Put the Fun in Fundraising


Jess Hanebury D’Amico

If you’re like anyone that I’ve ever met, you want to give back more to the community around you. And if you’re like all those same people, you’re challenged by time, choices, and not knowing where to start. I have good news — you’ve already started! The secret to doing more good is to do more of what you love.

I love riding my bike, cross-stitching, hosting events, doodling, graphic design, friendly competition, watching TV and being a weirdo. I’ve paired a charitable cause with every single one of those interests to raise money for issues I’m passionate about. ESPECIALLY being a weirdo. The best part? I had a blast doing it and my friends and family couldn’t wait to get involved.

Most recently, I brought my love of layering charitable components onto stuff I already love to my new home in Orlando, where I hosted the first annual Jesstivus: a cornhole tournament to celebrate my birthday and raise money for charity. In total, our 24-team tournament raised over $2,300 and I can’t wait to double it next year.

Here’s a few other ways I’ve made some money for charity
using one or a few of my interests:
→ Facebook Live Plank Challenge: I planked for 1 second for every $5 donated.
→ Squats and Compliments: I did a squat and gave a compliment to everyone who donated $5 on Facebook Live.
→ Cross stitch raffle on Instagram stories: selling things for charity is great but selling raffle tickets earns more money per piece.
→ Pep Talks from Art: I sold custom pep talk videos from my dad (the King of Pep Talks) in exchange for donations. People loved them and he had a blast recording them!
→ Thankful :30 Podcast: An audio mashup of people recording what they’re thankful for during the pandemic. Admittedly, this one takes a little audio editing chops, but use the special skills YOU have to make something only you can do.

8 Easy Tips For Getting Started:

Good-causify the things you already love. What are you good at and what do you love to do? No matter if it’s walking dogs, organizing closets, babysitting, writing songs, knitting, mowing lawns, cutting hair, or watching reality tv, there’s a way to use it to raise money for your favorite charity.

Take advantage of traditions and gatherings you already take part in. Build charitable components into birthdays, award-show viewing parties and holiday gift exchanges. Since Jesstivus was built around my birthday, I can build momentum off the first event and set expectations to do it every year!

Don’t over complicate it. Use existing tools and materials. I use Google forms for sign-ups and award-show prediction ballots. The Facebook Fundraiser functionality is super easy to set up and reaches a lot of people without requiring you to gather a bunch email addresses. For Jesstivus, we used existing cornhole sets we were gifted for our wedding, and I used random items in the garage to make a kid’s obstacle course activity.

Go remote or IRL! If your event is in person, make sure there’s a way for
out-of-towners to get involved. Let folks donate to sponsor a team, pitch in for snacks or come up with one of the challenges or contests. For Jesstivus, friends from out of town donated to sponsor teams’ “buy-backs” — meaning their donations allowed in-person teams back in at no cost to fill in the remaining spots on the bracket.

Make it fun!
Fundraising doesn’t have to be serious business. While many of the causes we raise money for are undoubtedly some very serious issues, raising money for those causes can be a very fun, positive experience. When people start looking forward to your next fundraiser and can’t wait to crack open their wallets you know you’re on the right track.

Make it your go-to Your friend demands to pay you for letting their dog out last minute even though you were happy to help and don’t expect payment? Tell them to donate to their favorite charity instead. Everybody wins!

Get local organizations involved. Check for matching opportunities with your company or other organization. See if the local pizza place wants to donate or discount a bulk order. For Jessitivus, Yuengling gave us 10 cases of beer once we explained what we were doing. You don’t have to be a big event for brands to want to pitch in.

Let people help
The above brings me to my next point: LET PEOPLE HELP. Doing good is contagious. Share the good-vibes wealth by saying “YES” when someone
asks if they can chip in on the planning. It’s easy to feel like since it was your idea, you don’t want to burden anyone else. But if someone asks, that means they are inspired by what you’re doing. They see how it makes you feel and they want in!

The Takeaway
The ways we give back don’t have to be huge to matter to organizations we help and to make us feel fulfilled. While finding more time in the day to dig into some of this may still seem insurmountable, I promise once you
start and you feel that first rush of adrenaline from helping in a way only you can, you’ll find that your schedule magically opens up for the next opportunity to creatively pitch in.

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