Rally Starter is a set of advocacy tools and a digital organizing platform for both nonprofits and passionate community organizers. With a growing interest in social justice our hope is to make advocacy easier and more effective by offering complex advocacy tools like customizable click-to-call functionality and contact congress campaigns just as easy and cheap as creating a petition. Rally Starter was created by Media Cause, a marketing and creative agency that works with nonprofits on the frontline of social issues.
Eric Facas is founder and CEO of Media Cause, which launched in 2010 and has worked with over 300 US nonprofits, global NGOs and local community foundations. He is also the founder of Social Good Labs, a 501(c)(3) that helps new nonprofits and social impact projects launch. As a social entrepreneur, Eric is passionate about developing scalable solutions to global issues by leveraging the power of marketing and technology.
This article is sourced from an interview with Eric Facas conducted by Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, CEO of MissionBox, Inc. in April of 2020.
I am so glad we are sitting back down to catch up. I understand that you have recently completed a re-launch of your advocacy software, Rally Starter. Our readers would like to hear more.
So, as we discussed back in November 2018, I started Rally Starter because of the plight of a dear friend, Jason, a journalist who was being held hostage by the Iranian government.
Jason was eventually released, but what I learned during this heart-rending process was that it was particularly challenging to organize all the people who wanted to help. There were some single-use tech options out there, like online petitions, but they failed to offer the key features that were necessary to mobilize and sustain communication, organization and connections to free our dear friend.
Engaging different influencers, in a variety of ways, is critical in any kind of advocacy operation. And it takes more than thousands of signatures, or a social media or email campaigns to efficiently get the attention you need regarding a pressing injustice.
The challenges we faced with Jason’s release highlighted the need in the market for a tool that could do it all, that didn’t cost thousands of dollars a month. With Rally Starter, nonprofit organizations can use the Rally Starter platform to create comprehensive advocacy campaigns with coordinated actions including phone calls, emails, boycotts, and social media actions for $49 per month, with a free version as well.
Did you intentionally recruit designers and engineers to build Rally Starter? It sounds like a pivot for a digital marketing agency serving nonprofits. I have led the design, build and launch of several software products: it is a complex, demanding and expensive task. How did you make the decision to create a second, software-based channel of products and services?
I realized that Media Cause already had the strategists, the website designers and the developers to create the toolset I needed when Jason was at risk. As we began to build the platform, we came to the realization that we needed to build a solution for the small to midsize organizations and community organizers; a solution that was much more advanced than the free petition tools that currently exist.
Thus, Rally Starter was born and is being released as the software platform that brings together all the necessary social action tools under a single tech umbrella. We offer it to individuals who require immediate access to the right functionality to launch a complete social justice campaign. That is what Rally Starter is all about.
Over the last couple of years we have had to build out a bigger development team and dedicate more resources to continue to evolve the technology. In our new version of Rally Starter, we wanted to make sure we continue to offer solutions to passionate change makers but we also invested in better tools for nonprofits that have money to invest in advocacy campaigns but aren’t happy with the more expensive tool sets on the market.
This is exciting news. As we approach, hopefully, a post-COVID-19 reality, keeping tech products affordable is going to be a #1 priority. At the same time, a bright light has been shined on many arenas where social injustice is the norm, such as racial disparities in health and human service outcomes. What is your thinking about pricing Rally Starter to be accessible to any individual or group who needs such a platform?
On one end, there are already free but basic types of advocacy options available like petitions, they are accessible but not very effective. On the other, there are plenty of advanced advocacy solutions but they can be really expensive so not very accessible. Our goal from the start is to make more advanced advocacy more accessible so that more positive impact can take place.
A few thousand dollars a month can be cost prohibitive for nonprofits and even a few hundred dollars per month is too expensive for a community organizer or even a passionate friend trying to help free his buddy from an Iranian prison. It didn’t make sense to me at the time that access to pretty basic technology should be a barrier when it comes to mobilizing supporters to create such important change. So we decided to make Rally Starter truly affordable (free pages for individuals on our website) or embedded campaigns on an organization website (starting @ $49 per month with no contract).
The second part to consider when we think about accessibility is how long does it take to launch a campaign using Rally Starter. Rapid response is needed at times when doing advocacy work. We are really proud of how fast and easy it is to create a campaign with Rally Starter. Even if you’re brand new to Rally Starter, you can create an account, build a campaign, and embed it into your website in a matter of minutes.
Thanks so much, Eric . To learn more about Rally Starter go to https://rallystarter.com/.