I ran a fundraiser on Impact Guru and here’s what I learnt from my experience (Part 2)
By: Rukmini Chopra
Published On: July 31, 2018
Rukmini Chopra ran a fundraiser for Wildlife SOS, an NGO that rescues and rehabilitates tortured elephants. She was able to raise Rs. 1,30,879 through 95 donors. Here’s an account of her personal experience on fundraising and what she learnt from it…
Incase you haven't read my colleague Divya Kilikar's fundraising experience for Wildlife SOS yet, here's where you can check it out!
Why I chose to help wildlife SOS
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
I have always maintained that if there is one cause that I could dedicate my life to, it would be animal welfare. I have grown up around pets and find life without them, incomplete. Whenever I stumble upon any opportunity to help an animal, I take it. Such was the case two months back when my colleague and good friend Divya Killikar, informed me about Wildlife SOS, an NGO that rescues tortured and injured elephants.
I took it as a chance to not only help out these poor souls, but also understand crowdfunding through a personal experience on fundraising.
Before becoming a part of this company, I hadn’t even heard of crowdfunding. Little did I know that this practice can save lives and make dreams come true.
Divya, who is also an ardent animal lover as you can probably tell by now, had been wanting to start a fundraiser to help out an animal NGO. After picking Wildlife SOS, she approached me to join her in the fundraising process, knowing fully well that this is something I wouldn’t have said no to. And then there was no looking back.
While Divya took on the responsibility of writing the fundraiser story and making it live on our platform, I joined her in getting donors. They say that one can’t really learn swimming unless he/she is thrown in the pool and left to make it out alive on their own. Well, this fundraising experience was our pool and we were the amateur swimmers.
One major part of Divya and my job is to educate people on crowdfunding and convince them of the power that this practice holds. It was our turn to give this a shot.
Here’s what I learnt:
1: It is not that easy to ask people for their money.
2: As a campaigner, you can’t go far without sending out reminders for your fundraiser. However, don’t overdo it as it may throw off your donor.
3: If you are expecting your friends and family members to help you without any effort, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. It takes a bit of convincing, even for them.
4: Reaching out to donors in person goes a long way.
5: Don’t ask for donations, without establishing some sort of a connect with your donors first, even if it’s your loved ones. “Oh, so you’re texting me now because you need help,” is the response you may get, if you don’t do so.
6: The first few weeks in fundraising will be your honeymoon period. Then starts the rocky marriage phase. Not giving up is the key.
While these were the main learnings I got from my experience, there are some conventional methods I followed to get donors that worked.
Whatsapp messages: I addressed donors by using their first name
I used Whatsapp extensively to spread awareness about our fundraiser. But while most people would opt for a generic message to be sent out to all those concerned, I chose a more personal route that worked for me.
For close family members and friends, I started my Whatsapp message with “Hey (donor’s name)....I am raising funds for….” For each message, I addressed the donor directly.
This helped in making the donor feel special and comfortable with the fact that I am counting on him/her for help.
Facebook: The platform managed to get us a donation of Rs. 18,000!
I promoted our fundraiser on Facebook and within minutes, it was shared by many of my close friends and relatives. This helped in spreading awareness. It was surprising to see my acquaintances offering to help, many of whom I hadn’t even spoken to in years. Thanks to Facebook sharing, my friend’s colleague (a complete stranger to me) donated Rs. 18,000 to our cause!
Influential circles: I got donations from followers of a popular social media personalityIt helps to approach influential people as they can share your fundraiser amongst their well-known circles. I approached Srishti Dixit, a popular social media influencer who works with BuzzFeed India currently. She put up our fundraiser on her Instagram story, tagging me. As a result, I got a lot of friend requests from her followers. Some of them even contacted me on Instagram asking for more details on the fundraiser.
I made it a point to contact these people and ask them to contribute to our fundraiser. Out of 15 of them, I managed to get 7 donors, which is not a bad number to start with right?
Reaching out to people in person
I made it a point to not only spread word through social media but also in person. At any given social gathering, I ensured that I talked to people about our fundraiser and got them to have a look at our story.
I didn’t even spare my neighbor! The key here is to slip in the fundraiser-talk subtly amidst conversations. Don’t go overboard otherwise, you’ll drive people away!
These were some of the key learnings that Divya and I received from our own experiences. You can check out our fundraiser here.
If you have any questions or comments or would like to chat with us about our experience, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish you luck!