We did something amazing last week.
When I say "we" I mean you, me, the 87 people who made donations and the hundreds who watch the live stream of me responding to the challenges from those donations.
One of those challenges ended with me having to do this:
Let's take a step back so I can explain:
Last week, I promised that I would do a series of increasingly tough challenges if we raise enough money for The Maletsatsi Foundation, which is a home that offers real family care to children who desperately need it.
We ended up raising R42 000, which is enough to help them ensure that at least 2 of the kids in their care can go attend the specialised schooling that they need for a full year.
To me...that is INCREDIBLE.
I'd like to walk you through some of the thinking behind the fundraiser as well as how we did it - ultimately so that maybe you can do something like this too!
Choosing the Beneficiary
Deciding that the foundation would be the focus of the fundraiser was a fairly easy one. We have known the founders for years as friends, and know where their hearts lie. They are also doing work that we care deeply about, so it was a double win. We know that the money raised will go towards helping the children, and not lining their pockets. Trusting the people running the organisation that you are fundraising is essential.
Once that is done, you really have to make sure you get their buy-in. Since you are privvy to what is going on behind the scenes, it is actually possible to make life harder for them, even while you are trying to help. Speak to the people running the organisation before you announce the fundraiser!
This will also help you to ensure that you use the correct language when you are talking about whatever issue you are raising funds for.
Deciding on a Reward for Donors
Look, donating out of the goodness of your heart realistically only makes up like 70% of why people do it. To get them 100%, you need to offer them something. That could just mean some public recognition for their good deed, but I decided to offer them some light Friday evening entertainment: Donate and I'll be forced to do something silly and/or painful.
For your fundraiser, it could be that you'll sing for them, or play a game, or make some art. Use whatever you have available to get people over the hump.
Another way to think about it is that you are encouraging sacrifice: I sacrificed my body and my humility in small ways to encourage donors to make financial sacrifices. I think you need to be willing to make sacrifices if you are expecting your followers to be!
As per usual...I went a little overboard. I decided that I wanted to live stream while doing the challenges, but to Instagram, Facebook and Youtube simultaneously using one static cam and one roving cam. Since my wife was joining me, we needed at least two mics. All of that had to be well lit and I needed a lot of processing power to run everything.
Additionally, we needed to be add a Zoom conversation to the stream, plus we had 15 videos of various bloggers and personalities throwing questions my way.
While hosting the actual stream, I had to be able to switch between the sources and scenes.
This obviously took some prep to get right, even though I already had all the gear I needed. You really don't need to do your fundraiser this way!
The Donation Platform
I did not want to actually have to deal with any of the actual money, so it was critical to ensure that the foundation was registered on GivenGain.com. This website handles all the of the money stuff, so that you can be cleared of that hassle. It is also easy for donors to use and has some cool plugins for live streams. Look at the pop up on the left as an example:
Now, this might be possible to do by yourself, but if you have access to people in your network that have skills, why not use them? In my experience, people want to help with these kind of campaigns - and that certainly was true for this one. My wife managed the sourcing of the questions and forfeits, as well as liaising with Sharon (the Kween B herself!) who used her contacts to pull together the influencers and bloggers who asked the questions and spread the word about the fundraiser, and finally Sam from The Great Equalizer podcast graciously helped with writing the press release and sending it out to literally every publication she could think of.
This is a community event, so it makes sense to pull the community in to help make it happen!
A Little Controversy
Here's the deal: a big part of the marketing about the fundraiser revolved around the possibility that I would cut my afro off if we raised R120 000. Now I knew that that number was an outrageous one - it was EXTREMELY unlikely that our small initiative would get anywhere near that, so why did I put the number that high?
Simple: to me, my hair is that valuable. It makes up a huge part of my identity, both personal and public, and it is the reason why I get many of the brand deals that I do get. I was willing to sacrifice it, but that sacrifice needed to worth it.
One Last Thought
I am so happy that we were able to raise as much as we did, but to be honest, I did expect the amount to be somewhere within that range. I think that's because I had a realistic idea of the size of my audience and the amount of disposable cash they have available (not huge and not a lot, respectively).
This is essential to avoiding disappointment, but it's easy to overestimate the size of your potential audience, especially if many other bloggers and influencers get involved.
In my case, we had 20 South African parenting bloggers and personalities get involved. You may be tempted to add all those audiences together to get an estimate...but remember that most of the bloggers who were willing to get involved have the same people following them! And not all of these followers are interested or able to donate and take part.
I say all this because it is important to manage expectations. Sure, dream big and try to make a huge difference, but also make allowances for the small impacts you can make. Even if you are only able to raise a few thousand rand the cause you are passionate about, that's money they didn't have before. Plus, add in the awareness you are creating for them and it still adds up to a valuable endevour.
The final point is this: Do what you can, no matter how small. Use the community and attention you have to add positivity to the world!
If you missed the live stream and want to see me go through some pain and discomfort, you can watch it here:
(it start at the 1min30sec mark)