This is what TheMusicBucket got me for my birthday! Well… Not directly. I got a surprise gift of $10 from him and this is what I spent it on. Since 2007, I’ve tried to do “epic fundraising.” The idea is to set a high $ goal and find an organization to send said dollars to. Each time I do it I learn a little more about fundraising and a little more about myself.
The First Epic Fundraising Project
What I learned about fundraising this time is that it’s not a “if you build it, they will donate” type of thing. It requires some work! I also realized that, even though it’s important to build libraries and schools in developing nations, I was more interested in supporting efforts closer to home (Milwaukee to be more specific.)
The original goal was $16,000 in a month. I got $400 in that month and eventually got up to $1,125.
Epic Fundraising Round 2
I decided to run my next project through DonorsChoose. The reason I chose DonorsChoose is because it filled two of my requirements. It was transparent: The money you donate goes straight to the project YOU chose. And it was local: They have projects listed in cities across the US so focusing on Milwaukee was easy.
This time I recruited other people to help with the fundraising instead of doing it myself. I had a goal of $20,000 in a month and… collected $1,071.
The money was about the same as the first project, but I did a lot less work. With this project I created a website that walked people through the process. That first $1,125 came from me trying 3 different things (a contest, something like million dollar homepage and… Can’t remember the third.) I did A LOT of work for that first project. All the money from the second project was done through that one website and sending the link around. Now, on to #3…
Round 3 – 100kBirthday.com
Alright. Here are the ideas I have so far for my next “epic fundraising” project. First, lessons learned from previous ones and how I’m applying them to this one.
Not having enough time to plan: The first two projects started because of a contest and a “mission” (that’s a whole different story… ). I’m giving myself a full year to plan and execute for this one.
People donate to YOU not the project: I learned this with the first project. I thought people would read about how awesome the organization was and would feel as strongly as I did about donating money. Well… There are PLENTY of problems in the world and people have enough of their own to figure out where to donate/spend their money. When someone donates to a cause you support it’s more about YOU than the cause. This is why I thought donating my birthday would be the way to go (making it personal).
Teams are more effective than individuals: This one should be obvious, but… I didn’t apply it on my first project. I’m bouncing around a couple of ideas for how to do it with this project. One is putting months against each other (November vs. December, or all the months if I can…) or getting people with birthdays on the same days to battle, for example Nov. 25ths (my birthday) vs. December 2nds (my buddy’s birthday). However I slice it, the more people working together and donating their birthdays the better. It will just reach more people and be more personal.
A page walking people through the donation process works: This was really helpful for people that would have been confused about how to donate. I KNOW that one person donated $200 because of how helpful the page was (I was looking for a lot of small donations the second time so that was a surprise).
People don’t need prizes: Prizes can be cool, but they should be used responsibly. I noticed a lot of people that donated to projects I had a contest for would leave a comment or send me a message saying “I just wanted to help out, I don’t care about the prize.”
People like to know where the money’s going: One question that always comes from people is “Where is the money going?” For this project I plan on aligning myself with a local nonprofit, volunteering there throughout the year and having a clear plan for where the raised money would go.
That about covers it. Anyway…
Here’s The Idea So Far
I make a website (100kBirthday.com). On the website is a video where I explain the whole thing, an email list to join for updates, and links to stuff (a blog, tweeter, the donation page, etc.) I would ask people to either donate right then, donate their birthday to the cause or pledge to donate at some point in the future. There would be buttons to do all the usual sharing (Facebook liking, Stumbling, Tweeting, etc.)
Originally it was going to be for my birthday, but that seemed to selfish or egotistical or something, besides… raising 100k JUST for my birthday sounds… hard. lol So as we get more people donating their birthdays and spreading the message we’ll get… more people donating their birthdays and spreading the message.
I haven’t decided which service to use for collecting donations. The three big ones seem to be:
And… Well, that’s about it. The goal is $100,000 and I have a year to pull it off (I want to have a rough version of the page up and running by January 1st, but we’ll see…) Thoughts?