Friday, February 26, 2010

Thoughts on Fundraising

I hope everyone's fundraising is going well! A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon at a booth at the Gravenhurst Canadian Tire selling my cards. This was my second time selling cards there and once again I was overwhelmed with the response. I absolutely love talking to people about the program and I love it even more when people tell me about their own stories!! Unfortunately though, there are people at the entirely the other end of the spectrum.

I can really appreciate what charity canvassers go through when they are out there at malls and stores on a regular basis. As fun as it is when people come over and talk to you and share with you, it is endlessly frustrating when they pretend you don't exist.

From my years as a tour guide I think it has just become second nature to make eye contact and smile at everyone and for the most part people smile back. But those same people, as soon as you are there with a booth for a charity will do everything they can to avoid looking at you. I lost count of the number of people who became fascinated with their receipts or something off in the distance, or the floor – but only until they are past my table. I promise I won’t bite! I don’t care if they don’t want to buy or donate anything it would just be nice to be treated like a human being, like I’m worthwhile. I was so frustrated I just wanted them to look at me, acknowledge that I existed. It feels so strange to be intentionally disregarded. For me it offers even just the tiniest glimpse into what it must feel like for all the Dalits who are treated like that on a daily basis and far worse. All it would have taken was acknowledging I was there!

The people who did approach me more than made up for the alienation of the others. I met so many people that had been all over the world and they were so excited that I was doing the same. It’s nice to hear from people who have been there and done this already and gives me more confidence that I will be able to do it too. I was really touched by this woman I met who travelled to Bangladesh years ago. She was so excited to meet someone going to a similar area that she immediately graded a pen and gave me her number. She said it would mean a lot to her if I would take her sari with me when I go, then at least someone would get use of it. She was so nice and so excited – possibly my most enthusiastic customer of the day. I really need to call her back. So she knows I still want to, it just still seems so far away.

I feel like the cards are in a lull, I’ve sold hundreds and in a small town I feel like I may have saturated the market. I’m still going to keep up the cards but on a much smaller scale. I think I need something new and fresh and im considering asking the high school if they will have a hat day, where you can pay $2 to wear a hat and have the proceeds go to Beyond Borders. I’m still not sure. I’d love to hear what other people have planned. The ones I have heard about all sound really neat.

In a couple of weeks I will be presenting to my Rotary Club and I will let you know how it goes. I’m nervous though! Wish me luck !! :D



  1. I am sure you'll do great at the Rotary Club! I know it can be frustrating selling things and people pretend that you don't exist. Selling to students in AL is one of the most frustrating things anyone can do. All it takes is some patience and i'm sure you will be able to sell all the cards that you need to. The high school idea is a really good one. If you can find a high school that would do it for you I say go for it. You can raise a lot of money that way :) I hope everything is going ok back at home! I hope to see you soon! We are all missing you!
    Ciao <3

  2. It's great to hear that you've got so much of a community behind you supporting, in some way, your Beyond Borders journey. Between the woman who wants you to take her sari and the fact that you've sold hundreds of cards, there's a lot to smile about in this post.

    It's always difficult for me to navigate the dynamic of fundraising, or just being acknowledged from every position--I've been the frustrated person fundraising, the person pretending not to see, and also, the person so completely preoccupied that other people are just a blur for a while, where the decision to meet somebody's eye doesn't even exist because I can't see past my own nose...

    But your post took me back to Becoming Human, and the discussion about how affirming and important it is just to be acknowledged. It's frustrating, but I think it's important for us all to be purposefully unnoticed... it's certainly an eye-opening experience.

  3. Your cards are beautiful Jen, actually really well made!
    I want to assure you that you will be fine for fundraising, we all get a little scared and touchy when it comes to the subject of raising money, but don't worry. It will all fall in to place soon enough.

    Good luck with the Rotary Club!