Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 4, 2014

Lessons learned raising money

Kokomo Tribune

---- — I took pies to the face, begged my family and friends and tested my baking skills to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association last month and still came up short.

Lesson of the week: Asking for money is hard to do, even when it’s for charity.

A month ago a woman called to tell me I was going to jail for having a big heart. To get out of the slammer, I had to post my $3,000 bail, all of which would go toward muscular dystrophy research.

In that moment, it seemed like an overwhelming task, but I was confident I could find a way to collect the funds.

Then life intervened.

I got busy at work. My cousin wrecked his 4-wheeler and landed in the hospital. My focus drifted away from my fundraising efforts.

Before I knew it, I had only two weeks to make bail. I started brainstorming ways to make some quick cash (legal ways, of course).

The only thing I could come up with was a pie-in-the face fundraiser.

So my fellow jailbird, Lindsey Fisher, organized one for us at WWKI.

It was quite a deal.

For any donation at all, you could smear plates full of whipped cream in both of our faces and get your name on the air.

Some donated a buck. One guy gave $50. That was a real steal because he didn’t even want to smash a pie in our face. His target was another radio personality at WWKI, who graciously obliged.

There was also the guy who donated $20. Lindsay Fisher was so sure he was a friend of hers that she said so on air. Then she realized she’d never met they guy a day in her life. We all had a good laugh. To be fair, she had whipped cream covering her eyeballs when she said that.

I left the station that day looking like I stood under a flock of birds who all pooed at once. Little white splotches covered my black shirt. I had white in my hair, on my forehead, under my chin and in the corners of my eyes.

But I was $60 closer to my goal.

Unfortunately, I still had a long way to go and was getting desperate… so desperate that I agreed to host a bake sale at work.

My co-workers love to eat, but I don’t love to bake.

I stayed up until midnight one day baking cookies, cereal bars and puppy chow.

I ruined the first batch of cereal bars by adding the peanut butter to the sugar and corn syrup before those two were boiling.

I ended up with a thick, sticky, syrupy mess that had to be thrown away.

Then I lost half my batch of puppy chow, or muddy buddies if that’s what folks up here call them. How I messed up such a simple dessert is beyond me. All you have to do is scoop, melt and shake basically.

I messed up somewhere between melting and shaking.

My co-workers didn’t seem to notice. They ate the treats and donated another $120 to my cause.

The more likely story, though, is they tasted the treats and felt so bad that I worked so hard to bake such mediocre desserts that they gave me all the cash in their pockets, so I wouldn’t have to hold another bake sale.

I’m going with that. So it’s either really sad or a brilliant strategy.

I managed to raise another $310 by harassing family members and opening my own pocketbook. And on the second-to-last day of the fundraiser, The Social Experience donated $250 to my cause, a very nice surprise.

In the end, I managed to donate $758.87 to MDA. It was short of my goal, but at least it was something.

The moral of the story is to start your fundraising more than two weeks ahead of time, and plan fundraisers that play to your strengths and don’t leave you with messed up puppy chow.

So by next year, I need to figure out how I can make money writing, or find the nearest cooking class.

— Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] editor/ bad at fundraising