Last May, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation posted a challenge, asking for the best examples of how to raise awareness about small farmers in Africa. Our organization, The Adventure Project, was already working with small farmers in Kenya. So we knew this is was a great opportunity to engage our supporters and amplify our message.
My Co-Founder, Jody Landers and I both love about.me. For us, it’s a fantastic way to keep our email signatures clean, while providing personality. We realized about.me would be a fun platform for supporters to spread the message through social media, and make the statement that their “About.me, was about-so-much-more.”
We crafted a lofty goal and set out to enlist 1,000 people to design about.me pages in ten days. Each supporter was asked to create an about.me profile, sharing that they were part of our adventure, and spread the message through social media.
We were blown away. In ten days, 1,081 individuals pledged their about.me page to support small farmers in Africa. Their efforts resulted in hundreds of tweets and facebook posts, and gathered the most web traffic in our organization’s history. Most importantly, they collectively raised $16,680 to support 278 small farmers in Kenya with new irrigation pumps. These pumps will increase a farmer’s food yield 1,000% in only one crop season – turning subsistent farmers into profitable entrepreneurs in less than a year.
Our Lessons Learned:
- It was hard to reach 1,000 people in only ten days, especially those who are not tech-savvy. To assist, our determined volunteers did everything from helping coworkers and friends sign up, to making a video explaining how easy it is.
- Finding sponsors takes a lot of lead-time. We had a goal of finding sponsors willing to support one farmer ($60) for every page created. We quickly learned that while many were interested, most foundations and companies need more time to mobilize. Thankfully, we had great support from The Prem Rawat Foundation, About.me and Lifetime Network to come in as supporting sponsors, and individual funds are still trickling in.
While we didn’t achieve our fundraising goal, the awareness and collective engagement of our Tribe was well worth the effort. Together, we were recognized by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as The Most Creative Response to their awareness challenge.
For an organization less than a year old, we are humbled and incredible honored by the success of the campaign. We’re working towards finding ways to continue engagement with our about.me supporters, as their pages are a wonderful way to spread our message wherever they travel.
Thank you to everyone who made your about.me profile matter.