Employee Spotlight: Meeting with Varun Anil, Developer

Employee Spotlight is a new CauseMatch blog series meant to surface stories of the amazing individuals behind our platform. 

We’ll interview people who are developers, graphic designers, coaches, marketers, customer success representatives, and all those in between… THESE are the people who make CauseMatch GO. These are the people who guide fundraisers through the invigorating process of online campaigns.

Today, let’s get to know Varun Anil, a CauseMatch developer. 

  1. Where did you grow up?

    I grew up in Kerala, India. I spent some early years in Mahe and later in Kannur, where I live now.
  1. What is your favorite place that you have visited and why?

    Of the very few places that I have travelled to outside Kerala, I think Goa beckons me the most. More than the beaches, it’s the sense of celebration and calm that draws me there. It’s the perfect getaway. But I wouldn’t call it my favourite place because that will always be back home in Kannur.
  1. What is your favorite band now? What was your favourite band 10 years ago?

    Agam and Motherjane come to mind, although there are quite a lot of them. Both these bands are progressive rock, centered around and mostly derived from contemporary carnatic elements. Good music is all around.

    I guess I was really young 10 years ago, but I remember listening to a lot of Backstreet Boys, Avial, Nickelback to name a few. Also Eminem (not a band tho)
  1. What’s your typical day at CauseMatch look like?

    I start off reviewing tasks and updates, getting up to speed with the team.
    Then I get to work on what’s usually a new feature or an update, bugfixes or performance optimizations, or sometimes operational and server administration tasks as they come up. 

    We are a close knit unit and almost everything revolves around the product and platform, maintaining the edge.

    Given the current situation and with us working remotely, team meetings and discussions over Zoom has become the mainstay and we usually have at least one call with the team everyday mostly to review work and plot ahead.
  1. Read any good books lately?

    Now that’s one thing I wish I did more. I enjoy fiction more than anything, but lately I haven’t been able to find the right setting to read, and it’s been long since I read a good book. 

    As for the ones that I have had the pleasure to read some time ago, favorites would be Amitav Ghosh’s “Hungry Tide,” James Hilton’s “The Lost Horizon,” Orhan Pamuk’s “Snow,” and Ruskin Bond’s collection.
  1. What part about being a developer do you find most meaningful?

    To be able to turn ideas into practical experiences and being able to cater to genuine needs in the process. To provide an elevated experience of something that already exists. I think these are most meaningful to me as a developer. 
  1. What is the most important thing you have learned about operating a crowdfunding site?

    Sometimes the crowd can be overwhelming in a really good way 😉.
    Sometimes we get campaigns that bring in an incredible number of donations and activity on the platform. This has taught us not only to design scalable solutions but also how much it matters to be effective in working alongside your teammates from other departments of the company. These insights have always enabled better product decisions. 
  1. What advice do you have for prospective CauseMatch clients?

    To not worry about a thing and to be completely focused on the cause. We have the right set of tools and people to make it happen. Be open to suggestions and best practices we have garnered over multitudes of successful campaigns.
  1. What has been your proudest moment at CauseMatch?

    lt’s every one of those moments when you realize you are part of something great.
    Be it a successful campaign, delivering on tough sprints, accounts of personal sacrifices and excellence, etc. We have had countless such moments at CauseMatch along the way and they were always the result of incredible commitment, professionalism, and the collective will to offer the best service possible.
     
  2. What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

    Stocks and become more rich. Just kidding. I’d probably buy this patch of land next door, that has this beautiful pair of jasmine trees that are older than me and which I have grown so fond of. I don’t want anyone to ever cut them down.

Your Questions About Crowdfunding Answered

For most of you, crowdfunding is new territory. It is a blue ocean of opportunity. But because you haven’t chartered these waters before, you have questions. 

We get it. It’s complicated. And the pile of decisions you have to make can feel endless. That’s why we at CauseMatch are here to guide you each step of the way. 

Below are the most population questions you have asked us. Our answers are not applicable to every campaign. But these FAQs will help you take a step forward in your plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign.

  1. Why should I run a crowdfunding campaign?  

Crowdfunding campaigns afford you a host of opportunities that you would otherwise miss. You infuse energy into your constituency by making a fundraising goal public and eliciting support from your donors. You turn your donor base into a mobilized movement of passionate, caring activists. You can take advantage of matching opportunities and peer-to-peer campaigns (more on that later on). 

Crowdfunding allows you to harness your donor’ passions for your cause and work toward an ambitious fundraising goal. 

  1.  What is the ideal timing and pacing of a campaign from planning until the final close?  

Ideally, you’ll allow at least six weeks to prepare for your campaign. During that time, you’ll have to hone your story, organize your lists, set a goal, and build a strategy to promote the campaign. 

At CauseMatch, we’re big fans of 36- and 48-hour campaigns. This time frame allows you to capture audiences in different time zones and still maintains a built-in sense of urgency. 

After the campaign, we recommend taking two weeks to send out proper thank yous (beyond the automated responses your donors will receive) to donors and supporters who played a particularly important role in your campaign. You’ll receive details about your donors and an interactive dashboard to see how different demographics donated. 

  1. What should my campaign goal be?

Setting a campaign goal is part science, part art. We highly recommend you speak to a CauseMatch coach to help you determine your fundraising goal. 

The inputs we encourage you to consider are: the number of volunteers and staff members who will fundraise during the campaign; your reach on social media; the size of your donor base; and your other fundraising priorities.

Then, you can look more practically at your fundraising channels. You should breakdown as specifically as possible your current support base, how you plan to reach them, and what you can realistically raise from them. 

For every mid-tier and major donor, you should know who is going to make the ask and the expected level of success.

How many volunteer hours will you have? How many calls can a volunteer make per hour? And what is the monetary value of all your volunteers?

You should evaluate your organization’s email list to quantify how much you can raise through email blasts. What does your open rate look like? What can you expect from your list during a time-sensitive campaign?

You should consider how many people will find you through social media posts. How about other forms of marketing, like local newspapers or retargeting? 

Knowing your data will empower you to make an informed decision about your campaign goal. 

  1. Should I do a matching campaign?

Yes! Simply put: matching campaigns work. On average, they increase the likelihood of a donation by 19%, they increase those donations by 22%, and they increase the total amount raised by 71%. 

Matching campaigns provide an incentive for smaller donors to donate because their donations will be amplified. And your matching donors (your larger donors) will feel awesome because they know their gifts were leveraged for additional support. 

The only reason NOT to do a matching campaign is if the matching gift will cannibalize your campaign. If, by asking for large matching gifts, you “use up” your capital and resources to reach your campaign goal, it is better to approach your larger donors in pursuit of a non-matched goal. 

  1. Where should I find matchers?

You normally find matchers among your largest financial supporters. They are individuals or families who believe deeply in your cause and in you. They support your work in a large manner. 

It is important to note and appreciate that the big donor wants to have as large an impact as possible with his/her donation. It is crucial, when possible, to leverage that factor as you consider a matching structure and the individuals who belong in this category. 

The matcher can be a single person or a group of people who, together, form the ‘matched amount’ for the campaign.

  1. Should I do a peer-to-peer campaign?

Yes! Peer-to-peer fundraising, sometimes referred to as team fundraising, creates a framework for volunteers and nonprofit champions to create personal fundraising pages that are part of the 

bigger campaign. They can set their own goal, get a personal URL, add their name/message, and load a photo. 

Peer-to-peer campaigns tap into all the key drivers of human motivation: goals, public accountability, competition, social influence, and relationships. 

Through team fundraising, you give individuals a personal goal, provide them a unique and customized donation page, and place them side-by-side (online) with other peers fundraising for your cause.

The result is a community of volunteer fundraisers who feel a shared sense of responsibility and 

motivation to reach their individual goals, encourage their peers to reach their respective goals, 

and help make the campaign a big success! 

  1. What day of the week is the best to launch a campaign?

The data on this is simply not clear. There are too many variables to say anything conclusive. But, as a general rule, weekdays are more successful than weekends. Among weekdays, it is best to stay away from Monday and Friday. 

Tuesday-Wednesday and Wednesday-Thursday campaigns seem to have the greatest success. But there are many notable exceptions to this rule. 

  1. How do I develop “the story” of my campaign?

Understanding the “why” of your campaign is crucial. The hardest part about this step of the campaign is thinking about your cause from your donor’s point of view. 

Donors don’t give because of a budget shortfall. They don’t give because it’s Giving Tuesday or because you are constructing a new wing on your building. 

They give to make an impact. To solve a problem. To seize an opportunity. 

Make sure your story puts the donor at the center and conveys that when people give to your cause, they transform into a hero. 

  1. How does this campaign fit into a larger fundraising strategy?

At CauseMatch, we subscribe to a communications cycle that boils down to ASK>THANK>REPORT>REPEAT. 

Your crowdfunding campaign perfectly positions you to make an ASK of your donors. After the campaign, you will THANK them for their generosity. Then, you can REPORT on the impact that their gifts made to your service recipients. 

When you follow this cycle, you have now prepared your organization to turn to your donors again to say “there is so much more work to be done.”

  1. How easy is it to track the campaign and review data on donors?

So easy! Your campaign dashboard will provide you with real-time data and analytics. You will see who is giving, how much they gave, and how they reached your campaign page.

Plus, you have access to bells-and-whistles features like our donation page abandonment tool. You can follow up with donors who never completed their transaction. A simple (polite) email to remind them can increase your bottom line dramatically! 

  1. Can I still run a crowdfunding campaign even though we can’t host any in-person events?

There are a lot of advantages to “going virtual.” You can transcend geographical boundaries by recruiting people from all over the world. You can transcend time by making the recordings of your events available afterward. You can leverage the fact that people are at their computers more often without any commutes to worry about.

This is the reality we live in. And if you want to raise money to have the resources to go and change the world, then you need to adapt. Will it be harder than it was in 2019? In some ways, yes. And in some ways, no. 

The need is more acute. And donors want to perform acts of kindness. Open the doors for donors to make a true impact for a cause they care about. You’ll raise more money. They’ll feel great about themselves. And your service recipients will receive the care they so richly deserve.

Crowdfunding is the beginning of a new chapter of your organization’s fundraising life. We hope this FAQ brought you some clarity. Of course, this was not an exhaustive list and, even if it were, your organization is unique. Please contact us today to speak to a dedicated fundraising specialist to explore opportunities for your cause!