Show Transparency In Your Projects

September 25th, 2009

CIMBD HeaderThank goodness we asked for help. Doug Campbell and I could quite simple have not planned Cause It’s My Birthday on our own. One of the groups I really wanted to put together early to go to for feedback and advice was what I was going to call a Cause Rockstar Team. Well - first piece of advice from Scott Henderson, “Can we be called your Cause Advisory Team?” Ok, no gushing it up. Done and done.

When Cause It’s My Birthday first launched, Doug and I asked friends and family for feedback, and then we went to our Cause Advisory Team which to me are people in the cause branding/marketing/strategy field that I really look up to and admire. They are well-respected for their craft, their expertise, their level of authenticity and commitment to raise money for causes and have had great success online in their online endeavors. Scott Henderson from Media Sauce, Stacey Monk from Epic Change, JD Lasica from Socialbrite.org, Joey Leslie from Kompolt and Alexa Brandt formerly of Step Up Women’s Network make up our Cause Advisory Team and have been generous enough to let me send long emails and ask for suggestions and offer us feedback on the site.

Now I’m a fundraiser by craft and at heart, so I know one of the big things is being very clear about what you’re asking for. We wanted the first driver to be donations. But Doug and I wanted the site to be fun and almost look like a birthday invite and make it so people knew they could learn more by digging into the site but not have all of the facts and figures up front. We wanted to also drive attendance and showcase the city competition where each city is competing for the most donations.

I’ve learned a lesson. I’ve learned if there is something I say on the phone all the time while I’m pitching the campaign - that should be on the website. For example? Doug and I bought our own plane tickets. Could we have gotten them sponsored? Maybe, probably, but it seemed like a big undertaking that would have had to start months ago and with me in the Philippines and Doug deep into projects he was working on, that wasn’t a reality. Doug priced them out and they are just over $500 per person. NOT BAD RIGHT! So in every call I find I say something like:

When picking the nonprofit to partner with, I had two requests. The first no overhead and no admin costs. All of the money we raise is to go to nets. The second request is that we got to choose where the nets go. Netting Nations, the 501c3 we partnered with agreed to both. Doug and I paid for our flights because it’s our birthdays and sometimes you have to spend money on your own birthday.

So I’ve been saying this again and again, but it wasn’t until JD Lasica emailed me and wrote, “You should really tell people you paid for the flight and be transparent about that.” He’s right, it WAS on the site, in the “ABOUT” section, but not clear.

The Cause Advisory Team sent email notes and this past weekend, Doug and I reviewed them all. Almost all of the suggestions we agreed upon, but the way development goes with time and resources and skills, well there were some changes we could easily make, some we could try and some that we just aren’t able to do at this time. Interestingly, almost everything were things we’d thought of at some point, it was immensely helpful to have people on board to help reiterate that point.

We made the following updates to the Cause It’s My Birthday website:

We made other changes, updated the map on the homepage to reflect the venues, updated eventbrite pages to reflect updated totals, we’re still making small changes when we get an email that points something out or we think of a way to make the site better.

It will never be perfect, but what I know from experience is that is no reason NOT to do something. Sure we wish we had more time and while planning these events we’re also working on sponsorships and press and asking for help for people to invite their friends to the parties. All this work, we hope lots of people show up! We’re also trying to reach $70,000 which is an entire container of nets (about 14,000) or $10,000 a day. We know that’s an aggressive goal, that’s ok. This is our first time trying something like this, we’ll see how we do.

I just want to say a HUGE thank you to the Cause Advisory team for all of your help and suggestions to how we can make this more real and raise the most amount of money we can. Thank you truly.

And to anyone looking to do put a plan in motion and not sure where to start? Ask for help from your network. It will astound you how much people are willing to help when you just ask. I’ll write more about how to do this, and continue thanking the amazing host committees we’ve put together in the days to come.

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