Social Media for Nonprofits

Raising Awareness for Non-Profits Through Photos


Pictures inspire awe, joy, anger, or contemplation. As Steve Moakley knows, photos can also spur people to action, spreading awareness about, volunteering their time for, or giving money to a cause that matters to them.


Funding Causes That Matter: Rally’s CEO Tom Serres Talks to Bloomberg

“More people give money to something they’re personally connected to.”

Rally’s CEO Tom Serres talks to Deirdre Bolton on Bloomberg televisions “Money Moves” about the”Cause Economy” and how Rally helps you fund your passions.

Rally CEO Tom Serres on Bloomberg Television

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


Rally ( 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

Netroots Nation was a blast! Our Rally Ambassadors give you the low-down on Netroots Nation 2012

 The winners of Rally’s Raise The Future Contest got to attend the Netroots Nation Conference (NN12) held in Providence, Rhode Island, this year. Rally gave our winners VIP access pass to the conference, hotel accomodations and invitations to some amazing parties at NN12! Here’s a recap of  Netroots Nation 2012. Enjoy!

Our guest bloggers Janet Frishberg, Ben Goldsmith and Max Kamin share their NN12 experience with us. So those of us who missed it can read up on all the fun parties, inspirational speakers and save the date for Netroots Nation 2013 in San Jose!

 Max Kamin: Max is a “self-proclaimed political junky, working with organizations and political campaigns to ensure that their new media strategies are up to par”


“The first sign that what I was doing was a little odd, would probably have been when I had to tell my friends I couldn’t go to our senior prom because I was going to be in Rhode Island with”

Read on about how hangin’ with Rally at Netroots Nation was better than Prom night for Max.


Ben Goldsmith: “Hi!  I’m Ben, Executive Director of America’s Impact, which is dedicated to making progressive foreign policy a domestic priority. I’m also now a Raise The Future winner and Rally Ambassador”

Within minutes of arriving, I was drinking scotch with my two roommates – and new friends – in the room.  A few minutes after that, I was out at one of the parties which spring up spontaneously throughout the weekend. That first night – like the conference itself – was a whirlwind. Read more

Janet Frishberg: ” 3 Things I Learned at Netroots Nation 2012″

I don’t know what I was expecting for my first NN, but it certainly wasn’t the high level of awesome, mind-explosion, braingasm, authentic kindness that I found at this huge progressive gathering in Providence, RI. Here are 3 things I’m taking home with me.

Read on…

We’ve Made Some New Friends This Summer…

Say Hello to Sachi Doctor and Valentine Mary Chamoin!

Sachi will be helping out with the RallyPad community,managing events and mentorship programs. Prior to Rally, Sachi was an audience insight and community engagement specialist at and BBC World Service. After spending nearly seven years in London, Michigan born Sachi is new to SF. You’ll find this urban explorer wherever it’s sunniest; While a pro at rambling in the rain, she’s happiest ambling in the sun.

Valentine joins the marketing team at Rally as a summer intern! Before Rally, Val used to work as a communication director for the French Government and specialized in media, PR and crisis communication in politics. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at Harvard in online marketing and online media. A social media addict and white chocolate chip cookie junkie, on her free time she enjoys writing, shopping for colorful jewelry, daydreaming and learning sign language.

Welcome ladies! We look forward to spending this summer with you!


Seattle Nativity School Takes a Leap of Faith with Rally

The Seattle Nativity School has raised over $5000 so far, for a fund to bring the nationally recognized Nativity Miguel Schools to Seattle. The Nativity schools give economically disadvantaged students a chance to do well from middle school through college. We were inspired by their efforts and recently spoke with Brian Kelly, a former Kiva Fellow, and one of the people responsible for making the Seattle Nativity School a reality.

What is a Nativity Miguel School?

A Nativity School is a faith-based, tuition-free, middle school providing education and counseling to those in greatest need – low income families and families living below poverty line. The 11-month school year includes 10-hour schoolwork days and a committed graduate support director that guides the student from middle school through college. Students of the Nativity Schools have a twenty percent higher rate of graduation than their peers at other schools.

How is Seattle fundraising to build a Seattle Nativity School?

Their key fundraising strategy, Brian explained, was to motivate people to become involved in the start of this school through micro donations. Even though there are larger funds involved in this process, creating a community of supporters is just as important—no matter what your wallet size is, you can be a part of this movement. Every donor receives a photo of the first student whose tuition is crowdfunded. Donors have the chance to form a personal connection to the student and seeing a concrete result of their donation.

Brian told us how his research led him to using Rally -he found it the perfect tool to keep supporters informed about the campaign progress and collect donations online. They started by reaching out to their network of friends and family and colleagues, asking for support. They were surprised with the number of folks that came forward and showed their support with contributions and volunteering their time. Brian and others have been posting regular updates on their Rally Page and continue to send personal emails as well.

“Time is equal to treasure” says Brian. Leveraging volunteer hours to rally the community and boost their fundraising was just as important in their fundraising strategy.

We asked Brian if he had any fundraising advice for other causes. He shared the following:

  1. Writing emails that are genuine and heartfelt is key. If you’re passionate about it, you can’t hide it, and people will realize that!
  2. Get people involved beyond donations -volunteer time is equal to treasure
  3. Constantly keep people engaged. It takes effort but is worth it
  4. You can always find something to share with your supporters. Dig deep. Stay fresh.
  5. Make what you share concrete


At Rally we love passionate people and applaud Seattle Nativity for their efforts and fundraising. You can visit their Rally Page here. Well done guys!

3 Lessons Learned from Freeing 3 American Hikers: From Integrity to Engagement to Relationship-based Fundraising

We are thrilled to feature a post from our Rally Scholar, Farah N.Mawani! Farah’s article was recently featured on the Foundation Center as a guest blog and we are excited to share it with you…

Farah N. Mawani is Co-founder and Director of Social Media at Free the Hikers, an organization that recently reached its mission to free hikers Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd from an Iranian prison. Recently, Farah founded Farahway Global, a Social Media, Public Engagement, Human Rights and Mental Health agency.

Since our Free the Hikers social media campaign achieved its primary, seemingly impossible, objective of freeing my dear friends Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd, I have received numerous requests to share our secret. Political prisoner campaigns, human rights organizations, mental health organizations, and even businesses, want to know how we built the global movement that it took to free them. They want to replicate our success in building a large, very engaged global support base that takes action to help them achieve their key objective(s). For political prisoner campaigns and non-profit organizations, a key objective is fundraising to enable them to pursue their mission. They want to know how we used social media to fundraise. Many of the campaigns and organizations that have sought my advice have the misconceptions that I can share our ‘secret’ in a brief phone call or email message; that they can replicate our success in a few minutes or hours/week; and that social media work starts with posting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Our secret runs much deeper than the surface of our Facebook Wall or Twitter feed. It took us two years and two months of intensive, unwavering work to build a 31,000 strong community on Facebook. It would take me two years and two months to share what we did and what we learned along that long, traumatic journey.

I would like, however, to share three key recommendations I can offer based on my experience building and directing social media and global engagement for our campaign. Although the connections may not seem direct, I strongly believe that the strategies I am outlining below are the core components of our success in consistently growing and deepening global engagement and achieving our ultimate goal of freeing Josh, Shane and Sarah. They are core components of my approach in Farahway Global, the non-profit organization I’ve created, inspired by my Free the Hikers experience, to engage the global public in action for human rights and mental health.

Incorporate fundraising into your overall engagement strategy
Focus your time and energy on developing and implementing a progressive engagement strategy that leads to fundraising, rather than tacking social media onto your existing fundraising strategy.

Our Free the Hikers core campaign team focused intensive time and energy on building global engagement through a highly integrated diplomacy, media and social media campaign. Those efforts resulted in our community of supporters coming together at critical points in our campaign and taking initiative to donate and raise funds without any requests from us. was quick to understand this phenomenon in a presentation Josh’s brother Alex Fattal and I gave to them in October 2011, a month after Josh and Shane were released. Nick Warshaw at Rally shares:

“The incredibly poignant Free the Hikers story showed the power of community organizing over social media. is designed to help organizations like FTH share their story and raise money.  We want to help groups raise valuable funds while also communicating with their supporters.”

I have just created a Rally page for Farahway Global that I have already started integrating into our overall global engagement strategy.

Build relationships 
Invest considerable time and resources in building relationships with supporters through social media platforms, rather than focusing simply on gaining increasing likes and followers.

Increasing likes and followers are certainly indicators of success, but they should not be considered the key objectives of an engagement strategy. Our core Free the Hikers campaign team and our social media volunteers put a great deal of time and energy into building relationships with individual supporters within the tens of thousands we communicated with on a regular basis. I have maintained strong, positive relationships with many of those supporters, with whom I have only ever interacted online. They have become supporters of my work with other campaigns and organizations. One of them contacted me recently with the following request:

“Hi Farah,
I’ve been searching for a link (or even a snail mail type address) to send Farahway Global a little cash. No luck. If you can give me the info, I’d love to make a donation.”

Strive for Integrity
Perhaps most central to our success was our commitment to integrity throughout our campaign, no matter what lack of integrity we were faced with.

In keeping with my commitment to engagement by seeking and learning from the perspectives of our supporters, I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, “What does integrity mean to you?”

Here are some of the responses I received on Twitter:

@AskBigQs (US) Being honest with yourself and others. The golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated.

@madame_lei (Johannesburg) It means not being a hypocrite, trying to be loyal and outright and respectful to other humans even when it doesn’t further you

Here are the responses I received on Facebook:

Perseverance, respect on all sides, humble success…

Consistency, wholeness.

“don’t look down on anyone unless you are going to help/raise them up”

Be consistently true to your beliefs no matter what.

One Free the Hikers supporter went on to say:

“Like I have said many times in the past, there was anger and frustration but you were able to keep control of that and steer supporters in a positive direction. Made for good energy. Your whole campaign was peaceful and you discouraged any outbursts…that’s why I really respected it.”

That provides a strong example of how closely our social media campaign was aligned with our values and of how visible that consistency between our actions and values was to our supporters. That same supporter recently explained her support of the Free Jason P campaign, that I have done some work for through Free the Hikers and Farahway Global:

“I am behind any cause you are.”

That brief statement captures our success in developing long-term relationships by maintaining integrity and investing in engagement. The rewards are clearly priceless.

I feel very fortunate to have so many people and organizations, who supported Free the Hikers and myself during such an unimaginable nightmare, supporting me and my ongoing work now. Learning firsthand about the extreme power of online movements, I am compelled to share what I have learned with people, campaigns and organizations who share my vision of a peaceful, just, inclusive world. The more I work with such people, campaigns, and organizations, the more I become aware of how valuable our Free the Hikers learning is. I also become more and more convinced of the powerful global community we can build together, with increasing power to realize our vision.

“For to be FREE is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” ~ Nelson Mandela

To learn more about Free the Hikers and/or Farahway Global, please contact Farah at, follow @farahwayglobal on Twitter, like Farahway Global on Facebook, and support Farahway Global on Rally

Don’t Just Post, Inspire!

Graphics by Alex Rinker

Rally  is built to leverage the power of your cause’s story to raise money online. By examining analytics from Rally causes in aggregate, we’ve found that Rally successfully turns your photos, videos, and messages into contributions by sharing them all over the web and helping you reach new donors. We bring you some juicy tips on how you can accelerate your fundraising on Rally and get your donors and loyal supporters inspired!


Share the GOOD STUFF and get donations!

Some types of content inspire more people to donate than others. This varies from cause to cause based on cause type and cause supporter demographic. In general, the most successful content posts tell the stories that bring your cause to life. Depending on your cause, it could be the people being helped, the staff and volunteers on the team, or the story of how it got started. Before you post content on Rally, think about whether or not viewing this piece of content in your email inbox would inspire you to make a donation. Avoid simple text status updates without substance, since they have the lowest view, click-through, and donation rates.

Photos and videos are your moneymakers!

In general, photos raise the most money on Rally compared to all other types of content. Videos also generate many donations, but are more variable. The video length and content quality are critical players in whether or not a video on Rally is shared and receives donations. Content-driven videos receive many views and successfully generate contributions. According to the Social Times, the most viral videos are usually between 1 minute and 5 minutes, and share a complete message with material of interest. Whatever the length of your video ends up being, it is agreed upon that content is king and makes or breaks virality, views, and donations.

Here’s an example of an awesome video that gets people inspired – and giving!


Happy fundraising!


Fans with Benefits – The Power of Fan Fundraising!

Call them bundlers, fundraisers, or fans with benefits—volunteers have an important role to play in your fundraising efforts.

 Asking for money generally terrifies people. Asking supporters to become volunteer fundraisers can also be challenging. Recently, some of us at Rally attended “Supporting Volunteer Fundraisers” a presentation organized by the Foundation Center with all-star panelists Jeri Howland, Deb Stallings, Danielle Thomas, and Karen Topakian. Here are three take away strategies for recruiting, empowering and rewarding volunteer fundraisers, or as we call them here at Rally, fan fundraisers.


1. Recruit the right Fan Fundraisers

Not every volunteer is a donor, and not every donor is a volunteer.  Finding the most effective fan fundraisers, however, will be a combination of both. Donors who become fundraisers are more likely to be comfortable with ‘the ask’, and can make a far more personal appeal.

Other highly effective fan fundraisers to recruit are board members. They are already donors and volunteers, and generally have strong network and a large address book of people they are comfortable to reach out to. Empowering board members with both a platform to solicit donations and a quota to meet often leads to successful campaigns.

Alternatively, you might consider using volunteer sourcing websites like and Volunteermatch. Many people want to help but don’t know where to start. Focus these people on tactical fundraising campaigns and prioritize your volunteers with your immediate goals.

The skills you need to look for in fan fundraisers are passion and engagement. It is better to reject volunteers that are not passionate about your cause than take them on board and put your time and effort into training —only to see them walk away a month later.

2. Empower Fan Fundraisers for success

Fan fundraisers are often self-selected.  Making fan fundraising as easy for them as possible.

Give your volunteers a prep session about collecting donations for your cause so that they are as excited and as comfortable talking about your cause as they are about their favorite book or movie.  Many organizations offer regular training sessions with fundraisers and board members to stay up to date on best fundraising practices and keep everyone motivated.

Build structure around your fan fundraiser program for monitoring, reminders, and check-ins. Ask your fan fundraisers to do something specifically, and give them the option to say they don’t have time so that expectations are all understood.

Most of all, talk about fundraising CONSTANTLY. Everyone needs to realize that without fundraising, all of the other items on your agenda cannot happen. From the moment you meet a new volunteer, want them to understand that being a part of the organization is not just the fun stuff relating to your mission, but relies on fundraising. Remind people that fundraising is on the table all year—even if you are only making official asks twice a year.

3. Reward Fan Fundraisers

Volunteers support your organization for many reasons.  A good cause leader is constantly aware of motivational cues, and learns how to apply rewards and praise to bring out the best in their team. Sincere appreciation is important.  Appreciation from your leadership is desirable.

Even better is appreciation from those who benefit from your cause’s existence. Personal thank you notes can bring meaning to a sometimes thankless task.

Nominate your fundraisers for internal or external rewards, and recognize progress constantly. Many fundraisers respond well to leaderboards and other public displays of effectiveness.

Always communicate regularly what is happening over the course of a campaign, and let fan fundraisers know how they personally have contributed to theprogress.

Effective fan fundraising can mean the difference between success and failure to your cause.  Empower your fan fundraisers to align their motivations, capabilities, and networks of people with your cause, and when it all comes together, great things will happen!


Did you know you can Fan Fundraise on Rally? Anyone can click “Help Fundraise” on any Rally Page and in minutes be fundraising for your cause.


We have two new additions to the Rally family!

A warm welcome to Clay Woolam and Tarik Ansari to the Rally team!

Clay joins us as our in-house data scientist. He is an accomplished researcher and computer programmer with a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas.Clay moved from Dallas to the Bay Area to join the fast paced world of Silicon Valley startups. When Clay’s not working his magic at Rally, you’ll find him enjoying San Francisco wearing a Member’s Only jacket with Charlie by his side.

Tarik joins us as a Rails Developer. Tarik grew up in France and has studied in London, Mexico and China. A world traveller, he decided to make San Francisco his home (and we’re glad he did!). With dreams of changing the world one keystroke at a time, Tarik is passionate about startups, renewable energy and individual civil liberties. With a love for the outdoors and a sweet-tooth, Tarik can’t live without his bicycle and the local bakery’s semi-sweet cookies!

We’re very happy to have both Clay and Tarik (and Charlie) at Rally! Welcome guys!