Avoid debt through personal fundraising
Instead of using that credit card, solicit others to help pay for major life events
bills, adoption expenses and business startup costs are just a few big-ticket
items for which you may consider racking up huge credit debt. But before you
whip out the plastic, you may want to consider using creative fundraising
techniques to convince family, friends and even strangers to help defray your
often think of fundraising as something that charities do, but consumers can
apply the same principles to their personal causes, says Marc A. Pitman,
a fundraising expert and author of "Ask Without Fear: A Simple Guide to
Connecting Donors With What Matters to Them Most." "People are much more generous than we know, but they need
to be asked clearly and respectfully," says Pitman. Whether you're seeking to
fund medical expenses, a movie project or a trip abroad, here's how to get
others to foot some of the bill.
potential donors a story. Don't expect people to
automatically understand why your cause is important. "People aren't driven by
numbers and statistics; they're driven by personal stories," Pitman says. So if
you're raising money to send your mom on a retirement cruise, describe how this
is the first time she's taken time for herself in 20 years. Or if you're
raising money for a loved one to attend college, explain how the student has
dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since his first pet became ill. However, be
positive when telling your story since whining about how tough things are or
trying to guilt people into helping could turn them off, Pitman adds.
loved ones involved. When Shanda Hill, a filmmaking student
in San Francisco, needed to raise $2,000 to travel to Malawi to be part of a
documentary film team, she called her closest friends and family members and
asked them to post a link to a donation Web site on their Facebook pages. Her
mother called friends and relatives and also asked them to donate. After 30
days, Hill was able to shave nearly $500 off of her costs, with some of the
money coming from people she didn't personally know. Not only can you reach
more people by asking others to share your plight, but you show potential
donors that others have already backed your cause.
beyond yourself. One way to encourage people to give is
to show how your personal plight is part of a larger issue. "If you're trying
to get help with medical care, you could talk about how this disease is impacting
kids all over the world," Pitman says. Not only might people recognize that
they, too, could find themselves in this situation, but they may feel more
moved to help you if they feel that their contribution is making a difference in
society at large.
the donor the hero. People are more likely to give if they
feel like they're doing a good deed, so you want to focus your request more on
how they can help rather than on what you'll be doing with the money, Pitman
says. For example, if you're raising money to go on a humanitarian mission in a
third world country, you don't want to talk about how much good you'll do.
Rather, you want to let potential donors know that by donating funds, they're
helping people in that Third World country, too.
a wide net. Everyone isn't going to be willing or
able to give. In fact, if you ask 100 people and get one donation, you're doing
pretty good, Pitman says. To raise your odds of getting a "yes," ask people
more than once. It also helps to use multiple ways to reach people since some
are more responsive to phone while others might do better hearing the message
via email or social media, Pitman says. Also, start early. While Hill raised
part of the $2,000 she needed in a month, "if I had started earlier I think I
would have raised more," she says.
People are much more generous than we know, but they need
to be asked clearly and respectfully.
|-- Marc A. Pitman
fundraising expert, author
payment convenient. The more ways you can accept funds the
better, so letting people pay by cash, check, credit card or Paypal will ensure
that people can easily donate. Online fundraising sites such as GoFundMe.com,
GiveForward.com and Kickstarter.com provide even more options for potential
donors. "Traditional fundraising campaigns -- whether it's a bake sale,
car wash or direct mailers -- require a lot of physical overhead and
effort," says Brad Damphousse, chief executive officer of GoFundMe.com, which
has helped people raise money for such things as medical bills, educational
expenses and birthday celebrations. Not only do online fundraising campaigns
make it easy for people to contribute with credit or debit cards, but the
campaigns can potentially go 'viral,' spreading quickly via email and social
media and giving users the ability to reach more people than traditional
fundraising methods, Damphousse adds.
beyond financial donations. While some will write a
check, others might be able to help in other ways. For example, people might be
willing to donate old furniture or clothing that you can sell at a garage sale,
says Julie Gumm, author of "Adopt Without Debt," a book that provides
ideas for raising money for private adoptions, which can easily cost between
$20,000 and $30,000, Gumm says. Another fundraising success story Gumm saw when
researching her book was a family who signed up with Amazon.com's affiliate program,
which meant they received a small percentage of sales they referred to Amazon.com
through a personalized Web site link. The family asked all of their friends and
family members to use the link when they did their holiday shopping and ended
up raising more than $1,000, Gumm says.
Too many times, people go into credit card debt to
fund their desires because it's easy and convenient. However, what's not so
easy is the aftermath of having to pay off debt laden with interest. Imagine
not incurring any debt to achieve your goal -- with a little creativity and
persistence, it would make enjoying your achievement that much more.
See related: High-tech ways to rent out your stuff, More take social lending route to consolidate debt, Managing the high costs of adoption and fertility treatments
Published: September 13, 2012
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