Case Study: Afghan Airlift Fundraiser

The Afghan Airlift Campaign was a high-profile, grassroots emergency response fundraising campaign launched in August 2021 and powered by Pledge.

Nonprofits Benefitted: 

The Challenge

As they watched the humanitarian crisis unfold in Afghanistan while American troops withdrew in August of 2021, a group of friends and Afghanistan experts were looking for a way to help rescue individuals that were considered high-risk to the Taliban, including journalists, activists, translators, artists, and filmmakers. While able to secure an A340 aircraft that would allow up to 340 passengers aboard at a time, the cost to charter the plane was approx. $1.7 million. The organizing team needed to be able to raise these funds quickly and securely, providing only a 48-hour window to allow the aircraft to take off from the Kabul airport.  

The Solution

The group of campaign organizers connected with Pledge and was able to successfully launch a public emergency response fundraiser the same day, including a DIY Fundraiser Page and Text-to-Donate campaign. Within hours, donations started coming in from individual donors as well as corporate donors who were eager to help and support the humanitarian crisis. The simple and effective calls-to-action were used to attract donors across the US and from around the world, through social media, email outreach, influencer engagement, and broadcast media - including a feature of the campaign on CNN-International that aired in 200+ countries. 

Pledge conducted an extra layer of vetting and verification of the nonprofit partner in this campaign to ensure that all dollars raised securely through the platform would be used as promised by the nonprofit beneficiary Bancroft Global Development, a US-based 501(c)(3) organization with decades of experience and expertise in conflict zones. 

Through these extraordinary and diligent efforts made by the campaign organizers, the nonprofit organization, and the Pledge team, they were able to raise over $1 million dollars in the first 24 hours and disburse funds to the nonprofit for immediate use. 

“What was amazing is that you guys were so responsive that we could make this work so seamlessly. I didn’t even think that was a possibility. When we were first talking about it, I didn’t think something of this magnitude could happen.” - Vikram Singh, Co-Organizer of the Afghan Airlift Campaign 

Impact Made 

Not only was the team able to charter the plane as originally planned, but due to the volume of donations made and circumstances in Kabul, they were able to successfully airlift and rescue over 2,000 individuals through several flight missions with the chartered plane. It has become known as the most successful privately-funded humanitarian rescue mission during the Afghanistan crisis.

When Afghanistan officially closed its borders and flights were no longer allowed, the organizing team connected with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and directed all additional funds raised to support their life-saving programs. IRC is a US-based 501(c)(3) organization that delivers vital aid, relocation and resettlement services to displaced Afghans and people around the world, including those saved by this mission. 

This campaign continues to live on, providing support to those resettling in the United States through the New Life Support fundraiser. The funds raised will go directly to Afghan families to help with critical needs and services such as rent, food, education and clothing.

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