Customer Story

How Heifer International Modernized Their Fundraising With Peer-to-Peer

Heifer International works to end hunger and poverty around the world. Over the last 73 years, this leading organization has partnered with vulnerable communities to create lasting, sustainable, and scalable impact that also benefits the planet.

But when one of Heifer’s main fundraising initiatives—their traditional, print gift catalogue—began to gradually decline in revenue, they needed to reconsider their long-term strategy in order to engage today’s donors.

A Necessary Shift in Strategy

When your organization operates through nine decades, it’s inevitable your overall development strategy will need to shift. Before reassessing their fundraising efforts, Heifer relied primarily on the following sources of revenue:

  • Institutional and corporate giving
  • Individual giving acquired through their print, mass-marketed catalogue

In recent years, the organization noticed a decrease in revenue from individual gifts. Many of their core supporters were over the age of 65, and Heifer realized they needed to attract the next generation’s support in order to continue their life-changing work. To expand their reach beyond their physical catalogue and diversify their revenue, Heifer invested resources into their online ecosystem.

A Modern Spin on Catalogue Giving

We want someone to do more than just to transact on our website. We want you to come and get the resources you need to learn more about the issues, how your voice can be an important part of the change we are trying to make, and the ways that you can engage."

Christy Moore Photo

Christy Moore

Vice President of Marketing, Heifer International

This shift included an investment in peer-to-peer fundraising software. Heifer first tested peer-to-peer as a fundraising strategy, and when they saw a positive return and the potential for growth, they knew it was something they needed to “go for.”

The option to fundraise on Heifer’s behalf gives all supporters—of all ages—the opportunity to leverage their personal networks and create an impact they may have never thought possible.

Peer-to-peer fundraising also naturally reveals cause evangelists who successfully mobilize their networks. Take renowned fantasy writer, Patrick Rothfuss. One of Heifer’s power fundraisers, he’s a shining example of how one person can make significant impact as a network activator.

“He has done amazing things for Heifer, and he is really engaged and energizes his community to support our mission. We want more people to be able to do that in a way that’s easy for them and offers the values they are looking for. I think our new platform allows us to provide this experience, as well as steward our fundraisers properly.” – Christy Moore, Vice President of Marketing, Heifer International.

With Classy, fundraisers have the ability to personalize their peer-to-peer fundraising pages through numerous customization features. They can add their own photos, personal details, and stories in order to communicate to potential donors why they’re passionate about Heifer’s work.

Connecting Donors to the Cause

Heifer’s work is often abroad and physically far removed from a donor’s daily life.

To help prospective fundraisers understand what their support can accomplish, Heifer focuses on transparency and engagement strategies that inform them about their potential impact.

Classy’s Peer-to-Peer functionality helps emphasize this transparency through the use of Fundraising Impact Levels. When a potential fundraiser lands on Heifer’s page, they can quickly see how different amounts raised fund different outcomes. This display, consistent with Heifer’s catalogue experience, prompts engagement and motivates fundraisers to achieve specific goals.

Heifer also creatively promotes endurance events as a way to tie a personal experience to the act of fundraising.

What we hear back is, ‘I don’t know how to personally relate to this’ and ‘how do I get more involved?’ People want to feel like they’re part of the community. By hosting these endurance events, it allows us to get volunteers engaged and form a community. You can go out and do something. It’s not just about writing my check or doing my gift online; it’s about going out, letting my voice be heard, and doing something that’s challenging and makes a difference."

Christy Moore Photo

Christy Moore

Vice President of Marketing, Heifer International

The Importance of Value Alignment

When it came time to invest in software, Heifer knew they wanted to align their brand strategically with a suitable partner who shared their values.

“It’s important to us to empower communities that are coming together to change the world—and to do that in transparent way, use the right tools, and partner with the right people who have similar values. This is what really helps us move our mission forward.” – Christy Moore, Vice President of Marketing, Heifer International.

It was also incredibly important for Heifer to partner with an innovative platform that was quickly forging ahead in the face of changing times. In the next 5 to 10 years, the organization plans to make their online fundraising arm as successful as their giving catalogue. According to Christy, while this is a reach, they “believe partners like Classy and the tools that we have available to us will help us to get to that goal.”

Part of the benefits of working with Classy is the fundraising suite’s security and scaling capabilities made possible by Amazon Web Services. As the number of peer-to-peer fundraisers increases for Heifer International, Amazon Web Services automatically ramps up their capacity on Classy’s back-end to ensure there are no lapses in donations or data. Together, with Classy, there’s no limit to where Heifer’s creativity and drive to do good in the world can take them, or the people it will bring along.

The Road to Help Four Million Farmers

To date, Heifer International has assisted over 100 million small-scale farmers and their families. By 2020, they hope to provide four million smallholder farmers with a livable income.

Heifer succeeds because they:

  • Provide a long-term, sustainable solution
  • Recognize the need to reassess and innovate
  • Cater to the needs of multiple demographics of givers
  • Develop a narrative between the donor and beneficiary to demonstrate impact
  • Invest in tools that give their supporters the opportunity to connect to their work
  • Segment their communication strategies
  • Only initiate partnerships with organizations who maintain similar values