Creative fundraising, part one

May 26, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Kylie O&#039;Neill  </span>
    $120 worth of long hair. Photo: Kylie O'Neill

This may seem a little whacked but I swear it's true. I was able to come up with $120 and make an online gift to Mercy Corps last week. How? Haircut money. Let me explain.

I have been a Mercy Corps donor since we first began raising funds for Cambodian refugees in 1980. Why shouldn't I do what I ask everyone else to do? Back in the good old days — with no kids and book royalties coming in — I could whip out a $1,000 check without too much pain. But in recent years, with three kids in college and student loans piling up at a sobering rate (not to mention church and charities commitments we've made), my donations have admittedly been a relative pittance. But I'm working on that.

I've been inspired by the highly creative strategies that our marketing and web teams have dreamed up to generate funds for our global programs. Things like personal fundraising pages (my daughter Kevyn raised $5,000 for Haiti on hers), Mercy Kits, honor gifts, memorial gifts, Partners in Mercy, corporate matches — the list goes on — including our new launch of MPower (you've gotta check this out).

My other daughter, Casey, organized a talent show at her high school called "Variety Pack" and raised $1,100 for Mercy Corps for "where it's needed most." Additionally, I've been amazed at all the cool things our supporters have done as fundraising events: bake sales, garage sales, car washes, motorcycle rides, marathons —even a long distance car rally through treacherous terrain to raise funding for our programs in Mongolia. The imagination has no limits!

So back to the haircut money. With no haircuts since February, I'd saved $120. Someone told me, well, if that's all you've saved, then you ain't paying enough for haircuts. But $40 a cut still seems like a lot to me. Fortunately, Nancy — who owns Salon 74 — loves Mercy Corps and hasn't punished me for not showing up. In a backwards kind of way, I guess I've forced her into being a donor too. Don't worry, Nancy, I'm coming back for trims!

But, anyway, I kinda like the new look: Jeff Bridges meets Mick Jagger. What's your vote?

Put your thinking caps on and join me in some creative fundraising of your own.