What’s the best way to raise money to help someone?
April 20, 2007 1:38 AM   Subscribe

I’ve never fundraised for anything in my life. But as of yesterday, I’ve been moved by something I read to see if I can get some cash together to help someone. Help me work out the best way to go about it. There is some

Yesterday I read a story about a young Burmese journalist who had her foot blown off by a landline in pursuit of a story.

She still wants to be a journo. This, I reckon, is pretty damn commendable.

So, I’d like to raise some money to help her out.

I’ve already contacted the bloke who wrote the story and he said anything raised at all would be appreciated.

But. I’ve never raised a cent for anything in my life and have no idea where to start.

Some other stuff that might be relevant.
1. I don’t have some huge ambitious goal but I’d like to see if we could get a couple of hundred dollars together for her.

2. That's a bit more than a walk-round with an envelope will net, I think. I reckon that might get me... $50?

3. I'm willing to put in a reasonable bit of time and effort.

4. Compassion fatigue is, happily not at fatal levels here, and everyone I’ve spoken to about it seems to think it’s a good idea.

5. Oh. I am a journalist and so are my workmates.
posted by t0astie to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you want a non-standard way to do it, I've always wished the MS Read-a-thon concept was more popular (and for adults).
posted by kmennie at 2:14 AM on April 20, 2007

Could you (and your workmates?) get sponsored to do something? It could be anything that is a bit unpleasant/ daring/ unusual, that you think people would pay to see you do.

Things I've seen people do in the past are things like getting their head shaved (this was a girl with long hair and that raised a lot of money!), getting both legs waxed (a man!), and a skydive, although I think it would cost a lot of money to do that in the first place.
posted by schmoo at 2:35 AM on April 20, 2007

Ditto the sponsoring bit. A few kids and teachers at my school raised over 3000$ for cancer research (from about 1000 apathetic teenageres, no less) by offering to shave their heads. Fundraisers for a geography field trip (which, c'mon, isn't the best cause) promised to swim in ice cold water in Canadian Winter if a certain quota was reached.

The door-to-door bit will get you around 30$ per average street, speaking from past School-fundraising experiences. Actual events that are designed for fundraising feels less intrusive and are more likely to net donors. Things like bake sales, barbecues now that summer is coming up, car washes, etc. garner more than you'd expect. A couple of hundred dollars should be feasible, depending on your venue.

You could try contacting your local superstore (Wal-mart, Target, Grocery stores) and asking to set up something near the entrance, too. I don't have experience with this, so I wouldn't know the details about paying a location price or needing official documentation, but it's always worth a shot.

Along similar lines, why not try contacting a few newspapers with the story and see if there are any colleagues there interested? Post up flyers around the office and get people to call you if they want to help organize something.
posted by Phire at 2:47 AM on April 20, 2007

I have seen quite a few fundraisers at bars - go to a locally owned bar (well, not a chain) and talk to them about hosting a night for fundraising - post flyers everywhere, call all of your friends and have them pass it on as well. Many bars will give you happy hour pricing - i.e., they charge full price, but give you the difference. They may be able to help you get with local vendors re: raffle prizes - the vendors will also help with the advertising - they will want their names on the posters. You can also do a 50/50 raffle while you are there. Many of the waitstaff also volunteer to donate X% of tips to the cause. Make sure you set everything up as charity though - list the assigned number on every posting, have copies of the approved forms to give to the vendors and keep everything on the up and up.

Get photos of the journo enlarged and attach them to reprints that you hand out when trying to get free or "at cost" items. Look around for local advertising firms too, my friend works for a fairly large firm and they are constantly donating returned items (along the lines of televisions/DVD players/IPod accessories that have been replaced from store displays - stuff they can't reissue to other clients and usually sell on E-Bay).

You can also sponsor nights out at several chains - I know Max & Erma's and BD's Mongolian Barbecue have programs to help you fundraise - several of the student groups on our campus do these throughout the school year for charity groups.
posted by blackkar at 3:06 AM on April 20, 2007

Absolutely the first thing you must do, if you are going to be soliciting strangers for money, is find some kind of non-profit organization that will "sponsor" the fundraising. Otherwise people will find it sketchy, even if they sympathize with the cause. Also, getting a non-profit to sponsor you means that donations are tax-deductible, which might appeal to some people.

I would google for organizations for journalism, land mines, and Burma, and see if any of these organizations would be interested in being involved in the cause.

Another thing you could set up is some kind of blog with a donation button. I'm guessing a number of us on MeFi would be more than willing to help out in this way (you could post the blog to the Projects page).
posted by Deathalicious at 3:24 AM on April 20, 2007

Wow. These are all great ideas... but -- and this is my fault, I really didn't make it clear -- by 'a bit of time and effort' I meant 'in the office' not 'as a full scale registered charity'. There will be no soliciting strangers for money.

So: to rephrase... What would be the best way for me to go about raising some cash for the landmine victim... at work?

ps not that she doesn't deserve more, but I know my limits. And a massive charity assault is well beyond them at this point.
posted by t0astie at 3:44 AM on April 20, 2007

Although... now that I re-read... I reckon I could be able to get returned stuff to raffle. That could be a winner!
posted by t0astie at 3:45 AM on April 20, 2007

I've an idea, and this really would depend on your work and how flexible eveyone is, but how about a Promises Auction? Some of the things on offer could be work related, things that would go down well in my office would be sorting out your filling system or giving an introduction to Access, or sitting in on a meeting for you...

I've never tried this, so I don't know how effective it will be in terms of effort compared to money raised, but it would be fun in the right context.

More general advice, it might be good to launch this a project rather than having one fundraising scheme. So over the course of a few months do several different things (cake bake, raffle, sponsored space hopper hop...), a bit of diversity will probably get you more money in, as different things will appeal to different people.

You might also want to think long term, as well as helping this one girl out, can you find out about any organisations in Burma that will help more individuals like her, land mine NGOs, education NGOs, journalist organisations...
posted by Helga-woo at 4:35 AM on April 20, 2007

Get a loan, buy her the leg, and then start asking for money to pay off your loan. You will become quite a bit more industrious and creative in your fund-raising efforts when it's your money that you need to recover. Keep her testimonial and your loan records handy to show people you mean it.

If you never recover the money, you'll still have done what you set out to do: the right person will have the right thing now. Also, you will spend eternity in paradise.
posted by pracowity at 4:45 AM on April 20, 2007

I don't want to be a wet blanket to charitable intentions, but have you checked your organization's policy manual for statements on in-house fund raising activities? For legal and personnel reasons, many organizations prohibit such solicitations of co-workers, and there is no point in stirring up trouble at work, if you don't want to make an independent effort outside your office, even considering that the victim was a fellow journalist.
posted by paulsc at 4:48 AM on April 20, 2007

Thanks, paulsc, yep, will obviously have to clear it. But folk are always putting up notices around the place for fundraising stuff / joining charity runs / having raffles, so I reckon it should be OK as long as I keep it fairly low key and don't spend any actual work time on it.
posted by t0astie at 4:59 AM on April 20, 2007

Well, you could have the type of fundraising we did in elementary school. Set up a sport - golf, bowling, etc. something that the majority of people like to do, call around to get group pricing - then charge full price for admission. For bowling, you could then have people get sponsored (from family members, other office workers, etc.) for pennies per pins, dollars for strikes, etc.

Or, go to a "warehouse" store, buy candy bars in bulk, charge a buck a piece for resale.

Host a keg party at your house, charge admission?
posted by blackkar at 5:29 AM on April 20, 2007

I just raised $7200 at work with a cookout. If you want any details on how-to, just e-mail me. Good luck - sounds like your heart is in the right place, toastie.
posted by tizzie at 5:48 AM on April 20, 2007

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