The first Rally cause that I read about involved two friends looking to raise money in order to race across the Moroccan desert for 9 days in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles using 1950s navigational techniques. One of the pair had faced down breast cancer, so additional funds brought in above their target goal will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Only 8 other US women have attempted the crossing in 20 years. Pretty cool stuff.
Other Rally campaigns that CEO Tom Serres likes to share include Alvaro Salas from Costa Rica trying to attend Cornell University to study public affairs and become a civic leader, and Reverend Oliver White in Minnesota fighting to save his church from foreclosure.
In case you haven’t heard, Rally is an online crowdfunding platform. Rally helps build and spread word of fundraising campaigns. Each drive serves to tell a story almost as much as it supports a cause. Political affiliation, 501(c)(3) status, other fundraising limiting factors don’t apply at Rally. And people have taken notice.
To date Rally has attracted over 1.5 million users that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for more than 14,000 causes. Besides the egalitarian approach, the website also has simplicity on its side. Rally has it’s own payment system, which sets it apart from other crowdfunding platforms. The startup collects the stories and the dough, charging a 4.5 percentage fee per transaction. Users can share their fundraising campaigns through Facebook, Twitter, email, or a personalized page. This turns one time donors into a network of supporters.
Rallying Its Own Cause
Rally.org has it’s own story, or cause if you will. Recently the company used its own business strategy and platform to raise $7.9 million in funding. Rally had previous seed investors Reid Hoffman of Greylock and Mike Maples of Floodgate ready to back the startup for another round, but Tom Serres opted to test his theory about crowdfunding with his own venture. Good call.
Serres and his team spent eight days collecting and sorting through thousands of email offers. He traveled close to 30,000 miles, attended more than 70 meetings, and finally settled on 14 investors. To name only a few: Kevin Rose (Google Ventures), Craig Shapiro (Collaborative Fund), Michael Birch, Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, Josh Spear, and Scott Belsky. Adding to the all-star cast of financial partners, Naval Ravikant and Angel List ponied up 4.4 million. Seres said of his crowdfunding gamble, ““This totally cemented my core belief that this is the way the world is going.”
Nonprofits, advocacy groups, political groups, schools, and independent crusaders should all delight. Fostering awareness for causes, building a support base, and raising money online might just have become a good deal easier after Rally’s crowdfunding success. Of course, the investors will hope to make money, too, but that will unfold in the next chapter of this screen-scrolling story.