Fundraising? I’ve never fundraised before! How am I going to do this? What kind of fundraising event will I organize? These were some of the first questions I started asking myself as soon as I was accepted into the Youth Challenge Innovator program, especially since I am currently in Panama. Then, it hit me one day as I was hanging up side down during a yoga inversion workshop. I looked around and noted that there were about 15 participants, each had paid $25, and all that was needed was a yoga teacher and a space, that’s it! On top of that, I love yoga, I practice everyday, this is something I know and would be excited to plan. And that’s when “Yoga for a Cause” was born.
I first proposed the idea to a friend, to get feedback, she loved it and right away had a space in mind to hold the event, at my friend Victoria’s parents hotel, they have a ballroom that they usually rent out for parties. As for the yoga teacher, that was easy, I’ve practiced yoga with Gilbert Ho for two years, I felt comfortable enough to ask him if he would donate his time to give a yoga class to help me raise money for the project. He agreed without hesitation. Another key decision was the pricing of the event, I didn’t want to charge too much as I preferred to have more people participate than less. After conducting an “informal” survey I settled on charging $25, which included the yoga class and brunch.
Now that I had the space and the teacher, I could start promoting the event, and I had exactly a month to do so. I made a flyer, with the help of another friend, and posted it in every yoga studio and coffee shop in the area. I created a Facebook event page, where I was able to invite everyone I know in Panama, and they were able to send the invitation to everyone they know, before I knew it over 200 people had received the Facebook invitation. I also sent out a huge email to all the people in my contact list, as some of them don’t have Facebook (but I still included those that do, nothing wrong with sending the information twice!).
I had also wanted to have prizes and was thinking of having a silent auction of some kind. Although there is a pretty big “yoga community” in Panama, it is so hard to get yoga items (mats, clothing etc.) here. And so I thought it would be really fun to get yoga gear from Canada (as my mom happened to be coming down to visit me two weeks before the event) and have them as prizes. I wrote a letter that my mom could take to the yoga shops in Montreal explaining the project and the event that I was hosting. By the time my mom came to visit me the Moksha Yoga Studio in the West Island of Montreal had given her several t-shirts, yoga books, healthy granola bars, and a water bottle to support the cause. Gilbert topped all that off and offered 3 months long yoga passes to his studio. It was all much more than I expected!
The event was a true success. A total of 39 people participated in the yoga class; we were filled to capacity, so much so that there wasn’t even a spot for me to practice. I sat in the back and I watched, I watched my friends, and I watched strangers, I watched people who practice everyday with me, and I watched others who were practicing for their first time. It was great, and so rewarding. After the practice we all shared a great meal and conversation together. In the end, with the ticket sales and silent auction I raised $1269.50. My expenses were $121. The event was successful not just in raising the funds, but it truly created a positive space and an opportunity for people to share and interact with each other. So many people thanked me for organizing it and asked when I would do it again! The whole experience made me feel so good, it was amazing to see how people came out to support me, especially my girlfriends, truly without them I couldn’t have pulled it off.
- Choose an event based on something you enjoy doing
- Keep it simple, the less complicated it is, the less it will cost
- Think of the resources and contacts you already have, how can you plan an event using those?
- Determine early on how much you want to raise and how much you will have to spend. Make sure that what you are making is worth the time and effort.
- Choose the date carefully, pay close attention to whether there are holidays that may affect participation levels.
- Deciding on the right price is critical, and so ask around before you do so. I found pricing less than what most people suggested was better.
- Think big, but not too big.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family, and for donations from local shops, you’ll be surprised at what people will do,
- You have to actively promote the event to everyone, and at any opportunity, Facebook and other social media are great ways to do so.
- The more fun you have organizing it, the more people will enjoy it, and that it just as rewarding as the funds raised
-Andrea Sabelli, Youth Innovator, Tanzania 2012