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 Rally.org, 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 Rally.org 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: https://vimeo.com/79963052

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 https://rally.org/dana. 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: https://rally.org/dana . Here’s a video that tells her story in images and song: https://vimeo.com/79963052

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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/318125168328619/.

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.


Comfort and Empower the Leaders of Tomorrow


This week, we’re highlighting a few Rally campaigns that are comforting and empowering the leaders of tomorrow by providing professional training, emotional support and a safe place to sleep.

Young Minority Students Learn Valuable Technology Skills

Jason Young’s family was evicted from their home the day after Christmas in 2001. It was a difficult experience for Young. He knew he wanted to do what he could to prevent other low-income kids from facing financial hardships as they grew into adulthood. That’s why Jason co-founded the Hidden Genius Project, a two-year program that trains young black male students in science, technology, engineering and math to unlock their true potential and help position them as leaders of tomorrow. Read NationSwell’s story on this promising program and check out the Rally campaign.

Friends Help Care for a Mother in Pain

Kelly Gray-Sheehan is in pain; constant and severe abdominal pain. Her kids, Ava and Colin, have started to notice the toll that this chronic condition has taken on their mom. Fortunately, Kelly has loved ones who have started a Rally campaign For Kelly to provide a beacon of hope for someone who always goes out of her way to help others.

A Son Remembers His Dad by Giving Toys to Kids

Ryan and Ron Russek started giving toys to hospitalized kids at the City of Hope when Ron was battling cancer in 2004. Ron sadly passed away a year later, but his son has kept up the tradition and grown  the project exponentially. Visit Wish Upon A Toy to see how Ron is spreading joy to the City of Hope.

Group Provides Shelter Beds for Abused and Neglected Children

Need by Need has launched a Rally campaign to give 10 beds to Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, a safe haven for abused and neglected children in South Carolina. Watch this video to find out more about this initiative to help give kids with little faith in the goodness of others a reason to believe again.

Group Raises Funds to Get Water and Electricity to Community in Nigeria

As Kwanzaa approaches, Yeye is helping a budding community in Lago raise enough money to purchase a generator and water tank. The group is almost halfway to their goal of $2,500, with more than $910 raised so far. Visit the Rally campaign to learn more.



Remembering Newtown Victims and Lost Loved Ones


This week, we’re focusing on remembering Newtown and lost loved ones, with fundraising campaigns to cover travel expenses for gun violence survivors, support a family that lost a son and fund a health clinic in Kenya.

Vigil for Newtown Families and Gun Violence Survivors

Clipped Newtown Vigil

The Newtown Action Alliance held a vigil on Thursday to honor the more than 30,000 people who lost their lives lost to gun violence over the last year. The vigil took place just a few days before the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 children and 6 teachers. The group created a fundraiser to help cover travel expenses for survivors and families to attend the vigil at the Washington National Cathedral. They’re almost a quarter of the way to their goal of $26,000. A contribution to the campaign will support these families and individuals who have come together to grieve.

The Smelser Family

SmelsersThe Smelsers of Arendtsville, PA, are grieving the sudden and recent loss of their son Adam. A family friend, Stephen Rouse, set up this fundraising campaign to honor Adam’s memory by providing his family with emotional and financial support to help them get through this difficult time.

“Just hearing [Adam’s] name bring so many hilarious [and] encouraging memories,” writes Stephen.”As the Smelser family goes through the coming days and weeks, I know many of you are wanting to help. There is much that we cannot do separated by distance, but I want to make sure that there’s one dimension of all this they don’t have to worry about: money.”

Visit the Rally campaign to see this bittersweet tribute to Adam.

Brothers for Bolo

Brothers for BoloNiall Gannon’s life was forever altered when a priest from Kenya came to speak to his church in Clayton, MO, about his dream of building a health clinic in his native village of Bolo, Kenya.

“Gretchen and I had felt a calling to begin doing more giving outside the U.S. and this seemed like a perfect project,” said Niall. “We told Father James we would build the clinic for him. Two months later, after he returned to Kenya, Father James was murdered by an armed gang. We committed ourselves to continue, and even expand the project to honor his life and his love for this community. Last month, my brother Liam (who is a medical doctor) and I traveled to Kenya to officially open it and see the first patients. You’ll see from the picture (to the left) that it is still at the cinder block level but two exam rooms are open. He and another Doctor (Father James’s brother) saw 500 patients over (the course of) two days.”
Niall hopes to raise $25,000 for an x-ray machine, incubator, medical exam tables and equipment, and also to dig a fresh water well.


Read the news stories below for an in-depth look into some of the important work and worthy causes our Rally leaders are invested in doing to make our world a better place. There are plenty of great



There are plenty of great ways to stay on top of the latest news, tips and opportunities from Rally.org and our cause leader. Here are a few ways you can stay in the loop.

Rally’s New Wicked Widget Is Here!

Here’s a late summer treat for everyone fundraising on Rally. You can now display Rally’s new “Give Now” button or a story widget on your own website! Inspire more people with your latest fundraising progress AND direct more donors to your Rally Donation Page.

How? First, sign in to Rally. In the Widget section of Settings, choose what you want to display on your website. Click “generate code” and copy and past it into your own site where it will appear. That’s it! If you opt to show donation progress or activity from your Rally Cause Page, those will automatically update based on activity on your Rally Page.

Please let us know what you think! We will continue to make rallying for causes meaningful and effective!

Introducing Nathan Wilson – Our Senior Director of Strategy

We’re super excited to have Nathan Wilson on board. Here’s a sneak peak on Nathan…

What was Nathan doing before Rally? “Picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller!”

Nathan comes from a world of algorithmic research, trading, and development work for a high frequency trading group focused on some of the most liquid futures markets in the world.

Want to know more?  Alright…

Nathan grew up in San Francisco and is a Giants fan (ofcourse!)

He lived in Rio De Janeiro for a year and worked in technology for a web-based export business. Nathan also learned Portugese and volunteered in the community!

Huge fan of:

Açai berries, surfing and Warren Buffett

At Rally, Nathan will be diving in to strategy and nurturing a culture of data at Rally!

Welcome Nathan!


Team Courage Gazelles: Taking Life’s Risks Head On

Michele and Emme

Rally recently caught up with the energetic Emme Hall, a semi-professional race car driver for Team Courage Gazelles, who is using Rally to raise $5,000 towards a $15,000 goal. Her dream? To race 9 days across the Moroccan desert in the 2013 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles with her good friend and cancer previvor Michele Martineau.

All participants in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles use only 1950s navigation methods. That means Emme and Michele will drive a 4-wheel drive truck over a sandy moonscape with an old school map and a compass — no GPS, no phones, no extra crew. There are also no roads on this course; the winner is determined by the shortest distance covered. Only 8 other women in the US have attempted the Rallye Aicha since it started 20 years ago.

Emme and Michele planned to race a year ago but Michele was told she had an abnormally high chance of developing breast cancer. Rather than live a life of endless MRI’s and “what ifs” she elected to have a preventative double mastectomy, becoming a cancer “previvor.” Michele experienced complications from the surgery and they postponed the race for a year. Over this time, their friendship deepened. Michele wrote and video blogged about her experience on Courage is My Strength. Emme became more determined; “as I’ve gotten to know Michele, it’s become more of a cause for me.”

A view of the race course from 2011 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.

It is a year later and they are organizing early. Emme chose to fundraise with Rally because other platforms had too many rules and restrictions. She also liked the play on names since they were, in fact, going to be in a “Rallye.” Now Emme’s Rally Page tells the story of preparing for this adventure and the story of cancer survivors and previvors who are supporting them. After all race costs are met, Emme and Michele will donate the remainder to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Emme added, “the truck will have a wrap designed by one of the animators from Avatar. The theme will be butterflies and they will be tributes to breast cancer previvors, survivors, fighters, and angels!”

When asked why she likes racing, Emme at first mentioned the excitement and rush of mastering the vehicle during each race. Later, she reflected, “where there is fear the whole time, you take thoughtful risks, not foolish risks.”

Michelle and Emme

Michele and Emme

We invite you to help Emme and Michele realize their dream to race in Morocco next year and to honor all women who fight through fear and take risks.

What do you Rally for?

Historic Moment: Rally Raises $7.9 Million Online

Dear Friends of Rally,

I’m Tom Serres, founder of Rally.org. For nearly a decade, I have believed in the power of online fundraising. I launched Rally one year ago as a new way to fundraise and strengthen supporter relationships.  I want to thank you — the supporters and causes using Rally—for your generosity and commitment.

This year, we’ve helped causes large and small reach their fundraising goals, and now we have reached a milestone ourselves. Rally bet on online fundraising and won big.

With the support of Reid Hoffman and Mike Maples, I embarked on an Internet campaign to raise capital through Angel List – a community of cutting edge investors. Along the way, I met some amazing people, among them are: John Occhipinti, Kevin Rose, Craig Shapiro, Michael Birch, Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, Josh Spear, Scott Belsky. After thousands of emails, 72 meetings, and 28,000 miles flown, I raised what is likely the highest ever Series A investment online  – and certainly the most amount through Angel List.

We fundraised our future online, and you can too! Our investors and staff are dedicated to empowering causes that matter.  We, as a company, are only as successful as the success of our causes.  Whether it’s Reverend Oliver White receiving donations from all over the world to save his Minnesota church from foreclosure or Alvaro Salas raising money in Costa Rica so he can attend Cornell University — we are focused on empowering individuals and causes to solve problems and build awareness on a scale never before seen.

We’ve learned valuable lessons during this rapid year of growth.  Rally has grown to 1.5 million problem solvers who have shared more than 20 million stories shared on Rally.org, while collecting donations and spreading awareness through their personal networks. We are more committed than ever to helping you grow your network of supporters and interact more deeply with them.  In the next year we intend to make it easier to connect with the things that you care about, whether on your computer or your phone.

During this time, please let all of us at Rally know how we are doing and what we can make connecting with the causes you care about more successful. I am excited about this new phase for our company as we Rally the future together!

Thank you.

Now ask yourself, what do you Rally for?

Tom Serres
CEO and Founder

My First Deal at Google Ventures: Rally.org

Venture partner at Google Ventures, serial entrepreneur and founder of Digg, Kevin Rose tells us why he chose Rally.org as his first deal since joining Google Ventures.

From consumer-hungry Pebble (digital watch) purchasers to the winning fundraising strategies employed by charity: water, we all know there is money to be raised online, problems to solve, and things to build. But what about people who aren’t trained entrepreneurs or large nonprofits with a staff to create and measure fundraising progress? What hasn’t been tapped in the long tail of the American cause economy?

For my first deal as a partner at Google Ventures, I chose to invest in Rally.org – a company solving this problem. Rally has the potential to be a transformational company. Rally is an online fundraising platform, which optimizes the fundraising experience for non-technical users and provides tools for those who know what they are doing. Rally serves people like Rev. Oliver White, a pastor in Minnesota raising money to save his church from foreclosure (you can see the CNN clip of him here) or Ruthie Goodman of Olive Tree Yoga Foundation who chose to, “bring unity, strength and possibility to Israelis and Palestinians through the practice of yoga.”

The causes on Rally are fascinating and hint at a huge untapped market of people fundraising for not only traditional causes, but also for those making up their own causes or seeking ways to fund college tuition, sporting events, memorials, trips, and more. Rally is open to anyone passionate about a cause.

With this open giving platform, Rally learns about people’s donation habits and in turn discovers what they value. Rally knows that content drives donations, so they built an easy-to-use storytelling platform. It is working. Over 1.5 million people have experienced the Rally platform and over 20 million stories have been shared around the world. With support from Google Ventures and others, Rally will continue to expand and be on its way to having an impact on the cause-based landscape.



Raising Funds for Causes that Matter: Rally.org Raises $7.9 Million to Rally the World

Rally.org, the social fundraising platform that helps anyone with a cause raise money, share their story, and connect with supporters, today announced that it raised $7.9 million in Series A venture capital, online. The round was joined by Relay Ventures, Mike Maples of Floodgate Fund, Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, Kevin Rose of Google Ventures, Craig Shapiro of Collaborative Fund, and Angel investors: Michael Birch, Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, Josh Spear, Scott Belsky, among other. Rally.org plans to use the money to continue hiring engineers and scale its technology platform.

Rally enables campaigns and causes to tell their unique stories and raise money fusing social fundraising and traditional direct appeals. Rally’s social fundraising platform has enabled 1.5 million problem solvers to rally around issues by sharing stories, collecting donations and spreading awareness through their social graph.

“Rally is a platform for people to raise funds for causes that matter,” said CEO and Co-founder, Tom Serres. “Whether it be Reverend Oliver White receiving donations from all over the world to save his Minnesota church from foreclosure or Alvaro Salas raising money in Costa Rica so he can attend Cornell University —we as a company are focused on empowering individuals and causes to solve problems and build awareness on a scale never before seen. I feel very fortunate that we were able to bring on investors who see this tech-empowered Cause Economy as a new way to create change.”

“As the founder of Bebo and the first angel investor in charity: water, we knew the Internet was a powerful mechanism for change that matters,” said Michael Birch. “This is why I built mychairitywater.org, and why I am also investing in Rally today. The Rally team understands these principles and are scaling this life improvement philosophy on a global basis.”

Rally’s easy to use storytelling interface allows tech savvy, and non-tech savvy people alike to broadcast solutions to problems vexing them or their community. Rally’s unique analytic tool set, helps users improve their storytelling and fundraising. Rally has enabled cause owners and donors alike to share more than 20 million stories, harnessing the power of the narrative for the 21st century.

“Rally has been an incredible platform to help me raise $80,000 to attend Cornell University, and I only have $38,000 left to go!” said Alvaro Salas. “Rally has enabled me to improve my future beyond imagination, but more importantly when I graduate from Cornell, I will be a trained leader, with the opportunity to improve the lives of my fellow Costa Ricans.”

Other investors committed to helping Rally lead this movement, include Mark Kingdon, Naval Ravikant from AngelPool, Ariel Poler, Habib Haddad, Tom Steyer, Tom Brown, Ephraim Luft, Ross Garber, Transmedia Capital, Aaron Dignan, Seth Berman and Vianovo Ventures.

About Rally.org

Rally (www.rally.org) is an online fundraising platform that helps anyone with a cause raise money, share their story and connect with new supporters. Rally offers personalized, easy-to-use social fundraising tools for passionate individuals, groups, nonprofits and political candidates. Rally gives each cause a place to share stories, photos, videos and updates with supporters specifically at the point of donating. Rally uses the power of social media to help people deepen existing relationships and reach new networks. Rally provides tools to process donations and analyze campaign successes, making fundraising easy for everyone.

For additional Information, please contact:

Nick Warshaw

(310) 614-9171


Chelsea Boudreaux

(408) 828-4660