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Fundraise $1000 with Your Blog in 3 Days

This guest post is by Eric Kim of Erickimphotography.com.

When I first got into blogging about street photography, I told myself that I wasn’t going to sell out to the man, and that I would keep my blog as ad-free as I could. The reason I decided this was to keep it more of a passion and a hobby, rather than a job. I enjoyed writing my blog posts for my audience, as well as engaging them with questions while even getting some people to write guest posts for me.

Eric with the workshop team (author's own image)

One day, one of my blog posts, titled “101 Things I Learned About Street Photography”, went viral and brought 3,000 visitors to my blog in one day (I averaged about 100 visitors a day at that time). Then, a photography workshop director in Beirut, Lebanon, emailed me to ask me to teach a street photography workshop.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic and very excited about the trip. However, there was a problem. I didn’t have the $1100 at the time to afford a round-trip ticket to Beirut. The organization holding the workshop was able to fund my lodging and expenses, but not my flight.

When all hope seemed lost, my girlfriend suggested that I reach out to the community on my blog and try to fundraise for my air ticket. I thought it would be nearly impossible to fundraise the necessary funds for my trip, but I thought it would be worth a try.

Fast-forward three days. I had $1100 in my Paypal account for a round-trip ticket to Beirut to teach my street photography workshop. I ended up having the trip of a lifetime, meeting some of the most cordial and amazing people, and taking inspirational photos as well.

Now, perhaps you’re not looking to finance a trip to boost your career. Maybe you want to raise funds for a charity or cause that’s important to you. Or perhaps you want to be able to donate money to a specific appeal. Using your blog to raise funds for a cause you care about is a very fulfilling, enjoyable thing to do. Here’s how I did it.

1. Have a personal connection with your community

Well before I started fundraising for this trip, I had a very strong and personal connection with my community. On my Facebook fan page, I regularly ask for my audience’s input and opinions about certain issues, and try my best to address everybody by his or her first name. Not only that, but I also try my best to reply to every single comment I get on my blog personally.

I genuinely believe in human generosity and kindness. People want other people to achieve their dreams. When I asked people to donate, I asked them to help be a part of achieving my dream—which was to go to Beirut. Also, the fact that my mission was not selfish, but sprang from my wanting to spread my love of street photography to other places, helped tremendously.

2. Chart your progress

Whenever I got a donation, I charted my progress on my blog. I made a percentage bar in Photoshop, and would update it every time somebody donated to my cause, helping me get closer and closer to that 100% mark. This way, I relied on game mechanics to spark action; people wanted to see me reach that 100% mark and had a reason to donate. Making the experience much more visual helps out tremendously.

3. Use various social media platforms

When I was asking for donations, I accessed all of my social media platforms. This included Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and my blog. Being able to effectively leverage each platform helped me reach different audiences, all of which believed in my cause. Only utilizing one social media platform is selling yourself short, as kindness is very wide-spread on the Internet.

4. Thank your donors personally

Once somebody donated to my cause, I gave him or her a heart-felt and personal response, thanking them for their generosity. This way the person who donated to your cause feels great in helping you, and motivated to spread the word. Which goes to my next point…

5. Ask others to spread the word

It never hurts to ask other people to support your cause. Simple things such as updating their statuses on Facebook or sending out tweets truly helps out a lot. Imagine if you had 100 fans, and each of them updated their Facebook statuses, asking for their contacts to help. Now let’s also assume that the average person has around 200 friends on Facebook. That means that your message is being broadcast to at least an audience of 2000, which can continue to ripple outwards if other people believe in your cause as well.

6. Make a video

When I asked my donors to support my cause, I recorded a video, uploaded it to YouTube, and spread it far and wide. Why use a video rather than just writing? Well, when you record a video, people can truly see the face behind the computer—the person they will be donating to. Also, in hearing you ask for support in real life, people feel more secure donating to you, as they know you aren’t some random scammer on the Internet. Show your spirit, personality, and charisma. It truly goes a long way.

7. Have a “donor list”

People love to be honored, and to see their names in public places. Think about all the famous memorials you have been to, which have the names of donors embedded into the bricks that make the memorial. I did the same with my blog. Whenever somebody donated to my cause, I wrote their name in a “donors list” which was proudly displayed at the front of my homepage. Importantly, I made sure not to display how much money they each donated, as I saw that to be a bit too intrusive.

8. Have a minimum suggested donation

Most people love donating to causes, but aren’t sure how much to donate (which prevents them from donating altogether). For my campaign, I asked for a minimum donation of $5. I did end up getting many donations worth $5, but surprisingly enough, the majority of people who donated either gave $20 or $25. If you set a minimum suggested donation, people will know what the standard will be, and will even donate more if they truly believe in your cause.

9. Go big

During my fundraising campaign, I was able to net $300 in donations in the first two days via Paypal. However, what really got me over to Lebanon was a $800 donation from a Swedish street photographer named Thomas Leuthard. He heard about my cause through Twitter, and after seeing my passion and how badly I wanted this trip, he offered to sponsor the remainder of my trip. He also told me that he was looking for some adventure as well, and asked me if he could accompany me to the workshop.

He actually ended up being the guest speaker for my street photography workshop, and after meeting in person overseas, we made a strong friendship and relationship.

10. Share your experiences

People who donated to your cause love to see the fruits of their labor. When you come back from your trip, share your experiences! I took many photos of the people of Beirut, Lebanon, and shared them in this post. Not only that, but I also shared the slides from the workshop that I did for free—for those who wanted to attend but couldn’t.

Have you ever used your blog to raise funds? How did you do it, and what tips can you share?

Eric Kim is a street photographer based in Los Angeles. He shoots, blogs, and tweets about everything street photography. You can check out his work on his blog, and also connect with him on Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Great way to fundraise. It seems like there are a lot of platforms out there to help fundraise for one cause or another. Few that come to mind: Kickstarter and ChipIn.

    They are very different, but both offer fundraising capabilities to those who need them. I know many people were successful in fundraising through Kickstarter for their projects. They offer a great community to help you succeed, as well as great tools.

  2. Rison Simon says:

    Wow. That shows that commuinty is one of the important parts of a blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. satish says:

    I am really glad (and a bit jealous..xD) that Darren you get really good guest bloggers…:P
    Thx to Eric Kim for such a wonderful post:)

    really inspiring:D

    • dotCOMreport says:

      @Satish I can relate to your envy. This was a wonderful post showcasing the beauty of human generosity. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yachtfinder says:

    Another great trick to make people donate is to make list their names on a page, as you said, and even offer them the option to put their website so it will appear on the page. And if you leave their links dofollow and eventually, your donations page has high PR, many guys will donate just to appear there.. this is another way of link building :) donate a couple of dollars in exchange for a backlink, and if your domain has high authority, it’s even better

  5. I really like this post. All of the points encapsulate the essence of blogging and creating a community around yourself. If you can bring the personality out from the coldness of the internet there is no limit to what you can do.

  6. Sam says:

    Awesome tips. thanks

  7. A great lesson on the power of community. Often really good bloggers will form friendships with readers and vice versa. Reaching out to your community getting such great response has to mean that you have such a great relationship with your readers. Great lessons on how to get it done. But the most important part of the whole thing is having that relationship with your readers that makes such a thing possible in the first place.

  8. Sumit says:

    It is very difficult to raise fund over the internet, if you don’t have that much rapport in the community. Although I never implement any donation system on my blog, but still I think, your mentions ways could be applied for getting for fund-raising.

  9. Smart way to get what you need out of life..people will help as long as you ask and its for an good cause..everyone can pitch in $5 and make life that much easier..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  10. Steven Papas says:

    That was a great story, Eric, and a bright example of how much the community you create can help you achieve things. It requires quality work, dedication and consistency from the part of the blogger of course. I am sure you have added a lot of value to them through time and you rip the fruits of your endeavors. Well done!

  11. Mahendra says:

    First part of story was motivating and great I liked it thanks

  12. Tim Woodbury says:

    Great article, Eric! In my day job, I’ve seen this concept applied with much success. Just look at how well both of the Humble Indie Bundle promotions have done ( $1,273,613 and $1,825,243.75, respectively). I don’t know that “pay what you want” is going to be an enduring model, but there’s certainly a lot of evidence that leveraging your community really works.

    Now my fledgling blog just needs to find a community. I’m sure that’s the easy part. Haha :P

  13. Lee Cole says:

    Excellent post. My daughter just started a “not-for-profit” charity website. This is exactly the kind of marketing info she needs. Thanks!

  14. Mary Rarick says:

    This is an exceptionally well-written post about how to “do it right.” The only thing I would add is a bullet point about how to respond if your request is denied.

    Last year I was hit up by one of my Twitter peeps with a very spammy request to fund his plane ticket to BlogWorld. After much consideration, I politely declined. His ungracious response confirmed that I’d made the correct decision.

  15. Khakcarot says:

    Nice said ! Especially the “Have a donor list” ,people really like to have their name in places! (Mostly good places). Cheers!

  16. Drew McManus says:

    Great advice, especially #10. That’s precisely what our foundation did on our latest program services trip to Nepal. We set up a microsite with a blog to serve as a trip diary and had several members of the team contribute (the URL is above, linked to my name). It did a wonderful job at building awareness and serves as a useful internal resource material for the foundation when writing about the trip and editing video footage.

  17. Karen Swim says:

    Thank you so much Eric for sharing your story! In addition to the excellent tips, it inspires on many levels. I am inspired by your passion for what you do, and encouraged that when you are transparent and honest people will step up to help you meet your goals. Sometimes in this big digital world, we can feel lost and alone but true connections are possible. Congratulations on your success!

  18. Great Advice !! Thank you so much Eric for sharing your story!

  19. http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2010/09/help-me-achieve-my-dream-of-leading-a-street-photography-workshop-in-beirut-lebanon/

    This is the post peaple saw when they donated [If it helps anyone copy his success :) ]

  20. Mario says:

    Great advice, this is exactly the kind of marketing info I need. Thanks

  21. It is good when you have a cause that make other people offer you money expecting nothing in return. But I do not think that placing ads on your blog is a “sell out to the man”. Bloggers as anyone else need to make a living, and blogging can be a full time job, especially if a person puts a lot of heart in writing his articles. As long as a person writes something other people enjoy reading, I do not see anything wrong with charging advertisers for your time and effort.

  22. I agree with point no 9.

  23. A great lesson on the power of community. Often really good bloggers will form friendships with readers and vice versa. Reaching out to your community getting such great response has to mean that you have such a great relationship with your readers.

  24. Well, that’s a job well done!. If its really for a good cause people around you will feel the positive vibe. But for the spammers and those who are really just trying to make money out of other people’s hard work, the community will feel it too.I Good luck!

  25. Stuart says:

    The power of networking, and the power of community, are things that should never be underestimated. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with the force of society supporting you.

  26. zoop says:

    wow thats amazing!!!

    Congrats on raising the money and I do believe that if you have a big enough following and make an impact in peoples lives then you can make a difference!

    great job and congrats on the round trip ticket

  27. Katie Cole says:

    Great tips, but unfortunately using social media platforms is out for me, since I’m only twelve years old.

  28. awesome post. very touching and great advise.

  29. I’m struggling with the difference between using kickstarter and raising money directly on my site.

    I’m trying to raise money for this novel I am writing, I notice that kickstarter doesn’t let you use the money to fund your cost of living, but it seems sort of counterproductive to me, you know. Isn’t the point to help struggling artists make money from their art?

    Accountants get paid, lawyers get paid, doctors get paid, and still in the 21st Century we still have artists who work hard but can’t afford a decent living?

    I wonder if I should just do a direct donation on my site, but then I wonder if anyone would care to donate to a single artistic project. I don’t know, do you think people would be up for it?

  30. zahnarzt says:

    another reason for which guys might donate a big amount is that they might get free publicity after that and even a backlink :), as it happened with Thomas Leuthard. He donated 800 dollars and for that maybe he get a couple of thousands visits from this post ;)

  31. kumar says:

    very inspiring and true :)

  32. Congrats on raising the money and I do believe that if you have a big enough following and make an impact in peoples lives then you can make a difference!

    great job and congrats on the round trip ticket

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