August 20, 2010

Illiteracy Isn’t Sexy

As the development gal here, I’ve come to the realization that illiteracy isn’t sexy.  What I mean by that is that people don’t get too attached or moved when they hear about the issue of illiteracy.  While I could spout off numbers about the hundreds of thousands of people [in the Austin area alone] that need literacy services, the average person probably wouldn’t feel deeply moved.  For a development person, this is tough!  How do you get people excited about your cause?

Here’s the route I’m taking – I’m making the stories personal.  When I talk about the Literacy Coalition, I make sure to mention the lives that we positively affect, not just the programs we offer.  Doesn’t everyone know someone who struggled in school?  Wouldn’t you be horrified to hear a story about a little girl almost overdosing on a prescription, simply because her parent couldn’t comprehend the directions on the prescription label?  There are moving stories for every issue.  People out there are passionate about many things!  For example, the reason an organization like Susan G. Komen For The Cure is so popular is because probably everyone involved knew or knows someone with breast cancer or had breast cancer themselves.  {Lightbulb!}  Make your issue personal!  We weren’t all made to have a deep passion about the same issues – different people care about different things; and it’s my job as a development staff person to find those who do care and appeal to their innate need to help others.  Even though it's tough, I'm up for the challenge!

Now I want your opinions! Have any of you out there tried to raise money for a cause that wasn’t a trendy, attractive cause? How did you raise the money? What tactics did you use to draw in folks that are passionate about your cause?

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