Сulture Café: Money for Good

Once a semester we make something unusual! Our simple (but very dear to heart) Culture Café turns into a strong discussion not about one or several countries and their beautiful unique cultures, but about the issues that can be shared by massive number of people, by the whole globe.

A year ago we talked about the environmental problems in different countries and the ways each one of us can solve them, last semester we shared our experiences in international volunteering, which is an easy and fun way to travel and to make a change in any part of the world. But this semester, on April 18, we talked about fundraising.

Thanks to three students — Anastasia Ryzhuk, Irina Klimova and Rahul Mishra — who shared their stories about being a fundraiser, all of the pros and cons, and incredibly useful tips on how to create your own charity campaign.

Anastasia was the first person to speak up, and she told about her experience in creating a social cause out of her birthday. The main feature of her topic was to let everyone feel the whole process as the fun and enjoyable thing that it really is!

There are lots of web-platforms that are designed specifically for that purpose — to create simple well-organized and easy-to-use fundraising campaigns, and a famous Russian service Пользуясь случаем (‘Using the cause’ in translation) is one of them. Anastasia used her birthday as a cause, and all of the granted money went to the Russian children’s hospice “The Lighthouse”, in total she managed to collect more than 18k rubles! How? Just follow your heart, and be creative. By the way, this is her official fundraising page, that can be very useful as an example.

She highlighted the importance of choosing the cause which is close to you, of finding a reliable platform, and remembering that gaining less means better quality. You do not have to gain a million with your first campaign, but it is the priceless impact that you will leave on others’ lives and minds.

The next story that everyone could learn from was told by Irina Klimova, President of ESN HSE Moscow. Very similar, yet so different, she used her 19th birthday as a cause for fundraising. The platform that was chosen is called charity:water, the NGO helping people from poor regions of Africa to get access to clean drinking water. Irina tried to clearly explain the process of her campaign, and to inspire others to start their own.

Tips and trick – as always – those you use and those that help. So, what should you start with if you want to create a great and successful fundraising campaign?

  1. Choose a cause. The main tip: it has to be one that a lot of people can relate to. Your birthday will work great! However, keep creative. If you say, for instance, the best Monday of my life, it’ll attract a lot of attention as well.
  2. Choose a platform. As you can see, there are lots of them, just keep surfing the net, and choose the most reliable sources, as you do not want the money of your friends to be lost.
  3. Invent a catchy name. Now, turning to marketing, it is all about getting attention, being creative and unusual. No frames!
  4. Your first catchy post. Then, please, spend some time putting down the thoughts why, what for, how, when you fundraise. Let people clearly understand you and your aims, let people feel your and their own need to join you. The more logical is the post, the more positive feedback and more raised money you’ll get. Then keep it regular, tell your friends (or whomever you’ve chosen as a ‘target audience’) about the updates of a campaign; keep them excited!
  5. Oh, and the most important. You should spam everyone: facebook, vk, instagram, email, whatsapp. There is too much information everywhere, and your post can easily get lost. Be sure, that at the end of the day the majority of people will THANK you for sharing that post! 

Voilà! You get a successful fundraising campaign! Good luck!

And these are the results of following those steps (e.g. Irina’s campaign).

The third student was Rahul Mishra from India. He worked as a program manager for a NGO, and the fundraising part was one of his responsibilities. Rahul used to write fundraising proposals for corporate clients. He shared the experience on what people want to hear and get from any campaign, in two words — no negative.

And thanks to Rahul, he made all of the guests laugh after showing a very funny video about the stereotypes that you get hearing the words ‘charity’, ‘fundraising’, etc. Your goal and message is much more important than anything else, and everyone should remember that the more you give, the more you get!

And finally, thanks to Anna Ter-Saakova who is currently a director of Moscow integrational centre “Kids are Kids” who shared the beauty of being a manager of a NGO and the difficulties their centre faces today. We learned that it is far from easy to be in charge of such an organization, and the ESN HSE Moscow team plans to help the NGO to translate their website. What is more, as this Culture Café was a part of Social Inclusion Days — the 2 weeks spent in each and every ESN section globally for doing good and raising awareness about the social issues — we decided not only to talk about fundraising but to fundraise!

After the event the small box with the humble words “for donations” was full with 1900 rubles. Thanks to every single guest of our event!

There are endless opportunities for doing good today, and it does not matter if you have money or not. Be sure that every step of yours is going to have an impact on another person’s life. And use that! For good, of course!

Author: Irina Klimova

Proofreader: Shannon Williams