A Sponsorship Tool for CollegiatePrenuers
This past February, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. But before I even get to the opportunity, let’s rewind back to New Years eve and why this opportunity was so significant to me.
It was New Years eve and my best friend (and venture partner) and I were discussing goals that we will be holding each other responsible for in 2016. Our only goal was to travel and experience more. I’m in college, and based on the English language, there are 2 E’s in the name, and I don’t think that is by coincidence. In order thrive as a college student and graduate, you need two things: Education AND Experience.They go hand in hand in every aspect of college and the success stories of those who are thriving after graduating. So, one of our goals was to find a way to make it to the world-renowned SXSW festival and conference. Ticket prices were near $400 in January and we were scavenging through AirBnb postings to see if there were any potential openings. Push came to shove and reality that we’d actually make it to SXSW slowly dwindled away.
Fast forward to late February, after participating as a panelist in the CIAA Entrepreneurial Breakfast and Panel discussion, I received a phone call at 10:36am the following morning about an opportunity to attend the festival FOR FREE. Could this be REAL?! The only catch was I had to provide my own transportation to/from and lodging in Austin, TX. Only problem with that was, the way those airline tickets and hotel prices were set up? SXSW certainly was not catering to a college student’s budget. But what’s a collegiatepreneur to do?! The correct answer is: Turn their grind on, get to hustlin’, and find a way out of no way because that’s what we do.
Which brings me to my journey and guide in how I attended SXSW, thanks to GoFundMe.
I knew that in order for my outcome to succeed, I needed a game plan. A game plan that I could do analog as well digital, that way I left no stone unturned in finding actual donors.
Which leads me to my 5 steps in successfully reaching my goal:
- Add-Up Expenses
- Divide Your Ask
- List Possible Donors
- Share Your Campaign
Have you ever asked for money from your parents as a kid (or now, no judgment) and your plan takes a major plot twist when they ask “How much?”. You spent a majority of your time figuring how to ask them without knowing how much you want and/or need to ask them for. If you don’t know the amount you want/need, then your plan has failed miserably before it ever had then chance to succeed. The simplest and most common sense way to figure that out is to add up how much you will NEED first, then trickle in a suggested amount that can cover any additional wants. Because my badge for SXSW was already handled, that relieved me of $1500 extra that I did not have to worry about.
Example: My needed expenses were:
- airline tickets >$1100
- baggage fees** to/from >$50
- airport food (in case for possible and likely layover flight(s)) <$50
- transportation to/from airport (via Uber or Lyft) <$50
- transportation throughout the festival (via Uber or Lyft) >$100
- Hotel for 3 nights >$900
- Food >$200
- In case of Emergency >$100
- Miscellaneous/Wants < Varies
and the rate for 3 nights in Austin would cost me. I also knew that the costs would be inflate significantly because of how large the conference was (SN: Hotel rates are RIDICULOUSLY high in Downtown and close surrounding areas during SXSW). So as a total, I needed $2,550. Because I would be going overseas afterwards, I added $500 in my wants (half for Austin, half for overseas).
Divide Your Ask
Once you’ve added-up your needed & wanted expenses, do NOT get overwhelmed. Just breathe. It’s time to face the giant. You want to now strategically divide your ask. The best way to trick your mind into making the work is breaking it down in smaller increments. So instead of raising money for $3000, you can break it down into three (3) or separate asks for your needs for different amounts.
1) 10 people to donate $100 | 10 * $100 = $1000
2) 20 people to donate $50 | 20 * $50 = $1000
3) 25 people to donate $20 | 25 * $25 = $500
4) 50 people to donate $10 (or less) | 50 * $10 = $500
Total: 105 people to raise $3000
List Possible Donors
I’ve been fortunate to grown up with parents and grandparents who are not only well-known in their line of work, but have always exposed me to their networks as well. So from a very young childhood to present, I’ve kept in touch and kept good graces with my parents, grandparents, family members, and their friends. Whether I physically know 105 people or not, I know that I may only know 10 people, and if they know 10 people who know 10 people, I now have a reach of at least 210 people and I only need half to reach my goal (Don’t worry, I took care of the math for you).
Example: I broke it down into relationship-status giving.
- Couples: Couples typically do their giving together or discuss their finances, thereby more likely to agree to a $100 donation or $50.
- Strong Relationship Individuals: If they are a mentor or I have developed a strong relationship with such person(s), they will be willing to give $50 or $100
- Recommended/General/Others:This category’s giving varies on whether someone in above categories reaches out to their network and those within it give, general people that you may know or strangers that may click just to support
In my opinion, this is the MOST important part of this entire process that you need to understand for yourself as well as for your potential donors.
Why is this important? Why is this important to YOU? Why is this important to THEM? Why does it matter? Why do you need the money? What do your potential donors get out of it? What is this experience’s Value Proposition? What will do you do with this?
Answering these questions are crucial to you because it allows you to understand fully what it is you want to do as well as why it’s important to you. As a college student, it’s important to understand your worth especially as it relates to your passion and your future. Anyone who wants the best for you will contribute to it whether in a tangible or intangible way. You are investing in yourself and in your future. You need to know how to communicate that efficiently.
The best way to communicate that is through a video. Words are always nice, but let’s be honest, not a lot of people want to read a novel and the average person’s online attention span is quite sad (Shoutout to you for staying with me this long; we’re almost finished, I promise!) Make sure you hit your five W’s:
- WHO you are (Name, Major, Status, College)
- WHAT you’re raising money for
- WHEN the timespan of your fundraiser is
- WHEREthe event is
- WHY this is important and beneficial to you
- HOW they can assist you (monetarily and support-wise)
You also want to ensure that you use Recent, professional and clear photographs as well. The last thing you want to use are obvious selfies or an unclear or shaky video. So either grab a tripod or ask close friend/relative to record you in a well-lit room with either bright lights or natural lighting outside and in a quite area where noise will not interrupt your video. The more professional and clean the video, the absolute better response you’ll get which means more MONEY!
SHARE Your Campaign
Although your GoFundMe is online and we live in a digital world, I stand by the motion that Analog is best when it comes to relationships. There is nothing quite like a visit, personal phone call or handwritten letter from someone. It gives a more personable touch to your ask as well as gives the other person the ability to hear the passion in your voice when talking about whatever it is you’re trying to raise the money for.
For social media, you have to connect your GoFundMe to your Facebook account in order for your fundraiser to be pull up in their search database, so you want to utilize their Facebook tools in sharing your campaign. Have your friends and family share the link as well. For your professional network, you can even opt to share it with your LinkedIn community especially since LinkedIn has their new app specifically for college students. Twitter is the same, just make sure to push it towards people who can relate or are in a similar field and understand whatever it is you’re wishing is to do is an mutual passion. People will either invest in YOU, a mutual cause, or both. Be both.
Well then, now is where you get your answer on whether or not I reached my campaign goal. YES. I received funds outside of GoFundMe from direct deposits to direct coverage of my airfare and hotel to even physical checks which added up to a total of $2,985. I was humbled to realize how many people believed in me and wanted to see me prosper in such a great opportunity. You will be surprised at not only who’s watching but is waiting to see you flourish, rise, and succeed in all that you put your mind into.
Summer is coming up which means it’s perfect time to start raising funds and saving money for all the great events and conferences coming up in the fall. Experience is necessary in our journey for higher education. Make the most of it because your network can reflect your potential net worth. Keep your head up, in the books, and focused on your passion.
What conferences or summits do you want to attend? How will you market yourself, your passion, and your story? Have you raised money for such an occasion? Let me know and share all the details!
Megan D. McLean
Follow me on Twitter @MeganDeniece_