January 27, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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“It’s like the old proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go with others. I think it’s essential to create as big a community as you can for wherever you’re going, because you’re going to need them to get there. And I think you will always be surprised by where some of the biggest support comes from.” – Craig Benson
Craig Benson is the father of Garland Benson, who, at age 12, began a campaign to raise $1 million toward critical medical research for a rare, fatal, genetic condition called Batten Disease. Garland has come to know Batten all too well, after his sister, Christiane, was diagnosed at the age of 5. He was determined to fund the research in hopes that she could begin treatment as soon as possible. Garland quickly learned that he needed to expand his audience if he wanted to reach his goal. He told us:
“At first, I started out by doing lemonade stands, garage sales, things like that. I was realizing I wasn’t reaching a lot of people, so I knew that I had to create a donor page to get people online to donate to me.
Then, I got the idea to get a lot of people to give a smaller amount. My plan was to get 100,000 people to give $10 each. I didn’t want to ask for a hundred, but I thought that anybody can really give $10. That’s a reasonable amount.”
Thus, the BE a Hero peer-to-peer fundraising campaign began. With DonorPerfect’s crowdfunding tools, Garland created a donation page and spread the word about his goal with the use of a powerful video and shared his crowdfunding page on social media.
Although Garland was thinking big, he never underestimated the power of small donations – and “small” people. Garland saw potential in everyone and turned to the community he knew best: his middle school.
His father tells us, “[Garland’s] own middle school community has done things from yard work to penny wars to fun runs – and formed the Brothers for Batten. The young people have – and I mean, in some cases, really young people – have found their voice, found that they can make an impact, and they’ve really done some pretty incredible things.”
Garland empowered people, despite their age and despite how much they could afford, to be a part of the impact he wanted to create – and it worked. To date, Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, founded by his parents, Charlotte and Craig Benson, has engaged researchers who have developed a treatment to slow down the progression of Batten Disease. The foundation is interacting with the FDA, seeking permission to begin clinical trials using this treatment – and it was made possible as a result of the research Garland helped to fund.
We at DonorPerfect believe there should be more positive outcomes like this in the world, rooted in love for our neighbors. Garland’s story inspires us to share with you what we’ve learned about crowdfunding, in hopes that you too can build a strong community around your cause.
Keys to Crowdfunding Success:
There is so much to learn from this incredible family, especially from Garland. When asked what advice he has for nonprofits to be successful, his response was simple, but often something we forget, as we get older: “Just never give up no matter what.”
This incredible story proves that no one and no amount is too small to create a BIG impact.