Thursday, September 03, 2009

My attempt to fundraise (pretty successful actually!)

Last year was the first time I ever participated in a fundraising event. My original goal for my AIDS Walk participation last year was $50. I figured if all else failed that my mom would probably cough that up. I ended up raising over $1,100.

I'm not actually too comfortable asking people for money so I was totally amazed at myself. I didn't do a lot of in person asks but went the email/facebook route.

I really wasn't sure this year if I would be able to match what I did last year. Economic blah blah blah and all that. My approach this year was to try and get more small donors. People who would give $10 or $20. I'm still trying to play that card but I must admit that it feels to me like it is actually more difficult to get $10 from someone than $100.

I've had a number of large donations but only two small ones. Why is that, I wonder? I actually tend to give smaller donations for my friends causes because my larger sums are already allocated to my charities of choice.

I wonder if my ask email is too heavy-handed? Does it seem like you would be cheating me if you gave a small amount?

So, for your feedback, here is the email that I sent out to entice my friends and loved ones to sponsor me. I still have time to make my goal so please let me know if you think it's a good approach. Or share any fabulous tips you have for raising money for your cause of choice.

Hello Everyone,

It's that time of year again. The time when I ask you to dig into those pockets and donate generously to the AIDS Walk. I'm not ashamed to admit that before I started my job at AIDS Calgary, HIV wasn't something I ever gave too much thought to. I had never known anyone who was personally affected and in the scope of negative things in this world HIV had never worked it's way onto my radar.

My research when applying for the job, and of course the continual learning I do there now, really brought home to me what a serious issue HIV is today. Rates of transmission in Canada are not nearly as severe as those in sub-sarahan Africa but ask yourself, what is an acceptable rate of infection? Why are aboriginal women so over-represented in rates of new infections? Why has the rate of new infections rose nearly 30% in Alberta over the past 3 years? Why is it okay for someone who is HIV positive to experience stigma and discrimination in their everyday lives?

I won't preach too much at you, just enough for you to understand why I raise money for this cause. I believe in the work that I do every day, I believe that AIDS Calgary makes a difference in the lives of our clients, and I believe that every dollar I raise has an impact.

It doesn't have to be much. I am grateful for every single dollar that I raise. If you can only give $10, I appreciate those $10 from the bottom of my heart. Though I will point out that $25 gets you a tax receipt. :)

I hope that you find yourself in a position to make a donation towards my goal of $1,000 this year. If you find yourself unable to give financially I hope that you will send your positive vibes my way on September 20th.

Click here to make your donation:


Sterling Lynch said...

I'm not sure if you intended it, but the "please critique my pitch" is a great way to get people to donate. They read it in order to help you out and then get convinced along the way.

Overall, I think this is a great pitch. I like the personal history a lot.

I'd re-write the opening lines so it starts on a happier note: the "it's that time of year again" theme works against your purposes, I think. You make a similar kind of comment about "preaching". No need to editorialize in this fashion and it works against your purpose. If people are thinking along those lines, calling attention to it won't stop them from thinking it.

What's the word count? I might trim it a bit to make it a little punchier. Reading a pitch is a cost to a reader; the smaller the cost, the more likely someone will read all of it carefully.

I hope that helps for this year and the years to come!

Lady Rose said...

Of course I intended that! But I also genuinely wanted feedback on my pitch. And, as someone who has always worked non-profit, I like the opportunity to raise charitbale giving in a conversation.

So it was a three-pronged attack.

So, I really struggle with the opening on pieces like this. I hear you on the "it's that time again" thing. I can see how some people would hit delete right there.

Do you have a suggestion for a better opening line?

I also really struggled with the subject line. I didn't want to mask what the email was about but I wanted people to open it up to read the pitch. I went with "Amanda would love your support".

I thought that using my name would personalize it but it would still be obvious that I was going to be asking for something. But any feedback you have there would be great too.

I just checked the word count and it is a bit hefty at 325. I'll try to trim it down to 250 which seems more reasonable.

All that being said, I have raised $880 so far. I've still got donations from two people I know of to come in and I've been saving my bottles and cans for 3 months so I'll take those in this weekend and donate that.

All said and done, I think I'm going to be able to match the $1,100 I raised last year.

Feeling pretty good about that actually.

Lady Rose said...

Oh, and thanks for your feedback Sterling. I appreciate it!

Sterling Lynch said...

You are very welcome and nicely done on the fundraising so far.

Subject line: I'm not sure if you saw it, but Dave Charest made a really good point about headlines on my blog. Essentially, headlines should be about your target reader because we love ourselves most of all!

So maybe something like: "Find out how you can help Amanda." or "Amanda needs your help! please read to find out how you can help." or "AIDS affects you and me, find out how you can help make a difference.

First line suggestion: I'm writing because I think you can help me. Last year, I raised x dollars for charity X and I hope you can help me beat that target

Can you personalize the message? Writing a personal note fore each person might be too much but maybe you could make smaller mailing groups. E.g how you pitch a bunch of poor artist friends would be different than how you pitch work acquaintances.