Some Lessons Learned About Personal Fundraising Campaigns and Thanks To BlogHers!

BlogHer Original Post

Last week, I had the pleasure of doing a panel at BlogHer called "Getting It On(line) for Cause."  (Fellow BlogHer CE Editor Britt Bravo did a superb job of moderating. VITA and Kaylyn, also on the panel were inspiring.  If you were not in the room, HappyKatie took excellent notes!) 

I spoke briefly about a campaign I launched to raise money to send a young Cambodian woman, Leng Sophorath, to college.  I also launched my most recent campaign for the Cambodian Bloggers Summit.  I'm happy to announce that in the space of week, I was able to make the goal and raise slightly over $4,000 from 51 donors and acquire almost 70 technology t-shirts to pack in my suitcase (I still need a few more, so if you would like to contribute, let me know).  

What can I say?  The power of personal fundraising is alive in the blogosphere.   If you've been considering doing some personal fundraising for a cause, but not sure if one person can make a difference.  Let me tell - yes you can!

I am looking forward to seeing the power of what we can do as a community with the BlogHers Act Initiative under Cooper's and Emily's leadership.

Here's a few learnings, some highlights, and thanks.

  • It's important to have a challenge grant or contest or something that gives both urgency and some confidence that others believe in your cause.   The good folks at ChipIn, the personal fundraising widget that I used for this campaign, put forth a challenge.  They would match donations $1 up to $2,000 I raised for the project.  In return, I would write up a case study of what I did. A nice win win for both of us.  This not only gave me courage to launch this campaign, but helped leverage contributions.
  • It always helps to have celebrity endorsements of your cause!   I didn't know any celebrities, but at the final reception at the BlogHer Conference I met Amy Sedaris.  After working up my nerve to approach her (it took a glass or two of that delicious Hess Collection wine),  I told her about my project and she agreed to make a campaign video on the spot! 
  • Have different ways for people to support the campaign, not just money.  Many small contributions can make a difference!  At the end of the Global Women's Panel the moderator Georgia Popplewell mentioned the campaign, particularly my need to collect tech t-shirts.  She suggested that if anyone didn't want to pack their t-shirts, that I would be happy to take them to Cambodia.  Jen Lemen and Mom2Amara graciously donated t-shirts and I got three business cards from tech companies with an offer of t-shirts. Tara Hunt pledged a variety of t-shirts from Valley Schwag, thanks! In addition, I'd like to thank Britt Bravo who gave her covered AOL laptop bag to schlep home the t-shirts from BlogHer and to Gina Trapani for donating her extra t-shirts.
  • Find other ways to support other causes while getting support for yours.   Here's an example. I ran into Candance Nast at the final reception.  I immediatley noticed her Creative Commons t-shirt.  She told me that she bought because she saw the photo on my blog with my kids wearing my t-shirt.  She suggested that I get some Creative Commons supporters to purchase t-shirts from Creative Commons and send them to me.  We made a video.  I posted it to the Creative Commons Facebook group.  Next thing I know I got an email letting me know that Larry Lessig pledged 14 Creative Commons T-shirts!
  • Find creative ways to thank people.  While visiting the BlogHer exhibits,  I stopped by the Scrapblog booth to say hello because I'm huge fan.  Alex de Carvahlo donated a bunch of their t-shirts to take to Cambodia and I took a photo of him presenting me the t-shirts.  However, I thought it would make a great thank to create a scrapblog thank you.  It's here.
  • Acknowledge on your blog!   I was amazed that I received donations from many people I didn't know face-to-face, but were in my various networks AND from around the world.   This young Cambodian blogger working in Singapore contributed $5!
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with other social media channels, but make sure you've been a member of the community first.  I've been using Twitter and I started posting tweets about the campaign and everytime I did, I got some contributions.   The last leg of the campaign was raised primarily on Twitter.  The final dollars from the campaign from someone seeing my twitter and it is quite an amazing story and finale to this campaign.

There are many more stories about this campaign and I will be blogging them.  So, for now I'm taking a deep breath, making  travel plans, purchasing the video cameras, and beginning to work on some instructional materials.   I'm also hoping to meet and encourage young Cambodian BlogHers too.

Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE, blogs at Beth's Blog.

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