My fundraising process: The early days

No one can prepare you fully (emotionally and mentally) on how it’s going to be or how you are going to feel once you start. This is a story of my fundraising process for Uganda Rural Development and Training (URDT) girls’ school in Kibale that started in 2000. URDT Girls’ school uses the 2-generation approach where students and their parents learn together, analyze their current situation, apply systems thinking, learn new skills and develop a shared vision for their home.

Last year I received a donation letter from a close friend and working partner to my father in URDT projects. She approached me with her request because the school was facing budget cuts. She wanted me to help out in any way I could. I was not entirely sure what to do. I tried one or two funds that I thought we could apply to, but I still have not heard back.

Something else came to my mind immediately though– ‘Contact Oprah’.

I remember I was in my office, right next to my workmate and I told him about URDT. I was not sure I should talk about it as my father’s work yet because I was afraid he might think of it as a family business (It is not). So I simply talked about URDT as an organization working to advance women’s education in Uganda. I also told him, I wanted to contact Oprah and hopefully she would contribute. At that point I focused on getting in touch with the big fish. I googled, Facebooked and looked everywhere for her contact so that I could forward the letter and the girls’ school brochure. I wanted it to be quick and I wanted my fundraiser to raise the money quickly but all in vain. I could not get her direct contact.

I have not stopped imagining what it would be like to appear on her show or meet her and tell her all about this work. I know it’s the kind of work she would love to hear about but reaching her has not happened. I also googled a number of celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Ellen DeGeneres to find out how they could hear about the girls’ school, and figure out how to get them to contribute but finding celebrity addresses is one of the hardest things to do.

I later redirected my energy because for one, I was using a narrow route to getting the word out there. I was focusing on 1, 2 or 3 individuals that I could not even contact.

I spent so much time thinking about how I could get a big contribution in a short time but that has its limitations, as regards awareness. When I read more about URDT work, I realized it’s something I wanted the whole world to know about and contribute to. Not just Oprah or Ellen, but the whole world. It is special work and it would be nice if the big people contribute but I decided I wanted everyone to be a part of the effort.

I sat down to think about a way forward. I shared a little bit with a friend and I told him I wanted to create a fundraiser online. He gave me a link to youcaring.com and told me it was free and easy to use. I then began to gather information required. The space is limited for telling the entire story on the website but I got as much information down as possible. I completed it in no time and it was ready to go.

But suddenly I was afraid to have the word out there.

Not because it’s not worth it but because I was afraid to ask for money. I was afraid to not raise the amount I had set for my goal. I was afraid of asking people twice or not having them listen to the cause. I kept the fundraiser on hold for over a month as I talked to myself into starting. I know I always tell myself, that if you do not try- then you will never know.

So at the end of February, I set out to contact my Facebook friends and asked them to donate and help in any way they could. Of course, for some it had been years since we talked but I held my breath and decided it was not about me anymore. It was about the girls. I wanted to support their education.

I am hoping for the best.

Nshunge is fundraising to help buy a school truck for URDT Girls School in Kibale district. She will be sharing her progress and her learning process here every Thursday and hopes that it will be helpful for other Ugandan women who are running-or thinking about running- fundraiser campaigns. 

You can donate to her campaign here or copy this URL http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/urdt-girls-school-shining-hope-for-rural-transformation/135653 in your browser. 

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