Ten Days to Zero Heroes: Frontrunners in Our Campaign

Yesterday was the halfway point for our Ten Days to Zero campaign! We want to take this opportunity to highlight our PIH Engage members and teams who have taken the lead with their personal fundraising pages. These frontrunners have shared with us some of their stories and tips for successand there's still time for you to catch up!

Meet the PIH Engagers who are leading the charge as of this morning, November 18:


Lydia Lutz is from Vanderbilt University and currently our number one fundraiser! She has now raised over $1,500 with 23 donations. Congrats Lydia!



Myriam Shehata is another PIH Engager from Vanderbilt. She has now reached out to 19 donors and received more than $1,500. 



Katie Irwin, a student at Colby College, has reached $1,210 with the help of 11 donors.



  Taing Aung, at Brown University, is also leading the pack with $1,100 raised from 8 different donors.


Emily Kelly, from Denver Colorado, is one of our members from Stanford University. She has raised $950 and had 11 donors.



Mariah Ingram is a part of the PIH Engage Team at UNC Asheville. With just 6 donors she has raised over $900.


You can see where these frontrunners stand as well as total progress on our dashboard here.


Here is what they had to say about their campaigns...


What are your top tips for success?

Lydia: First, I think the personalized videos are so persuasive and encouraging to donors. I definitely think that Change Heroes' fundraising method is extremely effective. Second, I reached out to quite a large group of people. I had my parents send me contact info for all their friends, so I ended up making videos for some people that I don't know that well or haven't seen in a while. So, don't be afraid to expand your list a little beyond your comfort zone. Finally, in the videos and the emails I sent accompanying the link, I focused on telling people why I believe that PIH is such a valuable cause. That's been working really well for me because it essentially gives people two reasons to contribute - first, that they are moved by the work that PIH does and understand the importance of those endeavors and second, that family and friends want to support me in an organization I am so passionate about.

Taing: I think the most important advice I could give is to start early and to ask donations from people you know check their emails regularly. They should care about you enough to give you money and this goes without saying, they should be able to give you money. I also think that it is important which people you choose to ask for donations, not how many.

Katie: When you make personal videos, make them actually really personal. I just talked to my computer like I was having a one-sided conversation with that person, sometimes mentioning the things we would do over Thanksgiving or talking about what we did the last time we were together. Is it awkward? Yes. But I managed to get over myself and have found that not just sticking to a script and facts about PIH works quite well for the individual videos. 

Tell your friends that no amount is too little. My college friends are obviously hesitant to spend a lot of money, but even $5 can make a difference, and let them know how much their support means to you. 

Post on social media every day, but change up the script--that way, people won't just breeze over your post on the newsfeed. 

Myriam: The biggest thing for me has been learning to embrace the fact that what we're doing is very bold: at first I was hesitant to ask certain people or ask for the full amount because I thought it might be too much for them, but I really just had to realize that this campaign is designed to be bold and needs to be bold. Stretching myself and gently stretching others is important, I think. Going off that, I would also say don't make presumptions about people's generosity--ask as widely as you can because you never know who this cause will really resonate with. Also, the follow up emails for people who hadn't watched my video after a few days was huge! That was really when the donations started rolling in. 

Emily: We tend to think that our biggest--perhaps, only--supporters will be family and close friends, and are shy to reach out much beyond them. This would probably be true if we were scrounging money for a car, hoping that those closest to us would take pity. But, for a campaign as significant and impactful as Ten Days to Zero, the mission speaks for itself! People will open your email because they know you, but they will donate in large part because of the cause. So, my number one tip is, send videos to anyone who knows you well enough just to open your email. The cause will take it from there! Many of my donors have even emailed me thanking me for the work I am doing and for including them in my campaign. 

Mariah: My top tip would be to not be scared of asking people to donate. Don't discount them! You would be surprised at who is willing to give and how much. Some people gave way more money than I was expecting!


How can other people learn from your experience?

Lydia: The greatest take-away for me is that if you tell people why you care about something, they will probably listen. I wasn't expecting to do so well with this fundraiser, but the people I contacted have responded so enthusiastically. In the videos I sent, I emphasized how strongly I feel about the injustice of global health inequality and the disparities in the access to medical care; as a result, my donors have reached out and told me why they believe this cause is important as well. Forging a personal connection with this cause and portraying that in these videos has definitely persuaded people to get involved in this social justice movement.

Taing: I don't particularly think there is anything to be learned from my experience. I believe everybody will have their own experiences to reflect and learn from. Although we are all doing the same thing, the experience will most likely be very individual.

Katie: I think what I realized before starting this is that I really just had to throw away any notion of embarrassment in asking people for money. Does it create a weird pressure and dynamic in some cases? Maybe. But the work that we are supporting is so, so much more important than your shame in asking a professor to consider showing their support for this project (I read a great motivating post by Michaela Barry about this, shout out to her). There's also a way to go about it that doesn't create an uncomfortable pressure to donate--if they don't want to contribute financially, ask them to pass along your fundraising link to other colleagues. 

Myriam: This is something that we talked about a lot at the training institute, but I think when we start to frame personal fundraising as an invitation for others to join us in something that's so meaningful- it feels so much less extractive and demanding. 

Emily: If you don't have time to send lots of videos, be sure you get the people who care most about your success. Your family certainly does, but also think about teachers, mentors, advisors and past employers. They picked you because they see you as a winner. Ten Days to Zero is a way to show them that you are--more than ever. You're a global health advocate, a social justice warrior. They will be thrilled to know you're fighting for something you care about, and will be excited to join your continuing success. Also, be sure you get the people who care most about your success if you don't have time to send lots of videos. But most importantly, follow up! 

Mariah: I would say that it comes down to putting in time and effort, just sending out as many videos and calling as many people as you can.


What did your PIH Engage Team do to encourage you?

Lydia: Our team is doing pretty well right now, which is incredibly exciting because we only started our PIH Engage team at Vanderbilt this year. There's been a lot of positive energy, mostly streaming from Myriam, our amazing team coordinator. I think everyone on the Vandy team has a genuine passion for the work that PIH does and so we're all motivating each other to make great strides with this campaign.

Taing: My PIH engage group got the notice out that this was coming. They made sure we were aware and prepared by telling us a week ahead of the start of the campaign.

Katie: My team has been game for any and all fundraising ideas. We came up with a fun idea which we'll be posting about at our meeting this week: To reach out to friends, we're posting our fundraising links on facebook and challenging our friends to donate to us to reach our goal. If our goal is reached, next Monday we will all wear funny footie pajamas to class in solidarity. We've also planned some fun morale boosting activities during this week, like our mid-semester retreat to see the new Hunger Games movie!

Myriam: My team set up a Ten Days to Zero Progress Spreadsheet on our Google Drive that we update each time we get a donation--it's set to auto-sum each person's total and our team total, so we always know how close we are, both to our individual goal and to our team goal. I think it has fostered just the right amount of competition and has made us want to push the envelope more with our campaign. 

Emily: My team is amazing. Ya'el and Caroline: you inspire me with your enthusiasm and commitment. The whole team is a small but tight-knit and candid group of (new) friends, and we encourage each other with regular meet-ups, one-on-ones and aggressively excited texts. 

Mariah: My team had our phoneathon on Monday night, and it was a blast! We had pizza, and it was just so much fun calling people together. There was an awesome vibe and energy in the room that was really conducive for fundraising.


What were some of the challenges you faced?

Lydia: The hardest part of the process was actually making all the videos because I majorly underestimated how much time that would take. I tried to do all 82 on Friday night, thinking it would take me a maybe two hours. I spent six hours sitting in my dorm making the videos, so that was pretty exhausting. However, it has been so worth it, because by the next morning, I already had some donations. In hindsight, though, I would have split up the videos over the first couple days. 

Taing: I think that because the campaign is only ten days, there is less time to obtain donations. I think I would feel more comfortable if there was a way to extend the campaign so that we would have more time to think about our fundraising options and be able to get more people to donate. 

Katie: Quite honestly, I think the biggest challenge was just setting up the whole fundraising page and making the videos. The platform we are using is absolutely amazing and really does a lot of the work for you, as long as you personalize your page and videos, and send updates on social media. It makes fundraising less stressful, very fun and rewarding. Even if you don't think you can reach $1,000, make a page and raise $100! Any amount makes a difference.

Myriam: To be perfectly honest, recording that first video was like pulling teeth. But once I did it and got over that hump, it got a lot easier and even started to be fun!

Emily: Turnout at events is a real challenge as we enter week nine of our ten week quarter. I really can't blame people for writing final essays and taking exams instead of doing phone-a-thons. I am just really grateful for our strong core team. 

Mariah: It was hard getting over the nerves of calling people, but I eventually accepted the fact that I was calling people who love me and would be happy to hear from me no matter what.


Who did you reach out to?  

Lydia: I contacted my grandparents, aunts and uncles, close family friends, my parents' friends from college and work, some of my old teachers that I am still in contact with, the parents of my friends from high school, people in my neighborhood, and pretty much anyone else I could think of. I figured that the worst thing someone can say is "no", so I might as well reach out to everyone that I can - there's really no harm. And so far, I am astonished at how generous people have been. My friends and family have really connected with this cause and with the Change Heroes interface.

Taing: I reached out to all the people I knew had the ability to donate money. What that basically means is that I did not reach out to my friends or anybody going to college, school or university. I reached out to older people because I knew they had the ability and awareness to donate the money. I reached out to people I knew would check their emails quite regularly and this part is important because I myself don't check my email regularly. Because the campaign is so short, I could have missed out on all of this.

Katie: I had about 10 target donors (mostly immediate family and close friends) I wanted to begin contacting in the first 5 days. These were the people I was confident would support me in this project. Now that they have shown their support, I have a second group of people who I am going to try to reach in the next 5 days. These people include professors, advisors, friends from home, friend's parents, and members from my college community. 

Myriam: I basically reached out to everyone I know--my friends, their parents, my parents' friends, my relatives, etc. I thought of pretty much every community I'm a part of and considered who I could ask from those communities. 

Mariah: I mainly called friends and family, plus some people for work. I also asked my mom to talk to some of her friends because she is a nurse in the medical field, so I knew it would be helpful to target people already passionate about health care.

Congratulations to all of these and other amazing PIH Engagers on successful #TenDaystoZero fundraising campaigns!

Now that you've heard from the leading fundraisers, you can take their tips and apply them to your own campaigns. Each one of you will have a different story but all of your contributions will get us closer to our goal. 

With just four days to go, we need everyone to step up and take the lead!



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