I decided to build this website for two reasons:
1. To test out the new Weebly website editor. As some of you may know, I have been on a mission to code and make websites, starting with code-free WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builders and now with real code.
2. To document my fundraising efforts and to keep everyone else updated with the latest news.
This is an exciting project not only because it's something I've always wanted to do, but because it gives me the opportunity to try out many social media marketing tactics that I've been dying to try.
Building a school has been something I've always wanted to do. I've never done it before because I had not found the right partner to do it with and it's also a scary commitment. What if I don't raise enough funds. What if no one contributes to my campaign.
When I heard about Pencils of Promise from the Bain alumni newsletter, I went to it website and I fell in love with PoP. Pencils of Promise is data-driven, results-driven, for purpose for profit rather than non-profit, and focused on creating sustainable, long-term results. These are all core Bain principles so it's not surprising that the founder Adam Braun was an ex-Bainee.
I have no doubt that this is the right organisation for me to support. But it's not just me. PoP has many amazing partners who have built schools with it. This includes Motley Fool (UK) who's Foolanthrophy Holiday Drive campaign raised enough money to build 5 schools, Chegg, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Google, Warby Parker (Bain alum), Microsoft, Birchbox (Bain alum), Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Scotch, General Assembly, Delta Airlines, British Airways, Hewlett Packard, and many more. See the full list here
In fact, Pencils of Promise breaks ground on a new school every 90 hours.
I was further enthralled when I read about PoP's experiments with Sugata Mitra and Laos is one of my favourite countries in South East Asia.
This blog documents:
1. Website modifications: The next post has a full review of the new Weebly editor. Any modifications or add-on apps are also documented in subsequent posts.
2. My social media marketing campaign - This includes:
3. Updates to my fundraising campaign
To subscribe to my newsletter: please go to http://deb.bi/PoPNewsletter.
Thank you to those who have supported, and for all the new visitors, please feel free to look around, leave a message (and hopefully a donation).
I've been struggling to think of how I can get people outside of my network to contribute to this campaign. Asking friends is easy enough and I'm extremely fortunate to have kind and generous friends who have all been extremely supportive of this campaign.
However, besides raising the US$25,000, a true test of my ability to crowdfund, influence people, motivate strangers is how much I can raise outside of my immediate network.
One of the ideas that I've come up with is a simple one - one that does not require any effort (except to send an email / message that I will draft for you).
All you need to do is to reach out to your own network (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email), and offer to match dollar for dollar any funds they donate up to the amount that you were prepared to commit in the first place.
To keep things simple, what I suggest is that you email 5-10 of your closest friends, and ask them to donate $Y (where $Y = $ of your donation / # friends).
Not only will this double the amount raised, it will show the rest of the world how generous and magnanimous you are. :)
5 days into the campaign. So far, $3,530 raised from 16 supporters from 8 countries (added the counter in the Supporters page, though it's not mobile friendly).
Countries (in order of funds raised)
$3,530 in 5 days has exceeded my wildest expectations. Following Classy.Org's fundraising guide (which is brilliant btw), I made a spreadsheet of all my Facebook friends (>1K), Twitter followers (2K), LinkedIn connections (>1K), and calculated a low, base and high case. They suggest a 3% conversion rate. Even in my high case, I would only get to US$20,000 which means I would need to be able to tap outside of my network. I also gave myself 12 months to raise the US$25,000 but at this rate, maybe I need to set myself a more challenging goal. I clearly underestimated how generous my friends are.
Wharton is clearly missing - time for a reach out post. Need to hit my UK friends up as well.
In terms of social media channels, Facebook is clearly a winner, but that's where all my friends are so I'm not surprised. My Facebook page can be found on https://www.facebook.com/debbiediscoversPoP
Am hopeful about Twitter - I have had some success with Twitter to date. I grew my Twitter following by more than 1,000 in 2 weeks, got Guy Kawasaki to reply to my Tweet (hah that's my claim to fame, you try getting him to reply to YOUR tweet) and my Twitter bot has been listed 570 times with 300 followers just by strategic, automated tweeting. I have lots of Twitter tricks that I've created to manage 9 Twitter accounts (all for fun) so have to figure out how I share my Twitter tricks to get attract more followers to this campaign.
My first Twitter ask was to tap on an old Twitter conversation about Warren Buffett that got good engagement. Using a Buffett quote "If you're the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the remaining 99%", I asked those who engaged on the tweet to visit my website and within 10 minutes, I had my first Twitter donor, Andrew Coppin, angel investor and venture capitalist from Sydney Australia! Thank you again Andrew!
LinkedIn is also definitely on the cards. Facebook and Twitter followers have virtually no overlap. With LinkedIn and Facebook, I estimate about 50% overlap so there are another ~500 contacts that I can tap on. Will need to write a good LinkedIn post.
My Instagram strategy is based on a webinar I attended with Foundr's CEO Nathan Chan last week. Nathan managed to grow his Instagram followers by 110 in 5 months, so definitely worth following his tips. I have my branded campaign hashtag (#debbiediscoversPoP), am maxing out on the hashtags in the comments portion and am following as many people as I can within the Instagram hourly limits. Not sure if I'll get any donations from Instagram. I also have a Tumblr page (mainly for my campaign gifs, but have some ideas about what else I can do with it).
Finally, my big day is coming up in 2 days! Am excited not because it's my birthday but because I can't wait to see how my campaign will do as a result. Let's see how it goes! Thanks everyone for the support to date, and stay tuned for more campaign updates!
This is a simple blog to track my fundraising activities and to keep family, friends and supporters updated on my progress.