Case Study

How Stop Soldier Suicide Doubled Their Revenue During a Pandemic

Executive Summary

Stop Soldier Suicide feared that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact its ability to generate revenue at a time when it expected a surge in client need. But thanks to its partnership with GoodUnited, deploying a social fundraising solution to build new virtual peer-to-peer fundraising revenue, Stop Soldier Suicide was able to not only raise the funds it needed -- but double its revenue during a pandemic.

Fast Facts:

Vision: Stop Soldier Suicide’s vision is a nation where service members and veterans have no greater risk for suicide than any other American.

Mission: Stop Soldier Suicide is reducing the military suicide rate through the use of enhanced data insights, focused client acquisition and best-in-class suicide intervention services.

Goal: Stop Soldier Suicide will reduce the military suicide rate by 40% by 2030, saving more than 2,400 lives per year on average.

Raised in 2020: $4.1M

2021 Goal: $8M

HQ: Durham, North Carolina

Serve: US Veterans

Understand the Mission: Three U.S. Army veterans co-founded Stop Soldier Suicide in 2010 amid the worst suicide crisis our military has ever seen.

The nonprofit set out to reach an ambitious goal: to ensure that veterans and service members were at no greater risk for suicide than any other American. Stop Soldier Suicide is small and scrappy, with fewer than 30 team members, but its impact has reverberated throughout the military community. The organization has served more than 1,400 at-risk veterans and service members in the last 18 months, covering all 50 states and the nation's capital. It has a dedicated community of more than 500K followers on Facebook, thousands of whom support its mission by raising money through Facebook Fundraisers.

COVID-19 Changed Everything (Except the Mission)

Few, if any, organizations were prepared for the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly wrought overnight. Suddenly, all in-person fundraising events were cancelled. As donors faced their own financial uncertainty, nonprofits across the board braced for the worst. 

Stop Soldier Suicide’s fears were more than just financial. Lockdown orders meant at-risk veterans would need more support than ever before. While necessary, the social and physical isolation could increase stressors that often contribute to suicide risk.

"Even in the best of times, isolation is a red flag for veterans at risk of taking their own lives. COVID-19, and all the added stressors that came with it, made the situation all the more dire."

- Tina Starkey, Chief Growth Officer of Stop Soldier Suicide                                  

Fortunately, Stop Soldier Suicide had been working with GoodUnited before COVID hit, partnering with GoodUnited to enhance donor cultivation and engagement.

“The ability to say 'thank you' to our fundraisers and donors has always been important to us. As we started to grow, it became imperative that we be able to do it at scale. GoodUnited has not only made it possible to do that, but made it seamless and engaging."      

- Tina Starkey, Chief Growth Officer of Stop Soldier Suicide

To keep donors engaged during the pandemic and find new supporters, GoodUnited suggested another way Stop Soldier Suicide could deploy social fundraising.

A New Plan to Inspire Supporters: Peer-to-Peer Challenges 

Within the GoodUnited social fundraising solution, Stop Soldier Suicide tapped peer-to-peer Facebook challenges. These fundraisers were conducted entirely through Facebook, using Facebook groups to encourage engagement and Facebook’s fundraising tool to manage funds.

For Stop Soldier Suicide, the challenge fundraisers were straightforward (but not easy!). Participants were challenged to run or walk 100 miles over the course of one month to raise both funds and awareness for the fight against military suicide. Utilizing Facebook's 'groups' product, Stop Soldier Suicide created groups by state to allow participants to connect and encourage each other while working toward a common goal. For participants, these challenges were the perfect fit for their needs as well, allowing them to support a good cause while having a reason to get outside and move. Some supporters even arranged to meet to run or walk together, outside and socially distanced.

“It was mental health support not just for veterans, but for everyone.”


Growth Through Innovation In The Midst Of CrisisGrowth Through Innovation In The Midst Of Crisis

These fundraisers proved to be the tactic that Stop Soldier Suicide needed to thrive. Not only did Stop Soldier Suicide make up for potentially lost funds, but the organization raised $2.5M more in 2020 than in 2019 thanks to peer-to-peer challenge fundraisers.

Stop Soldier Suicide’s collaboration with GoodUnited netted it more than revenue, though. It was also able to connect with supporters individually thanks to GoodUnited’s Facebook chatbot technology. This allowed Stop Soldier Suicide to gather contact information for its most ardent supporters and, most importantly, understand why they chose to commit time, energy and funds to the mission.\“What’s beautiful is that they tell those stories in a one-to-one format.

"They feel like they’re telling it to one person, because it’s in Messenger and it feels private. We get to understand our supporters in an intimate way that we couldn’t otherwise.”

Stop Soldier Suicide successfully and safely inspired supporters in a time when connection was more difficult than ever, driving critical revenue while still engaging (and thanking) those donors closest to its mission.

“People want to be seen and heard. People want to be appreciated. People will do more if they feel a little bit of visibility and care, and we couldn’t do that on Facebook before GoodUnited.”

Facebook & Stop Soldier Suicide in 2021 and Beyond

Stop Soldier Suicide plans to continue working with GoodUnited to cultivate new and existing supporters on social media, and take advantage of new ways of fundraising on Facebook. This nonprofit believes that peer-to-peer challenges will remain a valuable source of revenue long after the pandemic ends.

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