Five lessons learned from fundraising.
I have learned since I was a kid that one of the most amazing gifts and privileges of life is "giving". My mom always visited retirement homes and did all sorts of volunteer work individually and for non-profit organizations.
When I was a teenager I was a volunteer helping kids that had different issues like autism, down syndrome and others, I was in a team that organized spiritual retreats for teenagers in my school and I really enjoyed how it felt to not only give your time and work, but your love to others who needed it.
I started running marathons in 2009, after a promise that I made to my son Mateo who died in 2008 of living life to the fullest and not giving up on any of my dreams.
I have run NYC marathon ever since. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 was cancelled, but I was there ready to run... and so on until today.
I have met so many amazing people/runners and each marathon has taught me something different. In 2016 I decided to run helping a Non-profit organization named Achilles International. (You can read the story here) and in 2018 I decided to do something different, to run and raise money for a cause: TeamForKids.
There are many types of non-profit activities that I love to help, volunteer & get involved in any way possible:
- Sports /health.
TeamForKids meant that I could help kids to get active, run races & fight obesity. This would lead kids to a better & healthier life, a rounded education, and it will show them to focus on positive things. I am confident that they will grow knowing that sports should be an important part of their lives. So I signed up!
The goal seemed simple, to raise $2,620 in about 4 months. I still had to pay for my trip to NYC to run the marathon and my NYC marathon entry fee. And so the journey began on July 2018 and ended in October 3rd, 2018 when I had to reach the goal no matter what. During this process I learned many valuable lessons.
1. Asking people for money is not easy.
Even when I have done non-profit work all my life, and I have asked help to my friends & family, I have asked for volunteers, for clothes, tennis shoes, toys to donate, but this was my first time 'asking directly for money' for a cause. How hard can it be? Well, believe me, IT IS HARD!
I don't like to ask friends for loans or money for any reason, so as I realized, it was not easy to ask for a monetary donation... I did not feel comfortable about it but I had to do it. I began by first posting about my goal and the Team For Kids initiative in a public post in Facebook and Instagram, then, sending private messages to close friends, and suddenly, a few friends started responding and that felt good. But believe me, it never got easier.
2. Everyone has different priorities.
Even when you have great friends who you would think they would jump immediately to help you out in your quest, each person has different priorities in life (family, mortgage, unexpected expenses, etc.) and donating to your specific cause its usually not at the top of their list.
Also, there are so many different organizations & causes out there that your friends can't really help all of them.
Yeah, all of these might seem obvious, but when you think you have to raise >$2,600. It's important to know that it won't be an easy task and you have to get your story out there and convince your friends, sometimes very creatively.
So now that I came to realize this, the second most important thing to know is... you can't judge friends for not helping or donating to your cause.
In my case, I needed least +100 people donating an average of $25 to reach my goal.
3. Each person who donates to your cause is just amazing.
You would be amazed of the people who help, donate and share your story. And those should be recognized BY YOU, over and over. Yeah, an automated 'thank you' note is a must, but a phone call, a personalized message, a post mentioning them, should be part of your campaign. It does not matter if the person donated $10, 20 or $100.
He or she might not know all the details of your fundraiser, but the most important thing is that they BELIEVE IN YOU. Believe in what you are doing and what you are standing for. Believe in the type of person you are and they are willing to literally put money on you. Wow! Take a moment to let it sink in... and now THANK THEM again!
4. Be persistent & creative.
Don't be afraid of reminding friends to help you in your fundraiser. Use public posts in your social media feeds and also personalized private messages. Sometimes a friend might be willing to help, but they just forget about it. A reminder might help them to take a few minutes and donate. But also, do not become the person who ONLY posts about the fundraiser and asks for money (people might begin to dislike you). You also have a life, so in a conversation talk about other stuff, in your posts, also share the regular 'life posts' about family, travel, food, pets, running or whatever you do.
Also, update all your friends & followers about updates on your funds raised. Use videos, photos & graphs as much as possible, visual aids really help.
TIP: You might want to remind friends after payday so they have some extra cash ;)
5. It's not over until it is over.
Never underestimate last minute donations. Same as running, you can't give up before the finish line... the last stretch is very important. In my case, I even recorded a video asking for donations and sent some last minute messages to friends. I thought nobody would help at that point, but for my surprise, there were three friends who donated during the last two hours before the deadline. That was unexpected and wonderful!
6. No matter if you reached your goal or not, be very happy about it.
Oh, I had said 5 lessons, well, I guess there are many more, but the sixth one is for me the most important. Be thankful and happy about what you accomplished. You did not ask the money for yourself, but for a good cause. If you got $5 or $5,000 for it, that is simply amazing. CONGRATULATIONS.
If you did not reach your goal, well, that will be a lesson to learn and think what you can do different or better next time.
If you did reach your goal, wow! it is just great!
In my case, I was very far from my goal. My "Team for Kids NYC Marathon 2018" fundraiser has come to an end. The goal was $2,620 and I managed to raise $1,550 from friends and family. My sincere thanks to everyone who kindly contributed. To reach the goal, I also contributed with $1,150 more through my company Alveni LLC (Believe&Train), for a grand total of $2,700. Wohoo!
And now, let's run those 26.2 miles with TEAM FOR KIDS.
And by the way, be aware and take time to see other friends' causes and fundraisers, read about them and help them out too in any way you can!
If you like this story, please share it and/or leave me your comments! Thanks.
About the author:
Jorge Euran. I am an amateur runner, entrepreneur and father of two amazing children. My "BELIEVE&TRAIN" personal story began many years ago by taking running as my number #1 hobby. After 13 marathons (and counting), a few half-marathons and many other races, I strive to inspire people to be active, run, smile and enjoy life one step at a time!
About Team for Kids.
Funds raised by Team for Kids members support NYRR Youth Programs. Through school-based programs, free youth events, and a collection of digital resources, NYRR Youth Programs bring free running and fitness programs to students across the country.