How to Rally for Loved Ones

Spotlight on the Rally for Dana

The Rally for Dana has raised more than $17,000. It’s also one of the most visited campaigns on, in one of the most popular fundraising categories: personal health. We reached out to Steve de Brun, Rally leader for this campaign, to see what advice he has for other leaders looking to grow their campaigns:

Dana has spent more than four years battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Dana’s friends and family were saddened to learn that doctors recently found a new growth on her neck, so loved ones are coming together to donate funds to help Dana cover her rising medical costs. We asked Dana’s friend Steve de Brun, who is heading up the Rally, what advice he had for other cause leaders:

Q. What have you found to be the most effective way to spread the word about your cause?

A: 100% of the people who have helped Dana know her personally, or are friends of the fundraisers. So we collectively reached out to these friends and asked them to consider contributing, and to disseminate the message to people who would care. We did this via email, and we also set up a Facebook Group that many people joined, which helped us to not bombard people with too many emails!

Q. What are some strategies you suggest to encourage donations?

A: We carefully chose imagery that reminds people of their love and friendship Dana. We emailed people a few times, and posted more frequently to Facebook, always driving people back to our URL. And we created a video, which is essentially a slideshow of many images put to an emotional song, cut in iMovie on my Mac:

Steve reached out to supporters via email to regularly share personal updates, as well as ideas about how to extend the campaign’s reach. One of those ideas was a suggested message for folks to post through Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Here’s an example of an email message that Steve shared with supporters to encourage donations:

Hello Friends of Dana,

First off, thank you for giving to our online campaign to support Dana at Your in kind and monetary gifts are a HUGE relief to Dana, and we are more than 50% of the way towards our fundraising goal!

For the second phase of our campaign, we are asking you to share this to your networks & communities who also know Dana (or don’t!) but don’t know about the campaign — and might also be looking for a general update to how she’s doing.  There are a select few of us on this email list — but we each represent a much larger crew of people who know and love Dana.

Here’s a sample message that you can use as a starting point, which includes a link to a video that we made for Dana:

“My friend Dana needs your help – she’s in the middle of a 4-year fight with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and we, her friends, have organized and online fundraiser here: . Here’s a video that tells her story in images and song:

Thanks so much for reading this and loving Dana. And thanks for sharing this with your communities.  And don’t forget that we have an active Facebook group to support Dana and keep the conversations going at

Best wishes,

Holly Roberson & Steve de Brun

To learn more about this campaign, visit Rally for Dana. More advice for running a successful Rally campaign can be found here.


Innovation and Progress in the New Year


Kartis, a project launched by residents at the Harvard Innovation Lab, is a crowd-sourced map of nonprofit organizations around the globe. Residents are designing this map to help nonprofits connect with one another to share ideas and resources.

We asked Rally Leader Andrew Cole for some crowdfunding advice to help others along the way. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What have you found to be the most effective way to spread the word about your cause?

A: Sharing on Facebook is great, and we managed to pull in a lot of money that way.  But I think what’s even more important is reaching out to possible supporters who you think have a personal stake in your cause, and explaining to them on a person to person level what your project means to you, and what you think it means to them.  This could be through an email, or in person. That way, your campaign becomes a part of a larger conversation, and the more personal the better.

Q: What are some strategies you suggest to encourage donations?

A: Networking, networking, networking! I’ve found that the Rally campaign has given me an excuse to reach out to a lot of interesting people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and on a personal level that’s been really great for me.  So use it as an opportunity to reach out to the professor or family friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, but who you know would be interested.

Visit the Rally campaign for Kartis to learn more. For more tips on how to create a stellar Rally campaign, check out our Rally 101 blog posts.


Rallying to Defend Internet Privacy


A version of this post appears on

In recent weeks the Lavabit email service has become almost as notorious as its most infamous client, Edward Snowden.

While at his old job as a National Security Agency contractor, Snowden leaked classified documents, allegedly via a Lavabit email account, about the agency’s mass-surveillance programs. Federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage, and he lived at the Moscow airport until Russia granted him temporary asylum in early August.

Around the same time Ladar Levison, the founder of Lavabit, suspended the company’s services. Under a gag order at the time, he explained that he preferred to close up shop rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.”  He has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal expenses as he fights to maintain the privacy of his 400,000 customers’ accounts. He has raised more than $75,000 so far.

Court records unsealed on Thursday revealed what privacy advocates and tech pundits had suspected: In mid-July, about three weeks before Levison shut down his company, the U.S. government issued a search warrant demanding that he turn over crypto keys that guarded all web traffic to Lavabit. He has refused FBI orders to divulge details about Snowden’s email activities and has said that he would not allow the U.S. government access to his clients’ information.

To support this Rally and learn more about Lavabit’s upcoming legal battles, visit

Church Community Rallies Around a Young Leader



The newest excerpt from our collaboration with Yahoo! Shine is here. This week’s featured Rally campaign is especially powerful: A young man at the beginning of his life as a husband and graduate school student has learned he has a Stage IV brain tumor, so his family is raising money to help take care of him and his wife.

This past summer was hardly a slow season for Andrew Westphal. In June the 26-year-old finished an 18-month preaching mentorship at the church his family has attended for years. He married his best friend from college at the end of July. Six weeks later he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, upending his expectations for his marriage, for graduate school, and for his development as a church leader.

You can learn more about Andrew Westphal’s story at “This Week’s Rally for Good: Seeking a Cure Through Medicine, Love, and Faith.”

Texas Alumni Rally for New Donor Record

robert thigpen on Flickr


Fifty dollars, times two, tipped the scales.

In a drive to boost alumni donor participation, these two gifts pushed the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business past the $2 million mark. Recently the school’s dean, Tom Gilligan, announced that 6,300 alumni supporters had rallied to increase the McCombs alumni giving rate to 8.1 percent.


Crowdfunding Campaigns Inspired by Film



This post is excerpted from an article on the Sundance Institute’s Artist Services blog about how directors and producers can use to raise money for the people and causes that they’ve featured in their films.

Some of the best documentary and feature films often focus on a marginalized, isolated, or troubled community…These people’s circumstances have moved you, mystified you, or pissed you off so profoundly that you feel compelled to explain them to a wider audience and do what you can to help along the way. 

But once your film gets into festivals, theaters, and Netflix queues, what more can you do for the individuals whose stories you’ve so painstakingly told? You’ve of course heard about directors and producers using crowdfunding to cover their production expenses and get their movies made…Filmmakers are also using their movies to launch philanthropic crowdfunding campaigns.

See “How to Fundraise for the Cause Behind Your Film” to learn more.

Back-to-School Fundraising on

While some school districts have already started classes, once Labor Day weekend has come and gone, it’s officially time to put away the bathing suits and grab the book bags for the fall semester. To mark the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, we’ve rounded up this collection of education-related Rally fundraisers.


SXSW 2014 Panel-Picking Season is Here


As happens every summer, thousands of proposals for panels and presentations get submitted for the following year’s South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Tex.

After those submissions are compiled and categorized, the voting begins. The list eventually comes down to the weirdest, smartest, fill-in-the-blankest panels that will be featured next March.

The team has sent in three ideas for potential sessions at SXSW, one of the largest tech-industry gatherings (more than 30,000 attend each year). Voting is now open and continues through September 6. These proposals cover how to inspire people to stand up for causes they believe in, train prison inmates for technology jobs, and build community in an economy driven by people who want to change their world.


Team Spirit: Athletes Fundraise to Win



You’ll often see athletes taking a short break from their grueling training regimens at this time of year, going a little less intense in the weight room, on the running trail, or on the playing field.

But for the teams crowdfunding with, competition season has already arrived. Community teams and elite national- and international-level athletes have been collecting donations to pay for equipment, uniforms, and travel to meets and matches in the U.S. and overseas. After the jump you’ll find the back stories of these champs and how you can help them reach their gold-medal goals.


The Power of Intention: Rallying for a Yoga Teacher and Her Son



Just about any yoga class begins with the instructor inviting everyone to “set an intention” for their practice: Essentially, contemplating what matters most to them and directing their behavior and attitudes in a way that matches these values.

In that spirit a student then takes these principles out of the studio and into the real world. For Linda Woodside, these values have involved rallying a community to support their respected teacher in a time of crisis.