What will you think when you heard of fundraising? maybe you will think of some people standing on the street and asking for the donation or asking money door to door, or even online crowdfunding probably. Those are the common phenomenon we can see how people collecting donations, however, this is not the whole scene when it comes to fundraising, and it is more than that and even much fun.
First I want to share with you the dirty work I have done with fundraising. There was a manager working on fundraising for an NGO, and he was recruiting freshmen to join his team while he did not elaborate clearly on the job duties, but only talked about the social good stuff, which fascinated me as a social work graduate at that time. When the time comes, I realized that this job is all about asking for donations door to door, building to building, which is the basic fundraising method. But for me, I cannot stand up with the “social good” anymore after one week of knowing the truth that only a few percentages of the donation will go to the beneficiaries. Most importantly, I did not think this is an effective way anymore. And until recently I get to know why after I finished the fundraising course.
That experience was not fancy but brought me to think about fundraising. Anyway, fundraising is needed especially in the charity sector where most projects rely on donations to make a difference in the community. So here comes the first myth that does fundraising is only about the fund? This is a bit confusing that fundraising is created by ‘fund’ and ‘raising’ those two words, so apparently, people will think the fund is a means to raise. In reality, it is beyond that. For instance, an NGO asks for money but the person refused, but he/she may have other things to offer instead of money. So we can also raise resources, things like materials, office places, clothes, etc. Those things are essential for organizations to run and meanwhile exceed the value of money.
The second myth about fundraising is this is only a one-time action. Fundraising is all about developing a strategy, which aligns with the organization’s mission and vision, and assessment of resources, including money, people, expertise, skills, and other intangibles, that are currently available to your nonprofit. And it is worth mentioning that it is important to reach and also connect with donors, to understand the expectation and willingness of donors and to maintain the relationship. Donors are human beings, so they need respect, love, recognition and also empathy. So fundraising is a series of actions involved with systematic thinking based on the resources you have and what strategy you come up with.
The last myth is fundraising is all about a good cause. So many NGO managers think only big NGOs can do fundraising, which is deadly wrong. As I mentioned before that it is about developing a strategy to make people donate. You can refer to storytelling this technique to package your projects and organization in a way that is worth making a donation. There is a famous example I heard when I was a kid and I believe so many of you know it: it’s about a blind beg who holds a sign written ‘I am blind, please help. ‘, and few people stop by giving money. So David Ogilvy changed his sign to ‘ It is spring, and I am blind. ‘ instead of giving out his money. When people read the new sign, they are immediately reminded of their own springtime memories-the beauty of a cool spring morning, the exhilaration of flowers blooming, the pretty girls (or handsome guys) dressed casually enjoying a sunny day. And then of how this poor man was deprived of enjoying any of it. Their empathy for the man which made them open up their hearts (and wallets and purses) to him. I was touched by the story when I read it regardless it is true or false. So people would love to donate if your project or copy-writing really touched them by heart.
Now let me share with you two true stories that I heard. One is about a girl, who was one of my social innovation classmates, her name is Lina and from German. She shared her fundraising story from homework and I was so fascinated by her stories. Back when she was 16, she started a fundraising project for an Uganda orphanage due to the school requirement, since then she has done consulting, researching, and visiting to make it happen. So she had her fundraising strategy to reach out to her family, relatives, and friends by sending emails, and she also has done street fundraising in her community meanwhile she tried to reach some companies to ask for help. Those actions have led her to some point in her project but she wanted to accomplish it as a whole. so she started to hold a music concert to raise money through lots of efforts. In the end, she made it and was reported by several local presses. She is a true model for me and I cannot imagine how much she has done to make it happen. You can check her website here: http://www.wemakeadifference.de/
Another story is about a French guy whom I met when I was in SINA. It was just a casual conversation when it started, but I dig more when I knew that he is also a social worker. So he has come all the way from French to Africa by bicycle, which is eye-opening for me. At first, I thought he must have so much money to support him with this special trip, but then he told me that he has no have much money and he just wants to make this trip in any way, so he started to raise money for his own trip by connecting with some wealthy friends and that’s why he can come all the way to Africa. I was so surprised by this story then I asked why those friends will support you, then he said because they also want to witness the whole world by themselves but they are restricted by their daily life, so they let him do it on their behalf, besides, he also write reports to those friends to every detail. I can feel an invisible power inside me whenever I thinking of his story.
Their stories have changed my world view and I am inspired by them as well. Things are happening in a mysterious way, and the whole world will try to help you if they know that you are so dedicated to your thing, finally, they will help you to achieve it. Shall we also take action to make things happen now?
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