Connect Me Free Tutoring & Mentoring is a nationwide nonprofit that pursues a mission to help students struggling with certain academic skills. Approximately two months ago, the founder and chair of Connect Me, Mehmet Tascioglu, initiated a GoFundMe campaign to secure additional funding, mainly with website fees and Zoom meetings, to help support its mission.
Since Connect Me is a fully virtual organization, they rely on Zoom to host their tutor sessions and meetings. One hour every week, high schoolers tutor K-8 students in a variety of subjects to help enhance their academic skills. With Zoom being the designated meeting platform, each meeting can only last 40 minutes before meeting participants are kicked out. Many tutors rely on the whiteboard feature for visual representations and explanations, and once participants are kicked out, all work is gone. There is a pro plan on Zoom that gives users access to 30 hours of time on a meeting, and with each tutor session being one hour long, it is the perfect way to prevent interruptions during sessions.
Additionally, Connect Me operates a website for a number of different things. The website introduces the audience to their tutors, departments, board, and different outreaches. K-8th grade students can fill out a form to register for a tutor, and high school students can apply to be a tutor. Connect Me is responsible for paying multiple website and domain fees to help keep their servers up and running.
Connect Me is centered towards helping students who either live in a low-income household, if one or more of their parents/guardians is a frontline worker, or if the said student attends or has attended school virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many students finding it difficult to access education, Connect Me’s mission as a nationwide nonprofit organization is to help them. Students who live in rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged areas are hurt the most. They tend to have academically fallen behind since COVID-19 school shutdowns, and because of that, they need help. Several outreach campaigns are planned, however, those require funding.
The initial campaign goal was to raise $1,000 to help tackle these problems, and with twenty-seven donations from all across the nation, the campaign was successful!
In week 1, the donations were $310, which exceeded the $250 goal that week.
In week 2, there was a $25 addition to the campaign, which had the running total for that week at $335, falling under the $500 goal.
Week 3 still fell a little short under the $500 goal, totaling at $475.
Week 4 had a major setback. With the donations that week totaling the running amount to $485 and the goal for that week being $750, departments and the board were starting to get anxious if that goal would be met. However, everyone was surprised with the influx of donations the following week that totaled to $586, which currently totals the full GoFundMe campaign to $1,071.
Hasini Anand, Connect Me’s secretary, stresses that “It was definitely a relief! There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the last day and getting those last few donations.” She highlights her excitement to see the success of the GoFundMe campaign, and how that would help the nonprofit’s much needed funds to operate and fulfill its mission. Anand is especially proud of how far we were able to come with the donations in such a short period of time.
Tascioglu initially knew that the campaign would reach the goal, and it helped knowing that the highly dedicated Connect Me team would help meet the mark. “The standards are always high for Connect Me, but our dedicated team always manages to strike above and beyond,” he remarks.
Connect Me consists of five departments, and the top three that contributed the most donations were the Advertising Department, which consisted of fifteen donations totaling $611, the Partnerships Department, which contributed four donations totaling $200, and the Media Department, which had one donation totaling $100. As a thank you, Tascioglu promised the department with the most amount of donations an automatic Department Spotlight for that month.
Each department had effective fundraising strategies that helped reach the goal. The most common ones were word of mouth in group chats and extended family and friends, reminders to tutors within Connect Me during meetings and messages, and emails to past webinar attendees.
Connect Me’s treasurer, Kaustuv Mukherjee, also expressed his thanks by releasing a thank you statement on Connect Me’s official Instagram page to everyone who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign. He writes, “Your willingness to help will allow us to continue fulfilling our mission of giving back and supporting our community as passionate volunteers for many years to come.”
Tascioglu’s advice to anyone starting up their own campaign is to have a worthy cause. Connect Me started raising money after a full two and a half years of operating and giving back to the community, and having a dedicated mission and expertise towards the end goal helps with trust within the campaign. “We've demonstrated our prowess through our results, far before we started campaigning for donations,” Tascioglu notes.
With Connect Me being the nationwide nonprofit organization that it is, every penny counts towards their fixed mission. Although the journey for this GoFundMe was a rocky road, many people helped with contributing, and every single one of the departments contributed with donations. Every member of Connect Me is grateful for the charity of the community. With each day passing by, tutors and members can now be more at ease knowing that the contributions will help grow and strengthen Connect Me.