My Favorite Issue!
A few months ago, I got wind of a situation involving a childhood friend of mine in Philadelphia whom I recently had reconnected with via Facebook. We were never super close, but it was nice to see her face again.
I heard through the grapevine that this friend was having a really tough time since her daughter died from a brain aneurysm a few years ago at age 26. Understandably, she’s been distraught and severely depressed. And apparently, a large part of the distress stemmed from the fact that she has been unable to make the final payment to the funeral director who handled her daughter’s services and wasn’t able to put a headstone on her grave.
Reading about this broke my heart. I was losing sleep over it. So I thought I could help. I created a private, super-secret Facebook group and invited everyone from our old circle of friends (except the mourning mother). I explained what I wanted to do (which, of course, was to get everyone to pitch in to pay that bill and have a stone put on the grave). I reminded everyone of what a tight-knit community we grew up in and how we all used to look out for one another. Even if we didn’t particularly like one another … if you were from our neighborhood, we had your back.
That was my target audience, my core group of donors. Then I got the idea to expand my ask. I can’t say that my segmentation strategy was very sophisticated. I just created another private, super-secret Facebook group and invited everyone on my friends list who I hadn’t invited to the original private, super-secret group. Again, I explained the situation and my goal.
In less than two minutes, literally, a $25 donation appeared in my PayPal account. Not long after that, another one appeared. Then a considerably larger donation appeared. A few people messaged me to find out my address so they could send checks. Of the six first-responders, none were from the circle of friends closest to the situation. One was someone I know from a different time in my life in Philly, and five were fundraisers who I met through this magazine and who I now have the honor of calling friends.
I found out later there was more to the story that my childhood friends knew but that I wasn’t getting. No more donations came in, and I was nowhere near the total it would take so I thought it best to abandon my plans. When I explained the situation to my handful of donors, most — not surprisingly — told me to hold on to the money and find someone needy down here who could use it, which I did.
My point is this: Fundraisers are amazing people, as giving and thoughtful as they are dedicated and creative. I’ve come face to face with that truth many times since we started FS in 2003. But every time, the sheer beauty of it feels new and fresh. I’ve said it before: You people humble me, and you inspire me. For fear of sounding like a cheesy rom-com, you truly do make me want to be a better person. I aspire to your level of generosity, passion and dedication. And as I pored over the nominations in this year’s Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards, I was reminded once again of how very blessed and grateful I am to be even a small part of what you do. Thank you.