Monday, April 19, 2010

If you don't think fundraising's changing...think again

Every year I walk for the March of Dimes. They have an annual walk the last Sunday of April which raises millions of dollars for the organization. I have walked in rain, in slushy snow, on beautiful 70-degree days, on sweltering 90-degree days, all in April in Minnesota. (Note to any brides who may be reading this: don't plan an outdoor wedding in April in Minnesota!)

I've also walked with my dog, with a baby, with a baby and a toddler, with just a toddler, with my friends, with my co-workers, and once with my husband. (That was the same year we walked with said dog.)

This is my 12th year walking for March of Dimes' March for Babies, previously called WalkAmerica. Here's a picture of how I may have fundraised my first year, back in 1998:

1. I could have written letters using language MOD provides to their walkers to write to my friends and family, asking them to help me raise money. (I know I didn't though, I just emailed them.)

2. I emailed friends and family, telling them what I was doing and why, and asking for their donations to help.

3. I would have received checks or cash from friends and family, which I collected in an envelope and turned in on the day of the walk, along with a sponsor sheet that I filled in by hand, showing who all the donations came from. In most cases I simply provided a name and dollar amount of my sponsors.

4. It would take March of Dimes months to tally all the revenue from all of the walk sites -- in about 3 months they would have an idea of how much money had been raised.

Here's how I fundraised this year:

1. I activated my fundraising webpage from 2009 and updated it for 2010. I told a new story and put up a new picture.

2. I used one of their "badges" to put on my blog, showing the photo I had uploaded to my personal site and where I was at against my goal ($0 of $900).

3. I also put another badge on my Facebook page.

At this point the fundraising began -- I hadn't sent out a single email, hadn't sent a link to my page to a single person. But I received a $25 donation from a friend of mine who had seen my badge on my Facebook page, and decided to donate right away instead of waiting for me to ask her. (Thank you, Tad!)

4. A week or two later, I changed my Facebook status to post a link to my fundraising page, asking people to help me with my campaign.

5. A month before the walk, I sent an email to friends and families with a link to said fundraising page, asking for their support.

6. A week before the walk, I sent an email again to my friends and families reminding them that the walk was coming soon and asking them to help.

7. I am currently creating a fundraising e-card which I can send to friends and families, and can also post to my Facebook page, which uses my personal photos to create an entertaining animated card.

As of this Thursday, I'm going to turn in my online sponsorship form and the three physical checks I received -- all other funds were raised online. The name and address of every person who has donated to me online has been collected, which helps MOD in future communications. I will receive my t-shirt ahead of the walk on Sunday, and won't have to worry about handling a large amount of cash on the day of the walk.

March of Dimes already knows how many millions have been raised nationwide, and can project how much more money will come in on walk day and in the weeks following. Thirty days after the walk they will probably have a tally of all the money raised, and will be able to plan their research spending appropriately based on this revenue.

A quick "shout out" to all the people who have donated so generously to my campaign. While I probably won't reach my big hairy audacious goal of $900 this year, I am sure I will reach the $500 level, all to go to a cause that means a lot to me.

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