Funding, Jan. 25, 2022, 8:57 a.m.



Why does Goedgedacht House, an orphanage in the Western Cape, have a baby unit named after South Korean pop star Kim Seokjin?

The answer is One in an ARMY – probably the most exciting online fundraising group right now. United by a love of Korean mega group BTS, these fundraising fans have so far raised more than $135,000 US for charities this year, and they’re showing no signs of stopping.


Inspired by their musical heroes and fired up for global philanthropy, they’re challenging old ideas about fundraising and making a huge difference for charities. Using social media to rally countless followers, they’re also bringing them together with an online crowdfunding platform that lets them combine thousands of microdonations from around the world into one massive impact.


“BTS are a group that is really focused on using their platform [to give] to others, so we took that same idea forward,” says Erika, One in an ARMY’s US-based Facilitator: Research & Outreach. “We started doing charity projects once a month in 2018 and we kept growing and growing: we hit about 200,000 followers recently.”


Mobilising for change

Since December 2020, the One in an ARMY community has raised more than $135,000 in online crowdfunded donations through online fundraising platform GivenGain, leaving positive footprints around the world – like the Kim Seokjin Baby Unit.  Now, fresh from the success of their latest completed fundraising project for the Art Creation Foundation for Children, which raised over $20,000 in just five days, they’re getting ready to smash some more fundraising records with additional flash fundraisers. Their new #MiCasaEsJimin fundraising project for Casa Frida, a shelter for women, LGBT+ people and refugees in Mexico City, has already beaten its initial donation target thanks to the support of BTS fans around the world.


For One in an ARMY, making a real difference hasn’t happened by accident. This collective knows that you can’t just create a fundraising project and expect people to donate. You have to remind them – sometimes repeatedly – and then make it easy for them to make a difference. Partly for those reasons, the old-fashioned fundraising systems didn’t work for their diverse, global legion of followers, and so they set out to find an innovative platform that does.


Every contribution counts

One in an ARMY’s 21-person organising team is as international as BTS’s fanbase – they’re spread across 14 different countries – and that diversity has given them a global outlook on supporting good causes no matter where they are based. So far this year, they have held campaigns for non-profits in the United States, South Korea, Tanzania, Kenya and Mexico, and so they’ve had to use systems that support a wide range of currencies and payment methods, as well as cross-border donations.


The donation management platform they wanted also needed to be able to handle donations of any size cost-effectively. The idea that everyone’s contribution matters, no matter how big or small, is in One in an ARMY’s DNA.


“This is why this is our name, because an army is humongous,” says Erika, “We know many of our supporters are younger. You may not have much money to give. But anything that one person can give will help make an impact.”


The problem they ran into was that many fundraising platforms set a minimum amount for donations – as high as $10 US, and a select few don’t.


Collecting the money themselves also wasn’t an option: the team had seen too many online fundraisers go wrong as a result.


“Our number one rule is: we do not touch the money,” says Erika. “There are always untrustworthy things on the Internet – and … if something gets mixed up, it can really damage trust. If somebody is supporting our projects, the funds are going to the organisation through an official channel. So, we had to find a platform that could work with the charities directly.”


Turning engagement into impact

When the One in an ARMY team discovered non-profit fundraising platform GivenGain, they knew they’d found their solution. GivenGain allows donors in any country to donate directly to charities anywhere in the world, in a wide range of global currencies and using a suite of payment methods. The minimum donation amount depends on the currency chosen, but supporters can give as little as $1 US, £1 GBP or R10 ZAR.


Just as importantly, by having a single place to direct supporters to, the fundraising team can see and showcase the difference they’re making – helping them to hype people up for the next month’s mission.


With a platform that meets the needs of their massive and widely distributed network of supporters, One in an ARMY’s fundraising has gone from strength to strength. Every campaign that One in an ARMY has launched on GivenGain has beaten its fundraising target, thanks to massive numbers of usually fairly small donations. It all adds up, which has helped the ARMY to raise amounts that can have an outsized impact on the small charities that the group typically works with. Their five day flash fundraiser, which used the occasion of band member Jungkook’s birthday in September to fire up fundraisers, received more than 900 donations for charity.


“We’ve had a really great experience,” says Erika. “We know that we’re set up kind of uniquely and GivenGain has been really flexible to working with what we need – even when we ask for something that might be a bit unusual.”


As Gen Z’s social media natives make up an increasing share of fundraisers, groups like One in an ARMY are growing by organising online and across borders. Charities and fundraisers that get on board with this will be the biggest winners.

To find out more, please visit GivenGain.