Last summer, Jerusalem Demsas made a donation to support IJ’s fight to end qualified immunity. Jerusalem’s passion for justice and her commitment to sharing it with the world spurred 220 other donations and more than $22,000 in gifts. This multiplying magic shows the power of crowdfunding: using social media to magnify support for an organization or a cause. We reached out to ask Jerusalem how and why she launched her campaign—and how others can do the same.
IJ: What prompted you to support IJ?
Jerusalem Demsas: After I watched the killing of George Floyd, I felt really helpless. I have found it easy when confronted with systemic problems to lose myself in how big the problem is and how small one person can be in the face of that.
I started thinking tangibly about how I could help, reflecting on a quote by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” One of the clearest ways that [the criminal justice] system is corrupted is the corrosive doctrine of qualified immunity, which allows police officers and other government officials to get away with heinous behavior that no regular American citizen would be able to get away with.
The organization with the greatest impact in this space was the Institute for Justice.
IJ: Why did you share your donation through
JD: There’s good research showing that being public about your donations can cause others in your network to give, too. Many people were feeling similarly to me about wanting to go beyond their immediate feelings of anger and grief but were unsure of how to direct their resources and I’m glad I was able to help.
IJ: Any advice for readers who also want to turn their gift into a wave of support for IJ?
JD: You know your community best. Use what inspires you and your friends and families to bring people into the fold. And don’t be shy about sharing what you’re doing and asking people to join you.
There has never been a better time to follow in Jerusalem’s footsteps. As we announced last fall, two longtime IJ donors have agreed to match gifts from new supporters dollar for dollar—up to $1 million. That means that the support of every friend or colleague you inspire to donate will be doubled.
We are happy to set up a custom crowdfunding webpage that you can share however you like and with whomever you choose. To learn more and get started, visit ij.org/crowdfunding.
Caitlyn Healy is IJ’s senior development writer.