1SmallStep Foundation: Inspired by the book Banker to The Poor by Professor Yunus and a meeting with Nipun Mehta of Service Space, Rohan Bhansali, started The 1SmallStep Foundation - a platform that enables the good that people anyways want to do. 1SmallStep helps Non-Profits in the Health, Education and Jobs space meet their project based, financial and operational objectives.
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Bhelu and a few other villages in the Raigad district are just 10 kms away from the SREC English Medium School.
Despite the parent’s ambition of sending their children to an English medium school, the distance of 10 kilometres is a big deterrent as it is physically taxing for the little souls. The parents hence have no choice, but to compromise on their education and future - they send their kids to the local Zila Parishad despite the availability of a holistic English education.
On talking to Principal Joshi of SREC and subsequently meeting the villagers, we realized that all we needed was to solve the problem of logistics to ensure the future of 120 children. The school was ready to take in more admissions and parents wanted to send their children to SREC. All that was needed was a School Bus.
By government regulations, the last date of admitting these children was 1st August, 2016. Hence it is of utmost importance that we raise the money i.e. 18.5 Lakhs INR by 25th July, 2016 to get delivery of the bus. 1 bus would enable children of 10 villages (around 120 children) to get an education in an English medium school that will not only secure their future, but also that of their family and their villages.
It was already the start of July. We didn’t have that kind of money at our disposal so we first tried to have a Bus company such as Tata and Eicher Motors to sponsor a school bus. Unsuccessful in that attempt, we finally decided to crowdfund the amount.
Our main challenge was time and money.
Time - we just had 25 days!
Money - We had a marketing budget of zero.
The need to buy a Bus!
- The sole objective of the campaign was to ensure that we can crowd-source enough funds to pay for a school bus before the academic year begins.
- To secure the education of young minds in Bhelu and its neighbouring villages by eliminating the difficulty of travelling.
The Big Idea:
We created a powerful video that would state the problem and how anyone watching the video could solve that problem with a simple donation. The video was our central mode of communicating the problem, the solution and the impact.
The amount was significant too and we had to reach out to the masses - most of them who would not have heard of 1SmallStep or SREC School.
We came up with the campaign chant - #GetOntheBus which resonated strongly in two ways: a) Get the children on the bus and b) you get on the bus to make a difference in these children’s lives.
We tied up with Milaap as our crowd-funding partner. Having set up the campaign page with a powerful video, we made a 360 degree plan that leveraged Print, Radio, PR, WhatsApp Marketing, Email marketing and Social Media.
We had to do all this with zero budget. Not a rupee was spent in marketing the video or the campaign page. We had to completely rely on innovative executions, partnerships and the pure generosity of human hearts.
We were confident about the cause. We were confident about the campaign line - #GetOntheBus. We also believed the video clearly delivered the message - the problem, the impact and the call to action. This was half the battle won. We knew that if we reached out to enough people, the video would influence an action from many of them.
Our campaign went live on July 16th, 2016. We had just 10 days to meet our target. We used the following modes of marketing our campaign page.
Social Media - Milaap uploaded the video on their very active Facebook page. They already had a significant fan-base sensitive to social causes thus we had a lot of relevant eyeballs, shares and most importantly donations!
We also leveraged influencers and trended #GetOntheBus on Twitter (for India) though this did not do much in direct donations. It helped create added buzz.
Print - Realising we had to reach the more likely to donate 40+ audience beyond digital, we reached out to all Newspapers and publishers. The #GetOnTheBus campaign was covered by DNA and The Hindu in print. This worked immensely well to get the primarily offline people online to make the donation. This also resulted in Rs. 2L of cheque donations towards the cause.
Digital Publishers - ThatScoop picked up the campaign and covered us organically (without a fee). This immediately led to a direct one time Rs. 50,000 donation and perhaps subsequent donations. We also got published online on DNA, India Times, The Hindu, and Social Samosa and couple other publishers that got us more eyeballs and video views. Most of these embedded our video on their high traffic websites.
Would you like to help these kids #GetOnTheBus to school? https://t.co/fus5RuslHT pic.twitter.com/HL8djS2vZu
— Indiatimes (@indiatimes) July 13, 2022
Email Marketing - We leveraged Milaap’s and our database of donors and delivered time and day specific emails at different touch points of the campaign to motivate donors to help meet the target and #GetOnTheBus. We mainly reached out to Indians - domestic and NRI’s - but also received donations from people of other origins to our surprise and delight - Americans, European and Africans.
Radio - Impressed by our efforts and persistence, 104 Fever FM featured Principal Joshi of SREC and our founder Rohan Bhansali on their morning show.
Support Campaigns - This was perhaps the most important factor of our success. We motivated influencers (known and unknown) to start Support Campaigns with their own set targets towards the cause. 1 record 37 support campaigns were created.
Make a contribution and help these kids fulfil their dreams #GetOnTheBushttps://t.co/kplOnMkBVm pic.twitter.com/c6JciBkv83
— Vibhor ! (@IamVibhor_) July 15, 2022
Guys These kids are ready with their uniforms & books
Just need is only a bus!
Help them #GetOnTheBus pic.twitter.com/PesPEmLqS8
— PREKSHA MODI (@modipreksha) July 15, 2022
Note: More than INR 5,00,000 was raised through support campaigns of influencers such as The Goodness Circle, Aditya Kandala, Bansi Raja and NIjesh Shah.
What drove us was the parents and the children we had met and the thought that 1 simple bus could change the lives of the children, their families and thus the villages.
We truly left no stone unturned to get people to #GetOnTheBus
- Only one result drove us. We had just one barometer - raising the funds By July 25th, 2016.
- We had a million impressions, lakhs of organic video views, thousands of likes and hundreds of shares and comments. We even trended on Twitter (India) for over 8 hours. Though they all helped we were aware that donations and only donations would enable us to buy the bus. We always held the cause of Educations as primary. Everything else - the campaign, the publicity, the goodwill - was secondary. We had to get the kids on the bus.
- So, In 10 days starting July 16th and ending on July 25th, 2016 , these were our results:
Number of Online INR Donations: 432
Number of Online USD Donations: 25
Number of Offline Donations (Cash/Cheque): 22
Total Number of Donations: 479
Total Amount of Online INR Donations: INR16,75,370
Total Amount of Online USD Donations: USD5135.13 (INR 344,053)
Total Amount of Offline Donations (Cash/Cheque): INR 4,87,000
Total Amount raised in 10 Days: INR 25,06,423
Total Amount raised net of Milaap Fees: INR 22,31,423 (Milaap fees were INR2.5L plus taxes)
Deployment of Funds:
INR 18.75L was deployed towards a 49 seater Tata Starbus. Excess amount raised was deployed towards bus upkeep, fuel and driver charges.
70 children took admission in Academic Year 16-17 from Bhelu and other nearby villages on this bus route. The bus takes two rounds of the route every day.
More students are lined up for Academic Year 17-18.
By the start of next academic year 120 students would be better educated for a future as a result of the #GetOnTheBus campaign. Nothing beats that feeling.
- What we observed through the #GetOnTheBus campaign is that if the cause is good a marketing budget is not a necessity.
- Email marketing was a key driver in getting maximum donations during the campaign.
- Radio and Online PR were excellent mediums that further drove conversations around #GetOnTheBus and contributed greatly towards achieving the final donation goal.