At Fundraise Up, we believe that our customers’ success is our success. That’s why we are shining a spotlight on Aaron Friedman and his nonprofit, OLASTEO. Recently, we sat down with him to discuss how Fundraise Up helped take OLASTEO from a self-funded nonprofit to generating enough donations to start growing their good cause. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us about OLASTEO and what it means to you personally.
OLASTEO stands for “our lives as seen through each other.” Our mission is to create experiences that empower students to be catalysts for social impact. We do this by curating a roster of influential speakers, interactive workshops, and immersive trips that expose our scholars to a broad range of perspectives and possibilities. OLASTEO was founded on the idea that travel can help open and expand student perspectives. In traveling to new cities and countries, we encourage our students to experience and learn about life beyond their respective communities. We strive, above all else, to educate our students about the lived experiences and challenges that others have faced, both those before them and those from other cultures and communities.
When choosing a fundraising platform, what features were important to you?
We focused on four key features when considering which platform to use:
- Branding customization
- Recurring giving
- Checkout experience
- Campaign management
Tell us about your onboarding process with Fundraise Up.
There were two sides to the onboarding process:
I had registered and created a Fundraise Up instance, but because we were preparing to use an alternative vendor, I never logged into the platform to begin the onboarding process. Once we began using the alternative vendor, we quickly realized that their platform was not the answer. So, I decided to see what Fundraise Up had to offer.
After being disappointed by other self-guided onboardings in the past, Fundraise Up’s onboarding materials and overall admin user experience were next-level.
"Before I knew it, I was 7 hours deep into Fundraise Up and had a fully implemented fundraising platform with two campaigns, a customized landing page, a focus on recurring giving, and an automated, but personalized acknowledgment workflow involving our donor management and email marketing systems."
"The customer service experience I had with Fundraise Up is a game-changer. The technology is superb, but no other software company in the nonprofit game (or otherwise) can come anywhere close to matching the level of support we've received from the Fundraise Up team."
Its culture shines externally with its focus on optimizing its product based on the realities of its customers. It's a beautiful thing!
Your website looks great! Tell us about the process of using our platform and placing elements on your website.
Thank you; Exactly one year to the day of our initial OLASTEO website launch, we unveiled a new and improved website! Our website was designed by the amazing Alisa Olinova, in close partnership with my wife and co-founder, Ceci (pronounced Sessy).
The driving forces behind the redesign were two-fold: provide insight into our complete programming slate with the pandemic landscape changing AND take our online fundraising presence to a world-class level. Fundraise Up Elements really drove a lot of the creativity in the updated site design from both a visual and copy perspective. Our homepage makes use of a multitude of FRU Elements, with six Image Cards being the focal point. Our recurring giving program page, The Catalyst Collective, features campaign-specific FRU Elements on nearly every section.
Do you feel you’ve been better able to connect with your donors and provide them with a more engaging experience?
Our FRU-engineered online donation setup has resulted in many calls, texts, and emails from our donor community praising the ease and elegance of their experience. The branding capabilities at every step of the process and seamless integration with our website allow OLASTEO donors to better engage with donation-specific media and info. So, yes!
Do you have any special statistics or anecdotes you want to share?
"We raised $0 online from January through June 2020. Once we joined Fundraise Up, we raised $30,000 from January through June of 2021."
A native New Yorker, Aaron has always been intensely service-oriented and is inspired by the words of the great James Baldwin - “The questions which one asks oneself begin, at last, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others.” He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in China and immerse himself in a community unlike that where he grew up or went to school. After working for over a decade in the healthcare IT space, Aaron currently works as a People Solutions Leader, cultivating winning organizational cultures. He co-founded OLASTEO with his wife, Ceci, in order to create experiences for underserved students that open their eyes to the larger world beyond their immediate community.