For my fundraiser, I chose to do it for the COVID-19 Relief in India with the partnership of SAATHI through Empower and Help. At the beginning of summer, we began to see a lot of distress and problems in India due to COVID that led to many people not having access to water, food, or shelter. This fundraiser was a way to raise money to directly help families in India who needed financial assistance, primarily due to unemployment, lockdown, and COVID-19. The funds helped provide educational support by providing free Chromebooks and an internet connection to families in need. As I began to work on it, I had to figure out my target goal, how I was going to spread the word, and how I would make my donations count. First, I had to make a flyer to spread my message about the fundraiser (shown on the left). I wrote “donating your sweets”, which means that whenever you feel the need to go and grab something sweet, donate the money to the fundraiser instead.
For the fundraiser, I created a goal of $1000, thinking that it was an attainable goal. However, it turned out to be almost impossible to reach that amount by the end of June due to the lack of contacts.
The lack of communication from the people I reached out to became my biggest obstacle. When I first sent out the emails and messages to the people, I thought they would make donations, and most of them would say, “Yes, I’ll definitely look into it,” but in the end, I wouldn’t get any other response from them. This made me reevaluate my $1000 goal. I had to quickly rethink my promoting methods. I had an idea of messaging people through Instagram. Using this method, I was able to gain traction and started to reach my new goal of $500.
With the help of my parents and friends, I spread the word to others which got people to donate and share with others. This was a new experience for me because I had never done a fundraiser on my own before. My previous experience in fundraising had been me being a part of a group with more knowledge and experience, which helped me learn from them. This fundraiser helped me become patient, especially when I wasn’t getting any responses back. It also helped with strengthening my communication skills. For example, providing the donors with the fundraiser’s details, helped them gain a comprehensive understanding of the cause and mission.
During my time working on this fundraiser, I was able to raise a total of $455, which was marginally short of my goal, but I was still grateful that I got this far compared to the beginning of the summer. Although I wasn’t able to reach my full goal, I’m happy that I got this many donations and especially during COVID. I remember one time during a meeting an ambassador had said that even the smallest donation can help someone in a great way, and that stuck with me throughout the summary of this fundraiser. It can be hard to get people to listen to what you advocate. I want to thank Empower And Help for supporting me throughout this fundraiser and helping me problem-solve when needed. It was a great experience and working through the different obstacles helped me learn many skills that will help me in the future.
To anyone wanting to create fundraisers or community drives, I would suggest using the Ambassador Program as a way of getting started. They help you by asking you what areas of fundraising/community service you would like to raise for and guide you throughout the whole process. This was a great way to learn more about the fundraising process for myself. I really enjoyed the rewards of knowing that what I donated helped someone out there in need.
[By Megha Reddy, is Empower And Help Student Ambassador 2021 from North Carolina]