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Audiense blog - How a nonprofit used audience targeting to raise $1M for social justice

How a nonprofit used audience targeting to raise $1M for social justice


SMASH is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping provide students of color access to college and career readiness resources (with an emphasis on STEM). SMASH is the educational arm of the Kapor Center.

Smash logo

The Challenge

Fundraising is challenging enough on its own and a $500,000 goal is nothing to scoff at. And although social media is a great platform for raising cash, there’s no denying that algorithms are fickle and reach is far from guaranteed.

SMASH acknowledged that they’d need to take a more direct approach to outreach rather than “spray and pray” their campaign. Such a large goal also meant they’d be reaching out for large-dollar donations with the hope to source a bunch of smaller ones.

The timing of the campaign also presented a distinct roadblock. While there was definitely an increased interest in donating to causes against racism, SMASH was fighting for the attention of donors during a time of widespread anxiety and a relentless news cycle. They needed to find a way for their positive message to push through the noise.

But perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to SMASH came early on in the campaign as the organization attempted to run paid Twitter ads alongside their organic push. Due to the “political” nature of their paid campaign, their ads were abruptly suspended. This meant that SMASH’s fundraising initiative was truly a grassroots effort.

The Solution

With a tight time frame and specific dollar goal in mind, SMASH took a three-point approach to raise funds and build awareness:

  1. Use social media to promote the campaign and reach out to specific influencers for donations.
  2. Promote the $500,000 donor match to inspire existing donors to renew their gift.
  3. Motivate corporate donors to partner with SMASH to double their impact throughout the campaign.

With no ad targeting available, SMASH turned to Audiense to determine who their best outreach candidates were and how many potential donors were fair game based on their existing followers.

Below are the steps SMASH took using Audiense to build their fundraising campaign from the ground up.

1. Identify their engaged, verified social media influencers
2. Engage with their target audience directly and track results
3. Keep the momentum going by identifying new donors to target

The Results

  • The campaign raised more than $1M during its six-week run.
  • SMASH garnered over 20 million Twitter impressions and 1,100 new followers (including some of the verified influencers that interacted with the campaign.
  • Interactions with over 1,000 influencers including MC Hammer, Lena Waithe, Lupe Fiasco, Sheryl Underwood, Van Jones, and Jay Pharoah.
  • Shout-outs and retweets from NFL and NBA players including Ezekiel Elliott, Alshon Jeffery, Baron Davis, and Isaiah Thomas.
  • And the fact that the money was raised for such an incredible cause speaks for itself.

    Read the full case study  
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"The Audiense platform is best in class for identifying your target market on Twitter. It was very hard to run ads during election season in 2020 so we had to get tactical. I wouldn't have been able to execute this campaign without Audiense."
Cliff Worley

Cliff Worley
Chief Communications Officer | Kapor Center

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