Team Efforts Push CDC Foundation Crowdfunding Campaign Over $48 Million for COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, the needs of health and public health workers grow each day. To address these needs, the CDC Foundation launched the crowdfunding campaign “All of Us: Combat Coronavirus,” a partnership with Charidy, a global crowdfunding firm.

To date, the campaign has raised more than $48 million. The generous donations to the CDC Foundation help provide medical supplies to health and public health workers, increase lab capacity, deploy emergency staffing to U.S. public health agencies, boost clinical research to improve health outcomes, build capacity and infrastructure for global response efforts, and much more.

Team Pages have been an important component in the crowdfunding campaign’s success. Whether an organization or individual, anyone can sign up for a team, add a logo and create a custom link, and then share with family, friends and social networks to encourage them to give. Since the campaign launched in March, over 350 teams have been created.

In one creative approach, 8-year-old Alani Thorns decided to join the CDC Foundation’s campaign after her birthday trip to New York City was cancelled because of the coronavirus. Thorns, who lives in Alpharetta, Ga., hoped to host a sleepover with friends instead, but guidelines on social distancing made that impossible.

Amanda Moore, Alani’s mother, said it left her daughter frustrated and looking for a solution. “She said to me ‘everything we try to do for my birthday gets cancelled. What can we do so we can get rid of this darn virus and go outside and play with our friends again?” said Moore. “This is the first worldwide public health emergency I’ve seen in a long time, and she’s experiencing it from an 8-year-old’s lens.”

The pandemic also personally affected their family when Moore’s friend and coworker was diagnosed with COVID-19. As he fought the illness there were times when the family was unable to reach him for several days. He has since recovered.

Their experience inspired them to do something: Alani, who had already discovered a love for art, including hosting her own at-home art shows, decided to create original pieces to sell and help raise money to fight COVID-19.

Moore says they wanted to donate to the CDC Foundation because it’s a trusted source where donations would go to people who need it most. “I’m learning people want to give, some people feel like they have enough to make a difference, but they don’t know a reliable source to donate,” said Moore. “I’m appreciative for the CDC Foundation because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which it supports, is a name we’re all familiar with and a reliable source of information.”

To help increase donations of people using the platform, Lysol donated $2 million to the campaign. The company's financial support served as a challenge matching gift, and hundreds of organizations, corporations and individuals stepped forward to ensure that this match was met. Other companies joined including healthcare technology platform athenahealth and FAST Enterprises, a software company working with government agencies. “We recognized that COVID-19 will likely be the most significant crisis in our lifetime, and we wanted to contribute to the solution,” said Lindsey Sittko, with FAST Enterprises. Sittko said the CDC Foundation was the right organization for the company. “During times like these, collaboration is critical. We need all the knowledge and data on the table to develop quick solutions,” said Sittko. “Organizations like the CDC Foundation create bridges between government, private and philanthropic support, collaboration through knowledge sharing and also enable funds to be directed in a manner that brings together the strengths of all the entities involved.”

The CDC Foundation’s campaign has also drawn the attention of celebrities and entertainers. In April, actor Jason Alexander hosted the livestream event “Saturday Night Seder,” which developed a team for the event. Saturday Night Seder was a grassroots effort, put together in 18 days, by a team who worked virtually. It drew in more than 1 million viewers for the initial stream. Audiences tuned in for performances, and appearances from Idina Menzel, Finn Wolfhard, Debra Messing, Billy Porter, Cynthia Erivo, Shoshana Bean, Stephen Schwartz, and many more. To date, the Saturday Night Seder has raised more than $3.4 million for the CDC Foundation’s emergency response efforts for COVID-19.

Others have been inspired by their favorite musical artists like fans of Korean pop boy band BTS. One In An ARMY, a collective of BTS fans globally, decided to join the campaign after late-night talk show host James Corden highlighted the CDC Foundation and other organizations for their coronavirus response efforts. Corden invited the group BTS to get involved, and their fans got behind them.

“Even when everyone is affected during this pandemic, BTS ARMY was motivated to support the CDC Foundation in providing aid to healthcare workers and hospitals that were in dire need of assistance," said Dawnica Nadora, a member of the group. “It was truly remarkable to see such a huge community be excited about giving whatever they can to those in need even though these times must be difficult for all of us.”

Lauren Meier and her fiancée Parker Toms also decided to join the CDC Foundation’s crowdfunding campaign. The Washington, D.C.,-based couple, who plan to marry in September, had to cancel some of their events including a wedding shower. They asked friends and family to join their team and donate to the CDC Foundation. “Instead of being sad the day of, we figured we would shoot out a message to those invited to our shower thanking them for their support and instead of celebrating with gifts or events, hopefully, we could raise some money to help fight what made us cancel in the first place,” said Meier.

As many of the teams who joined the CDC Foundation’s crowdfunding campaign have demonstrated, the effort to combat coronavirus takes all of us. This pandemic represents the perfect example of the need for donations from individuals, philanthropies and corporations that are filling critical gaps and making a tremendous difference. We’re all in this together. Learn how you can set up your own team or join one today.

The photos are included to help spotlight the incredible work of our crowdfunding teams. Note that the group photos were all taken pre-COVID-19.

Candace Wheeler is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.