Reality Changers Customer Story

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Higher Education Institutions
North America

Reality Changers Exceeds Fundraising Goal with Inaugural Peer-to-Peer Campaign


For nearly two decades, Reality Changers has helped open doors of opportunity for thousands of students in San Diego and Orange County by providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training. To keep powering its mission, Reality Changers needed to attract new supporters—and peer-to-peer fundraising provided an opportunity to expand that reach.

College can be for anyone, even people who grew up believing otherwise. That’s what one organization in Southern California is helping underprivileged youth understand and believe through dedicated programs that offer hope, opportunity, and prosperity.

For nearly two decades, Reality Changers has helped open doors of opportunity for thousands of students in San Diego and Orange County, California. Its mission—to transform lives by providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training—has resulted in over 2,400 program graduates who have attended nearly 130 colleges across the country. Of those program
graduates, over $140 million in scholarships and gift aid have been awarded, as well as 29 highly sought-after Gates Millennium scholarships.

Reality Changers’ success is based on a layered approach that engages students in its “College Town” program which inspires, motivates, and mentors kids in eighth through eleventh grade to believe in and achieve the reality of college; works closely with twelfth graders in the “College Apps Academy” to prepare, apply, transition to, and attend college; and provides career resources and support in its “Alumni Network” that involves past graduates.

Finding the Right Solution to Support

Providing the resources needed to help accomplish specific program goals requires ongoing funding—which can be challenging—to secure and grow into the future. “As wonderful as our current and loyal donors are, it’s not fair for us to solely rely on their funding,” said Jacqueline Guan, Reality Changers Advancement Coordinator. “This increases the importance of being introduced and engaged with new individuals—not only for financial backing, but to increase awareness and support of our mission.”

On the heels of its annual year-end fundraising event, the team at Reality Changers decided it needed an effective way to engage with current and prospective donors halfway through the calendar year. With its 18th anniversary approaching, Reality Changers set out to create a “Founder’s Day of Giving” that would build around the retirement of its founder, graduation season, and the significance of the age 18, the year many of their high school program graduates successfully advance to collegiate studies.

Looking for a platform that could provide the robust technology needed to integrate with their existing database at a minimal cost, Reality Changers chose Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising™. “The stars aligned for us to make this campaign happen,” Guan said. “Blackbaud’s solution was made available for free; it would fully integrate all donations; and it was easy to use. It was just what we needed.”

With the right technology solution in place, the Reality Changers team could move forward with creating a marketing strategy that would support their alumni and volunteers in launching a successful personal fundraising campaign. Leveraging the skills of its team, engagement of alumni, and the right platform, Reality Changers exceeded its campaign fundraising goal by nearly 30 percent, and 60 percent of those gifts came from new donors.

Growing a Legacy

Traditionally, Reality Changers had engaged in crowdfunding strategies that pushed out all marketing communications from the organization, driving to one landing page for messaging and donations. The team recognized untapped potential in leveraging the passion and personal experience of the organization’s alumni and knew peer-to-peer fundraising could take them there.

“Our goal was to raise money, engage our program alumni, and create new connections,” Guan said. “We accomplished all of that and more. We look forward to improving upon our results for next year’s Founder’s Day campaign, as well as finding ways to engage Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising throughout the rest of the year.”

Turning to peer-to-peer fundraising would allow Reality Changers to incorporate the help of its former students to engage their networks to create an even greater legacy that extends well beyond their personal success. “Our alumni have the opportunity to tell a story in a way that is meaningful to them and encourage the support of those around them to help transform the lives of others,” Guan said. “Leveraging peer-to-peer fundraising gives them that ability.”

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Reality Changers Customer Story
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