Denise Wakeman's Birthday Campaign

This is the third in a series called Using Your Birthday for Good that kicked off Monday with Beth Kanter’s campaign for the Sharing Foundation in Cambodia and continued yesterday with Matt Rosen’s campaign for Operation Gratitude.

Denise Wakeman is a truly remarkable woman. We first met online through a mutual passion for Kiva this past spring when I was fundraising to go to the Philippines as a Kiva Fellow. She was an immediate advocate of my fellowship and I supported her birthday campaign when she launched it. We kept in touch online and through social networks through the year and we both found ourselves at Blog World Expo in October and literally tracked each other down so we could meet in person. I’m so glad we did (proof is in the picture). So here we go, an interview with Denise:

1) Tell me about your birthday and fundraising campaign. When was your birthday? Was it a milestone? What was your inspiration? What nonprofit did you partner with? Did you tell them in advance? What was your fundraising goal (if you had one) and did you reach it?

I’m a big fan and supporter of As my 50th birthday approached I was thinking about ways I could leverage my online community and do some good. I have a video and details HERE.

My Kiva Lending Team is located at Kiva Challenge.

My goal was to raise $5,000 in micro loans during June 2009 – my birthday month. Though I did not meet my goal in June ($3,500 on June 30), the amazing people who joined my lending team have continued to reinvest and make new loans and in October 2009, we surpassed the goal. Today, members of the team continue to loan and the Team has reached $5,650 in loans to date

**2) Did you use online tools? Did you have a birthday party in person? What was your way to connect with people and tell them about this? **

My primary communication was through the internet: email to my list, blog posts, Twitter, Facebook – about 20,000+. I tweeted like crazy. Every time someone made a loan, I announced it on twitter and included a link by to my lending team page. If I knew their twitter ID, I sent them a tweet thanking them. I did blog updates and I used the messaging system on to thank lenders as well as post progress reports.

Many of my colleagues blogged and tweeted about the event as well. I got a lot of retweets.

**3) What have you done for past birthdays? ** Parties, dinner, movies, spa…never a fundraiser! J

**4) Would you do a fundraiser for your birthday again? Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be? **

Yes, I would do this again. It was a little harder than I anticipated. I have a fairly large network and I thought it would be a snap to attract 200 people to make a $25 loan. Maybe because the fundraiser was a month vs. a day people may have stopped paying attention to my tweets. It was like promoting anything else – a product or a service – as long as I kept the Challenge in front of people, they responded. When I backed off, nothing happened.

5) What was the best part? Did you connect with someone you had lost contact with? Any one story you’d like to share?

Connecting with the people who did participate. I met new people via their loans when they found out about the event from others. The words of encouragement and support were amazing. I am so grateful to everyone who loaned and kept me motivated. And I’m thrilled that I was able to introduce new people to Kiva and impact so many entrepreneurs. It’s the ripple effect that makes this form of contribution so powerful: an entrepreneur can increase their inventory, they can serve more people, they can send their kids to school, they can employ people in their community and everyone wins.

6) What advice would you give to someone else who wanted to throw a fundraiser but didn’t know where to start?

Start with your passion because that will drive your results. Tap your communities in every way possible. Ask for help! Make sure people understand why you’re doing the fundraiser, what the outcomes will be and how their participation makes a difference. Make sure the organization is legitimate so you can ally and discomfort people have about making a contribution.

Go for it!

Stayed tomorrow for the next featured birthday campaign coming from Meg Brogan and 9th Ward Field of Dreams!

If you liked this post, you might like: Kiva Fellowship Donors Thank You To New Donors, I’ve Reached My Goal! Vegas, New York, Pittsburgh, New Orleans – An Update on My Schedule

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