Sometimes it’s not about the website.
I’m not supposed to say that.
I’m a believer in websites. I’ve built them, I’ve written them, and I’ve marketed them like nobody’s business.
However, no matter how hard I or you want to build a website with a magic fundraising form, there are times when all that’s truly needed is a Facebook page or a (gasp!) PayPal button.
That was the case with my friend, Jackson.
Jackson didn’t need a website donation form.
Jackson was 9 years old when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme or GBM, a rare type of brain cancer in March of 2011.
It wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t right.
But, it was reality.
Jackson loved life. He and his family were huge USC fans (his parents were alumni). They were an active family in their community and very well loved. One day Jackson wasn’t feeling well. Two weeks later he was terminally ill.
Friends and family wanted to help, but no one knew what to say or do. Jackson’s aunt reached out to a local website development company that I worked for and, as a team, we found an answer.
We created a website where shoutouts could be collected. The site was called Fight On Jackson and people from around the world used it to send messages to Jackson and his family. I know, because it was my privilege to read and approve each comment prior to it posting on the website.
At times the support overwhelmed, as did the story…
Visitors came to the site to read Jackson’s story, to connect through the contact form, and to give a Shout Out to Jackson. Everyone, from the neighbor down the block to the players on the USC football team, wanted to buoy up Jackson and his family. His story was shared by the local news.
But Jackson wanted more. When the website launched, Jackson asked his Auntie Lauren, “Do you think like 100 people will leave me notes on the site?” She eagerly replied, “Times 10!”
Jackson reached that goal, and well exceeded it.
He also had a Facebook page to match the website, where people would post messages. But while the messages were great, what Jackson really wanted was likes.
Jackson’s favorite number was 10,000 and he was determined to get that number of likes on his page! And so were his followers! Those of us who followed Jackson shared his page and his story through Facebook and before he knew it, he reached his goal. The video below shows his excitement – and continual need to “fight on” for more!
Jackson got his wish and his page has more than doubled the originally sought after number of likes.
Sometimes a website and donation plugin are not the answer.
Alone they couldn’t provide the comfort and community that was needed then and in the hard years to come. Jackson’s website provided a means to the end, but his Facebook page provided a community of continued love and support.
I carry this story close to my heart, always remembering that in the end it is Jackson’s story, and others like his, that bring us together, not the medium or platform.