How SEO, Video & Cast from Valpo Raised $110,000 for Victims of Domestic Violence. The blog reveals how we did it!

How SEO, Video & Cast from Valpo Raised $110,000 for Victims of Domestic Violence

In a matter of one month, The Caring Place went from a charity that nobody would talk about to the most talked about nonprofit in Northwest Indiana. While this was everything the center for victims of domestic violence wanted, they also got what they desperately needed: over $110,000. While some might call achieving such ambitious goals a miracle, the Valparaiso businesses that helped make this happen have another name for it—search engine optimization (SEO).

In this article, you’ll hear the story of how The Caring Place and the wonderful people they help got a fresh start! Today you’ll learn how SEO, video, and a cast from Valpo raised $110,000 for victims of domestic violence.

Two Words That You’ll Never Hear from an SEO Expert—”You Can’t!”

Our story began last year at a Valpo Restaurant Group meeting.


Our story began back in December 2021. It was at a Christmas celebration with a group of Valpo businesses and restaurants, the Valpo Restaurant Group. As the owner of Jano-Digital, I handle marketing, websites, and SEO for both this association and most of the individual businesses that make up the group. My relationship began with many of these businesses in 2008, when we started having grassroots festivals deemed, “Jano Concerts on the Square.” The festivals were held on the Court House Lawn, featuring free food, games, and fundraising.

The restaurants started working together in 2008 at the “Jano Concerts.” Each festival had food, music, and fundraising!


As a business community, everyone shares the same values and commitment to “paying it forward.” But as with many Christmas celebrations, everyone was feeling the spirit—and spirits! We all agreed to have a fundraiser for the Hilltop Neighborhood House Pantry.

With only a few weeks left before Christmas, we received push-back from the fundraising experts who suggested that you can’t have a successful fundraiser so close to Christmas. They argued that by early December, everyone is tapped out and has made their seasonal donations. But if there are two words that inspire an SEO specialist, it is: “You Can’t.” We accepted this as a challenge!

The Group’s SEO Did the Impossible—It Raised $31,100 for Hill Top in Just a Few Weeks!

The last-minute fundraiser did more than defy the odds; it made $31,000 and 3,000 lbs of food for the pantry.


With only a few weeks before Christmas, we defined our goals, created videos using our high-profile clients as pitchmen, and executed an SEO strategy with keyword research, blogs, and best-practice content marketing. Our agency’s in-house video editing made the clips entertaining and cost-effective.

Of course, akin to conventional marketing, SEO needs a hook! I contacted a friend from New Jersey named Howard Gutenstein. The Gutenstein Family Foundation frequently matches funds, up to $10,000, for people to give more. I gave Gutenstein a call, and before we knew it, he pledged his family’s support.

Two weeks later, the fundraiser raised $31,000, and 3,000 pounds of food for the Hilltop Pantry.

The story of last year’s Hilltop fundraiser is a good one! If you haven’t read it, here is a link to Uptown East Apartment’s blog. Uptown East is a member of the Valpo Group, supported the drive, and is an SEO client of mine!

The Good Fight! The Charity that Needs the Most Help Has the Hardest Time Getting It!

The Caring Place helps victims of domestic violence. It is challenged to raise money because nobody will talk about it. That ended with the power of SEO


 While the fundraiser of 2021 was a success, we wanted to make sure we were helping the people that needed it most. Our selection committee composed of Steve Daly from Perma-Green, Carlos Rivero of Don Quijote, Howard Gutenstein, and myself. After Gutenstein flew in for the meeting, each of us came to the meeting armed with a list of local charities that we were interested in helping.

I handle the SEO and websites for both Perma-Green and Don Quijote, so I was aware that they were both passionate about a Northwest Indiana charity called The Caring Place. The Caring Place helps people who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault. Gutenstein also mentioned in the past he wanted to help victims of abuse. I assumed since we had a unanimous decision, it was a slam dunk.  That’s when Chef Carlos delivered a sobering reality of any charity that supports victims of DA.

The Caring Place helps victims escape violence and get a fresh start!

According to the Grieger’s blog, Fundraising for Victims of Violence, perhaps the greatest challenge in raising for such charities is getting people to talk about it. People seem to want to sweep the need for helping victims of domestic violence under the rug. Let’s face it; there are economic benefits in painting the picture that a town is perfect. A fundraiser for victims of domestic violence isn’t good for business.

Then there is the matter of wanting a fundraiser to succeed. People that want to feel good about raising large sums of money know it is not easy raising funds for victims of domestic violence.

We agreed unanimously to take on the good fight and help The Caring Place!


Breaking the Silence with SEO!


Volunteers from The Caring Place. Denise Koebcke is second from the right.

Any SEO campaign starts with understanding goals & problems and identifying what success looks like. With conventional marketing you look for results. Whereas with SEO, you look at outcomes. The difference is profound. More on that later!

It Starts with Listening! I met with Denise Koebcke from The Caring Place. She didn’t pull any punches in letting us know the challenges that come with helping victims of abuse and sexual assault. Denise explained, “It costs nearly $75,000 a month to operate The Caring Place. If we don’t have the funds to help these people, most will not have a way to escape the abuse. But until we can break the silence, we will continue to struggle to get the financial support we desperately need.”

The caring Place needs over $73,000 per month to help abused victims. But first, they needed to break the silence

According to a recent Perma-Green blog, How Valpo uses Creativity to Care for Victims of Abuse, most people love to support charities that help children. We all do! Unfortunately, people are very uncomfortable thinking about domestic violence. It’s a subject people would rather not talk about—even tune out. Now compound that with the fact that you can’t post an image of an innocent mom and her child that are being helped by institutions like the Caring Place. These people are being protected.

How SEO Raised $110,000 in a Month



Just ask any Jano-Digital client what SEO is, and you’ll likely hear them say it’s enough to make your head spin. Yet if you ask them if they are happy with the outcome, they are all smiles. Outcomes include climbing to the top of the search engines, increased sales or market share, and optimizing their website’s user experience. Jano-Digital’s 100% 5-Star Ratings speaks volumes.

For Denise and The Caring Place, it was breaking the silence and hopefully raising a little money.  We couldn’t be more proud to have exceeded her expectations!

$20,000 Match

Carlos at Don Quijote promoted the $20,000 match on his social media and also offered a bottle of wine. Salud!

84% of people say they are likely to give with matching funds! Statistics support that 84% of people are more likely to give if their donation is matched. With such compelling information and a powerful drive to help make this campaign a success, Howard Gutenstein decided he would leave it on the field. Along with his family, the Gutenstein Family Foundation offered to match anything we raised, up to $20,000.


Blogging helped people find creative ways of doubling donations. It was the catalyst for raising $110,000. Steve Daly leveraged his SEO to make it happen!

Blogging is the super tool of SEO and a powerful means of attracting, engaging, and converting the market. We leveraged the popular Perma-Green blog to inform people of what The Caring Place does and why it’s important. The blog offered fun and challenging ways for people to work with family, friends, and co-workers to work as a team. It also encouraged people to ask their workplaces and businesses to match their fundraising.

The Valparaiso Meijer employees donated $10,000. Just a week later, The State Women of Meijers Group donated another $5,000. Both specifically selected The Caring Place!

The blog’s SEO allowed it to climb to Google’s Page 1 Nationally and put The Caring Place in front of everyone in the USA. We didn’t just break the silence; we shattered it! If you haven’t seen the blog, here is the link: FUNDRAISER IDEAS! HOW VALPO USES CREATIVITY TO CARE FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Giant Christmas Card


Donate, double your money, and sign the giant Christmas card.


With the Valpo Restaurant Group as a partner, we had giant 3-foot Christmas cards for people to sign at each restaurant. If someone made a donation to The Caring Place, they were asked to sign the card. The card helped create awareness for The Caring Place, the fundraiser, and allowed people to feel good about signing the card for everyone to see!

One characteristic of SEO is that it puts your message in front of the customer when they want, where they want, and the way they want. Typically this is done on digital platforms such as a phone, desktop, or other digital devices. Having the giant Christmas card at each Valpo Restaurant took this mindset to a new level! Sometimes, great marketing requires escaping paradigms and thinking outside the box.


We tapped into the lovable and charismatic Valpo Restaurants and businesses like Grieger’s Motors to pitch the chance to double the donation and sign the Giant Card. These videos were spirited, fun, and highly successful. We edited enough videos to run nearly five new videos every day. The videos were posted on the Facebook Pages of the Valpo Restaurants, Valpo Downtown Culture, Radius, Don Quijote, Jano-Digital, Perma-Green and the other partners found below.

While most video productions were fun, we cut a few serious spots as well. Each post was linked to a blog and/or to The Caring Place Online Donation link.

Free Valpo Book—Making Paradise

Donations of $50 came with a free Valparaiso book titled Making Paradise

This Valparaiso history and picture book was offered FREE to anyone that donated $50 or more and was available at Grieger’s Motors, Radius, Martinis’, The Caring Place, McGowan & Son’s, The Abbey and Don Quijote.

Social Media

Posts were created daily on the restaurant’s social media with direct links to The Caring Place Online Donation page. Radius’ Chris Pavlou used his large social media following to pitch the matching funds, the giant Christmas card, and the free book. He also offered food incentives for people that helped. Here he is featured in a video with Carlos and Roxxy. 

Posts were created daily with direct links to The Caring Place Online Donation page.


More Blogs

Grieger’s blog, “Cool Charity.No Boundaries,” was a catalyst for the second wave of giving.

When our fundraiser stalled at $65,000, we returned to the super tool of SEO: blogging. This time, we leveraged the 800-pound gorilla of Porter County websites: my oldest client, Grieger’s Motor Sales. In addition to creating a blog on Grieger’s website, Grieger’s GM, Brad Hallal, was featured in several videos, including one that pulled at your heartstrings.

There is an expression in Valpo that, “Any fundraiser is better when Grieger’s is involved.” Two weeks later, we finished our Caring Place Fundraiser at over $110,000; we effectively provided Denise what she had always desired. We broke the silence that hides the domestic violence. We like Grieger’s drive! Here it is: Fundraising for Victims of Domestic Violence | Cool Charity.No Boundaries.

Meet the Caring Place!


the caring place volujnteers help victims of domestic violence escape abuse

The Caring Place is a non-profit social service organization serving the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Our organization primarily serves victims in Lake, Porter, and Starke counties in Northwest Indiana, but may include victims across the country.

The Caring Place, Inc. provides inclusive service, shelter, and ongoing support for people experiencing domestic violence.  Through advocacy, education, and awareness, we empower people to build supportive, respectful, and compassionate relationships.

The Caring Place envisions a community free from domestic violence in which all people engage in healthy relationships, effectively supported by a society committed to nurturing respect and non-violence.

The Caring Place is the only 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter in Porter County.

  • It costs $2,300 per month to provide food for those in shelters.
  • It costs $73,352 per month to run The Caring Place facilities and all its programs.

The caring place also helps victims of sexual assault
How SEO, Videos, and the Cast from Valpo Raised $110,000 for Victims of Domestic Violence

With SEO or search engine optimization, The Caring Place went from a charity that nobody would talk about to the most talked about nonprofit in Northwest Indiana. By breaking the silence and meeting people online with engaging, thought-provoking content, the Northwest Indiana community met the challenge and donated over $110,000.

With the help of SEO, video, and a cast of Valparaiso celebrities, The Caring Place has the finances and public awareness to continue its mission of supporting victims of domestic and sexual assault.



Jim Jano Janesheski (far right) celebrates with Elena, Steve Daly, Denise, and Carlos. Missing is Howard Gutenstein.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO combines an organization’s unique goals with customer-driven solutions, user-intent website architecture, and creative content marketing. The method places focus on goal-oriented outcomes, search engine rankings, and reaching the right customer. SEO is meant to naturally reach, engage, and convert customers!

While SEO requires expertise in technical web development and ongoing changes to Google algorithms, it also requires evolving creativity, copywriting, and video production.

One may ask, “What’s the difference between results and outcomes?” Results come from trying something and waiting to see what happens. Outcomes are strategic, expected, and measured. This is why Fortune 500 companies have partially abandoned traditional marketing for SEO. Yet it’s also how we helped The Caring Place break the silence that hides domestic violence and raised over $110,000 for victims of such violence.

Written by Jim Jano Janesheski

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