My month with no beer for FebFast

FebFast logoEverybody I talk with this month will sooner or later hear about FebFast. And you, dear reader, are no exception.

This month I’ve joined over 1,000 people to raise funds for four organisations helping reduce alcohol and other drug related harms amongst young people.

Like everyone else, I’m not drinking alcohol for the month. At day 11 I’m doing fine. Having enjoyed a party last Saturday celebrating our friend’s nuptials with freeflowing drinks on offer, I won’t give in to the temptation for a hoppy pale ale, crisp wiessbier or other tipple. You can read updates about how I’m doing on my personal fundraising page:

I haven’t read many of the updates from other people doing the fundraiser, though I’d describe the mood on the FebFast facebook page as being buoyant.

What I do know is that we’ve collectively raised at least $53,735.12.

That’s one of the great things about online fundraising, it’s easy to see progress and get a sense of the support that’s out there. This actually makes me feel more determined to do my bit.

As this is the first time I’ve actually used an online fundraising tool, I feel I’ve got a fair bit to learn. What’s really obvious is that the best way for asking friends and whanau to support me is in person. Tweets and status updates alone are not enough. In fact, I’m a bit reticent about overdoing online updates so I don’t push my current enthusiasm down people’s throats.

I think this comes back to Beth Kanter’s suggestion, made during a workshop I attended 2 and half years ago, about making appeals personal. Reflecting on a birthday campaign in 2009 to help the Sharing Foundation send Cambodian youngsters to school she says:

I’ve said this before and so has Katya Andresen.  “The messenger is more important than the Cause.”   All of my messaging speaks to why I’m passionate about helping children in Cambodia and why it is  important to my family.  I tweeted about how my family was involved, how my kids dipped into their piggy banks and how other family members were contributing.

Beth also talks about making an effort to engage people in talking or thinking about the campaign, as it is about asking.

While I mull on these insights, I’ll get on with my main fundraising approach: talking with people about FebFast. Which is as much about getting to grips about attitudes to alcohol, New Zealand’s booze culture, and my own experiences of alcohol, as it is about money.

PS Just before writing this post, I read a summary of what Katya Andresen will be talking about at the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington DC next month: “What 1.9 Million Donors Can Tell Us About Fundraising on the Web: A Cliff Notes Tour of The Online Giving Study”. In brief: relationships matter….

But raising funds online is not about technology, any more than raising funds through the mail is about paper. It’s about the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor who wants to support a cause. People who give online are no different from other donors in that they expect a relationship — not simply a transaction — with the organization they support.