Supporting the Catholic Education in the U.S.
In recent years, there has been one institution that has struggled across the country more than perhaps any other - and that is the education sector in America. While a high-quality education is the bedrock for successful professional careers, proper funding for many schools has become more difficult to come by and in some cases dried up completely.
Even numerous Catholic Schools across the nation, supported by the Catholic Church, had to shut down or find other sources of funding to provide education to their students. And in order to bring a continued education to their students, some schools are taking matters into their own hands.
For example, John Paul II Catholic High School in Tallahassee, Florida found out earlier this year that that their diocese would no longer be able to provide traditional levels of financial assistance and the school had to become self-funded.
With no other alternative, the board and community launched into an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise $676,000 before May 1st of this year.
Since January, the group has raised more then 2/3 of their required funding and turned to Crowdtilt to crowdfund another $99K towards their goal by April 9th.
More importantly, the Catholic community, including Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and leading proponent of school choice, picked up on the ambitious campaign pursued by JPII and provided support on a national level. The article from Catholic.org can be read here as well as other front page coverage. Currently, the campaign is just 9% away from tilting and if you would like to make a contribution and share the campaign with a friend, you can follow this link to the campaign page.
Local teacher tilts her way to Confratute 2011.
A community of parents group fund a teacher’s excursion to an acclaimed teaching seminar.
The University of Connecticut is home to the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Their studies, focusing on meeting the needs of gifted and talented youth have received national and international attention for over 40 years. Every year they host the annual Confratute where teachers from around the world can soak up cutting edge teaching concepts directly from the experts themselves. This year, Ashley Rich was able to attend because a group of parents saw the tremendous value in funding her trip. The new methods and concepts she could learn would directly impact the quality of the education their children would receive. The local community realized this wouldn’t happen without their support and responded by putting together a fundraising effort by using a Crowdtilt campaign as the epicenter.
After a few months of hard work promoting the cause, these parents achieved their goal and tilted their campaign. It was a great opportunity to help privately fund a public school teacher’s continued education and these parents saw the campaign through.
It was the hard work of the parents who spread awareness through their online networks that ultimately pushed the funding through. Their dedication to the cause and their children’s education was the driving force in tilting the campaign. This should serve as a shining example of how people can use Crowdtilt to get things done in their community. Find something that enough people are passionate about and use Crowdtilt to give them them an opportunity to make it happen.
Ashley and some friends enjoy some downtime in between seminars.
Now it’s time for Ashley to give you a free tutoring lesson. After all, if you’re going to learn something it might as well be from a top-notch teacher right? The thank you letter she sent us and her contributors was spectacular. In fact, it can serve as a template for your next post-campaign thank you. The letter also allows us to underline the importance of thanking your donors. It’s likely the same network you’ll be going back to for future campaigns and leaving them on a positive note is very important. Ashley hits the nail on the head with this one and you can too.
Dear Crowdtilt Confratute Contributors,
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for sending me on the trip of a lifetime. I spent five fun-filled days at the University of Connecticut studying Renzulli Learning, a gifted and talented education program that is geared towards enrichment based learning for all students. It is the 34th year that Confratute has been offered by Joe Renzulli and Sally Reis. Most of the people that I came in contact with have attended the conference year after year. Now, I understand why! I wish everyone could experience the love for education and children that radiated throughout the campus!
Each morning I attended a session where various keynote speakers from around the world shared their expertise and wisdom. The afternoons consisted of two different classes that I chose, Strategies for Differentiating Curriculum and Plugging into Creative Technology Outlets. I left each session with excitement, as well as with a wealth of strategies and knowledge to bring back to Moss Haven. I also got the opportunity to talk with Joe Renzulli and Sally Reis, one-on-one, on several occasions. They offered guidance and tips specifically for MHE. I admire their genuine dedication and love for education.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to attend Confratute 2011! This was a conference that I’ve always wanted to attend, but I knew that I could not do it on my own. Your contributions, kind words, and trust turned my dream trip into reality. I appreciate it more than you know! I am blessed beyond words and forever grateful!
Moss Haven Teacher, 5th/6th Grade
Still having trouble writing a thank you letter? Here are some more examples.
Ashley would also like to thank Starbucks. They donated some coffee to help with the campaign’s promotion.
Posted by: G.Case
Rent a beach house with Crowdtilt
Seven steps to get you to the beach.
1. Gauge interest.
It doesn’t hurt to get a headcount before you launch a campaign, that way you can gauge how many people are interested in going on the trip. Find a destination that is within the budget range you can reasonably raise with your Crowdtilt campaign. Take into account how many people are going and what kind of income they are working with.
2. When and where?
Begin your stay on a Sunday (the cheapest day for rentals) in early September (big discounts). Skip offers with weeklong minimums; many owners give competitive 3 or 4 day package deals. Try tofind an owner with a few houses; large chains may not negotiate price.
Before signing, always scout the house on Google’s street or satellite view. You’re going to want to know what it really looks like and what local hotspots are close. Property pictures can be very misleading sometimes so it’s best to cover all your bases and check it out.
3. Rent from a private individual
When you rent directly from the beach house owner, you have a better opportunity to negotiate than if you work with a property management organization. So it is usually to your advantage to rent from a private individual. Property management organizations often are unfamiliar with the property and unable to answer questions about the property location or condition. Fees for cleaning, pool heating, extra guests, and pets may set you back as much as $200. Negotiate your way out of these strings up front by suggesting that your trip may be an annual affair.
Beach houses or rentals come in varying sizes. You will want to make sure that you are getting enough space for your group to be comfortable. Also, inquire about the locations of grocery stores, shopping, nightspots, and dining.
Factor in how you’re going to get there. Outside of lodging, transportation expenses are usually one of the pricier items on a trip. Plan accordingly. Are you driving to Florida from Texas? Sometimes flying is more cost effective especially with gas prices skyrocketing.
Don’t sleep on getting a renting a travel bus. It eliminates the need for a designated driver and creates a traveling party atmosphere to and from your destination.
5. Create a campaign.
Once you’ve figured out the destination and how you’re going to get there your finally ready to launch your Crowdtilt campaign. Put the campaign up with the total amount needed and send the link to your vacation companions. Create a friendly campaign that includes a description of everything that the funds will cover for the trip. Make sure to include as much details as possible (travel accommodations, lodging, departure times) and how much everyone is expected to contribute. When handling the money for a group trip it’s best to always be transparent with the book keeping. It allows everyone to see what he or she is paying for and eliminates confusion. It’s always best to let people personally handle everything outside of lodging and transportation. After all, you don’t want to spend the entire vacation book keeping and paying for dinners.
Remember to give yourself at least 6 weeks between the end of the campaign and the departure date. This allows you enough time to receive the Crowdtilt check in the mail and make the necessary arrangements for lodging and travel.
(Note: Crowdtilt is still in Beta and you will need to e-mail us to launch a campaign: email@example.com)
6. During the stay.
Remember to observe the housekeeper’s rules. If you break them, you can kiss your deposit goodbye. Remember to stress that to your companions that it’s their money too. Always clean up the place before you depart, a lot of places will use the cleaning service bill as a way to eat your deposit. The key is to not give them any opportunity to take you for a ride.
7. Post-trip e-mail.
Always remember to thank everyone who came along on the trip. Send a post trip e-mail with a link to pictures and a few stories from the trip. If you plan on going on another group trip it’s best to leave everyone on a positive note.
Campaign highlight video.
Posted by: G.Case
Silent Disco brings the noise.
A new musical movement is taking the nation’s dance floors by storm - the sound of silence.
Imagine being at one of the hottest nightclubs in town on a Saturday night and the place is filled to capacity. The dance floor is packed with people swaying and grinding to the beat but something is slightly different, there is no audible music. This is the type of experience that only the Silent Disco can provide.
Rather than using a traditional speaker system, music is broadcast via a FM-transmitter with the signal being picked up by wireless headphone receivers worn by everyone in the crowd. It lets the attendee hear the DJ in crystal clear audio rather than getting the sound degraded by a crappy PA system or poor building acoustics. Those without the headphones hear no music, giving the effect of a room full of people dancing to nothing. To add to the fun disco-goers may tune in to two or more music channels created by competing DJs, creating the delicious sight of half an audience head banging to some fast techno while the other half gets down to some slow jams. Silent discos are also becoming increasing popular with city officials as they allow dancing to continue past noise curfews. Did I mention that you could now have a conversation with somebody at a club without having to scream two inches from their ear? It’s one of the many reasons these “silent clubs” are becoming very popular.
Check it out Dallas, we’ve got a campaign going for one right now on Friday, July 22nd at the Green Elephant. The first 100 tickets are $15 and then the price gets bumped to $21. Hurry up!
Wanna read more about the silent disco experience?
Tax break tips for Non-profit donations.
Giving to Non-profits? Here are some quick tax break tips.
Americans gave more than $307.75 billion to their favorite causes despite the economic conditions in 2009. By 2050, an estimated $41 trillion will transfer from one generation to the next, with gifts to nonprofit organizations projected to exceed $6 trillion. That much money can mean big time tax breaks for the general public if you know how to file them correctly.
Tax deductions are a significant bonus for many people that donate money to various worthy causes. The IRS understands that many organizations that offer valuable services could not operate without a considerable portion of their budgets being funded privately. In order to encourage people to continue helping these organizations do their jobs within their communities, the IRS offers tax breaks to reward the contributors.
Make sure the charity is registered.
The main requirement is that the charity must be registered as a 501(c) organization. This means that it is a non-profit entity. So what if you’re not sure a charity is registered as a 501(c) organization? Place a quick call to the IRS Customer Account Services division for Tax Exempt and Government Entities with the charity’s name and address they will verify the status for you.
The number is toll free: (877) 829-5500
There is also new section of the IRS website where you can search through their database for approved organizations: http://www.irs.gov/app/pub-78/
Subtracting the correct amount:
Once you’ve got this verification, you can offer money and take the deductions for the donations. Also, any donations over $250 must be documented with a receipt showing the transaction to the charity. Your records must indicate the name of the charitable organization, the date of your contribution, and the amount your contribution. Remember to always deduct the Crowdtilt 5.5% operating fee when making a contribution to a non-profit campaign. (Claim the amount you typed in, not how much you were actually charged.)
Also, keep in mind that if a person received anything in return for a donation, such as a service, merchandise, or admission tickets to a musical or sporting event, that person can deduct only the amount of the donation that exceeds the value of the gift. For example, if someone gives $100 to the local PBS station and they give a $20 DVD of a Stevie Ray Vaughn performance to that person in return, he can be deduct only $80 as deductions for the donations, not the full $100. So in another words, subtract the value of what you received from the total amount you contributed.
The smaller gifts are usually simple and straightforward as far as the tax guys are concerned. You declare a nominal value for your donation and get a receipt. It only gets complicated when you give larger amounts to national and international organizations.
Need some more info?
Check out the IRS documents “Form 8283” and its instructions, as well as Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. These forms and publications are all available at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Statistics provided by: Giving USA 2010
Posted by: G.Case
Top 10 ways to tilt your campaign
Here are a few quick tips on how to get your Crowdtilt campaign started off on the right foot.
1. Never stop promoting the campaign.
Send e-mail, facebook updates, or tweets to your friends and family. One of the single most important tips for an online campaign is to be persistent. While some people will contribute the first time you ask them, the reality is that it will take at least 2-3 friendly reminders before the majority of your friends and family open up their wallets for you. Campaign pages who keep their donor base engaged with frequent updates tend to be the most successful.
Keep in mind this doesn’t mean peppering people with links. (They will ignore it after a while) A well-timed and placed tweet, facebook post, or e-mail will go a long way. Here is a great guide to limit how to limit your outreach without becoming overbearing on your friend’s social feeds.
Tweets: 4-5 times a week.
Facebook posts: 1-3 times a week.
E-mails: 3-4 per duration of campaign
Some tips on generating traffic on social networks:
- The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
- The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
- Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
- Although most posts and comments appear around 3:00 p.m. ET, posts published in the morning tend to perform better than those published in the afternoon.
- Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.
Remember: The campaign’s chance of success is directly related to the amount of work and promotion the campaign administrator is willing to put forth.
2. Promote Tactically.
While we recommend telling everyone you know about your campaign page, before you send out mass e-mails to everyone in the contact book, first send out e-mails to your closest family and friends. This is one of the most important tips for success. The reason you want to do this is because your inner circle of friends and family will be the most generous and easiest to recruit to help spread the momentum for your campaign by setting the tone for subsequent contributors. For instance, if your first four contributors each give you $75, future contributors will view this as the appropriate contribution size and will be more likely to give this or a similar amount as well. You can also manually set the donation amount in the campaign creation settings.
3. Start with a modest goal.
One of the keys to a successful Crowdtilt campaign is building momentum. Your friends and family will be more inclined to give if they think their contribution will help you reach your goal. By setting a modest tilt goal for the campaign and quickly reaching fundraising milestones like 10% and 25% of your goal you can build a lot of momentum and get your donors excited about the campaign. On the other hand, if you set your goal too high, some people will be discouraged from contribution because they’ll view your goal as unattainable and will feel like their $25 or $50 bucks won’t really make a difference.
4. Offer your contributors a chance to get something in return.
A great way to get people to contribute is by offering them a raffle prize. Example: When you e-mail your contacts you might include that you will be raffling off a $50 gift card to Home Depot [or whatever prize you choose] to the first 20 people to donate. This creates extra motivation for those people who are on the fence about donating. A well-run raffle with the right grand prize can raise incredible amounts of money for campaign. Most groups underestimate how much money a raffle can raise. Your choice of prize or prizes should vary depending on your financial goal, the size of your potential market, and how many volunteers you have to sell tickets.
Remember, bigger prizes mean more tickets must be sold to turn a profit, but they also mean substantially higher profits. Design your raffle prize offerings to match your community’s tastes.
The most successful raffles generally have between one and four prizes. When you decide on the selling price of your raffle tickets, keep in mind the market value of the raffle prizes. For high-end prizes ($800+) it is not uncommon to see prices on the raffle tickets of $6 or more.
Selling raffle tickets is really easy on Crowdtilt. Set up a campaign that has predetermined amount equal to the price of a raffle ticket. Contributors will also be able to purchase multiple tickets at once. The campaign administrator will be able to track who bought tickets and how many were purchased for the drawing. It brings a level of excitement and anticipation to the deadline from the contributors.
5. Get your story in the media.
The local paper will usually be more than happy to write about your campaign if it benefits the community in some fashion. The more exposure you get, the better your campaign will do especially if it’s a local campaign on the local news. It’s no secret that people like to be apart of something that is high profile within the community.
6. Make your campaign go viral.
The most successful fundraising campaigns are the ones that go “viral” on the Internet. The results can be astonishing with hundreds of people making contributions across the country and raising thousands of dollars for a cause. Although not every campaign will go viral, here are some tips to help get you there:
- Ask friends and family to spread the word. When you send out your e-mail make sure to ask your contacts to share your campaign with their friend’s co-workers.
- Create a 24-hour Facebook “Wallflower” Campaign where everyone donates their status message for one day to direct the participant’s networks to contribute to the cause.
- Make sure to get off to a good start with a big donation off the bat (close friends and family can help). This will give you some quick momentum to get people excited about your campaign.
7. Thank your contributors.
When you create your campaign page, you can draft a thank you message that automatically goes out whenever someone makes a contribution. You can also send personalized thank you e-mails to your donors from their profile pages. Thanking each contributor individually is essential if you plan to fundraise again in the future and hope to ask the same people.
8. Create a blog about the campaign.
This will give the campaign a human face and a voice (yours) as well as providing an outlet to publish updates, stories, and highlight the people behind the campaign. It’s a great resource that builds credibility and enthusiasm about your campaign. Once the information gets rolling it will get picked up and re-blogged by other sources. We recommend tumblr.com for functionality and sharing capabilities.
Tumblr tip: Run a search for like-minded blogs to start following. If you follow a blog they will most likely start following you back. If you have good content then you are more likely to get your posts re-blogged.
9. Create an attractive campaign page
Personalize your fundraising page as much as possible with a heartfelt description and a striking photo.
The campaigns that do the best are the ones who really make an effort to tell their stories or are super descriptive about what the funds will be used for. Explain to your contributors what you are raising money for and why it is so important to you. If your friends and family see that you are passionate about the campaign, they are more likely to give and give generously.
Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words so make it count. Also remember you must choose a picture that will also be attractive and striking in thumbnail size from the search page.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you would click on a link if you were scanning the page. Get advice from others as well. The larger a focus group you have the better shot you have at nailing down a picture that will get noticed.
10. Have Fun!
It’s always important to remember to have fun. Getting a campaign tilted can be hard work but it can also be very fun and if you’re not enthusiast about it will tough to fake. It should be a fun activity and if you’re having fun with it, the positive emotions become contagious and will make people want to contribute.
Posted by: G.Case