In this video, I’m joined by Adina from Knock Knock Give a Sock. Knock Knock Give a Sock’s mission is to humanize homelessness one sock at a time by turning transactions into interactions. When COVID-19 shut down all of their important in-person events, Adina found a way to continue Knock Knock Give a Sock’s crucial mission of sharing stories that unite community members—through children’s books! Discover how this incredible organization was able to raise $10k over its original fundraising goal through a unique crowdfunding campaign model. Adina explains:

  • Why they turned to Givebutter for this campaign
  • What made this fundraiser so successful
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for reaching (and surpassing!) your fundraising goals
“Givebutter has whatever tool you need in a very simple, user-friendly way. It was the perfect tool for us because we didn't want to pivot to something that had a million bells and whistles and too many options or something that was going to be a little more too complicated for our audience to really understand or navigate.”

Who knew socks and books would make the perfect pair?

Campaign at a glance

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! What's up? Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring Knock Knock Give a Sock. Recently, this organization’s Pair of Books Project campaign raised over $35,000 on Givebutter all in an effort to help humanize homelessness through two children's books—and this is above and beyond their $25,000 goal! If you're looking for a successful, creative, and clever crowdfunding example, this one is for you. I have Adina here with me to share how they made this event so successful as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way. Adina, thank you so much for joining and sharing your story.

Adina: Thank you so much for having me! I'm excited to help other people who are trying to raise money because it's a hustle.

Rachel: Truly! Before we dive in, I would love if we could start by having you share a little bit more about who you are and about Knock Knock Give a Sock, which side note: this is one of my favorite mission statements ever! Please tell us more.

Adina: Thank you so much! I'll take you back a couple years to my sophomore year in college. I was giving out sandwiches to some of my neighbors on the street. One guy said, “Ma'am, it's so nice you're giving out sandwiches, but one thing we could actually really use is a pair of socks.” I opened my drawer and I saw my socks weren't going to fit him, so I decided to actually knock on every door on my floor and in about 15 minutes I got over 40 pairs of socks. Fast forward to my senior year of college: I’ve collected over 50,000 pairs of socks. I spread to over 20 college campuses. I had to become a certified nonprofit because I needed to raise money because my parents were like, “Get these socks out of our garage now.” But they were great. Big support system! That's how we became a nonprofit; I was like, “I need a place to store these socks as we start sending them out.” Basically, by the time I was a senior in college, I joked that I kind of became ‘the sock celebrity.’ What was interesting is people would ask me to come speak about the work that we're doing, collecting these socks. People would ask me to come speak in their college classrooms and their synagogues and their churches. I would always ask the audience two questions. Anyone here listening, think about these two. One, have you ever given money, food, or clothing to someone in need? Either to a shelter or donation bin. Most of you are probably nodding your heads yeah. The second question I ask is who here can tell me the name of one person living in a homeless shelter or on the streets? Most people couldn't. Maybe sometimes they could say, “Oh, I know I recognize that guy,” but actually knowing the names, knowing the stories of our neighbors is something that we don't really know, unfortunately. I wanted to change that. My senior year of college, I decided to bring 50 of my college classmates and 50 people who were living in local shelters to have dinner side-by-side with basically two rules. 1.) You couldn't sit next to someone that you knew beforehand. 2.) No one was allowed to serve one another. It was family-style meals. By the end of the night, college students were saying “We can't tell who's homeless and who’s not.” They were meeting moms who have three kids who couldn't afford childcare. Dad’s who had gotten out of prison and couldn't get jobs afterwards. People working minimum wage jobs but that doesn't get you out of the shelter system. Now homelessness has a name and a face and a story. What I wanted to do is, I wanted to bring this to the corporate space. What was I going to do? I couldn't knock on J.P. Morgan’s door and be like, “Hey! Let's have a dinner with your employees and people living in shelters. Oh, and let's do it in your office.” That was too radical. But, what we were able to do is we were able to approach J.P. Morgan, we were able to approach these corporate companies, and say, “Hey, do you want to do a sock collection in your office?” They were like, “Yeah! Nice name, easy, doesn't take up a lot of space.” After they would do a sock collection, we then would offer their companies the opportunity to meet the people who received these socks through an employee engagement opportunity. We were able to do a meet-your-neighbor dinner with their employees and people living in shelters. That's when Knock Knock Give a Sock’s mission statement became humanizing homeless one sock at a time by turning transactions into interactions. Over the last three years—in our pre-COVID world—we would basically engage companies and corporate offices and sock companies collecting socks for us. We would then hire people living in local shelters to help us distribute these socks. Two, we would do these meet-your-neighbor lunches and dinners to bring together corporate offices and people living in shelters to dine side-by-side. And three, we do a big holiday carnival every year for over 300 kids living in shelters. That was what Knock Knock Give a Sock looked like. Then we got hit by COVID. We all got hit! There was so much tragedy and there was so much pain, but there was also a lot of social isolation. For us, we weren't able to do our events. We weren't able to bring communities and neighborhoods together, so I had to think of a way… How can we achieve our mission? How can we share these stories between these two communities in a way when we can't bring people together in person? That's when I thought about these two children's books. Through that, I decided that we would humanize homelessness through two children's books. One tells a story about a girl living in a home and about a girl living in a shelter who both are heroes, who both make an impact in their neighborhood—using those stories to be able to share these stories in a time when we can't be together in person.

Rachel: Wow, so beautiful. Such an inspiring story. To hear how you've pivoted in the last year is just so inventive. Why children's books? I saw that you were listed as co-author of the book. Have you written children’s books before or what was the inspiration for that as the fundraiser?

Adina: This is my first time writing children's books. I dove into it! I tell a lot of stories to my nieces and nephews. During COVID, I lived with them for six months. The books are actually for ages 5 to 9, and my nieces and nephews are between the ages of 5 to 9.

Rachel: Oh, how sweet!

Adina: I tell them a lot of stories. The reason why I thought children's books were important was because I think we as people—and this is as someone who's grown up with my nieces and nephews—we really internalize lessons by teaching them. I think when people become parents, I think they become better people. I really do. I think when people are around children they become better people because it's like, “Oh, it's important to be kind! It's important to do this!” We're constantly teaching those values. I think when we teach those values they actually get instilled in us. It was a way of killing two birds with one stone. Being able to get kids to internalize these lessons but also to get parents to internalize these lessons I think was also really important. I’ll take it one step further! There was actually, on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, there were a lot of shelters that were being moved into that area. It's an area that didn't have many shelters. They were being moved into hotels to create more social distancing for people living in shelters. Families were up in arms. Families were really upset. They felt it was dangerous for their kids. They didn't feel comfortable. There were a lot of petitions being sent around. I even saw the petitions. Wouldn’t someone know if they’re friends with me on Facebook not to post that? There are really petitions against shelters being moved into hotels in their area because of fear and stigma around homelessnes. I said we need these families to understand, and I said children's books!

Rachel: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It's such an approachable, thoughtful way to educate people and bring awareness to your cause. Also, just cast vision for future changemakers! I love the lead of the story that you're trying to tell. I'm going to go ahead and share my screen here, so people can see your beautiful campaign page that I know everyone following along right now wants to see. A few things stood out to me that were just so beautifully done in this campaign. Video headers tend to perform better than pictures, so kudos to you for having this beautiful short, sweet video overview of your crowdfunding campaign. Then your story section includes visuals, short and sweet copy, and you clearly list out the incentives for donating that match each different giving level. Consistency was also key on this one to me when I was looking at it, so hats off to you! So well done. What comes to mind when you think of tips, tricks, and lessons learned that helped you raise $10,000 over your goal as we look at your campaign page? What were the elements that you think really just gave it that boost?

Adina: So this is one thing that I actually think is super important: before any campaign goes live, I try to get a couple people… Initially my campaign goal was going to be at $20,000.

Rachel: Oh wow.

Adina: My goal was to raise $10,000 from people before we went live. I got around $12,000 in commitments. Let’s say I had 15 people I wanted to approach in terms of giving between $500 and $1,000. I got 15 people to commit between the $500 and $1,000 range based on past year's donations. I approached those 10–15 people. They all said yes. One person committed $5,000! By the time we got done with that, we actually were at $12,000 which was great! Once we were at $12,000, I was like, “Okay, I guess I'll push it to $24k.” And just to round it up, I was like, “Let's make it $25k.” Everyone wants to give to a campaign that's already 50% done so that they can see themselves moving the mark along. That's really what I would say is the biggest piece of advice I can give. The second thing is giving yourself between a week or two to do it. Even though I never closed the campaign, I had a mental clock for when it was going to turn off and on. That was really important for me. I put it in our newsletter. I sent a text. I went through my phone and was texting people I haven't spoken to in years. I was going through my phone. I was going on—this is where I got a little aggressive. Anyone on Facebook who liked my posts or anyone on LinkedIn who liked my post, I would be like, “Hey, I see that you liked my post. I would love it if you could contribute. I think your niece and nephew would love it!” Real hustle.

Rachel: Yes, I love that! That's the real grind of fundraising for crowdfunding campaigns. One question I have for you on this as well, is what made you choose incentives for your giving levels? Because not every organization goes that route. Why did you choose that and how did you make that work for you?

Adina: I actually wasn't going to use Givebutter initially. I wasn't going to use GoFundMe. I was going to use Kickstarter because this was my first time having a product. Then I saw that Kickstarter took close to 8%. Then, after you were done, literally there were people who said it took 12%. If you don't hit your goal, then they take away all of it then none of it goes through. It's just insane. Then I was like, “Okay, let me check out GoFundMe. Let me check out all these other give-back campaigns.” Then I saw that Givebutter was the only one that had that built in where you can manually choose in the option. I know that usually for Givebutter it's   like “$10 because you love the organization. $35 gets three pairs of socks…”

Rachel: Like impact metrics.

Adina: Yeah! I saw they had the impact giving levels, so I changed that a little bit to follow the Kickstarter campaign model because we actually had a product.

Rachel: Right! Yeah, that makes sense. That was the key deliverable for you. We are using a product this time for fundraising, so we're going to make the fundraising experience feel a little different. That clearly resonated with your supporters because they showed up in a big way for you and you raised well above and beyond your fundraising goal.

Adina: I was always shocked when someone would give $18 or $20. I was just like, “You're not getting anything. Why don’t you pay a little more and you’ll get something!”

Rachel: Right!

Adina: I appreciate the support nonetheless.

Rachel: Absolutely! Adina, do you have any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned with this campaign that you could share with other fundraisers who are listening right now?

Adina: This goes just to fundraising in general when you have a campaign. The cause, if you want to be successful, has to be bigger than your ego. It's awkward to get someone who said, “Yeah, I want to give!” Then… doesn’t. You have to be like, “Hey, were you able to get a set of books yet?” Having that—I like to use this word because I'm very Jewish—but you have to have that chutzpah.

Rachel: Right!

Adina: You kind of have to be careful. If someone says, “Yeah, I'll send it along to friends.” Done. That's their “No.” But if someone just says, “Wow, that's such an incredible campaign!” You would be like, “Yeah, I'd love for you to get one!” You kind of have to see where they're at. No one's going to tell you no. I always, when I'm sending it out, say, “Hey I would love it if you could share this with some friends or get a set for someone you love.” Giving them that out because you don't want to be obnoxious about it. Not everyone's in the same financial situation but still giving them that option. Always in your messaging be like, “Hey, I would love it if you could share this or contribute to it.”

Rachel: So, giving people clear directions for how they can support you. What I love that you're emphasizing is it's about relationships. I can tell just by looking at your supporter feed that you have built such real relationships with people in how they commented on some of their donations. “You're an amazing person!” Clearly Helen feels really connected. I love just looking at your supporter feed and seeing all the fun notes. That's just such a great tip for everybody that's following along. Never lose sight as you're hustling, being bold, and directing your ask that it is about relationships at the end of the campaign. Kudos to you and to your entire team and all of the countless lives that you’re going to change through this campaign! Thank you for using Givebutter.

Adina: Thank you! Thank you for allowing Givebutter to be used by me. It was such a special campaign. I remember being like, “Okay, I’ll give myself two weeks.” Then we hit our goal in a week and I was like, “Okay, I guess I'll do another $10k for the next week.” I just made a mental goal. Then I was so burned out by the end just because I was literally sitting in front of my computer just messaging and messaging, but it was very rewarding.

Rachel: Absolutely! For everybody who's following along, if they want to follow you or if they want to get a book themselves, where can they find you?

Adina: We actually have a Shopify website set up already, but I’ll tell you right now, go to Givebutter! Use the Givebutter link that you're going to see probably attached to this video and for a $35 donation, you get a set of these books.

Rachel: Beautiful! For all of you who are following along, thank you for joining for another incredible Success Story. We hope to see you next week. Just so you don't miss another one, click follow below on Givebutter’s YouTube channel and make it easy for yourself because we have lots of inspiring stories coming up in the next several weeks. Thanks for joining and we'll see you again. Until then, happy fundraising! Bye everybody.

Adina: Thank you!

View campaign: The Pair of Books Project

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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