So recently I did something fun, all in the spirit of Valentines Day…and then it spiraled wildly out of control (in a good way). Sort of renewed my faith in humanity a bit (as my sister put it).
Monday I got the idea that I should give 2 movie tickets each, to 20 military members. I thought they could take their sweetheart out for Valentines Day. So I set up a page at “GoFundMe” and set my goal money amount. Share share share on Facebook and Voila! a ridiculous amount of donations began to pour in. Long story short, in just three days I raised $900.00, which was enough to get FIFTY pairs of tickets, and cards to give to troops on Valentines day. *sigh* such a lovely moment!
All the craziness of this event made me realize a few things, so here are my life (and fundraising) lessons learned:
1. People want to help – No matter what the naysayers might have you believe, people DO want to help, IF it’s for a good cause. Noone wants to help the “I don’t feel like working so help me out for free fund” but they DO want to help a cause they can get behind and feel like it’s helping actual people who are deserving.
2. It has to be well planned – I did this…to an extent. BUT I did not plan on this getting quite so big. Before I knew it I had a LOT more money coming to my donation site than I had anticipated, which meant more work and more MONEY for me. Here’s what I mean. More time assembling cards & tickets & envelopes. More time spent running out to get the tickets. More money of mine UPFRONT to spend. THIS LAST POINT IS IMPORTANT. I had to front the money because it was a short time frame that I raised the funds. This means that the site had sent it to me every day, but it takes anywhere from 2-5 business days for those funds to reach me. Due to that, I had to be prepared to spend a LOT of cash, on my own and just wait for the fundraising entity to send me the money on the backside. DO NOT SIGN UP TO DO SOMETHING IF YOU CAN NOT FUND IT…at least not at this level.
3. Social media/CrowdFunding is insane! – This I knew a bit, but didn’t realize the true gravity of, until my friends and family started sharing. I had so many Facebook shares it was crazy. I put it on Instagram. I put it on my company’s internal webpage (like a mini Facebook for work). With all that, I had donations from Alaska, Kansas, Wyoming, California, Texas, New Mexico and more. It was absolutely mind boggling for me to believe that many people were seeing it! With that, USE social media. It isn’t hard to do and it’s probably the fastest and most effective way to fundraise. Like I said, people want to help, but you have to make it easy for them. Clicking a button is way easier than finding you and/or sending money.
4. Make it realistic – Your end goal has to be realistic. Noone is going to fund you if you have some insane number. I started small and each time I exceeded that, I doubled the amount I was shooting for. Never did it look like the amount was unreachable and people like to see their contribution making that “ticker” increase. If someone donates $10.00, but you have your goal at 1 million, they won’t see or feel like they made an impact. On the same side of that coin, remember that YOU have to execute on this and YOU (probably alone) will have to deliver the goods, services or money. It takes time and energy. Plan on it being WORK.
5. Incentives Incentives! – People like to give BUT people like to receive too! Give something to them! When I collected signatures and donations during the lunch hour, I gave people a bucket of candy bars to pick from if they stopped by. On my website I put “if you donate 10.00 or more, I’ll send you a card”…and I did! I had to or people might never donate again. I had to purchase thank you cards, write in each one, put a stamp on it, label the address and mail it off. Took a while, but it was worth it. For the person who put me to my goal amount (initial goal amount), I posted I would send them a surprise. I sent that person (who coincidentally happened to be a friend from middle school) a gift basket. I next day shipped it (thank you Amazon Prime!) and she was SO excited and surprised. Things like that make people more likely to give again later, to you or someone else.
All in all, here’s the cost and time breakdowns:
Valentines Day Cards = $15.00
Movie Tickets = $850.00
Thank you Cards = $10.00
Postage = $20.00
Gift Basket = $38.00
I raised $900.00 which leaves me making up $33.00 +/- for my “donation” portion, gas money spent and my efforts. I spent probably 5-6 hours over the course of 3 days doing all this, NOT including the time we will spend handing them out on Valentines Day.
All in all, it was a fun thing to do, but I think the next time, I’ll plan a bit more in advance.