RED Spotlight: Change Heroes

With our RED Spotlight of local startups, non-profits, and other companies we continue to embrace local organizations, we caught up with Change Heroes COO Mike Tan to learn more about what they do. Change Heroes previously worked with our UX Design students as part of our Community Partners program.

Change Heroes is a video-based, friend-to-friend fundraising platform that empowers individuals and organizations to mobilize their communities to create change. The approach they take is based on partnerships, creating a customized experience for each partner’s campaign and helping them acquire more donors – at a lower donor acquisition cost – through the use of personalized videos. Campaign fundraisers use the platform to make face-to-face asks directly to their network of selected friends and family via personal videos. These online face-to-face asks and the use of video throughout a Change Heroes campaign results in a bigger impact – generally 4-5x ROI versus other online fundraising platforms.

Where did the idea of Change Heroes come from?

When our founder Taylor Conroy returned to Canada after life changing trip to Africa, he was captivated by the idea of creating global impact and contributing to projects that could change the world for the better. The first project he set his sights on was funding a schoolhouse in Kenya. He wanted to get his friends and family onboard with the idea of giving, so he created a simple formula to make giving appealing and accessible – allowing people to give on their own terms. This formula was as simple as 33 friends donating $3.33 a day for 3 months to raise $10,000, enough to build the schoolhouse. Because the formula was so successful, Taylor was inspired to build a social enterprise model around it, and the Change Heroes idea was born.

How did Change Heroes start?

Change Heroes partnered with Free the Children in 2012 to build schools around the world, and originally launched the platform to enable our friends and personal networks to fundraise. We have since then honed our platform to help nonprofits and charities of all sizes engage millennials in fundraising. We are using the same mechanics that made campaigns like Movember, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Charity Water so successful. We noticed that these campaigns and charitable platforms have three things in common that contributed to their popularity: first, they had a vibrant and engaged presence online and on social media, second, they used the model of friends asking friends, and third their campaigns centred around the use of video.

At Change Heroes we have democratized the same technology and methodology and built a personalized, video-based fundraising platform enabling millennials to fundraise for causes they care about and give in a way that makes sense to them.

How has user experience methods helped so far?

We conduct user tests with partners, fundraisers and donors to give us an insight into how people interact with the platform. User experience influences our product design process by giving us insight into a user’s needs and allowing us to design a more user-friendly platform. This results in a more optimal experience on our platform.

How did the students help in the UX Design for the mobile experience who participated in the Community Partner program?

Now that we’re moving to a mobile first approach, the students from RED gave us ideas for our mobile wireframes and how to resolve friction points on our current platform. They focused on a smoother user flow for the fundraiser signup process, reducing the steps it takes to create a fundraising page so that less fundraisers get stuck and abandon their campaign. A smoother user flow results in a higher conversion rate to sign up to fundraise and more successful campaign launches.

How has the power of social media helped the organization?

Social media is allowing us to build a community alongside our technology platform. We are able to connect with others on a broader scale and start conversations with our global neighbours. Change Heroes and our community members are part of a larger community of change-makers who all share a similar purpose – to make a positive impact on communities around the world.

Social media allows us to connect with this community to share ideas, highlight the successes of our partners and fundraisers and inspire others to take action. It is also a great way to build relationships with future fundraisers, supporters and donors who want to contribute to the bigger picture and make this world a better place.

What is Change Heroes most looking forward too?

We are really looking forward to continuing to partner with leading nonprofits and charities to raise more funds in order to help them scale their positive impact globally. We are also excited about upcoming changes to our platform that we will be launching later this year that will allow smaller organizations to better use the Change Heroes platform and method. Additionally, we will be launching a new mobile version of our platform where anyone can manage their campaigns directly from their phones.

How can one get involved?

There are a lot of ways someone can get involved with Change Heroes, the easiest one is to join our community via social media. We’d love to hear from anyone who wants to share ideas, resources, who just wants to say hi or who might be interested in being an Change Heroes ambassador.

If you want to do more, you can of course donate to an existing Change Heroes campaign or start your own campaign and help one of our amazing partners fundraise!

We’ve worked with 53 of the world’s leading nonprofits and charities and have raised more than $3.5 million to date. We are always looking for more organizations to partner with to help increase the amount that is given in through charitable donations.We also love to work with corporate partners if you’re interested in starting a campaign with your own team, empowering them to raise funds in a competitive giving climate.

P.S. We’re also always looking for talented individuals who are interested in social impact work to join our team!

What are some tips on starting a fundraising campaign?

I would say my top three tips for a online fundraising campaign are incorporating the power of face-to-face asks through video, having a tangible result or impact as part of your strategy, and saying thank you to fundraisers and donors.

Face-to-face asks are a huge part of the success of a fundraising campaign – just look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It raised $115 million dollars using direct asks in videos. Videos are a great way for organizations to tell their story in a fun and engaging way. You can also get a lot of information across with them in a short amount of time.

Choosing a tangible impact or outcome is also really important. People like to see where their donation is going, and when there is a tangible result they are more likely to share what they did with their friends, amplifying your message and attracting new donors and fundraisers. Additionally, making the campaign time-bound or creating urgency around it is another great way to start a campaign off on the right foot and ties in with the need to have a tangible impact for your campaign. Choosing to hold a campaign during a particular month or around a specific date or event can prompt people to donate with a sense of urgency.

If you want to fundraise for an existing campaign, pick a cause that you’re passionate about. It’s easier to share a story about something that is personal to you when you can be authentic about it. And – of course -make videos!

Want to get involved with Change Heroes initiatives, contact their team today.

Holly Lawton

With over 10 years full-circle marketing experience, working across multiple b2c and b2b campaigns, Holly brings her passion for digital marketing to the Red Academy.

Originally from the UK, Holly has worked in a wide varied of industries. From consumer campaigns like the world’s largest dog show Crufts, BBC Kids and live entertainment, right through to food and drink trade events, global telecommunications conferences and a worldwide shipping broker – proving that digital marketing can be applied successfully to any company, in any market.

Holly cycled the pacific coast from Vancouver to Tijuana blogging all the way and in London, was a singer in a band. You will still catch her cycling around the city and maybe even singing…

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Vancouver 778 379 7175

Toronto 647 793 2333

Vancouver 778 379 7175

Toronto 647 793 2333


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