Meet A Wired Fundraiser: Anne Jackson, FlowerDust

BlogHer Original Post

In August, I did a little fundraising experiment that involved Twitter and an integrated offline component at the Gnomedex Conference in Seattle.  I was able to raise $2,657 to cover the costs of college tuition for Leng Sopharath, an orphan in Cambodia in just 90 minutes. By the end of the conference, the total had climbed to $3,774.

Katya Andresen wrote a post analyzing why the experiment was successful, but noted, "These results are not typical.  This story is the fundraising equivalent of the bikini-clad woman in the Slimfast ad - a special success story."  Someone left a comment on Katya's post indicated that I'm not alone.  Anne Jackson who writes the Flower Dust raised $1800 of it in 18 hours, $800 in 15 minutes Compassion International's Global Food Crisis.  So, I thought it would be great to interview her and learn why she was successful.

1.  Tell me about you

Most of my life has been spent roaming around nomadically...I've moved 33 times in just 28 years and have a resume that would make any sane HR person laugh hysterically.  There has always been a desire in my heart to make a difference in the world, and I was restless to find it.  For now, I think I have.  My husband and I just moved to Nashville, where we have made providential connections with likeminded people - our tribe if you will.   I have the privilege of serving in full time vocational ministry at Cross Point Church.  We love to love people.

2.  Tell me about your blog

I began blogging before blogging was a term...when I was sixteen, back in the age of Geocities and Members.AOL.Com.  I loved writing, and being able to add design or photography to my words was powerful.  I bought my first domain, which was my name in 1998 when I was 18 and kept that up until I got married and my named changed.

FlowerDust.net was birthed shortly after in 2005 and has been something like a close friend over the last three years.  Every move, every surgery (I was sick for a little while), every struggle - from porn addiction to finances to marriage to poverty...somehow, people tuned in and connected.  They are like a second family to me.

3.  I understand that you just completed a highly successful personal fundraising campaign - what were you raising money for and why?

In February, I was asked to go to Uganda with 15 other bloggers through Compassion International.  It was the first time an organization like Compassion had used social networking as a medium to raise awareness and release children from poverty.  I had been on trips before, but never like this.  Seeing the way Compassion worked in these third world communities forever changed me, and that desire I had always been chasing had finally been defined.  Most of the money raised on my blog is through people sponsoring children through Compassion International, but I have highlighted other initiatives that need resources -- churches in the Dominican, rescue centers in Haiti, mission trips, malaria nets, and the Global Food Crisis to name a few.  Collectively, almost $100,000 has been given by the community at FlowerDust.net.

4.  How did you accomplish your success?

Whenever I added up the numbers, it didn't make sense.  How could a community of several hundred people give so much?  The only explanation I have is that there are many people who have the same desire to make a difference in the world but don't know how.  There are so many organizations out there...who can they trust?  How do they give?  For them to spend time researching and exploring would take too long in today's fast paced world. Over the last few years, I feel fortunate to have developed a trust relationship with my readers.  And I feel honored to have connected people with resources to people with need.

5.  What advice would you give to other bloggers who want to use their blogs to raise money for charity?

Do your homework.  Know the organizations you represent inside and out.  Get their support and their help.  Celebrate!  And most importantly, put your own money where your mouth is.  You can't change the world by yourself but you can change yourself and others will see that...then maybe they'll start making changes and before you know it...well, just imagine!

Beth Kanter, BlogHerCE for Nonprofits and Social Change, writes Beth's Blog.

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