This year, Yeshivat Ohr David added a completely new component to their fundraising approach: They partnered with the crowdfunding platform Charidy to raise over half a million dollars in twenty-four hours.
Online crowdfunding, the latest trend in the nonprofit world, was a new and adventurous step for the yeshiva. While it was a bit outside their comfort zone, they were excited by the opportunity Charidy presented. At Ohr Dovid, talmidim often develop close, meaningful relationships with the rabbeim that continue once they leave the yeshiva and graduate to the next stages of their lives. Alumni remain some of the strongest believers in the yeshiva’s approach to chinuch.
With Charidy, Ohr Dovid saw a chance to invite the alumni to play a more active role in supporting the yeshiva’s activities. This short, targeted campaign would allow them to address their former students directly, a deeply personal appeal. Combined with a specific, time- sensitive call to action, this event had the potential to bring their fundraising to a completely different level.
It was our job to get the word out to Ohr Dovid’s alumni – and give them a good reason to get involved. Our video needed to hype viewers up and move them to take concrete action. It needed to be a short, undemanding watch and easy to share on social media, reaching as many people as possible. And it needed to be relatable, humanizing the campaign and resonating with the alumni’s personal investment in the yeshiva.
The first step to accomplishing these aims was to have the current crop of talmidim express their appreciation of and gratitude towards the yeshiva. This would be a reflection of the viewers’ own experiences, and their own feelings towards Ohr Dovid. The video then invited the alumni to support Ohr Dovid and keep its legacy going for the next generation.
We conducted a careful poll of the students to get their genuine impressions, so that they would be able to deliver their lines with the greatest sincerity. Based on their responses, we suggested the phrasing and structure that would have the maximum impact. After all, this video had one very specific, somewhat delicate goal: asking viewers for a donation. Preparing a script ensured that this message would be delivered with subtlety and sensitivity.
Ohr Dovid’s Charidy campaign was a resounding success, easily meeting its target of $600,000. This was an achievement unlike anything they had ever attempted, or even dreamed of attempting.
The campaign was proof that Ohr Dovid had more than strong relationships in their alumni community. Almost 800 former talmidim responded to the message we articulated, demonstrating that they retained an attachment to Ohr Dovid and, furthermore, that they could be motivated to give material support. This was not only a profitable event, but an encouraging sign for future alumni engagement.