Amidst COVID-19, Benevity’s “We Are We” movement fuels $2.3 million in donations to 812 nonprofits
As people look for ways to stay connected during this time of physical isolation, we’re seeing some new – and some delightfully odd – social experiments emerge. Things like “Zinners” (dinners hosted over Zoom), video dance breaks, and even entertainment like #clubquarantine and Elton John’s “Living Room Concert for America.”
And companies are adapting too. They are forming crisis management teams, reviewing employee benefits, finding ways to contribute to “flattening the curve” and proactively trying to minimize the financial impact of the economic COVID-19 fallout, whether real or speculated.
At Benevity, we have a unique vantage point into what hundreds of these companies are up to because we’re helping them power Goodness programs that include giving, volunteering, grantmaking and other positive actions people can take to help make the world a better place. In fact, more than 130 companies in our client community are already supporting those being impacted by COVID-19! And Benevity is just one of them.
Even though our budget capabilities are modest relative to what a larger company could do, we came up with the lofty goal to start a bit of a global movement using a guiding principle based on humility, the power of collective action, and solving for others ahead of ourselves: “We Are We, Not Just Me.” We wanted to replace the pervasive sense of helplessness, social isolation and uncertainty spurred by COVID-19 with empowerment, connectedness and hope. So, we announced $300,000 in 1:1 donation matching that would amplify the impact of people’s donations made on our Community Impact Portal.
We took a bit of a different approach to matching. Whereas many companies limit their matching to a handful of curated causes, we built our campaign on donor choice. The idea was that among the global and personal turmoil, there were a vast number of nonprofit organizations who were struggling with uncertainty about how they could continue to deliver on their social missions and take care of the populations that rely on them.
And, wow. Did people show up!
Shortly after announcing the initiative, we looked at the real-time donation reporting and couldn’t believe our eyes. Within just 2 hours, we blew through our $300,000 matching budget! And 1.5 hours later, there had been over 10,000 visits to the portal. Before we knew it, the donation amount had more than doubled to $636,000 in public contributions.
So we took a step back, checked in with ourselves and revisited our motivation. We wanted to help people feel more connected. We wanted to help people have a greater sense of efficacy. We wanted causes to get the financial support they needed. We wanted to see if we could start a movement that brought out the best in humanity during what was feeling like the worst of times. And it looks like we may have succeeded just a little bit.
To honour the spirit of We Are We, Benevity decided to match twice the amount of donations. And despite the matching campaign being over, we are still seeing people visit our We are We Community Impact Portal every day to support the causes they care about. As of March 30, 2020, together, we donated a collective $2.3 million to 812 causes, thanks to the thousands of people across the world who took action.
Benevity’s We Are We campaign saw an 8.4% conversion rate, compared to an average of 1.2%. We believe that this speaks to the power of personal choice.
If you are one of those people who has been jaded about humanity because of the vast amount of toilet paper hoarding and other “me first” thinking, we hope this little movement serves as an antidote.
Beyond the dollars donated, we were flooded with heart-felt notes from causes and donors. On social media alone, over 800 messages came in from causes, many of which included stories of how COVID-19 is impeding their ability to serve their community and how hopeful (and grateful) they were for any help they could get. To share one example, a gentleman named Brian Reinbold from Braveheart’s for Kids called in asking about the matching campaign. We explained that the budget had been used up and he responded:
“We operate under the idea that doing good anywhere does good everywhere. So, if you helped someone else, it doesn’t hurt us, it makes the world better, and that helps us.”— Brian Reinbold, Braveheart’s for Kids
This sentiment resonated deeply with our team.
Emotions aside, the last few days have made a few things crystal clear. First, is the innate desire that people have to do good. Second, is the need for continued support within our communities. When we break down the causes that received funds through this initiative, they range from human services and religious organizations, to arts and culture, education and animal services. What they all have in common is the need to adapt to operational challenges, fewer volunteers, event cancellations and the uncertainty of whether or not they will survive the potential economic fallout from this pandemic.
And now, more companies are joining the movement…
At least 130 companies within the Benevity client community are running campaigns in response to COVID-19, including Adobe, SAP and Liberty Mutual who spoke about their efforts in our recent COVID-19 webinar. And countless others are stepping up in a variety of different ways.
To continue to add fuel to the movement, Benevity is offering companies a number of resources to help them engage people in actions that contribute to "flattening the curve".
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub for more ways companies can get involved and cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose through these challenging times.