WeDidIt is a social enterprise that helps nonprofits fundraise by using an intelligent online platform.
Q&A with Su Sanni, CEO and co-founder.
Q: What is the organization’s mission?
A: WeDidIt is an organization that helps nonprofits use technology to raise money and reach new donors. Some of our most recent projects include building a crowdfunding platform that can be placed on any organization’s website and creating a mobile app that allows folks to fundraise in-person without losing any donor data or using any hardware like Square.
Q: What prompted you to found the organization?
A: While at a previous job where I worked with many nonprofits like the Boy Scouts of America and UNICEF, it became apparent to me that fundraising was really, really difficult for those in the social good sector. While there were success stories left and right about entrepreneurs and artists having success on Kickstarter, I continued to see the stress of fundraising wear on the folks at nonprofits, who could no longer rely on grants and corporate donations in our struggling economy. Inspired by a friend-coworker, we teamed up, left our jobs and decided to take action ourselves by starting WeDidit.
Q: How did you set goals for the organization when you founded (or joined) it?
A: Audaciously, but backed by a lot of research. When setting goals for our startup, I tried to compare what we were doing to other startups out there and benchmark our goals and progress against theirs. Whenever there wasn’t a past example we could learn from, I imagined where I wanted our organization to be in the future, and worked backwards – determining the individuals steps required to get there. Most importantly, I surrounded myself around more experienced entrepreneurs, advisors and professionals who guided us whenever we were unfamiliar with the path ahead.
Q: How do you measure the impact of programs?
A: Measuring impact for WeDidIt is quite simple now, but we’re seeking to challenge ourselves with new metrics in the future. For now, the total funds raised, number of customers and total donors provide a decent barometer of our organization’s impact and market adoption. However, we’re also considering ways to promote the amount of time we’re saving folks and the number of people engaged by our technology.
Q: What have been the greatest challenges?
A: The greatest challenges have been building a team of talented technologists who also have entrepreneurial spirits. However, I’m fortunate enough to have the foundation of an amazing tech team already. But perhaps one of the earliest challenges we faced was developing a business model that made our organization sustainable. It was important to our team to be self-sufficient, so we focussed really hard on the business-side of launching a startup so that we could ensure that WeDidIt would be around 3, 5, or 10 years from today.
Q: Whatʼs your top fundraising tip?
A: My top fundraising tip would be to “divide and conquer, according to strategy”. What I mean by this is to divide your fundraising team according to the type of funds/donor you’re seeking. This translates into 1 person focussing on individual giving, while another person appeals to corporate donations or fundraising events. Either way, having a single person really focus on 1 strategy at a time, allows for the entire team to benefit from each individual person’s progress and improvement as a fundraiser.
Q: Whatʼs the most critical lesson youʼve learned about nonprofit management?
A: The most critical lesson I’ve learned in nonprofit management is that one must treat their charitable organization with the same level of financial discipline as you would treat a startup business. Becoming sustainable is the holy-grail in the nonprofit world, where over 65% of organizations operate on a budget of less than $100,000. While establishing sustainability is often an uphill battle from Day 1, it needs to be a primary objective or else the likelihood that the organization will be around 5 or 10 years later gets slimmer with each day that passes. So overall, manage your nonprofit like you’re a CEO of a business, aligning your income to cover your expenses and thinking about how to grow efficiently year-over-year.
Q: What changes do you anticipate in the nonprofit landscape over the next five to 10 years?
A: I anticipate software and technology to dramatically change the nonprofit landscape over the next 5-10 years. It’s already happening now to other industries (music, entertainment, finance, health, etc). Technology and things powered by the internet have become the biggest leverage tool our generation has ever seen. So I think not only will donors contribute and interact with organizations differently in years to come, but the tools we use to communicate and spread our message will also change too. Most importantly, our ability as nonprofit professionals to reach a wider audience yet target the folks most likely interested in supporting our cause will be a part of this change.
Q: How can others help support your organizationʼs mission?
A: By emailing [email protected] and telling us about a nonprofit organization who’s interested in using technology to fundraise. We’d love to help.
Recommended reading and links:
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Do More, Faster by David Cohen, Brad Feld