Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lessons Learned from Fundraising

A couple weeks ago, I held a Justice Book Sale to raise money for International Justice Mission.  I have mentioned this event briefly in a few of my posts.  It was an idea I came up with in June after attending an IJM event and after four months or praying, planning and preparation, the event is now over.  We ended up raising over $1,800 to provide aftercare to rescued victims of forced labour and sex trafficking in India.

For any readers I may have that don't know me personally, here is a quick overview of what I did.  I came up with the idea of doing a community used book sale involving multiple local churches.  I contacted churches in the area asking if they would help collect quality used book donations that would be combined for the event, open to the whole community.  About half of the ones I contacted agreed to this and we ended up having well over 2,000 items for sale, along with baked goods provided by family and friends.

This event required a lot of planning and work to get to the day.  There were times of waiting for churches to respond.  Then there was keeping up with communication in the midst of a busy work schedule and getting all the donations collected, sorted and priced!  I was very thankful for some awesome friends who helped me with that task.  The last couple weeks before the sale were kind of crazy.  The day of the sale, we had all the books set out on tables in a school gymnasium, a small bake sale, as well as a speaker giving two presentations on IJM's work.

Having never done anything like this before, I didn't know what to expect.  I knew that I would likely be disappointed to some degree, but with so many people knowing about the event, I had set my expectations quite high.  The event went well and considering the turnout, we raised a fair amount and IJM was pleased. But I did not get the turnout I had hoped for.  I ended up feeling let down by people.  I was also very tired from all the work I had been putting into this over the weeks prior to the event.  Needless to say, the day after, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

So what did I learn from all this?  I think the most important point was that it was still worth it.  Despite all my tiring efforts, the amount of time and money I invested and being a little let down by the results, it was still worth it.  The men, women, and children in India who have been hurt beyond what we can imagine were worth it.  Being able to do a small part in helping them heal and rebuild their lives was worth it.

Secondly, I learned we have to be faithful even when we aren't guaranteed results.  I put on this event for a number of reasons.  I did it to raise money for IJM, to raise awareness of injustice around the world in the churches involved, to give of myself to make a difference in the world, and because I felt God was guiding me to do so.  I didn't know the outcome.  Just because I was pouring myself into this, didn't mean everyone else would join in with equal enthusiasm, although that would have been nice.  It didn't mean people would come in droves and empty their pockets.  But I had to be faithful, I had to give of myself, even if I wasn't guaranteed a huge success.

Lastly, I learned a lot that can be used in the future.  I learned what seemed to work well. I learned what didn't work well.  Although I may not do an event like this again, if I do another fundraiser in the future, I still have learned some valuable things of what to keep doing and what to approach differently.  I will have done this before and will have some experience to draw from. 

What I really want my readers to get from it is this: Do what you have been called to do, even if you aren't guaranteed results.  Do hard things, do things that are right, use (or sacrifice) your time and talents to be a voice and to make a meaningful impact.  Whether that's raising money for the cause of justice, speaking for unborn children, those in poverty or something else, take a risk and do something.  It won't be easy, you might end up a little disappointed and sometimes people will let you down.  But in the end, I hope you will be able to say that you were faithful and that it was worth it.