How Cohen Camps Facebook Fans Won a Crowdfunding Contest

  • Gin & Jews poll

    By Debbie Kardon Schwartz, Director, Dor L’Dor

    The March 8th snowstorm that blanketed the greater Boston area could not damper the warmth and spirit of the Cohen Camps community.

    What does a Camp Director do when she cannot get to the office? She catches up on emails and yes—checks her Facebook. As I was sitting in the warmth of my home checking my email and Facebook, I noticed a friend had voted on the Gin & Jews Facebook page. Intrigued by the name, I clicked on the Gin & Jews Facebook page and to my surprise found a competition going on. Gin & Jews is a social networking organization. In addition to their online presence, they offer monthly free events (called “Chosen Hours”) for Jewish young professionals in the Greater Boston area. I found Gin & Jews piloting an idea called #GnJgives, a competitive fundraising concept. For the next Gin & Jews “Chosen Hour” event, Gin & Jews decided to ask participants for a voluntary donation to support a nonprofit organization, one that would be nominated and chosen by their Gin & Jews Facebook fans.

    This simple idea to combine a night of socializing and networking with an optional fundraiser for an organization chosen by a group of fans is based on two concepts known as crowdsourcing and microdonations. Crowdsourcing taps into the resources of online communities. The concept of microdonations is that a lot of small (micro) donations are combined together to raise funds from non-traditional sources. This upcoming fundraiser would support organizations selected by the online vote, gathering financial support from the Gin & Jews community for organizations with which Gin & Jews are not directly affiliated.

    Fin and Jews at the door

    When I clicked through, the competition and voting was in full swing. Already there were a number of organizations nominated from which to choose. When looking through the list of organizations I was thrilled to see the Ellie and Bessie Cohen Camps already listed on the ballot, though not so thrilled to see that with my vote the Cohen camps only had a total of three votes! It was now about 2:00pm on this cold and blustery Friday afternoon and the voting was closing at 5:00pm. Not sure what we could do in just three hours, but wanting the Cohen Camps to have more than three votes, my competitive nature kicked in and I did the only thing I could do: I placed a quick post on the Dor L’Dor Facebook page, and simply asked “How many votes can we get for the Cohen Camps????” along with a link to the ballot. Shortly thereafter the question was posted to the Pembroke, Tevya and Tel Noar Facebook pages as well as their alumni pages.

    Then the magical spirit of the Cohen Camp Community emerged. With just a few hours of voting time the Cohen Camps went from 3 votes to OVER 450 votes! WOW! The warmth and connection of the Cohen Camps community triumphed. We won the competition and received the financial support from the Gin & Jews #GnJgives fundraiser. The money will go to the Cohen Camps camper scholarship fund, which is wonderful. The ‘win” placed Jewish overnight camp in the spotlight which is outstanding, but I have to say experiencing the strength and spirit of the Cohen Camp community was and is AWESOME!

    What really is outstanding is the success of the DLD Facebook page. While Pembroke, Tevya and Tel Noar have had Facebook pages and an active on-line community for a while, the DLD Facebook page was created just six months ago. Since its inception, we have spent time building an engaged online community. The Cohen Camps “won” the competition because my post asking for votes showed up on the DLD Facebook fans news feeds.

    The DLD Facebook page is very interactive and many of our 200+ people who “liked” the page truly engage with it. From start to finish this experience was a wonderful example of how the power of social networking combined with the strength of the Cohen Camps community could take one posted question sent on a cold snowy day, and inspire over 400 people to take action.

    Thank you to Gin & Jews for initiating #g&Jgives and for raising money to support Jewish camping. Thank you to the anonymous person who nominated the Cohen Camps and thanks to the Dor L’Dor Facebook community for spreading the word.

    G&J CC photo

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