Monday, April 2, 2012

Selling Myself to Raise Funds

I am "living" a great fundraising scheme  that I think others may find it worthy of consideration.

Last Spring, I wanted to spend a lot of time in France. I am a born-again Francophone. And I wanted to lose weight and get out of some of our cold weather, and being retired and self-pensioned, I could afford to go for a longish time.  So I decided to walk from Paris to Marseilles on a lark. I had never done anything like that before: at 63, it was a considerable challenge and good for a man who has had 2 heart attacks. At the last moment, and on a whim, I wrote to a most all of my friends to say I was taking on this challenge of walking 1200 K and losing 40 pounds and I asked them if they would make a pledge to PAL Vancouver, and pay up if I made it.  Long story short: many problems, didn't turn out the way I had hoped, but I walked the1200 K and raised 18 grand for PAL. 

Last Fall, PAL hosted a "thank you" party in their theatre for all my sponsors. I presented my slides and PAL had lots of great refreshments and my donors/sponsors met some residents and saw the place. They were delighted all round. Their donation helped PAL, got them access to my blog that recounted the whole journey and they were proud and happy to have helped me achieve MAJOR goals that really, really fulfilled me!!!  I had a fabulous experience and lost 40 pounds. It was win/win/win (donor/charity/me).

Now, having been a technical writer all my life and having ALWAYS wanted to write a script, I have reserved a week in the PAL theatre and I am going to stage six performances of a piece I am working on (in collaboration with many coaches) in April 2013 and every single cent of box office will go to PAL—not net profit, GROSS box office because the cost is worth the experience for me just as the walk was.

The "idea" here is that I, a reasonably comfortable fan of a charity, had a self-challenging bucket list—many of us want to lose weight, stop smoking, take a degree. Many of us harbour dreams that we really want to achieve but that we lack the drive to get done. So I found a way to achieve anything I want: declare my goal to all my friends publicly; the bonus is that my challenge becomes a huge benefit for my charity. 

The show is another challenge and all my friends and their friends are enthusiastically promising to attend my show. They are as excited as I am about the project and I am about to start another blog tracking the development of this project as well. 

The elephant in the room here is my self-esteem. I have suffered all my life from a lack of self worth that has prevented me from achieving my greatest dreams, but when I take on challenges for PAL and ask for the support of my friends, I feel like what I am doing is for PAL not for me, that my projects are about PAL, not me. That PAL is the big beneficiary and that I am asking for their help for PAL, not me. But it all really helps me achieve major dreams. Can you understand what I mean or see how magic this is for someone like me. I feel like the biggest winner on the planet, but so does PAL and so do my friends.

My fiends all make fairly modest donations—the largest were $66; most were $200-$300; many, many were modest. And many said things like: "I can not afford large donations, so I do not donate because I am embarrassed to make small donations." But they saw their small donations add up to 18 grand (I had 121 sponsors and I knew every one except one of them). One of my sponsors said at the thank you event: "Wow, I gave you 50 bucks but tonight I got treated like I donated all 20 grand!"

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