My maternal grandmother left Italy for the United States at age 19 and cried throughout the entire transatlantic voyage. She didn’t know when she’d see her mother again nor what fate awaited her in a strange land. Fortunately, she found piecework at a raincoat factory and survived on a few dollars a week. I know about these and other memories, because I interviewed her with a hand-held video camera some 15 years ago. When Grammie died at age 101, this video became an invaluable treasure to friends and family.
Nowadays, people can capture their life stories through much more sophisticated and artful technology, and they can easily integrate fundraising appeals for their favorite nonprofit organizations. Solu is an online self-publishing platform that aims to make the story-to-donation process as seamless as possible. Its founder, Stephen White, lost his wife to breast cancer after she fought the disease for eleven years. He thought that he had done everything possible to save their memories together but later found that he only had four seconds of her voice recorded. After this realization, Stephen made it his mission to build a product that would allow anyone to easily record, share, and preserve their stories for loved ones.
Solu allows for a rich, multi-layered approach to storytelling with voice, text, photos, and video clips. “Thought prompts,” thematic organizers, and timelines help the storyteller through the process by providing inspiration and structure. The platform also contains a comprehensive list of 501c3 organizations so that people can submit a donation with just a few clicks immediately after watching a story. For example, someone confronting multiple sclerosis can create a memoir that encourages others to donate to an MS research organization in her honor. After watching the memoir, viewers can select that organization to give to, and Solu will pass along the funds. Viewers can also give voice and text feedback, such as heartfelt words of encouragement, which develops the sense of a supportive community and spurs the storyteller on.
Solu eventually plans to feature a half dozen nonprofits on their platform. They’re currently working with the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, which is encouraging its supporters to use Solu as a powerful medium for raising awareness and funds. Storytelling has always been an effective way to appeal to donors, and Solu’s wholistic approach takes this strategy one step further. “By capturing a person’s entire life story, Solu avoids reducing the storyteller to his or her affliction, ” says Solu COO Aaron Thompson. “It tells the good with the bad, the triumphs with the struggles, which makes for a much more accurate and appealing narrative.”
Crowdster for Non-Profits recently teamed up with Solu to expand its fundraising capabilities even further. Crowdster’s peer-to-peer fundraising platform is a natural fit with Solu, because it too provides a streamlined, visually appealing user experience. “I’m very excited about this partnership,” said Crowdster CEO Joe Ferraro,“ because it combines two cutting-edge yet friendly technologies that make it enjoyable and easy for nonprofits and their supporters to attract donations. Solu was built on the belief that every story matters, regardless of who’s telling it, and Crowdster was built on the belief that every non-profit matters, regardless of size or mission. What could be a more winning combination than that!”
To learn more about how Solu can capture and share your supporters’ stories, click here.
To learn more about how Crowdster can turn your fans into funds, click here.