Amazing charities spotlight: Shootout for Soldiers

on September 15, 2016

Shootout for Soldiers is a great organization and they do so many things really, really well. They have a great mission: to use the platform of lacrosse to engage communities with their local veterans and support their healthy and successful transition into civilian life. They have a great website. They have super-effective social media. They have amazing charity partners. And they absolutely crush it at online fundraising.

Shootout for Soldiers just crushing it

If you didn't click any of the links above, here's what they do: every summer, Shootout for Soldiers holds 24-hour lacrosse games across the country to raise money for troops and veterans causes. This year they did 8 events. And they raised over $500,000. That's over half a million bucks. We were lucky enough to catch up with Tyler Steinhardt, Founder and Director of Shootout for Soldiers, to ask him a few questions about how they do everything so well - specifically online fundraising and about how they got started with CrowdRise.

CR: You guys raised nearly $530,000 this year. So successful. Can you share any tips of how you're being so effective in your online fundraising?

TS: I'd say the biggest thing that we've learned about fundraising is that if you just give people the tools, they'll run with it in their communities. What we find is that 80% of our teams fundraised over $750, which is our minimum fundraising goal. That's a testament to the dedication of the call to action, not necessarily the goal. When you put it out there and just set a minimum bar, people will oftentimes go above and beyond to top that, and they'll get creative with it. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we can inspire people but not push the limit too much because we don't want to be in your face about the fundraising process. We just gave people a tool, and they did much better things with it than we could ever imagine. That was something very cool for us to see.

Shootout for Soldiers big check

CR: Can you share a specific example?

TS: Sure. The real inspiring thing is how people make it personal at our event. A good example would be our top fundraising team in Ohio: Team Smitty. The team was just ten and eleven year old kids from central Ohio who've gotten involved with the events. They were playing in honor of a fallen Columbus police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty. They just took it on. And in addition to Team Smitty, we saw numerous instances of honoring someone personally related to them or connected to them in some fashion. That was really powerful because it makes it not just about how much you're raising but more the reason why you're doing it in the first place. It's incredibly humbling to see that fundraising and the drive of these teens who are doing it for those reasons.

CR: Can you tell me a bit about how you got started?

TS: Yeah, definitely. We started Shootout for Soldiers when we were high school seniors in 2012 at Boys’ Latin in Baltimore, Maryland. Why we started was real simple: a bunch of us in this community service club had watched this 60 Minutes piece about veterans returning home from war, and we just looked at each other afterwards. We watched the video, and we said, "How do we act? How do we do something about this?" We realized that we were at an impasse, that as prideful as we are in our country, a lot of us were finding it hard to figure out what to do. It wasn't actionable like going to a homeless soup kitchen or going to the ASPCA and walking dogs. It was very tough to go out and do something. We came up with the idea of doing a fundraiser. We said, "Okay, this is where we want to make the difference. Let's choose a sport that we love, lacrosse, and just do it." I have no direct tie to the military, no veterans in my immediate family, nothing along those lines. I just felt, alongside many of my friends, very grateful for the freedoms and the safety we have in this country, people who put their lives on the line to defend that. I wanted to give back in some way, and running a small little lacrosse event was how we got started and what we're still doing now.

CR: Amazing. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to CrowdRise and starting use the platform for your online fundraising?

TS: It was 2014, and at the time I started fundraising for a campaign to bring Team Uganda to the Lacrosse World Championships in Denver. I was working for an organization called Fields of Growth International. They had created this event on CrowdRise. I looked at it and I thought, "This is really unique because it's not just a cleaner and simple way of fundraising, but it empowers the individual and shows how the individual goes out and does their work underneath the teams." So for Shootout for Soldiers, it says Team Lakers, and then it says Tyler Steinhardt or Jerome Brooks or Bill Owens, or whatever the player is underneath that individual whose fundraised themselves. I thought that was very cool how you can see the people who are doing the legwork for their team and it wasn't just one giant page of people that donated. It showed the hard work and the personal stories behind it.

Shootout for Soldiers is an organization with its roots based in the simple desire to make a difference, and are proof that when this is paired with the correct online fundraising tools, you can make a huge impact. They are an amazing organization, and we couldn't be prouder to be partners with them.

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