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Self Funded Causes: Putting the “I” in Mission

The other day, a client asked me about using DonorPages as a way for artists in their programs to “self-fund” their residencies with personal online fundraising pages. We discussed strategies on how to do so, then afterwards I began thinking about how our clients have been very creative in using DonorPages in ways well beyond our original concept. Back in early 2008 when we released DonorPages, we thought it would be used for event fundraising (walk/runs, thon events, galas, etc), online campaigns, board fundraising or similar, standard fundraising activities.

But in addition to so called “normal” fundraising, it turns out that online friend-to-friend fundraising really has it’s own special niche which is growing by leaps and bounds. I think of it as “self-funded” fundraising, where an individual or group raises funds to support their own mission or project. Here are a few examples (Please note that these site were active at the time of this posting, but may be deactivated when an associated event or campaign is over):

Mercy Ships is an international organization that uses their fleet of ships to send doctors, nurses, educators and other volunteer specialist, along with medical and developmental aid, to areas of the world that need them most. Their volunteer crew members self-fund their multi-month missions with personal DonorPages:

Mercy Ships Canada: mercyships.donorpages.com/MERCYGIFTS

Mercy Ships USA: mercyships-us.donorpages.com/crewmates

The Lambda Literary Foundation supports LGBT writers and causes by offering an annual Writer’s Retreat. They provide a site where up-and-coming writers can create personal pages to raise funds for tuition, travel and housing costs:

lambdaliterary.donorpages.com/EmergingWritersRetreat

Flower City Habitat for Humanity (read more about their successes here) creates a DonorPages site for each housing build. Volunteer builders self-fund their build sites by creating personal and team fundraising pages:
rochesterhabitat.donorpages.com/WomenBuild11
rochesterhabitat.donorpages.com/VeteranBuild2011

And MS Cure Fund was able to provide personal fundraising pages for MS and Parkinson’s Disease to self fund their team expedition to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro*:

mscurefund.donorpages.com/ClimbingExpedition

These examples all have one thing in common – the purpose of the fundraising is not to raise funds for research, cover operational expenses or directly advance the cause of the organization (though there was certainly an indirect awareness-raising element). The purpose is to empower and enable the participants and fundraisers to achieve their own personal mission or goal.

And not surprisingly, the personal fundraising projects of these self-funders dovetail nicely with the stated missions of these organizations (helping emerging writers, providing medical care, building homes). Self-funding is a rising trend that helps marry someone who has a personal cause with the tools, backing and guidance of professional nonprofits. This helps build relationships and awareness for organizations that recognize the opportunity this trend presents.

*The Kilamanjaro Climb was led by Lori Schneider, an amazing person who was keynote speaker at our just-completed DonorPerfect Community Network Conference. You can read more about Lori and her inspiring adventures on her website, Empowermentthoughadventure.com.

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