The Omari Grey Effect

Marium Khan
4 min readSep 3, 2020

On June 17th 2020, a father of nine left Washington, DC for his homestead in Orange, Virginia. A mere 15 minutes from home, Omari Grey suffered a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer on a two-lane road.​ While Omari Grey battled for his life, community members rallied together that same day to raise funds in support of him. The campaign goal was set for $50,000. Two days later, the initial goal was exceeded 20 times over; in just 48 hours, the campaign raised $1,000,000.

We took a deep dive to explore the hows and whys of it all.

Much of the credit for the rapid success of Omari Grey’s campaign has to do with unique circumstances and a specific situation — such as who Omari Grey is, his impact on his community, and the tragic details of his accident. While this is all true, what we’ve come to understand is we can all have the Omari Grey effect.

Telling your story

We all can and have contributed to our own communities. The importance lies in communicating that to your donors. Tell your story; why are you creating this campaign, who are you raising money for, and help your donors understand why your cause is important. Share how your cause impacts you and/or the greater community not just through words but through media as well. Allow donors to interact with a story through both pictures and videos rather than just text.

At Launchgood, we find that a large majority of users never actually finish a full “read through” of a campaign’s description — counter to what many campaign creators may believe. With Omari Grey’s campaign, we are greeted with a clear introduction of the who in the story followed by the why of the urgency immediately at the top. Further down the page, the potential donor is invited to experience the compelling nature of the person through a combination of hyperlinked videos, descriptive imagery, and clear concise asks. In doing this, the campaign challenges the user to meet the person and not necessarily allow the accident to be the defining point.

Network! Network! Network!

Similar to the Phone-Tree Phenomenon, this campaign utilized the full scope of online sharing capabilities to gather a domino effect of organic traffic. Of note, a little over 1,700 donors (those who contributed at least $1 to the campaign) landed directly through one of just 115 user-generated Launchgood share links. This means that just one single share yielded an average of 15 active donors. From there, we can reasonably infer the “virality” of a crowdfunding campaign is directly related to the quantity of circulation. One person shares to five people who share to ten more who share to fifteen more and so on. In one day of sharing, 67% of total contributions were raised amounting to $748,803.

Creating an invested donor

A common misunderstanding amongst campaign creators is only strategizing how to turn user traffic into active donors. That is to say, only looking to increase the conversion rate of a campaign’s exposure to its dollar goal. What we find true with the case of Omari Grey is that campaign organizers naturally felt the need to issue consistent (not necessarily constant!) updates to all community members regardless of whether or not they were active donors. In practice, this is a key strategy overlooked by many campaign creators.

The Omari Grey campaign shared various updates to their donors a total of 7 times a month span. By creating this re-engagement the casual traffic viewer can turn into an active participant, compelling them to share the campaign within their own networks. But beyond this simple flow chart, what allows a user to return to a campaign? The most effective tool may very well be just a simple campaign update, via email or otherwise. Now that a donor has literally invested in your story, the relationship is no longer casual. And again, this concept came naturally for Omari Grey’s campaign — of course we want to know what happens to Omari, he’s one of ours.

Translating Urgency to Efficiency

At Launchgood, we’ve come to classify Omari Grey’s campaign as an “emergency” campaign. While emergency campaigns vary in nature, they all share a similar level of urgency. In this particular case, a man’s life and family were in immediate need. His community rallied together as quickly as word of Omari Grey’s situation traveled. We, at Launchgood, had to match the energy. Immediately after a flash campaign comes in, a dedicated live support team is assigned to it. Working hand-in-hand and in real-time with the organizers, we were able to play a small but important role in guiding the success of Omari Grey’s campaign.

Omari Grey’s community was under the hopeful expectation of raising $50,000 to alleviate just a tiny portion of his family’s burdens. The $1.1 million success story that is this campaign speaks volumes to the nature of compelling need and urgency. No matter the dollar amount, Launchgood provides the platform to expand a network of support, harness the strategies of success, and utilize the tools to make it all happen.