By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
This weekend, something very fun happened. One of our stellar volunteers — Tim Gibson — raised enough funds to place two large wall maps (the world and Africa) in each of our schools. In the 48 hours between Friday and Sunday evenings, he raised $1,000 for Maps for Mali!
I did a virtual Q and A (below) with Tim about the experience, in the hopes that you will be inspired to follow his lead. We can set you up with a nice little web page for your project, and provide all kinds of support. Do you want to raise $800 to provide desks for a classroom of kids in our next school? $300 to provide a set of French textbooks to a classroom? $1,000 for a latrine (seriously)? What’s your idea? Let me know and we’ll make it happen.
What inspired you to specifically want to see maps in Mali Rising classrooms?
I always loved maps and atlases as a child. Collecting stamps helped, as I was then encouraged by my parents to find a country on a map, so I grew up globally savvy. Visiting Mali (and many more equally poor countries) I realized how little the kids knew about the world that starts 50 kilometers from where they were born. They could be totally unaware that the planet does not all look exactly as they see it. Of course now, with television and mobile phones and the internet, they do know a great deal more, but in a country like Mali, they are still catching up, so we can help.
Were you nervous about asking your friends to donate? Why or why not?
Not at all! That is what friends are for. They know me well and for some of them, I travel to countries on their behalf and from writing pieces about a country, I give them an insight about a world they would have difficulty in imagining. So when I ask them to help, the wallets do open. But don't expect everyone to follow. You never can tell who will support you. A few are guaranteed and some are probable, but there will be some who just ignore your plea.
How did you request donations? What did you say in “the ask”?
Quite openly, stating the facts. This is where it is/this is what is needed/with your help, it can be achieved. Perhaps remind them of what they have, compared to what the kids in Mali don't have. (Note: Tim sent just 2 emails to raise his $1,000 – one to get things rolling and one as an update to encourage late-comers.)
What kind of reaction(s) did you receive from the people you asked to donate?
100% positive. They are happy to help, I think, based on the fact they are aware of my enthusiasm and perhaps get caught up in that fever. Most people DO want to do good whenever they can. 99.999999% of my group can donate $40 without it ever impacting on their lives.
But I give them the option that small also works... no shame in just sending $5.. it all adds up. Always give them that opportunity. Curiously enough, the richer they are, the more likely they are to ignore you. That's how they stay rich! I have had excuses that their money is tied up in their college endowment fund. I am not looking for those few millions, but the $50 they have in change in various handbags.
If someone else was interested in the idea of a peer fundraising effort like yours, what advice would you give them?
Don't be shy. Know your market, as to what your friends will react to. Be upfront and honest about what is happening. If your friends are sports players, then collect for soccer balls. If they are homemakers, then collect for a sewing machine or something the girls (and boys) could be trained to use. If they are bankers/accountants, how about solar powered calculators? The list is endless, as is the need.
Would you do it again? ;)
In a heartbeat, but you can't keep on going to the same gang, cap in hand. Let them recover first and then hit them again, with all the strokes "Because you are so kind and generous and through me, you have been able to help Mali Rising achieve this and that and now there is THIS... how can you say no ?"
Our thanks go out to Tim and all of his generous friends for making Maps for Mali a success. Now what will YOU do? Contact Merritt to get rolling!