Personal Fundraising: Reflections from Myriam Shehata

Ten Days to Zero was a campaign ran by the PIH Engage network from November 13-22, 2015. Together, our teams brought in 1,873 individual donations on 361 campaign pages. In total, we raised more than $101,000 during those ten days, and $113,808 by the time personal fundraising pages closed on January 10, 2016. 

As members of this movement, personal fundraising is the most powerful tool we have to raise funds for the work of PIH and the broader mission of global health equity. Below is a reflection by our top fundraiser, PIH Engage Vanderbilt Team Coordinator Myriam Shehata, about her team's experience with personal fundraising:

A few months removed from 10 Days to Zero, I can honestly say that it played a pretty significant role in outlining our team's trajectory and shaping our team culture. But that's certainly not what I thought going in.

As a brand new team, on one hand, I'll admit we felt in over our heads at the start, but on the other hand, we were too excited to think of any reason not to go full steam ahead.

We were waiting for the last steps of our club registration on campus to go through, and just itching to get started -- in that sense personal fundraising was exactly what we needed: a way to establish ourselves, to show what we could achieve in a way that didn't rely on anyone else's approval. So we ordered a bunch of pizzas, blocked out a Friday afternoon, and got to work.

Watching the totals add up was really affirming. We had a google doc going that each of us would update every time we received a donation. It kept us accountable and excited as we watched our totals add up in real time.

And that's one of the beauties of personal fundraising: it naturally builds on itself, and snowballs into something big, so long as you give the initial push.

But let's be clear, wrapping my head around the idea of personal fundraising, getting over the initial fear and nervousness of being so "forward" with my friends and family, not to mention explaining all these things to a new team seriously freaked me out. It's not that we all latched onto personal fundraising in the blink of an eye. Making the first video was definitely not fun -- I re-filmed myself probably 20 times before I decided it was not getting any better. But from there, something really cool happened: the second video was easier to make, then the third and fourth even easier, and eventually once I hit video 15 or 20 all I could think was, "well, hey, if I've already come this far, why not send some more?"

So really, like most things, personal fundraising was something we just had to learn by doing, and after a while, it really latches onto you! I can't believe I'm saying this but at a point it almost became fun—like a game. I had the slow realization that in just a few hours I had explained to basically everyone I cared about why I was doing this thing that I loved and why it mattered to me so much. That's something that I surely would not have been able to do in casual conversation.

Both as individuals and as a team, 10 Days to Zero  gave us a lot of momentum going into the rest of the year: we were excited, we were a whole lot better at speaking honestly about our passion for social justice and the work PIH is doing, we were closer as a team, and...

...we realized that we had a whole lot more potential as a team than we had imagined.

Myriam's account of the transformation of her team from nervous and inexperienced to unified and full of potential is an amazing example of the power of personal fundraising. On top of the camaraderie the group was able to build throughout the campaign, the Vanderbilt University team raised $11,188 from 192 individual donors to help with PIH's fight against tuberculosis.

So what can your team do to incorporate Personal fundraising in your end of the year events?

Check out the tools on the fundraising resources tab for ideas on culminating events, toolkits for a Strides in Solidarity event, and the Fundraising Lead manual which includes key steps for goal-setting in your fundraising work. Let's all strive to add personal fundraising to our spring campaigns! 

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