In this video, I’m joined by Gidon Ariel from Root Source. Root Source exists to enable, encourage, and enrich relationships between pro-Israel Christians and Jews on a basis of mutual respect and love. This organization recently raised over $15k through a two-day, live stream event in partnership with the Nathaniel Foundation. Follow along to discover how they surpassed their fundraising goal through this successful and inspiring virtual symposium. Gidon explains:
- Why he loves the Givebutter platform
- How to reach and surpass your fundraising goal on Givebutter (Hint: Start small!)
- Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for getting started on Givebutter even if you’re brand new to fundraising
“I looked up, “Can you give donations through Venmo?” and of course the articles that I found said, “No, you can't. No, you can't. No, you can’t.” But, through Givebutter, you can!”
Campaign at a glance
Full video script
Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story. Today, we are featuring Root Source. Recently, they raised over $15,000 for a live stream pre-Passover Symposium. That's why we're interviewing Gidon today. He's here with me to share why they turned to Givebutter, as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way to help everybody in the Givebutter Community give better. Gidon, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your Success Story with us today.
Gidon: It's a great pleasure. I've been waiting for this ever since I joined Givebutter about half a year ago.
Rachel: Oh, that's amazing! For those of you following along, you might be familiar because he's an active part of our Facebook community, our webinars. You've had so much success with Givebutter in the past year, so we're really excited to showcase your latest success story! Can you tell us a little bit more about who you are and who Root Source is?
Gidon: First of all, I live in Israel. I moved to Israel from New York about 45 years ago, and I love Israel. I love America. I love Givebutter. I love a lot of other things. I'm a loving kind of guy! Root Source is primarily an online platform for pro-Israel Christians and Jews to engage with each other. I had worked in high tech about 20 years ago, and then I decided I wanted to go back to nonprofits. I tried to do fundraising and it took a long time for me to get to the point where I felt comfortable with fundraising. I finally found Givebutter—it was actually because one of my supporters in America said “Oh, can we give with Venmo? Of course, there is no Venmo in Israel, but I know what Venmo is because my sister every time I needed money or she wanted to send me money, she said, “Can I just Venmo you it?” So I looked up “Can you give donations through Venmo?” and of course the articles that I found said “No, you can't. No, you can't. No, you can’t.” But, through Givebutter you can!
Rachel: This is true!
Gidon: So I spent about eight hours looking and learning about Givebutter. It was Friday before Sabbath and my wife was saying “It's almost Sabbath; you’ve got to get off the computer!” But it was so exciting to find this platform. Givebutter was just so interesting. So that's me! I live in Israel, I talked about Root Source, and I told a little bit about how I found Givebutter. It took me a little while until I got it. Also, it took me a while for me to get my 501(c)(3). I do things the hard way. That’s what I’m up to. I have a 501(c)(3), I have Givebutter, I have a donor base, and I'm on my way.
Rachel: Amazing! What is Root Source’s mission?
Gidon: Our mission is to—basically God's children, all of God's children, we believe that He just wants us all to play nice together. Unfortunately, the Jews and the Christians have an unfortunate—I'll use an understatement—history of animosity. I believe that, because of many things, but I would guess primarily because of the establishment of the State of Israel. That is really exciting and igniting the curiosity and the excitement of many Jews and many Christians. Little by little, I met pro-Israel Christians. I saw that they're just so hungry to learn the Jewish sources, the Jewish roots of Christianity, which as far as I'm concerned is Torah, is Jewish wisdom. So I'm very happy to share. My mission is to bring more and more Christians who want to avail themselves to that wisdom and to those relationships, like I said, to build friendships and to bring more Jews into that—which is a little bit harder. Little by little, we're working on it.
Rachel: Very inspiring.
Gidon: Right now, we have about a dozen teachers. Each teacher has recorded about 50 lessons, 10–40 minutes each lesson. Altogether, we have about 1,000 lessons recorded. At first, we started out as a business. We had about 500 people paying for these lessons, but after a while I realized that the people who are paying weren't really watching. The people who wanted to watch couldn't afford to pay. So I said “We’ve got to change it into a nonprofit,” which was my idea in the first place. Today, we have about 50,000 people on our mailing list.
Gidon: I’ve really touched a nerve here, and I really believe that I'm providing an educational and social need in the world.
Rachel: That is incredibly inspiring! Thank you for the important work that you're doing. Can you tell us a little bit more about your live stream symposium? What was it all about? What were you raising funds for? How did it work? Tell us all the things.
Gidon: If I may, let me start a little bit back.
Gidon: When I first got on to Givebutter, I was very interested—that's an understatement of a word! I was amazed, enchanted. I said, “Okay, I'm going to start small. I'm going to run a small give campaign—something really small just to test the waters.” I sent it out to whoever I sent it out to. Somebody gave 10 bucks, somebody gave 20 bucks, and somebody gave 250 bucks! Which of course is really the secret of fundraising. You just have to tell enough people what's going on and they'll say “Thanks! I've been waiting for you.” That is really the response to a fundraiser. It doesn't have to be “Oh, you again. It has to be, “Thanks! I've been waiting for you.”
Rachel: Yep, yep!
Gidon: I said “Wow! This is great. Now I'm going to do a fundraise campaign.” I don't even remember what it was that I did. I don't remember; it doesn't matter. Then I said “Okay, now's the time to do an event.” I did one event, and it was very successful.Then I did another event after I learned a little bit. I wrote this recently in the Facebook group—somebody says “Hey I'm just starting, what do you suggest I do?” I say “Just do it!” I try and I’m not perfect, okay? Givebutter is such an easy platform. One of my campaigns I tried to do with teams and it didn't really work. Okay, but I tried it and I learned a little bit! Here's the campaign. It started out as an event. I have a friend who has a foundation and they give me a lot of money—thank you! That's what a foundation is for! Also, let me stop sharing for a second. Obviously with individuals, everybody gives what they feel like giving. But foundations were created in order to give money away! It’s really good to have friends in foundations. After asking them every quarter, I said “Gee, what am I going to ask them for now?” I only asked for real things. I said, “Wait a second. We did—I did with this foundation—a symposium.” I brought some of my teachers to them—they're in Texas. They brought a few of their scholars because they're not just a giving away foundation they're also a teaching type of thing. We had a symposium with two or three of their teachers and three of my teachers. It lasted the whole day, and it was a lot of fun. I felt like doing that, again. I came up with “Okay, what can we ask for money for?” So I said “Okay this!” So this is what we came up with. I said, “You bring your scholars, and I'll bring some of my scholars. We'll do a symposium for four hours.” We had to end up doing it two Sunday’s in a row!
Rachel: Wow. Where were you hosting it? Was it on Zoom?
Gidon: On Zoom, yes. I hosted it on Zoom. The way to host a live event on Givebutter is that—at least through Zoom— you do it on Zoom. You broadcast it to either Facebook or YouTube or maybe something else. I prefer YouTube because YouTube I think lasts longer. Even though for really live, I prefer Facebook because that's where people live.
Gidon: Or at least my generation. But I only told people this Givebutter link. I always make sure to make the link a little bit...you guys give the link “givebutter.com/abq197” or whatever it is. I make sure to give it a nice number.
Rachel: That’s a great tip.
Gidon: It’s a great tip. Root Source is the name of my organization. Nathaniel is the name of the foundation that we did it together with.
Rachel: Nice. So, you have both programs on here. What would you say is the number one reason you think you raised over your fundraising goal? How did you do that?
Gidon: That’s a great question and thank you for it. The reason is, first of all, I failed to reach my goal the last time I raised an event. So I said, “Okay, I'm going to make a low goal.”
Gidon: So the first tip is don't make a target and then try to hit it. Pretend that your target is going to be very low, hit it, and then make it a little higher.
Rachel: Yep, yep.
Gidon: Nobody’s going to notice that you raised it.
Gidon: So first I did $3,000 and about a week or two or three before—whatever it was—I raised about $2,000. Then I remembered that this whole program started because I asked for a grant from that foundation. Then I said, “Okay, I will enter the check that I haven’t gotten yet.” I’ve gotten checks before, so I knew they were going to send me a check. It'll look like that was $9,000. Boom! From $2,000 to $11,000 in one minute. Nobody sees who gave that. I'm happy to have people give whatever they want. I'm happy to have people not give anything because they are engaging with me.
Rachel: Yeah! A couple of things that you did here that I think were so smart: you allowed people to give at varying levels. Anyone could really attend your event, which is great for the future in your next fundraisers. Second, you started small. You set a small, reasonable goal that you knew you could hit. When it was time to give a boost, you added that foundation gift. Then that kind of really built momentum because it looks like you had raised way more than that. I think that's really important for people to hear with Livestream fundraisers. We see this across the board. Start small and keep raising the goal, raising the goal, raising the goal—instead of setting a really high goal that makes you look like you're very far off. So kudos to you! I think that was super smart. This live stream was fascinating. Another thing I want to point out that made your live stream so interesting to me as well is it was action packed. You had a lot of speakers, 20 minutes back and forth. It was interesting and fun for people to watch, and they never got bored. So, for those who are looking into doing a symposium or a multi-day live stream event, definitely check out Root Source’s. We’ll be sure to link it here in this interview. They had a really, really exciting format that would be easy for people to follow. Kudos to you, great job. This was so successful. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview today.
Gidon: Start small everybody! Just do it! Start small. Sweat a little bit. You did it once. Invite 10 people. If two people show up, you did something! Then try again and again and again. What I just did: $15,000. Talk to me in a year, it's going to be $150,000 in events.
Rachel: Right! That's right. Yes, excellent words of advice and wisdom. Thank you so much again for taking the time to do this and and congrats to you on all your fundraising success.
Gidon: And again, I showed my Root Source website. I really hope that people will be in touch with me. I think you can tell I like talking and I love sharing and I love helping people. I mean, that's what us fundraisers do for a living!
Rachel: That's right! For everybody who's following along, we’ll be sure to link Root Source’s website. You can be in touch if you want to chat later. Thanks again everyone for following along for another incredible Success Story. Be sure to subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel below. You can also comment if you want one of us to answer any questions that weren't asked. We'll see you again next week for another Success Story. Until then, happy fundraising! Goodbye everybody.
Gidon: Bye from Israel!
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.