People Helping People
By Claudia Mosby
Free Online Fundraising with YouCaring.com
Life can turn on a dime, and when it does, YouCaring.com is there to help those experiencing financial hardship get back on course. In just two years, the Redding-based fundraising website has shepherded more than $65 million for 30,000 fundraisers, 5,000 of them currently active.
Shasta County resident Marcella Wagner, a pregnant young mother run off the road in a 2012 car accident that left her paralyzed, was a beneficiary of one of the website’s first campaigns. Wagner and her family netted upwards of $32,000 to help rebuild their lives and make their home wheelchair accessible.
Help is not limited, however, to those next door. The site leverages global goodwill through the power of numbers. “We deal in five currencies and multiple countries,” says Michael Blasco, spokesperson for YouCaring.com. “The website has had hits from 231 countries across all continents, including Antarctica and Christmas Island (a remote Australian territory of 2,000 inhabitants in the Indian Ocean).”
The youcaring.com site may not be the first web-based platform to use this style of fundraising, but it is the first that is free to its users, says Blasco, adding, “Most other fundraising sites charge between 5 and 8 percent in service fees. If someone raises $100,000 and gives $8,000 or $9,000 back to the site that helped them, that percentage makes a difference to someone who needs money.”
Supporters and donors come from around the world and are the reason for the site’s success. “Some are involved in particular fundraisers, some are not,” says Blasco. “We don’t have any public sponsors. It’s not about public relations or branding; it’s about the heart of what we do.”
That heart beats within Luke Miner and his partners, Brock and Naomi Ketcher, who met while attending ministry school through a Redding-based church. The three used web-based fundraising for their mission trips.
“We saw people trying to raise money for all kinds of things,” says Miner. “I knew people who were trying to raise money for adoptions and we saw there was really no good system to facilitate it and that’s why we built YouCaring.”
The partners doubted the website would make sufficient money to support the time and effort needed to administer it, so they saved and worked other jobs. Last year, Miner went full time due to the site’s rapid growth.
Traffic is at 3.5 million unique visitors a month, a number that Blasco says doubles each quarter. The site has quickly moved up 14,000 spots to a coveted position among the top 3,000 websites worldwide, as measured by alexa.com.
Visitors can search either by fundraiser name or category and each profile provides essential details, including updates from the organizer on the beneficiary and campaign progress and a supporter tab where donors can make comments along with their donation. In Wagner’s case, many donors outside the Redding area learned of her plight through an article in Glamour magazine.
“The website is designed to be warm and inviting but very user friendly,” says Blasco. “Anyone can log on and easily find their way around. It takes between three to five minutes to create a fundraiser.”
Although YouCaring emphasizes fundraising for humans, its organizers noticed an increasing number of pet fundraisers popping up on the site.
“We felt like we needed to create a dedicated place for the furry friends that need help without comprising YouCaring’s mission of helping people,” says Blasco. Begun in May 2013, petcaring.com has been averaging 50,000 visitors a month.
Blasco sees YouCaring.com as a fundraising game-changer. “It’s more personal. Donors know exactly where their money is going instead of writing a check for a big charity and not necessarily knowing the impact that donation makes,” he says.
Luke Miner agrees, adding, “It’s incredible to think about people I never would have met or been able to help if not for the website. Through YouCaring.com we have seen so many people blessed around the world.”