Managing director of Thread Publishing and Premium member Siobhan Doran went to Uganda for the Business Chicks Immersion and Leadership Program. Like 16 other women on her trip – and many more ‘trippers’ before her – Siobhan was set the task of raising $10,000 before leaving.
The decision to go to Uganda was a fairly easy one for me. I’d been reading stories of other ‘Trippers’ over the years and I knew how enriching the experience would be. So, I hit ‘apply’ on my application and held my breath for the next step.
It was only after I was accepted that my excitement quickly gave way to a big mental case of, ‘Erm, now what?’ The idea of raising $10,000 was a massive milestone to overcome, but that of course is the whole point of this Program.
So, I did what any self-respecting person would do. I stuck my head in the sand. This worked really well for a short while. Until the sand grew itchy and my subconscious would rouse me from my sleep, to scream out and remind me that I still had $10,000 to raise. The clock was ticking, and other trippers all around me were making verbal high-fives in our group conference calls as their targets were ticked off at a fast pace.
When procrastination was no longer my friend, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and had a good chat with a dear friend Karen James. With her encouragement, I decided to see this opportunity from the perspective of my would-be donors. In a way, they were my customers and I needed to give them value.
Apart from supporting this worthy cause, could I give my donors something in-kind to seal the deal? Given I write for a living, I knew content was my commodity – and so I started colouring in the details on that blank sheet of paper, to create a Giving Circle through my company, Thread Publishing.
Members of the Thread Publishing Giving Circle would have their public profiles and logos on our digital publishing platform, with access to share articles that proudly celebrated the difference they have made, ready for syndication to their own marketing platforms. With this seed of an idea planted, I began to sketch in the details and before too long I hit ‘send’ on a newsletter addressed to the women I met up at the recentWomen in Focus Conference in Port Douglas.
Within days, the little measuring stick on my donations page started to climb – and at $1,000 per donation, I passed the halfway mark within a couple of weeks. The truly inspiring members of my Giving Circle can be found here, and I encourage you to connect with these women who not only believe in the work of The Hunger Project and the people they empower – but who also believe in me and my goal to make a difference.
Now that my target is hit (did you hear that sigh of relief?!), here are four things I learnt along the way:
1. Think outside the box: It really was my Giving Circle that made all the difference and helped me to reach my goal of $10,000. So I encourage you, if you have to fundraise: think outside the box. Then turn the box upside down to peer inside and have a good long think about what value you can offer from your own skillset to increase the chance of a donation. Or do what I did and also donate one month’s profits from your business as part of a wider marketing campaign. This also helped me too.
2. Scale up your fundraising to target businesses: While I will never say no to a $5 donation, I know I am more likely to get a $500 donation from an astute business. By focussing your fundraising efforts on companies – and offering them in-kind gifts from your own skillset as part of the package – you can reach your fundraising goal faster, and on a larger scale.
3. Just take the first step: The first step is the hardest, so just do it. Now.
4. Be true to your personality: On a final note – I posted a very unflattering passport photo of myself on Facebook, where my eye bags were bigger than jumbo-sized car airbags. The caption read: ‘I am losing sleep as I need to still raise $3000 for Uganda and TIME IS RUNNING OUT, please donate!’ $800 was donated within 24 hours off that single Facebook post (along with a subtle gift of eye cream from one kind donor). The moral of this story is to honour your own personality in this process, and appeal to people’s humanity. If you are a light-hearted person, then it’s okay to have a bit of a laugh about your own fundraising journey – as long as it is of course respectful. Or conversely, why not open up and share your deeply personal ‘why’, to move people to want to donate. Just tap into what makes us all human, be true to your personality, and connect on that level.
So hop to it – inspire yourself and others faster than you can say, ‘Don’t procrastinate!’ The feeling when you hit your target is worth it alone – it’s a mixture of pride and relief, but above all it is the feeling of knowing you are really helping to make a difference in a significant way.
Siobhan is the Founder and MD of Thread Publishing – a brand engagement and advocacy company that uses multimedia storytelling to celebrate business as a force for good. Together their journalists and documentary makers are on a mission to put humanity into business, one story at a time.