Fun and humor, used in the right way and in the appropriate context, can help boost your social fundraising campaign. A personal challenge typically issued as statement like "if we make our goal, I'll do or donate xyz" can also energize your campaign.
I did this for my recent birthday campaign, using the Facebook Causes matching challenge that if our cause raised $5,200, I'd donate ten times my age or $520. It worked.
Source: Beth Kanter, Flickr Account
The personal challenge doesn't have to be making a donation. It can be something outrageous bordering on public humiliation.
My personal favorite is Erin Ennis who took a winter dip in Vermont's Lake Champlain as part of a personal challenge to raise money for Special Olympics Vermont. Before taking the plunge, he setup a group fundraising page at FirstGiving. His page features a famous clip of Seinfeld's George Castanza shouting "I was in the pool, I was in the pool." People who donated enjoyed the opportunity for innuendo in the comments. While a modest amount raised, Erin surpassed his fundraising goal by 50%.
Can this work for larger campaign goals?
In 2006, Sarah Bunting, who writes the blog Tomato Nation, a culture and humor blog, offered to shave her head if her blog readers donated to DonorsChoose.org, a site that allows donors to purchase school supplies for needy classrooms. Her readers responded, raising approximately $30,000 in a few days. Keeping her end of the bargain, she saved her hair off. And, if you don't believe me, you can view the video on YouTube. Her efforts were chronicled in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
A year later, Sarah Bunting announced that it was time to do it again. Not the head shaving, she selected another type of public humiliation. She launched the month-long campaign with a goal of $40,000, again to support DonorsChoose.org. Ms. Bunting raised $75,000!
Oh, the humiliation she selected? She wear tomato costume all day.
I don't mean some wear-a-red-outfit-with-a-green-hat, only-go-outside-to-buy-milk bullshit either. I mean a big old spherical tomato-mascot rig, red tights, foam leaf hat, the whole bit — on the subway. To Rockefeller Center. Where I work, on the same floor as Saturday Night Live, 50 feet away from the president of Bravo. And then out for lunch, where I will pause to perform the post-kiss Angela dance from My So-Called Life in the plaza. And then back to work. And then out for a drink.
And I will film it.
Shaving your head to supercharge a fundraising campaign has continued to be popular into 2008. Gary Vaynerchuk used a variation on the personal challenge theme by asking a friend to do take a personal challenge for charity. He called out Kevin Rose of digg fame to shave his head for charity. There have also been several other head saving for charity campaigns.
And if shaving your head (or your face) doesn't sound like your cup of tea for a personal challenge, you can always grow a mustache. Ed Schipul grew a mustache for charity to raise money for a children's hospital.
The most recent example comes from Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN, who is willing to loose her dignity to help $10,000 for the Nonprofit Technology Conference scholarship fund. If the $10,000 goal is reached by February 28th, Holly will let donors vote on how she will loose her dignity:
- Make her own "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video. (She won't wear a leotard until they surpass their fundraising goal and bring in $25,000)
- Eat a bacon explosion. It's the pork-phenomenon that's swept the internet. She will eat a whole one.
- Play her college marching band trombone. In Union Square. In Daylight. A bunch of her college friends have already vowed to turn up to mock her.
The Nonprofit Technology Conference is the premier meeting for people who work with nonprofits and handle the technology. Despite the tough economic times, the nonprofit technology community is really excited attending the 2009 NTC and the event promises to be as vibrant as ever. But not everyone is able to convince their nonprofit organizations to make the investment in this time of tough choices. So, NTEN has set up a scholarship fund and has been actively fundraising, asking for cash and frequent flyer donations:
- Give to the Scholarship Fund. Thanks to Convio, NTEN will waive the registration fees for up to 57
attendees. Every dollar of your gift will be matched by Convio, up to $10,000.
- Donate Airline Miles. Airfare can be one of the pricer parts of getting to the NTC. If you have airline miles you're willing to share, we'll help you find a scholarship recipient who needs them.
I've donated frequent flyer miles and, of course, a little cash. I'm voting for the Beyonce video. This is a excellent way to combine some fun with a great cause.
What is the most outrageous thing you've heard of someone doing to help raise money for a good cause or charity?