdfunding has long been the provenance of writers, filmmakers and other creative types, Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of UHelp, said a growing number of farmers are turning to the internet to support sustainable agriculture projects.

“Small farmers often struggle to start or maintain operations,” said Hikind. “Finding financial resources is imperative, but not an easy task. Taking advantage of crowdfunding opportunities is a great way to increase chances of success.”

Building a farm from the ground up takes more than hard work. If you are a small farmer with cash tied up in crops and livestock and struggling to earn money or not making a living at all, UHelp may be the solution to help mediate costs and expose your brand to a national market. The industry needs young, aspiring farmers. You may need UHelp.com.


About the Author: Staff Writer for UHelp.com

UHelp: Fundraising Strategies to Cope with the High Costs of Adopting a Child

Adoption wasn’t on her radar, but when Rachel Garlinghouse was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which puts pregnant women with the condition and their babies at risk, her path for starting a family took a dramatic turn.

Today, four children by way of adoption later, the mother from St. Louis understands the unpredictability of the process and the torture and joys endured along the way.

“People often tell couples experiencing infertility to 'just adopt,' as if it's quick and simple,” said Garlinghouse, a 35-year-old blogger for WhiteSugar, BrownSugar and the author of “The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption.” “Adoption is bittersweet, challenging, and difficult. But, it is also beautiful, wonderful, and joy-filled.”

Like Garlinghouse says, adoption is not always easy,  no matter how familiar prospective parents may be with the process. Far too many couples, once they are confident in their life-changing (though joyous) decision, aren’t quite sure where to start.

The first step typically involves choosing an adoption agency, which will go a long way in determining the financial aspects of finding a new child. Private agencies are expected to be more costly than public outlets and those expenses can build depending on specific situations, including legal fees or medical bills associated with the birth mother.

Adoption-agency fees can range from a few thousand dollars to more than $40,000; about half fall between $10,000- $30,000. Some outlets will offer a sliding fee scale where costs are based on income. Then there’s the cost of an attorney. Travel also becomes an additional expense when couples are required to commute to the birth country of the child they are adopting.

That said, adoption can force even the most financially secure to dig deep into personal pockets, which can be especially disarming if much has already been invested into infertility treatments. For those hopeful parents who can’t contemplate the idea of taking on such staggering debt, fundraising is a path to consider for easing the financial burdens of adoption.

UHelp.com is a free crowdfunding platform that removes some of the barriers and enables child-seeking couples to create and manage money-raising campaigns that can offset the insurmountable costs that too often keep children waiting for permanent homes.

Every year, thousands of children are adopted by generous and loving families. If you are considering adoption or currently going through the process, financial costs should not dissuade you from bringing a child into your home. Find the encouragement and support you need at UHelp.com.

About the Author: Staff writer for UHelp.com

Return the Favor: Crowdfunding for USA Veterans

A veteran is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable” (va.org). While the United States allocates a substantial amount of the annual budget to defense, veterans still meet difficulties in receiving alternative medical care, general nourishment and routine monetary assistance to cover living expenses.

Of course, GrantWatch.com provides grants specifically for veteran assistance. However, the majority of federal funding for veterans is given to nonprofit organizations to create suitable programs for veterans. While veterans may have access to those much-needed programs, they still require funding for their unique, personal needs.

Many servicemen and servicewomen began their service immediately following their graduation from high school. While the military offers educational benefits, some veterans were unable to gain the education and/or trade skills needed for a post-service career. In addition to funding for living expenses, such veterans would require scholarships to attend a university or trade school. Those that dream of running their own business would need start-up funding to do so.

Every day, we receive phone calls from brave servicemen and servicewomen asking if any grants or funding programs exist to help them meet their needs and achieve their goals. While such grants do exist, there are too few to meet the needs of thousands of courageous survivors. If you’re a veteran, then, where do you turn to get the funding you need to live the life you deserve?

Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Online-fundraising platforms (like UHelp.com) allow nonprofits, small businesses and individuals to launch digital fundraisers for unique causes. Many crowdfunding platforms welcome all campaign types, meaning veterans can launch fundraisers for a variety of different reasons:

  • To cover general living expenses, such as food, rent, gas and utilities
  • To start a business
  • To earn a degree at a local college or renowned university
  • To pay for alternative medical expenses
  • To improve current living conditions, such as home repairs and transportation
  • To start a family

Understanding the exact purpose of a crowdfunding campaign is key to launching a successful fundraiser. A campaign must articulate its purpose in order to meet its goal(s). There are thousands of grateful citizens ready and willing to help those who have already helped them and their country. However, they cannot donate to a cause if they have not heard of it.

Do not limit your campaign to a single website, regardless of how well known it may be. Spread the news to every friend, family member, social-media platform, news outlet, etc. to generate interest about the veteran(s) that need funding for various needs.

Crowdfunding for veterans is not limited, though, to individual needs. Nonprofits, small businesses and other organizations can also launch campaigns to provide veteran assistance. Large associations have an advantage when it comes to crowdfunding, as success relies on publicity and fundraiser promotion. The larger the company following, the more attention the campaign will receive, resulting in more donations for the cause.

If you’re a veteran with a need for funding and no idea where to start, call a mentor at UHelp.com (888-240-1494). UHelp is a free-to-use crowdfunding website with substantial customer support and a detailed marketing program that helps you promote your campaign, generate interest and raise money. At UHelp, we help!

About the Author: Kayli Tomasheski is a Copy Editor for UHelp.com.

A Beginner’s Guide to Crowdfunding Advocacy

People advocate many causes for various reasons, but what is advocacy? Advocacy involves garnering public support for your particular cause or policy. Needless to say, advocacy has a divergent range. Sometimes the goal is small, local and concrete, like the addition of a traffic light or stop sign for a residential neighborhood. Other times the cause is far more abstract and broad. The following are just a few examples of popular causes for which people champion:

  • Advocacy for the homeless, such as improving the quality of homeless shelters and outreach services

  • Advocacy for veteran affairs, including benefits and mental-health support

  • Advocacy for improved conditions surrounding senior citizens, like managing retirement funds or Medicare supplemental insurance

  • Advocacy for women’s rights, including equal pay, workforce integration and equality, daycare schools and alternatives, family planning and maternity leave

  • Advocacy for affordable health care for all Americans, such as by eliminating the insurance mandate for individuals, implementing single-payer reform or requesting employers to contribute to healthcare coverage

  • Advocacy for disease prevention and awareness for issues such as HIV/AIDS, immunizations and clean drinking water

Regardless of the cause you're advocating–large or small, group or individual, local or global–crowdfunding can help.

Advocacy requires a lot of planning and consideration. You have to pin down and codify the end result as well as the steps you are going to take to get there. Every campaign is a journey. Identify your end goal, such as the change of a law or rushed FDA approval for a specific cancer treatment or life-saving medication.

Along with the result, the individuals that you are trying to affect and the accomplishments associated with successful implementation play a strong role in advocacy. Paint a picture for contributors and donors that illustrates the benefit of what you are doing. Once this cancer treatment receives FDA approval, how many lives will be saved and how much suffering will be averted (perhaps it is less painful or invasive as well as cost effective)?    

What do you need to do to obtain FDA approval? Are you fundraising to cover the patent or fund the research study? Outlining the use of the collected funding is essential. Donors will want to know where their money is going and how the money is used. This can also give campaign contributors incentive to donate more, once they see their hard-earned money working its magic.

Running a successful advocacy campaign also costs money to cover the daily operations to accomplish the end goal. You must consider the cost of salaries, office space, phone-lines, computer equipment, website creation and design, content creation and distribution across different channels, travel, etc.

Some traditional forms of advocacy awareness and funding include

  • Cold calling,

  • Door-to-door canvassing and

  • Galas or charity events.

Many older forms of fundraising for advocacy groups that drain time, human and financial resources, which could be better allocated elsewhere, are no longer cost effective or even legal! There are now regulations in place regarding telemarketing and email campaigns. The digital age has created new mechanisms for people to raise money as well as awareness for their causes, and one of those mediums is crowdfunding.

Start your advocacy campaign for free on UHelp.com, the crowdfunding platform with zero platform fees and a daily marketing plan to help you get started. At UHelp, we help!

About the Author: Ally Sinclair is a staff writer for UHelp.com.