In this video, I’m joined by Alejandra, Executive Director of Help Peru. Help Peru supports vulnerable communities in Peru by partnering with the best organizations on the ground. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they ramped up their efforts to provide relief to the most affected populations, all over Peru. One of the ways they did this was by holding a 3-week crowdfunding campaign that enabled them to provide 100 oxygen concentrators to COVID-19 patients in need! Alejandra explains how they helped bring a breath of fresh air to many Peruvians. Plus, she shares:
- Why they chose to do a crowdfunding campaign on Givebutter
- What made this campaign so successful (Hint: Powerful storytelling!)
- Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for running emergency relief campaigns on Givebutter
“We just tried to tell the story in a way that people understood mattered but also would make a difference if they donated. This is such a humongous problem that you may be overwhelmed by it, but there is an option, there is a solution... We just wanted to convey the message that this is a huge problem, but it's a solvable one and you can help.”
Did I mention this was their first-ever Givebutter campaign?
Campaign at a glance
Full video script
Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter again. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are highlighting Help Peru. Recently, this organization set out to raise $38,500 and brought over $54,000 on Givebutter and raised over $70,000 total during a 3-week-long crowdfunding campaign to provide 100 oxygen concentrators to help Peruvians recover from the COVID-19 crisis. I have Alejandra here with me to share how they made this event so successful as well as—you know them, you love them—tips, tricks, and lessons learned. Alejandra, thank you so much for joining and for sharing your story with us today.
Alejandra: Thank you for having us.
Rachel: To start, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself and your incredible organization.
Alejandra: Well, my name is Alejandra. I'm the Executive Director of Help Peru. Help Peru is a nonprofit public charity that is in New York, based in New York. We—like the name explains; it’s pretty self-explanatory—we raise funds to support development projects in Peru. We mainly focus on education, development, women empowerment, environment, and the cultivation of philanthropy amongst Peruvians. But, of course, we always have special initiatives when there's an emergency—specifically since COVID happened. It's been an ongoing emergency, like everywhere else in the world, so we've been focusing on that a lot.
Rachel: Amazing! Thank you for the important work that you're doing. So, you recently—speaking of emergency campaigns—you held this really important crowdfunding campaign to provide oxygen for many, many, many Peruvians and many more than you even set out to help. Can you tell us a little bit more about this project? Why were you raising funds right now for that? What was your plan going in?
Alejandra: Well Peru...ooh, explaining the pandemic in Peru. Actually Peru has been the most affected country, in terms of excess deaths, in the world. Compared to the same period in previous years, Peru is the country in the world where more people have died, basically. I don't know how that's going to change now that India is in flames, but for the whole year it's still dramatically larger than anywhere else. That's because the country is very ill prepared in terms of healthcare. Basically when the pandemic started, I think they had a little less than 500 ICU beds in all the country for 30 million people. They were really not prepared at all for anything remotely close to this. Even though they've increased the resources for healthcare and a lot of hospitals have been built and new units and new ICUs, it's still not enough. Basically, right now, there's a dire need of oxygen and a lot of people are just dying because they don't have enough oxygen. Even at the hospitals, they don't have oxygen for their patients. The hospitals are not able to actually take in any more patients because they're completely at capacity. If somebody has a mild respiratory deficiency, they're not able to get treated and it might just get really bad and they may pass away. But, this is something that is treatable and this can be treated at home, even. If a doctor prescribes oxygen therapy and if it's not a very dire case, it can be done at home. It will usually last about two weeks. So what people have been doing is they have been purchasing oxygen tanks—which you have to refill every one or two days—and then they have to wait for days to actually refill those tanks. Sometimes up to four days and four nights. A family member would be lining up to try to get a refill and then they just refill it and then one day later they're back there. Also, the prices went up really high. There was a black market for oxygen. It's really dire. We thought that a good way to help was by providing oxygen concentrators. The difference between an oxygen concentrator and an oxygen tank is that the capacity of a tank is finite. You can only have a certain amount and it has to be refilled. If you have a concentrator, you can take the air from the room and then the machine filters it and concentrates the oxygen and then provides it to the patient. It can keep going as long as it has power. It's really good for treatment. The ones that are smaller—like the ones that we were raising funds for, the 10 liters—actually are portable. What we decided we could do is we could buy those concentrators and lend them to people for the length of the treatment. We finally set out to get 45 concentrators, and we ended up donating 100 concentrators which is great. We're partnering with this organization on the ground that's doing the work of taking note of who needs them, seeing the medical prescription, lending them to the family members who come and pick it up. and then making sure that they return them.
Rachel: Thank you so much for sharing more of the urgent need that you were raising funds for. What made you choose this 3-week format, crowdfunding on Givebutter? Why did you think this format would be so successful?
Alejandra: Well, honestly, we weren’t sure. It was the first time we were using Givebutter. We thought if the campaign were shorter, it was more likely to raise an interest. If you see it, you either do something about it now, or you won't have the chance to do it. We thought it was an urgent call and that it would work better that way, potentially. We set out to do a 2-week campaign and then—as we saw that we had raised, I think we raised half the funds by the first week or even faster than that—we thought we needed to get this going. By the end of the campaign, we had already reached our target and surpassed it. We thought if people are really interested in donating to this and they see the urgency, why don't we keep it open for another week and see if more people can help. Then, we can provide even more concentrators. So, that's what we did!
Rachel: Amazing! Your graphics were just so beautiful. Your story section was just really captivating, the way that you laid everything out. This is a solvable problem. Give a breath of life. Just very memorable, inspiring messages here. Then, your video below. What are some of your tips, tricks, or lessons learned your first time using Givebutter? Tell us more.
Alejandra: Well, it seemed pretty intuitive to use. I think also for the donor on the other side. I think we just tried to be a little creative, to call people's attention. That's why we decided to just go and design something in Canva, which is free. We thought this may be a good idea in order to be able to tell the story more graphically. I personally am a very graphic person; I retain the images in my head. I thought this is probably the way to go. We created the content using our colors and then the color of the campaign, which was the green for the oxygen tanks that we were trying to substitute for the oxygen concentrators. We just tried to tell the story in a way that people understood mattered but also would make a difference if they donated. This is such a humongous problem that you may be overwhelmed by it, but there is an option, there is a solution. There’s a solution to those lines; people don't need to be lining up for days. We could just be providing concentrators. They're very expensive for the everyday person; not everybody can buy one of these and you don't need them all the time. If you could borrow them from someone, they could save lives. They can work for a really long time. They don't necessarily have too much difficulty using them. Anyway, we just wanted to convey the message that this is a huge problem, but it's a solvable one and you can help. It's measurable. One concentrator at this point costs $700. You can donate a part of it and save somebody's life with that.
Rachel: Absolutely! Being that this was your first time using Givebutter, was there anything that you learned that either you would do differently next time or would definitely do again?
Alejandra: Well, I think I would do one thing different. Because we improvised the campaign a little bit due to the urgency, we didn't really have the time to think through so much of the format of the page itself. For instance, I think I would add more team members from our team to the screen to help you fundraise. Because, right now, you open up and you see a lot of people who are volunteers who are helping us. But then, some people don't necessarily recognize them as the faces from Help Peru—people who know Help Peru already. I think next time we raise funds, we're probably going to have the faces of the Board of Directors and other people that people may usually identify with our organization. Because I think sometimes people opened it—I've gotten comments from friends and they were like, “Who are these people here?” I said, “Well, these are volunteers that are raising funds for us.” It may not be as intuitive as I thought. I think it would be useful to just have people from your team be the public face and then of course you can add other people to raise funds for you. At least just make sure that we set those up ourselves or ask them to do it, so that everybody recognizes the organization.
Rachel: I see. Yeah, that's a great tip. Just as we close here, is there any word of encouragement or advice that you might have for other fundraisers just like you who are following along right now?
Alejandra: For us it was very...I think it was very lucky. It was out of luck that we ended up donating all of these concentrators because we set out for a much smaller amount. But in the end I think, like you said, the storytelling captivated some of our donors who just asked other people to donate in tribute. Then, we got a large donor who just got very touched by the campaign and she was involved with Peru and she just decided to donate a large amount of concentrators herself. I don't know, I think it just conveys the message in a way that it's solvable. Of course you're not going to solve hunger in the world, but if you explain how one bit at a time it is something that you can achieve, I think it's more realistic and somebody can feel like they can really make a difference in their donation. Because sometimes if you donate $20 you think what is this going to do for the oxygen crisis in the world? But it does, it really does.
Rachel: Right! Well, I know I will certainly remember that language after this fundraiser: this is a solvable problem. You made me feel like I could make a real impact when I looked at this page when it was live. Thank you for the incredible work that you do, for saving lives, and for using Givebutter to raise funds for this campaign.
Alejandra: I'm glad. Thank you so much! Thank you for portraying our case. We hope it helps a lot of people.
Rachel: Of course. For those who are following along and want to follow you and Help Peru after watching this, where can they find you?
Rachel: Perfect. Thank you again everyone for following along today's Success Story. Please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel so you never miss another incredible story. We will see you again next week and, until then, happy fundraising! Goodbye everybody.
Alejandra: Bye, thank you.
View campaign: Oxygen for Peru
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.