Guest Post: Five Must-Haves for Online Fundraising Success

Almost every nonprofit organization has embraced the Internet to help spread awareness for their cause, gain supporters, and raise money through online donations. When looking at the online fundraising campaigns that achieve the greatest success, they seem to include five critical elements.

  1. Enhance Digital Efforts & Go Mobile
    People are spending a greater amount of time online each year. In fact, over 11 billion searches are conducted each month on Google alone. Just like any business with an online presence, your organization not only needs a website, but it should include some important elements: simple, clear messaging, easy navigation, and, with more than 80% of internet users also using a smart phone, mobile optimization is key. By using fundraising software, such as DoJiggy, you can easily build a mobile-optimized fundraising website to manage all details for your fundraising event including: registration & ticket sales, collecting online donations, progress tracking and reporting.
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  2. Pay More Attention to Social Media
    Today more than 55% of Americans have social media profiles presenting a unique opportunity for the non-profit sector. Social media gives nonprofits an easy way to reach out to their donors, build and nurture relationships, and communicate news and updates. Facebook and Twitter are staples in the non-profit world. But remember it’s not just being present…it’s engaging. Don’t just post about your own charity, but find other organizations doing similar things and help them spread the word – retweet, share their posts, and chances are they’ll return the favor. Don’t forget about other networks that are rapidly growing, like Instagram and Pinterest which give you a unique opportunity to share visual imagery and attract more people to your cause. LinkedIn and Google Plus are also great ways to connect with other communities and talk to your peers.

  3. Communication Tactics to Engage with Different Generations
    When thinking about communication efforts, be sure to consider how your message will reach different generations. Some older donors may prefer letters sent in the mail, email newsletter updates, or personal phone calls. Keep in mind that in just a few short years, Millennials will make up the largest portion of the workforce, thus controlling a large portion of funds, and therefore will be critical to your fundraising success.  This generation relies heavily on the information they find on the Internet. They engage via social channels so be sure to have a presence here and give them the tools they need to share. They also look for organizations to be open and transparent, so including testimonials could be a nice tactic.pic2
  4. Free Online Resources for Participants
    In this day and age where information is so accessible, people are always looking online for help. By offering helpful fundraising resources to your supporters, you not only show them you care, but you can actually help them perform better – which results in greater success for your charity. Offer fundraising check-lists and timelines to help them plan. Offer tips for soliciting donations or sample donation request letters. Post short videos that explain more about the cause and give them sample pitches to use so they are prepared when they seek donations. You can even offer some stock images for people to use in their social posts or sample “tweets” for them to simply copy and paste when sharing your message.
  5. Analyze Metrics & Make Improvements
    Evaluation has always been an important part of any fundraising campaign. Yet, finding actual statistics used to be much more of a challenge. People distributed surveys or estimated attendance for events. Today data is easier to come by than ever before. Using tracking and analytics tools, like those included with DoJiggy’s fundraising software, allow your organization to better understand your donors and the results of your fundraising efforts. Did more donations come in from email campaigns, social sharing, from sponsor sites or blog posts? You can also use data to find out what your prospects are interested in. By looking at Social media, you can see which posts get the most engagement, likes, and clicks. Use this information to help with your future branding and messaging.

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Written by Kari Kiel

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Kari Kiel is the Marketing Director at DoJiggy – a company that’s been providing affordable, easy-to-use online fundraising software solutions for nonprofits, schools, churches & community organizations for more than a decade. www.DoJiggy.com

 

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**SPONSORED POST** Email maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com for more information about advertising on www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.

Guest Post: Five pointers for creating the most engaging donation web page possible

The Internet has created a new way for charities and non-profits to collect donations from supporters around the globe. Even smaller charities with limited budgets are able to market and use social media to effectively spread their message.

Web design and page layout are often overlooked when creating a donations page, but both play an important part in how effective an online fundraising campaign can be. Since the homepage is the online headquarters for most fundraising campaigns, make sure it’s set up to accept credit cards, in-kind donations, provides a list of events, and comprehensively outlines the mission and goals.

 

Create positive and original content that promotes discussion and sharing.

(1) Offer Something to See and Do
The campaign’s mission and goals should be outlined and easy to find, including how any donations are spent and whether or not they are tax deductible. Use images to enhance the story, and stay away from text-heavy pages. Videos are a great way to tell the story and evoke emotion, and updates on the campaign’s progress should be included when goals and milestones are reached.

People are more willing to donate when the funds are being put to good use and progress can be seen. Offer users a forum to discuss the cause and exchange ideas with one another.

Create a “donate” button that stands out from the rest of the site.

 

(2) Provide Multiple Ways to Donate
In addition to setting up the campaign’s website to accept credit cards, donations should be able to be accepted via text message, PayPal, social media, and through the mail. In addition to accepting credit cards, offer the option to donate cash, checque, or money order.

Users shouldn’t have to navigate all over the site to make a donation, so add a way to donate money right on the campaign’s homepage. PayPal offers a “donation” button that can be setup with minimal code.


(3) Spread the Word
In order for a campaign to be successful, people must know about it. One of the most effective ways to spread the word is through the use of social media. Create a Twitter account, Facebook page, and blog. Stay active on the accounts by creating positive content, engaging your supporters, and promoting conversation. Post thought-provoking updates that people will want to share with their networks.

Link the campaign’s social media accounts to the homepage so users can easily navigate between the two. Add “Like” buttons to stories and videos, and blog about the fundraiser’s progress as often as possible. Include images, videos, audio, and other rich media within the blog posts, as well.


(4) Create an Online Store
Although this may be a bit harder for those on a tight budget, it’s never a bad idea to offer products that can be purchased directly through the website. This includes t-shirts, hats, buttons, bumper stickers, pens, and other novelty items that promote the cause. Make sure a portion of all proceeds go back towards the charity, while other funds may be used to help offset administrative costs. These types of products are an additional way to market the campaign offline, too.


(5) Recruit Volunteers

The more help the campaign has, the better. Provide a way for people to get involved and lend a helping hand. Send out a monthly newsletter with information about local events and appearances. Create street teams that spread the word by going door-to-door or by holding events in public places.

If people are passionate about the cause, it may be easy to find others willing to volunteer their time and effort. Include ways people can help directly on the homepage, and provide contact information for those looking for more information.
By creating thought-provoking and engaging content, offering an easy way for people to donate, and sharing the message through social media, any fundraising campaign has the potential to be successful. It’s also a great idea to accept in-kind donations for those who are unable to donate money.

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Written by Brian Flax

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including technology and Internet-based applications. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianFlax.

Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Personalization pays!

Personalization Pays!

I know I’ve talked about compassion/donor fatigue before.  We have so many communication channels available to us, and every one of them – from email to Facebook to snail mail – are asking us to give.  These weapons of mass communication are powerful, and they’re a positive tool on the one hand, but we have to work that much harder to connect with people when using them.  What can we do, say, or design that will catch people’s attention???  Is a video enough?

The best tool I’ve learned to use is personalization.  I was working on an event recently – an art auction – and was brainstorming some ways to get more attendees there.  I didn’t just want more attendees though, I wanted people to attend who would actually buy the art.  So since this was the fifth time the event has taken place, I looked back at records to find out who had bought art in the past, which artist’s art they had bought, and whether the same artist was submitting again this year.  If they were, I wrote a personalized email to each of these past buyers, inviting them to the event, letting them know that “their favourite artist” was submitting again, linking them to the event website (specifically to where this artist’s piece was featured), and also letting them know that they could submit an absentee bid if they couldn’t make it.

This process was lengthy and tedious, but it comes with a great ROI.  A few of these individuals submitted absentee bids, many of them attended, and at least one purchased another piece by “their favourite artist”.  Regardless of the outcome though, this personal touch is a great way to engage members of your community.  One person I emailed was impressed we even knew what he’d bought before, and others were simply pleased to have been personally contacted.

This event is simply an example though, and the strategy can be even more effective with fundraising.  I’ve worked on custom proposal packages that include archival photos of an alumnus from when he/she was at the school, videos that have the head of the school addressing the major gift prospect who is meant to receive the video… the list goes on, and the result is always positive.  Personalized communication resulting in a large gift or a piece of art being purchased is really the cherry on top.  No matter what, personally connecting with people is always worth your while.

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Part of this post was inspired by Dan Allenby’s recent blog post, “Content vs. Distribution”, from his amazing website: The Annual Giving Network.

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Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

 

Guest Post: How Fundraising has Changed in the Last 10 Years

One part of What Gives Philanthropy‘s mission statement says that the blog “intends to discuss and explore… topics from all angles and points of view, inviting guest bloggers to write and share their ideas”.  My hope has always been that people from all over the industry and all over the world will contribute to this blog, and today’s guest blogger Alison Richmond has helped me get the ball rolling on that.  Here is something relevant to our peers in the United Kingdom and in Europe as a whole.  Thanks, Alison!

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An economic recession or a financial crisis is usually tagged with the ability to decimate charitable collections from philanthropic organisations and individuals. However, as per an article published in the Third Sector UK, most of the charities within the European Union, close to 75 percent, have been able to increase or maintain their voluntary streams of income even during the ongoing Eurozone crisis.

Economic changes in the international markets impact every aspect of financial transactions, business-related, or otherwise. Similarly, fundraising has also evolved considerably over the last decade or so, especially with the dramatic changes in the global market scene, technological advancement and other global changes. In the paragraphs that follow, let us take a quick look at some of the recent trends in the fundraising system in Europe:


Going Beyond Borders

Fundraising is an important way of keeping a crisis situation under check, be it a local disaster or even a global problem. The last decade has witnessed some terrifying tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural and man-made catastrophes. While state-run disaster-management squads have a big role to play in relief, fundraising is an extremely important mode of giving aid and providing relief during a tragedy. One important trend that the fundraising system in Europe has witnessed over the last decade or so is the tendency of cross-border giving. Charitable donations are mobilised beyond their local area to more large-scale and international issues.
The Impact of Social Media and Technology

No one can deny the role of information technology and how it has transformed through leaps and bounds, especially over the last decade. Mobile phones are ubiquitous and almost everyone is on social networking media. The importance of such technological platforms is that they have become a fundamental part of communication. They have become so integral to everyday life that they have consequently also become excellent modes of campaigning and raising funds for specific causes. They have a great deal of international exposure, and are a guaranteed way of spreading the message far and wide. Websites, blogs, email forwards, social networking, news channels and so on are fantastic platforms for fundraising campaigns.
Entry of Private-Owned Firms into the World of Fundraising

Fundraising has taken on a corporate outlook, with the entry of several private corporations into the world of fundraising. One of the outcomes of this foray is that fundraising has become more professionalised and more efficient. The access to technology is one step that has been enhanced. In addition, fundraising itself gains more legitimacy when it is backed by a corporate tag, since more people see the validation in an agency that is collecting funds, rather than in small organisations or individuals doing the same.
Online Transactions

Online transactions are not just limited to credit card payments anymore. Fundraising has gone online and internet-based charitable contributions is one of the most significant channels through which donations and voluntary contributions are made today. These methods are not just instant and effective, but they are also hassle-free.

 

Written by Alison Richmond

alisonrichmondAlison has worked in the fundraising industry for several years and enjoys helping to develop different fundraising methods for schools.  It’s important that fundraisers don’t lose hope during these difficult economic times and strive for innovation!  She currently works for easyfundraising.  You can contact Alison at a.richmond@easyfundraising.org.uk.

Guest Post: The Number 1 Tip For Great Storytelling When Fundraising

The most successful charities know that in order to attract donations, they need to tell interesting and engaging stories. We as humans need stories; they help us relate and make sense of information.

After seeing countless fundraisers fall-short, meet or exceed their goals, the one thing that differentiates the great ones from the rest is how that story is delivered.

Very few people want to read reams and reams of text. What people want is a story to be told to them, in-person or by the convenient medium of video. And that doesn’t mean a slideshow with a voiceover – it means seeing a real person with a passion talking through the cause, explaining its importance and how a donation can make a difference.

Aside from seeing the success of this method on the fundraising website I run, the recent cause-based viral video titled Kony 2012 demonstrates the power of personal videos that talk through a cause with passion.

The creator of the Kony video, Jason Russell, introduces us to his child and family in the most personal manner. He’s a likeable character and we feel his passion as he explains the issues at hand in great detail. Once we’re involved in his story, the video ends with the simple call to action to get involved and share. The result? To date, his video has had over 96 million views and received worldwide attention.

Now it’s hard to replicate viral success but by following the fundamentals your message will spread further. It’s simply a case of being genuine, personal and sharing your passion through video.

Well, what kind of fundraising video should you create? In my experience and geeky analysis, I found that it’s best to spend the majority of time highlighting the importance of the cause, why it matters and why it’s worth the donor’s time. It doesn’t matter so much if it’s not created by a premium production team – in fact, a few quirks can even make it feel that little more personal.

Once it’s ready, it’s easy to complement your standard fundraising message with this video. Embed it on your fundraising page, add it to your website and share it by email.

Do you have any tips for spreading your fundraising message by video??? Leave them in the comments below.

 


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Written by Sandip Sekhon
CEO & Founder of Go Get Funding
You can connect with Sandeep via:
Facebook | Twitter

Sandip is currently working on medical fundraising website CauseWish which will host a unique community and is due to launch in February 2013.

Guest Post: Top 5 Ways to Use Social Media to Help Your Fundraising Campaign

Happy New Year, readers!!!  I’m very happy to be starting off 2013 with a guest post from Richard McMunn of How2become.  Social media continues to be a hot topic for all fields, and fundraising is no exception.  Managing my personal Twitter and Facebook accounts is one thing, but using social media to help my fundraising efforts perplexes me!  This post helps identify some important ways of using social media for fundraising.  Enjoy!

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Social media has altered the landscape of communication in our world. Digital social media technologies have made it possible to communicate in a way and at a scale near impossible until now. One of the areas that this has impacted very strongly is, of course, marketing and PR. Social media can be used in creative ways to generate more effective fundraising campaigns than ever before. Let’s take a look at five ways in which this can be achieved.

Use Social Media for PR
Social media can be a quick and effective way to stay in touch with your supporters. It can also be a useful way to share news, achievements and milestones with donors and other stakeholders. Keeping in touch with existing donors is useful in order to retain their support and generate new donors through existing contacts, and social media provides a good platform to achieve exactly this.

Build ‘Real-ationships!’
There’s so much emphasis on networking and public relations that it is easy to forget that in the end it is about forming real communities of supporters when it comes to sustainable fundraising endeavours. It is especially important for non-profit or social enterprises to build long-term relationships rather than one-off commercial ones. Social media can be a useful platform to build relationships and create a real community of people interested in supporting your cause. This can also serve as a platform for supporters to interact with each other.

Use Special Tools to Maximise Audience
Social media websites like Facebook or Twitter have the ability to reach a vast number of people in a very short space of time. Social media sites even offer additional marketing and strategy services to promote content with more gusto. For instance, Facebook offers a sponsored service to ‘promote’ your posts. You are able to select the ‘reach’ you want your post to have and it is this that determines the cost of the service.

There may be many ways in which you can use different social media tools to maximize your audience base and reach more people. Explore all these options fully; some of them may appeal to you and have a hugely positive impact on your campaign.

Understand the Platform
Different social media platforms have different ways of operating. For instance, Facebook is a multimedia platform for social interaction, where one can use videos, photos and text to communicate and interact with individuals, groups and entities. YouTube, on the other hand, is also a social media site, but its predominant feature is the use of audio visual media. This is the common ground upon which users can interact with each other.

The key to using social media effectively is to understand the medium and use it fully for your campaign. For instance, if you have videos to share and raise awareness about your campaign, you may benefit from having a YouTube channel and link it with your other media presence.

Innovate and Make Giving Easy
Social media presents the opportunity to innovate and revolutionize the way people give. Today, donating to a cause may not involve filling out various forms, but may simply be a matter of a single click. After you have called supporters to action, it is important to make the process of giving easy and hassle free, and social media allows you to do just that.

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Written by Richard McMunn

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How2become was established by Richard McMunn in 2005, who was working as a Fire Officer for Kent Fire & Rescue Service at the time. Since writing his first book, how to become a firefighter, Richard has gone on to author various titles spanning across multiple careers. The company has grown and developed into the UK’s leading careers information and development website. Connect with How2become on Facebook.

National Philanthropy Day

Happy National Philanthropy DayWhat Gives’ readers!

As a Canadian and a fundraiser, I couldn’t be prouder that Canada has become the first country in the world to permanently recognize November 15th as National Philanthropy Day® (NPD).  Bill S-201 has given us the opportunity to officially honour the work of charities, donors, volunteers, corporations, and foundations.

I found this quote via the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and I absolutely love it:
“What makes philanthropy so special is that no one is required to give of themselves. There are no national laws or regulations which mandate that you must volunteer or get involved. Philanthropy is so powerful and inspiring precisely because it is voluntary—that through the goodness of our hearts, through our need to connect, through our desire to see a better world, we come together to improve the quality of life for all people.”

Today I will be making an effort to tweet more than usual, sharing some great quotes about philanthropy that I find.  Be sure to tune in and follow me at @fundraisermaeve.

For more on National Philanthropy Day, the current state of philanthropy, videos, celebrations, contests, and more, check out Canada’s official NPD website (supported by AFP): www.nationalphilanthropyday.com.

Also, join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting what you’re doing to change the world in an online contest presented by AFP with support from TELUS. The five most inspiring, innovative and creative tweets sent to #npdTELUS will earn the senders a $500 contribution to the charity of their choice.

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Why don’t people give???

I participated recently in an “interview” with an individual who is working to develop a social media strategy for the Development & Alumni Relations department at a higher-ed institution.  His intention was to get my input on what alumni want from their alma mater and how that might be provided through social media.  I was pleased when alumni giving made its way into the conversation and intrigued by his approach to the topic; he asked me, “Why don’t alumni give???” What a great question!  And one that definitely applies to all forms of fundraising – not just educational.  There are, of course, a myriad of reasons people don’t give.  Drawing once again from my experience as an Annual Giving phonathon caller, I heard reasons including a negative experience at the university, still paying off student loans, big transitions in life with big costs attached (getting married, buying a house, starting a family), and sometimes a plain old “not interested”. But then I thought, “Why DO people give?”  And as any good fundraiser knows, the #1 reason people give is … say it with me … because they are asked!!!  Yes, it’s often that simple!  So, would that mean that the opposite is true???  Do people NOT give because they’re NOT asked?  Well, let me say this, rarely do fundraisers hear from their prospects that they’re not being asked enough… So, what is it?  Perhaps people don’t give because they’re not asked right. What do I mean by that?  Is it that best practice fundraising approaches should be thrown out the window?  Not at all!  My thought is that we’re doing a great job except that we’re not giving our prospects enough info on HOW to give.  We’re telling them who to give to (our organization), when to give (now), why to give, what amount to give, where to designate, but are we giving them the right options at that point on HOW to make their gift?  And I’m not talking about which credit card to donate with… It’s my belief that many people don’t give because (a) they think only enormous major gifts matter and (b) they don’t know their options.  For example, I donate regularly to four causes, and in all four cases I’m a monthly donor.  Are we as fundraisers making options like monthly giving clear when we make our ask?  This is just one example, of course, but I think it’s part of a key “toolkit” we ought to be sharing.  A $240 gift may seem intimidating, but $20/month might not… So I told this individual I had my social media interview with that sharing quick updates on Facebook and Twitter, not asking for donations but informing people on how to make them, could be a potential way of engaging more alumni in giving… I guess we’ll see if it works! Food for thought… Why do YOU think people don’t give???

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Can we tap into technology without tapping out on our budget???

Working in educational fundraising in the summer can be equal parts wonderful and challenging.  On the one hand, the students are gone (at least at my 5-12 independent school), which takes a little life out of the campus, or at least alters the work environment.  On the other hand, the peace and quiet that summer brings makes it the ideal time for reflecting, researching, and planning for the school year ahead. One of my current projects is to do my due diligence on potentially implementing an app for our alumni community.  The way I see it, being perceived as “ahead of the pack”, “forwarding thinking”, or just plain “cool” by our alumni (especially our most recent grads) is worth its weight in gold, which is why I pursued this project in the first place.  That said, being cool comes with a price; can we justify spending money on this sort of initiative?  Will the ROI be worth our while?  It’s a friend-raising more than fundraising venture… can the ROI really be measured?  Perhaps it’s like my post on “impact per dollar raised”; maybe we should worry less about measurable results and recognize that a well-received, technology-related “gift” to the alumni community is priceless. What do you think???

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: Is storytelling really the answer for your charity???

I am thrilled to add this new post to What Gives??? by our second guest blogger Brock Warner.  I “met” Brock through one of his many initiatives, Young Non-Profit Professionals (of which he is co-chair).  He is bright, enthusiastic, energetic, and full of knowledge.  I couldn’t be more delighted to have him write for What Gives??? and hope to have him involved more in the future!  Without further ado…

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A lot has, is, and will continue to be said about the need for charities to tell great stories. That’s because good advice bears repeating. Stories tickle a part of our brains that statistics can’t.

Most charities understand this. But unfortunately, just telling a story isn’t enough. You need to do it well. Very, very well.

A great storyteller becomes the story. They look their audience in the eye. They take their audience on a journey. They tell their best stories over, and over, and over. They keep what works, and cut the fat. They carry you up to a triumphant high, and catch you at the desperate lows.

About a year ago I was lucky enough to give a TEDx presentation. And I do mean lucky. I’m just getting started in my career. It should be someone with 25 years of experience on the TEDx stage, not 2.5 years. But I ignored my lizard brain, and went for it.

The 20 second version of my talk is that successful charities are successful because they told great stories and reaped the benefits. In the past there were a handful of ways to tell stories, but digital technology has since changed the game. Now, charities that can multiply the emotional impact of their stories across channels, rather than divide it, are going to be the charities of choice for the next generation of supporters.

If I could do it all over again I would emphasize even further that storytelling is a skill like any other that you need to learn, practice, and hone indefinitely.

So, is storytelling really the answer for your charity??? Of course it is. And of course, you need to do everything else it takes to run an effective and efficient charity, but we’ll leave that for another blogger to tackle.

I’m always on the lookout for great examples. You can get in touch with me on Twitter @brockwarner, or post them right here on What Gives???.

And if you haven’t seen it, here is my TEDx talk:

Note from the Author: Because I am so proud of the video, and while I’ve got the chance I’d love to publicly thank my wife for being so supportive, Frankie Chow for suggesting I submit a speaker application, Margaux Smith for rehearsing with me in my living room, and everyone that has watched it. And of course, thanks Maeve for letting me guest post on What Gives???. You’re all awesome.


Written by Brock Warner

Fundraiser @WarChildCan and blogger at http://iamafundraiser.com

You can connect with Brock via:
Twitter | LinkedIn