Written by Fred Hjerpe, Jeanne Nelson, & Zach Schleien
Imagine the opportunity to have a profound impact on thousands of lives. CaringCrowd, a crowdfunding platform sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, provides this opportunity. CaringCrowd allows individuals and groups to meet specific funding goals that benefit non-profit, public health programs and causes. Once project goals, funding targets, and timeline are established CaringCrowd allows your crowd to care. Johnson and Johnson also match individual project donations up to $250. A project to raise $10,000 can be funded with as few as 20 people.
Our ‘crowd’ started with Zach, Jeanne, and Fred. Zach had previously led a CaringCrowd for NAMI New Jersey. Jeanne is President of the El Dorado County (California) affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Fred’s 22-year-old son, Louis, lost his battle with mental illness in June of 2017.
Together, a project to raise $30,000 in thirty days to expand NAMI’s Family to Family program in El Dorado County was established. The Family to Family program is a free, 12 class evidence-based course for families, caregivers, and friends of adults living with mental illness.
The project was the largest fundraising campaign ever pursued in the 21-year history of NAMI in El Dorado County.
Our ‘crowd’ quickly expanded from 3 to 20 to 50 to nearly 100 that included family members, friends, compassionate individuals hearing about the project via social media, county mental health leaders, elected officials, NAMI members, and people touched by the story of Louis’s struggle with mental illness. Ultimately the project raised of $32,000 and Jeanne noted. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to train more Family to Family trainers thereby significantly expanding the program. It is not uncommon to hear program participants say: ‘this saved my marriage’; ‘I wish I knew this information five years ago’; ‘why didn’t anyone tell us this before”.
This story, however, is not about the success of our ‘crowd’ and project. It is about the opportunity for your ‘crowd’. It does not require Zach’s experience, Jeanne’s position, or Fred’s tragedy. It does require the vision of a worthy project and the commitment to the project’s success. CaringCrowd provides a unique opportunity to directly support non-profit programs that can often be overlooked or underfunded.
Zach has said, “You’re going to have that voice in your head that tells us why you can’t seize the CaringCrowd opportunity. Think, however, about the possibilities and consider saying yes.” Jeanne and Fred would point out that you are currently a ‘crowd’ of one that can grow to a ‘crowd’ of many.