Donor Tips From a Broke Chick: My First Fundraiser

Alright. It wasn’t actually my first fundraiser. (Come on people, I’ve worked in the nonprofit industry for close to seven years now.)

But it was my first off-the-clock fundraiser. And it pretty awesome.

The Back Story

When I was eleven, a family friend returned from a trip to South Africa, where a 11-year-old girl named Chanel had asked her if she could be connected with a penpal. I jumped at the chance.

Chanel and I have been writing to each other for 15 years. We wrote letters, man. Pen to paper. We had to number the pages because our questions and answers and stories for each other got so long. I couldn’t believe that someone 13,000km (8,000 mi for my metric readers) away and I could share so much in common. We compared notes on movies we liked. We shared our crushes, our rough days, our perspectives… anything you’d share with someone you’d known since you were 11.  Eventually our letter writing turned to emails, and we’re still at it.

And every now and again Chanel would tell me something and I’d realize that, for all our similarities, our lives are different. It really hit me when she told me she was saving up to get driving lessons and a car because she didn’t feel safe on public transit at night. In my experience people get driver’s licenses to have freedom and fun. Or, like me, they put off getting a driver’s license because it’s a hassle and public transit is just so convenient. I actually like taking public transit at night because hey, plenty of seats!

I was relaying this realization to my friend Krystal, who works at the Guelph Animal Hospital. Chatting with her inspired me to hold an art raffle to raise money to send to Chanel to help support her in her venture.

The Goal

$300. A quick Google search informed me this should cut a big chunk out of, if not cover, the cost of driving lessons.

The Ask

I sent an image (part of which is above) with a background story by email, and privately to a group friends on Facebook. You see, Chanel is on Facebook too, and I wanted to keep this secret. Otherwise, you definitely would have heard me talk about about it before now. Any amount was welcome, and for every $5 donated they would be entered in a draw for a piece of original art. Krystal took the case to her workplace and family to extend the reach.

The Response

Some people didn’t get back to me. Some told me it’s such a great idea, but they weren’t in a position to donate (which, as a fellow broke donor, I totally understood and genuinely appreciated the moral support). And some donated. In fact, 18 people donated. Including a good chunk of people I had never met before.

And we raised $500.

On a Facebook message, a poster, and a story. Peer-to-peer fundraising ladies and gentlemen. It’s how a bunch of broke chicks and fellas pooled their pennies and made a difference in someone’s life.

Chanel got her gift, and had this to say:

I really don’t know what to say other than a huge THANK YOU! While I appreciate the gift, it is the sentiment that really touches me. I feel so amazingly blessed to have someone in my life who believes in me and is willing to invest in my success. I am completely blown away by your generosity of spirit! Knowing there are so many people rooting for my success is a great motivator for those days when I question why I try so hard to be the best that I can be.

A million “thank you’s” from me to your friends who supported you (and me) in this endeavour.

I also want to extend the warmest thanks to everyone who donated and shared their support.

And congratulations to Miranda, winner of this piece of art!

What was your first fundraiser? Do you have any off-the-clock fundraiser stories to share?


2 thoughts on “Donor Tips From a Broke Chick: My First Fundraiser

  1. Fascinating Emma, love the term “off the clock fundraiser” something our peers can use. For me I had stopped doing events like this after 12 years in fundraising because of jadedness and burnout. And then I met @TImeraiser – A wonderful experience for me, a unique dynamic way to engage young professionals, support art and create capacity in the social-profit sector by raising TIME not just money. My quick story:

    • Love Timeraiser – and loved your post! I’m chipping away at my own volunteer requirements from winning a work of art at this year’s Timeraiser. I think what’s also incredible is your first blog post and talking about getting out of your comfort zone. In speaking with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (with whom I’ll be doing my 100 Timeraiser volunteer hours) a lot of the projects we talked about were things I was eager to do because I knew I could put my honed skills to use. I shied away from tasks I wasn’t as comfortable with because of a lack of success or experience. But I think I’ll take a page from your notes and throw in some tasks that make me a littler nervous. Because hey, otherwise how am I supposed to one day add them to my skills repertoire?

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