Fundraising on a Shoestring?

Fundraising is a science, but itʼs not rocket-science

You can make money for your organization today

I’ve got some professional fundraising tips that could make YOUR fundraiser a LOT of money this year. I have the background, the training and the results to prove these tips work.

I’m an expert on human behavior and I work with corporations in the United States and Canada on how to solve crisis’, motivate employees, solve problems and teach effective communication skills. I’m the mother of four grown children. I’m happily married, a grandmother to a new grand-daughter and a sister, a former peace officer and a professional speaker. I’m willing to share some of the details just so you can see I am not just teasing you with empty promises.

The fact is, this information is so solid, and works so well, it has literally saved my twin sister’s life.

I have an identical twin sister, Fern, who suffers from a rare and debilitating disease. The disease, known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).2 is also known as complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS. It’s most commonly referred to as simply, “RSD.” RSD is characterized by constant pain—patients say it feels like being doused in gasoline and lit on fire, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Treatments for this disease are painful and often rarely produce true relief for sufferers.

Despite being treated for this disease since 2003, my sister Fern was told in 2009 by her Canadian pain specialists that they couldn’t do anything else to help her get relief from her pain. High levels of medication didn’t help, and her long-term prognosis was considered extremely poor. She was wheelchair-bound and living on high doses of narcotics. She was once very active, but because of her pain she became incapable of participating in any kind of healthy or active lifestyle.

The only option left for her was to try an experimental ketamine coma treatment trial in Mexico. She would have to go into a coma in both a risky and expensive procedure. But the upside was, the treatment could put her disease into full remission. In order to participate in the trial, Fern would have to have massive amounts of funding for travel and hospital care.

Canadian Medicare wouldn’t pay for the cost since the procedures were experimental in nature. All I could see was that a potential cure existed and the only thing standing between my sister’s life and death was money. I couldn’t do anything medically for her, but I sure could raise the money so someone could. I know what fear and panic and desperation feel like. I know what it feels like to have a family member suffering, and even dying and the only way to help them is to raise money.

So I started calling everyone I knew to find out how to do that – how to raise the money my sister needed. And I learned a lot. I took a different approach than most people. As a human behaviorist I knew that people do things for a reason. They help each other, they donate money to complete strangers, they run into burning buildings to save someone they’ve never met, they risk life and limb to rescue an animal in distress. They act. I also know they act for specific and narrowly defined reasons. Understanding those reasons became where I started. Understanding them became why I wrote this book – Fundraising on a Shoestring.

Fundraising on a Shoestring has to do with a completely new approach to fundraising. Some people call it revolutionary, I call it a combination of commonsense, human behavior, social media and relatively new technology – the internet.

I had never tried to raise money in my life – apart from asking co-workers to kick in for a pizza, or flowers for a sick boss, or buying a lottery ticket. If your approach is “buying a lottery ticket,” or “depending on the kindness of strangers,” I have one response, “How’s that working for you?” Really. I mean you can make a few dollars that way if you’re really, really lucky, or if you’re really popular and your friends are really well-off and willing to part with their money. But it takes more than luck and popularity to raise serious money. It takes understanding why people give, how to approach them, how to ask, and how to organize your fundraising.

My sister was in pain. I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out how to raise money. I had to talk to a lot of experts, and then sit down and think and act fast. When there’s no margin for failure, you can’t waste time experimenting on how best to raise money.

I read all the stuff on the internet that promised me quick easy money and overnight success. I used to be a peace officer and I dealt with a lot of smooth talking crooks in my life, so I was skeptical. It sounded crazy. Almost every idea and plan I read sounded bogus. But I kept digging. I knew from my background that if you look long enough and dig long enough and listen to enough crazy stories that the facts will eventually emerge. So that’s what I did.

People kept telling me, “Try this, or try that,” but I was determined to find a way that I knew would work. I knew that if I put together tried and true plans I got from the experts for raising money that I could come up with a way to get my sister the medical treatment she needed.

I tried one thing, then tweaked it and tried another way. The techniques I learned about worked, but I had to figure out how to apply them so they worked well – then so they worked GREAT! That wasn’t as hard for me as I thought. Why?

I’m a crisis manager, public speaker, life coach, corporate consultant and police profiler. What does that mean? It means I read people for a living. I study behavior patterns. I find patterns of acting and being and reacting that people use to cope with stress and life. Then I teach companies how to deal with crisis. It’s what I do. And I’m good at it because a lot of companies call me to help them solve problems with their employees, to teach their employees and to work with managers to create teams that produce. Some of the things you’ll learn about fundraising are:

How to reduce stress
How to assemble and manage a project team
How to determine the size team you need – too large a team can be ineffective – too small a team can fail to accomplish goals
Identifying skill sets and assigning the right people to the right tasks
How to motivate team members
Dealing with conflict and communicating with team members effectively

I know people. And I know people don’t do their best work or make the best decisions when they’re feeling emotional. So I dipped into my own bag of tricks, my own wealth of knowledge about human behavior and I came up with a fund-raising plan that addresses fund-raising the same way peace officers solve crimes, and managers solve problems – by talking to the fund raising experts, then by studying human behavior and using what we both knew to put that knowledge to work.

Is that ethical? Yes! Is there a large courtyard or university or campus of some sort where you work that has pathways worn in the ground? Maybe you noticed that in spite of there being a sidewalk there are paths that criss-cross around the grass where
people “take a short-cut” to a certain location.

If you watch closely enough the next time it snows you’ll see that people create pathways through the snow. Over the course of days or weeks those pathways become broader and well-worn. Why? It’s human nature to take the shortest path from one point to the next. They will veer off to get food or water, to look at a some interesting feature, or to seek shelter, but they pretty much stick to an established or familiar route. Designers and architects know this. The smart ones will often delay putting in sidewalks in some large construction so they can wait and watch to see where people will naturally walk to get from one place to another. They using human nature in a positive manner to accomplish their task.

Have you ever wanted to get your children or a co-worker to do something for you they didn’t want to do? Did you ask them nicely or snarl at them? Which got the better response? Utilizing human nature simply means spotting patterns and working with them to get a positive response. We all know we’re more likely to get a yes if we ask someone for something when they’re in a good mood, or feeling relaxed and generous. We know that the best time to tell your boss you’re not going to be able to work late is when he/she is in a foul mood.

Most people are, by nature, compassionate and caring people. They want to give, they want to help, they want to make a donation. But by nature they are also cautious and attached to their money! If your fundraising committee creates a plan that utilizes natural human behaviors you can attract the money that people already naturally and willing want to give. In my book,
‘Fundraising on a Shoestring,” I explain those behaviors and how to utilize them to run an effective campaign. You’ll learn:

How to incorporate the 80/20 rule
How to build a team
How to find local and national experts
How to set goals for your campaign
How to find sponsors
How to organize a fundraising campaign
How to launch a fundraising campaign
How to build on what you have
How to generate resources, expert help and media coverage even when you have no money
How to use a natural human desire for connection, gratitude and community to help you succeed

The system works. I know it works because my team and I raised the money to send my sister to Mexico. The trial succeeded and for six months Fern was pain free. Knowing that my efforts gave me my sister back, and gave her children their mother back, and her husband his wife back was all the motivation I needed to sit down and write this book.

These aren’t just theories about how to organize a fundraiser. These are tested, proven methods that work. They generated the cash we needed to get Fern to Mexico for intense and expensive medical treatment. Other than winning the lottery or getting a huge grant there was no way we could have paid for her medical care other than with our fundraising efforts. So I know what I’m telling you in Fundraising on a Shoestring absolutely does work! If you need to raise money for anything – from sporting equipment to housing or medical care – this is the book you need. Fundraising is hard work. There are no magic bullets, but with this book you learn the step-by-step things you need to do from beginning to end to ensure your efforts succeed. You can do it!

As I finished it and as the book goes to print (Fall 2010), we are sorry to report that the ketamine protocol trial has been discontinued for Fern. Her overall response to the drug has diminished and it is no longer a viable treatment option. This is an unfortunate reality for many suffering with this debilitating disease. But as Fern said, thanks to our fundraising efforts and the treatment, “I got 6 months of relief and time with my children that did not exist before all these efforts—for that, I am grateful.”

With courage and hope, Fern continues to walk in her faith and pray for a new solution to this painful condition. She has returned to a wheelchair and continues to battle the increasing pain and disability associated with this terrible disorder.

We will continue to gratefully receive donations to the Faith for Fern campaign in order to help assist her with ongoing medical expenses and support for her daily living needs. We had all hoped for a more positive outcome to this very experimental treatment. However, Fern’s optimism continues and she has said: She asks that we continue to pray for a miracle.

What I learned about fund-raising gave me, my sister and those we love hope and life and treatment.

Maybe your fundraising efforts are for equipment for your child’s school, or supplies for a classroom, or relief efforts in some other part of the world. Maybe you have a passion for helping the homeless, reaching out to your community, donating to breast cancer research or some other cause. The reason for your fund-raiser is personal and special to you. The plan you need to ensure your efforts are successful needs to be too. That’s why Fund-raising on a Shoestring was written – to make a difference. Your investment in this book is an investment in your organization’s future.