April 26, 2011

I raised $1,500 in one week for a good cause & so can you.

2,500 years ago, it was the practice of the lay congregation to support monks through donations of food and clothing. Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each morning in the practice of begging for their daily food. Each day’s offering was received with thanks regardless of its nature or size. In this way the Buddha encouraged simplicity, the generosity of both giving and receiving, and undiscriminating appreciation.

We continue this begging practice by raising support for our work by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a necklace. Each bead represents a person who supports that member’s vision and work, and the entire mala represents the Member’s community of support.

This is a practice of giving and receiving. By asking for support from family, friends, and associates, we acknowledge that as individuals, we are limited in what we can do. We depend on the generosity of others to increase our membership, train more peacemakers, and develop and support more programs. This is one more way in which we bear witness in the interdependence of life… read more under the ‘mala’ tab on the Zen Peacemakers website.

I raised $1,500 in one week to attend the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat last year through mala practice.  Here is how I did it. (Learn more about attending the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat next Fall.)

Step One: Create a Landing Page

The first thing I did was create a blog post that explained why I wanted to participate in the retreat and why people should support me.  I set up a ChipIn widget, linked to my paypal account.

For those who do not know how to create a web page, many people simply write letters and send them to others.  Another approach is if the organization receiving the donation has a social fundraising page set up.  Here is an example from a friend of mine raising money for training.  The challenge with this is that if the receiving organization doesn’t set this up, you can’t do it.  Here are some excerpts from my landing page:

Why should you support me? (Here’s 10 reasons)

10. Join me: I will take you on the journey with me by naming a bead after you on a ‘mala,’ or prayer bracelet, that I will create and bring with me on the retreat. A $300 contribution will be represented by a large bead and a $50 contribution will be represented by a small bead.

9. Spiritual Practice: Donation is a spiritual practice for both giver and receiver. As far back as the time of the Buddha, it was the practice of lay congregations to support monks through don

ations of food and clothing. There are parallels in most traditions… read the full appeal.

Step Two: Send an E-mail

(a personalized one)

After creating the page, I made a list of p

eople and sent them a brief message directing their attention to the landing page.  I reused some basic content while crafting an individualized opening line for each person.

Step Three: Send out more E-mails (heart-felt ones)

Sometimes, I sent about 3 e-mails to an individual in one week, each one having something new to say.  For example, I let them know about new blog posts about my previous tr

ip and also how far along I was in the process.

See an example of success below.  The first messages was targeted to one friend.  After getting no response, the next message was sent three days later.  Another two days later, I sent the final message, after which I finally got a reply.  He contributed $108.

Hey man,
I miss you as always.  Want to chip in for my mala to participate in this November’s retreat?  Here is the first of a series of articles I wrote about my last experience and here is a page that explains why people should support me and how they could do so.


I’m writing to follow up on my progress getting to Auschwitz to serve on staff working with young adults in November.  Please check out the 2nd article I wrote at the Elephant Journal.  Please read, comment and share it with others.  Since I made my initial appeal, I’ve raise about $200, which is about 1/5 of what I need to get the plane ticket.  Please check out my appeal and consider becoming a part of my trip.  I need to buy my ticket soon, before prices go up.  By clicking on the following URL, you can make a credit card contribution or read directions for other methods of giving: http://unforgettabletree.blogspot.com/2010/10/support-my-participation-in-auschwitz.html


Have you read my appeal to participate in visiting Auschwitz with Jewish and Muslim young adults next November?  I would like to share a message with you from a $10 donor who means just as much to me as the $100 donors:

“You do not know me, but I just received an email from my uncle Ike that explained your need for your trip.  Though I am a Christian and do not share in your religious beliefs, I did make a small donation as I support your efforts and the humanitarian work that you are doing.  I hope that you raise enough money to cover your expenses and I will be praying for safe travels for all of you as you make your way to Poland and back.”

This process is about getting diverse groups involved and creating peace.  While I’ve raise $482 in the last week, ticket prices have gone up since last week to $930.  Please click the following link or share it with others in order to help me purchase my plane ticket before ticket prices move up further: http://unforgettabletree.blogspot.com/2010/10/support-my-participation-in-auschwitz.html



In the end, I raised enough to cover my plane fair and tuition.  It proved to be a very powerful experience.

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