Well THAT went quickly didn't it?!
It's gone 3am and I can't sleep. My to do list is packed, unlike my suitcase (I know, I KNOW!) I've started my malaria meds and learned the hard way that the side effects can be harsh and unrelenting (and the instructions not worth the paper they're printed on). I'll be on my way to Heathrow to catch my flight to Nairobi and then on to Zimbabwe in exactly 9 hours. I'll be joining Natalie of 13Rhythmns to start working with FACT. We will spend a month enabling women in Chipinge, rural Zimbabwe, who have been affected by HIV/aids to create sustainable fashion businesses.
It feels like only last week I spent a stressful afternoon spouting into my phone trying desperately to get my point across on video. I remember posting on Instagram the following morning and gazing incredulously at the Gofundme updates as your donations came pouring in. My first target was reached in less than two days and my second target (see why a second target was necessary at no.2 below) in another five days! The generosity was overwhelming. It took weeks to process in my head. Now, almost two and a half months later, the departure date has arrived. I'm feeling excited (finally), scared (I love travel. But the flying in the air part? Not so much), apprehensive (lack of control) but mostly I'm READY!
THANK YOU to all who liked, shared and donated to our project. You're really lovely you are.
This amazing experience so far has enabled me to reflect on a few things. I thought I'd share as some of you may find them useful. I will just say try to have fun with it. If it doesn't feel good. Step back for a bit. Return when you feel you're ready to take up the cause once more. So...here are ten things that fundraising taught me.
1. Be authentic
People buy into you and therefore your message. Know why you're fundraising and your message will come across. Never lose sight of your 'Why'. I think the reason that I couldn't get my video 'right' was because I was trying too hard to get it right. Once I spoke from the heart the message got through.
2. Set realistic target goals
Don't just set the goal you've been asked to raise or the minimum amount you think you can get. Be bold. Factor in your ongoing costs as well. I lost sleep worrying about this, and for what? You shouldn't be out of pocket whilst you're helping others. You can't offer your best self whilst you're anxious about paying bills back home.
3. Let go of worrying about what others will think of you.
Asking for help is hard. But if that's what you need then you have no choice right? Tell people what you're doing. Update regularly. People like to know that they're helping on some way. Give details if possible but even if you feel nothing much is happening say something.
4. Thank people.
I saw this sticker on the Brooklyn bridge in 2012. "Silent gratitude is no use to anyone ". It still resonates. Treat people as you would like to be treated. A little acknowledgement goes a long way. It's nice too.
5. Every donation matters.
Every single penny is a precious gift. You have no idea of others circumstances. Sitting down, and deciding to donate is a conscious act. Treat it as such.
6. Appreciate donor fatigue.
The excitement wears off. Often donations start in a flurry and tail off. That's perfectly ok. Don't be disappointed. You do want you can and work with what you've got. But don't give up. Maybe you need to update or change up your approach. A photo instead of words. Or a little video perhaps. Sometimes a tweak is all it needs.
7. Use all your platforms.
Different people look in different places at different times. Optimise a variety of ways to grab attention whilst you can. Virtual and in real actual life. Talk to people. Tell them your passion. Try not to waste an opportunity if it feels natural. Capitalise on curiosity.
8. Expect nothing.
B=...but also expect the unexpected! And don't underestimate the kindness of complete and utter strangers who simply 'get it'. A surprise anonymous donation of a thousand pounds (!) at the eleventh hour will never not touch my heart. Blessed.
9. It's not just about the money.
It's much bigger. Liking and sharing stories and posts, telling others and showing encouragement are all means of support. Most People are inherently good and want good things for others. Well I believe so anyway.
10. Understand your privilege and use it.
When you're told you're brave and doing something amazing just accept it graciously. Remember that the universe has placed you in a position to walk this path. And it IS a good thing. You never know who is watching and who your actions are encouraging. Go you.
To be fair that last point isn't as much for you as it is a reminder to me but nine points didn't sound as catchy *wink*
I'm going to try to get some sleep now. Tomorrow (I mean, today!) we PACK!
Have you ever tried fundraising? How was it for you? If you have any tips do add them below!
See you in Zim!
If you want to help 13Rhythms do can still do so here.
Check back for updates on my adventure or follow me on social media #reddskininzim