5 Ways to Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Without Throwing Your Avatar in my Face

Once upon a time, when you wanted to raise some funds for a good cause you would ask your friends, neighbours and your local community. Nowadays when you raise funds, thanks to social media there’s a chance that anybody, anywhere might notice that you are raising funds. Which raises the question of whether or not you are raising funds to be seen raising funds.

It takes me back to a childhood memory of fame and the less fortunate. Every year when the annual Christmas Children’s Hosptal Appeal was on TV, my father would ring up and donate a small amount of money in our names. And every year we would eat lolly gobble bliss bombs and sit through the bad variety acts, watching the fundraising tally rise higher and higher.

Image originally uploaded by Hellebardius

We watched that screen very, very closely because at some point, one of our names would be read out or displayed on telly “Thanks Jasmin for donating 50 cents” (hey, that was a lot of money to a kid in the 70’s!)  To us it may have been three seconds of fame, but we also realised we had made a difference to sick children, along with thousands of others. It all added up.

Recently Darren Rowse aka Problogger shared a dilemma on Twitter about the issue of public vs private giving . He stated that bloggers are in a position to help others in situations,  like the current devastating situation in Haiti.  However this could create an appearance of “being seen” to be helping. He shared on this occasion, he would be following his heart. A sentiment echoed by many others in response.

I’m not sure there is any right or wrong in using your influence to blog about a good cause. So how do you wear your heart on your sleeve, without shoving your avatar around in the faces of ….well, anyone and everyone.

Here are some of my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.

  1. Relax – It’s OK when I know where you’re coming from.
    After all, it’s for a good cause, isn’t it? If I feel like I know you, if I trust you and believe you have integrity and credibility, it won’t bother me when you blog about a cause. Not one bit. I might even donate more to you than the guy who just knocked on my door (seriously, somebody just came around doorknocking for Epilepsy.)
  2. Respect Your Community.
    Sure, use your influence to help somebody else get attention for a good cause. Just be respectful with your choice of words and the amount of resources  (time, skills, creativity, money etc) you may demand. T’aint what you do...
  3. Know Thyself.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”– Dr. Seuss. What is your definition of success? If you ended up raising funds but losing “followers” would it really matter to you? Why do you want to help out? What do you have to lose? What do you hope to gain?
  4. Be Part of Something. Contribute to a greater project. You don’t have to start your own fundraiser or creative challenge. Do a Twitter search or blog search. Find out what others are doing about the things that matter to you, and join them.
  5. Thank Someone. Thank Everyone.
    It should go without saying, but it’s very, very important. Remember to thank the people who help you out. Make a list if you have to, so you don’t forget.

What do you think? Have you had any positive or negative experiences using your blog to raise funds?

Update: some points from @JoannaYoung in the comments below included:

6) think about how you’re adding value (helping to raise awareness / spread the word as well as fundraise / donate)
7) keep the focus on easy ways other people can get involved and contribute… if they want to
8) bear in mind if it’s a major catastrophe your readers don’t need awareness raising… they might want to know simple ways to give

11 thoughts on “5 Ways to Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve Without Throwing Your Avatar in my Face

  1. Euan Semple

    It’s interesting isn’t it how even being moderately “public” by having a blog makes you so much more sensitive to motivation. You can tie yourself in knots as to whether you should be doing something or writing about it and why. You are right though that you just have to get on with it.

  2. J. Michael Thurman

    Stephen King writes it about his craft, but it works for everything: just tell the truth. Be yourself. Be human. Ask me to do the same: be the best of myself and the best of my humanity. Oh…and always be truthful about what I write, say, and do.

    Thanks for discussing this openly, and thanks to Darren Rowse for tweeting about it.


  3. Alex Blackwell

    Important and difficult question.

    My experience with using blogging to raise funds, or awareness of an issue, has been so-so. But I think this is the way it is naturally. Meaning, people are going to give, or not give, based on what their heart is calling them to do.

    While a blog can help with getting a particular message out and can make it convenient to give by providing links, it’s really up to the other person to click on a donation link, pull out their wallet and do something.

    With all this said, I will continue to promote worthy causes because that is what my heart is telling me to do.


  4. Beggars Belief

    Great post! I heartily agree re THANKING those who help you out! Everyone should remember how important this is whether using social media or not..whether fundraising…in everyday life…at work….yep everyone should remember! :-)

  5. Genesis

    Personally, I’ve never looked badly on bloggers fundraising. If you have a platform that can reach many people, why NOT use it for good? That being said, I don’t think people should make every other post a plea for money and they should definitely make sure that they are promoting a legit place to donate.

    I have done just two fundraisers and those were for very worthy causes and tailored to my audiences (two different blogs).

  6. Joanna Young

    Jasmin, thanks for exploring this issue. In general I have no problem with people fund-raising or raising attention for worthy causes, especially things that might not otherwise be high profile or well known. It’s a great way to get people thinking as well as giving.


    I have found some of the recent examples of bloggers talking about their donations to Haiti or offering to donate in return for purchases of services or books…. a bit hard to stomach. To me it has felt like jumping on a bandwagon and it’s left a bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t this a case where rather than loudly proclaiming you’re giving you’d just get on and give?

  7. wonderwebby

    Thanks for all your comments!
    @Euan I always appreciate your comments (and have enjoyed your more frequent blog posting this year). Yes, sometimes it’s a matter of just getting on with it.

    @Blogstarta well yes, a simple donation is just as important as helping to spread the word for a cause! I believe you need both. Not necessarily everyone has enough cash at the time of a cause to donate and publicity can help raise funds and awareness too.

    @J. Michael Thurman I like it! Is that from Steven King’s “On Writing? I really want to read it this year.

    @Alex agreed and I think it’s great you are following your heart to promote some worthwhile causes. I hope 2010 is inspiring and rewarding for you!

    @Beggar’s Belief Thank You ;)

    @Genesis yes it’s important to make sure you are promoting a legit place to donate. It’s also think it’s important that bloggers also make it simple to see what the funds are for. And non profits need to keep their messages clear and websites up to date so bloggers can help them :)

  8. wonderwebby

    hello lovely Joanna!
    Because I feel like I know you, even though I have never met you face to face, I really appreciate your observation. I know that you have helped me to raise funds for microfinance and that you are not likely to judge people who use a public platform to raise funds. So I find your comment to be a really interesting insight and observation.

    What would you add to to the above 5 points so that virtual interaction for a good cause doesn’t end up leaving a bitter taste with your friends?

    Perhaps it’s “don’t brag”. But I think if you thank people and respect your community, your tone will be one of gratitude and a shared heart for those in need whilst sharing the results of your fundraising efforts.

  9. Joanna Young

    Good question! Maybe 1) think about how you’re adding value (helping to raise awareness / spread the word as well as fundraise / donate) 2) keep the focus on easy ways other people can get involved and contribute… if they want to 3) bear in mind if it’s a major catastrophe your readers don’t need awareness raising… they might want to know simple ways to give (eg the posts some bloggers shared after the bush fires in Australia).

    I’ve tried to find positive versions of ‘don’t brag’ but couldn’t… Maybe it’s an idea to include a ‘watch you don’t brag’ check.

    Maybe it was just me – there was something about some of the posts that didn’t resonate with me. I think it was in part because it was linked to promotion of services – buy my services, buy this book and I’ll donate, how generous am I…

    Is this done in an expectation that demand for the services / book etc will continue beyond the donation… why not just make the donation quietly without a song and dance about it?

    It may be a cultural thing too – sometimes British / American approaches seem v different despite the common language.


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