Leadership forums and other similar educational conferences are often the hardest things to fundraise for, as the fundraiser (the applicant/delegate) usually isn’t a “trusted charity”, just a humble person, and therefore isn’t quite as trusted. It’s particularly hard when it’s an event with a big cost that needs to be cleared quickly. I have tried to fundraise multiple times for such experiences (not just this KaosPilots thing!) and I’ve not been successful.

I would like to invite all of you to visit Solidariti, an Australian blog dedicated to non-profits and social enterprise. Priscilla, the writer, has been accepted into the Benevolent Society‘s Sydney Leadership Forum, and needs at least $1000 to secure her place in the forum. She has about $180 so far and I’ve contributed $5.

To donate, go to her post on the event or just her blog in general and click on the ChipIn widget on the right column.

As for me: I’ve thought about it, and have actually received an offer from a friend (hey See Ming!), but it feels a bit weird. Mainly because:

  • It hasn’t worked well in the past, or becomes messy. To fundraise for the UN Youth Assembly last year, I set up a challenge to donate whatever I got to UNICEF Malaysia if I didn’t get my goal of $2300. I only raised $60. I sent that $60 to UNICEF Malaysia, which was a long complicated mess of Western Union fees and money transfers and post. I still don’t know if they received my money.
  • PayPal fees can eat up money – if it’s from another PayPal user, that’s fine, but most of my friends have credit cards but no PayPal. Bank transfers are an option, but that might eat up into the funds of anyone sending money internationally.
  • It feels weird to ask people I know for money, especially when I’m not in poverty (hell, as far as Malaysia is concerned I’m “rich”). This is mostly the result of my dad telling me “Don’t accept money from your friends! It’s shameful!” because it does give the impression that I’m begging and that my parents don’t want to support me at all. While this is a personal non-family-funded venture (out of both circumstance and personal choice), I can see how that reflects badly in Malaysian culture.

Personally I’d feel a lot better if I had something to offer or sell in exchange for money. Daniel and I are working on an entrepreneur e-book which would be a great way to go if we succeed. I’m also trying to think of other things I could sell, though it seems that I am much better at curating and selecting things for people than I am at actually making them. (Hey, does anyone need a personal gift shopper?) That said, this is what the ING Direct account was for, and when you are in a tight situation you simply can’t look gift horses in their mouths.

I am also thinking of throwing a party in Brisbane, as the people I know are big partiers and that could be a great source for fundraising. One of my friends actually holds parties as fundraisers for her uni club; perhaps I should ask her.

How else have people successfully fundraised for a personal venture such as a leadership course or youth forum? How do you not come off as an online beggar?