I’m currently fundraising for PAPYRUS with my mum. We’re going on a Hope Walk at the end of the month which aims to raise money for the charity and awareness of suicide prevention. I would link you guys to our JustGiving page if I wasn’t trying so damn hard to keep this blog anonymous.
Planning out this walk thing has been a bit of a revelation in several ways. Firstly, I’m pretty sure that mum had no idea what she was getting into. She just wanted an excuse to go on a nice walk and raising money for a cause as worthy as this seemed like a good one. She didn’t expect to receive an extensive info pack including (amongst other things) instructions on how to set up a donation page for the walk and which hashtags to use. I, however, follow at least 2 charities on twitter, have made a few half-hearted attempts at fundraising before, and have done enough volunteering with non-profits/charities in the past to have a basic idea of how this should work. You must:
- Tell everyone about it – stick the link to your fundraising page EVERYWHERE. Put it in group chats, bring it up at work and home, and spread it across your social media accounts. You’re most likely to get donations from people you know so you’ve got to make the most of your personal networks as well as the ether of the internet!
- Add regular updates – people like to see progression. This reminds them what their donation is going towards and is also a good excuse to frequently remind people of your fundraiser’s existence.
- Personalise it – every cause has a story behind it. What’s your story? Why are you doing this thing? Why should people want to invest in your journey?
- Use the power of synergy – get other people to spread the word for you. From the more cynical standpoint, it makes both of you look good to whoever’s watching your social media. Besides, it’s simply good networking. If you use specific hashtags in social media posts you’ll get more views from people invested in those specific issues. It’s basic SEO principles operating at their finest. If they retweet or like your thing then their followers will see it too, and so on (I keep referencing twitter because I’m probably most familiar with its workings compared to other social media channels). Tag the charity you’re fundraising for in your post; maybe even ask a sympathetic celeb for a retweet if you’re feeling lucky. Lure people in with the story of your fundraising (why they should care) and a direct link to how they can help!
So far we’re doing better than I thought we would be in terms of fundraising. I think it’s because mum and I can tap into more social groups than I’ve been able to in the past, as we’re doing the walk together. Also it took me several years to accrue both my current mixture of social media accounts and know-how.
We started off with a £500 target which mum lowered to £100 after looking at other fundraising profiles. When I saw that we’d got £60 out of a mere 4 people after only a few shares, I suggested that we raise our target and mum put it back up to £500. I don’t think we’ll hit £500, but the least we can do is try. I’m going to experiment with sticking a donate button on the landing page of my portfolio website tomorrow.
I’m doing all I can with the social media. Dad’s shared the fundraising page link, one of my cousins has shared it, I’ve been getting likes on Instagram, and have a had a retweet on my public twitter. Today I did a photo shoot of mum and I wearing a PAPYRUS top, added an update to the fundraiser page about exploring our PAPYRUS goodie box, and started to craft a plan of action for drip feeding our progress updates onto the fundraising page and elsewhere. I need to get mum to tweet about it and put the link in her work WhatsApp chat.
Revelation one was that I apparently know a lot about social media strategy for fundraising. Revelation two was a bit more frustrating.
The hashtag we’re generally encouraged to use for the Hope Walk is #smashthestigma, and I feel like we’re being weirdly hypocritical with our use of it. In our fundraising page profile we say we’re doing this in aid of a family member who committed suicide 4 years ago. We don’t mention his name or how old he was or really say anything about him, because mum was nervous about bringing it up with the relevant family members.
Personal stories feel more personal when there’s a person attached to them, but we keep navigating around that part of things. I know that mum went through a bit of suicidal ideation during her time at uni but that’s gone unmentioned, my brother has carefully not told our parents about his self-harming behaviours, and I had CBT earlier this year but still haven’t felt able to mention it to the parents (don’t worry, I know I can be kind of morbid but I’ve never been suicidal). I just feel like we’re not practising what we preach. It’s all very well saying #smashthestigma when it comes to mental health, but I don’t think my family is actually doing it.
Of course, personal stories are difficult to tell. Directly addressing the elephant in the room can feel incredibly daunting; that’s probably why I fess up so much on here where most of my readers don’t know me personally. I’m not brave enough to say some things out loud.
I’m probably over thinking it though. It doesn’t really matter whether my parents know that I’ve had therapy or not. It would provide some extra context to “Semester 1 was stressful” and might possibly lower the chances of dad upsetting me with a tactless RSI comment, but it’s not like those would be huge changes. Them not knowing about my brother’s self-harm makes me more nervous, but that story is not mine to tell (I honestly don’t know how much help our parents would be with it anyway. Guess you never know until you find out).
At the end of the day, we’re raising money for a good cause. PAPYRUS’ helpline helps to bridge the gap between realising something’s off and offing yourself, to put it crudely. Everyone deserves to have that support readily available to them when they need it.