This story was on OnMilwaukee.com today and it really impressed me.
In case you don't have time to click over, basically this guy is raising money for diabetes research (his father died a heart attack brought on by the disease) by slowly transforming himself into Mr. T. With each level of fund raising reached, he ups the ante on his emulation.
I not only appreciate this because of the great cause it's helping -- The Diabetes Research Institute -- but because of its offbeat, creative approach to fund raising. The best part is, though he is a little wacky, he still has a clear personal connection to the cause.
I've seen more and more stories lately about non-profits having to shutter their doors due to lack of funds in this crappy economy. Unfortunately I think new and interesting fund raising methods are few and far between.
Not to say things aren't changing. The Obama campaign certainly showcased the power of the small donor. Non-profits are realizing that they need to tap into younger generations -- not just as donors but as leaders as well. As someone who got two pledge letters this week (and anticipates more on the way), I would be much more excited to give if the requests were a little more interesting. I'm under 30, engage me online. Like Mr. Fake T, show me the visual of what my donation is doing. Put up a YouTube video of the kids I'm helping. Start a Twitter account so I can follow where my money is going. At the very least, have a blog so that I can get a minimum weekly update. Engage me in a deeper conversation than just your annual appeal. I know you don't have staff, but this is something an energetic young volunteer could do!
I may be able to only give you $5, 10, 20 now, but if I'm still engaged with you in five years that amount will (hopefully) grow.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Fake T works at an interactive agency. He is doing his fund raising both on and offline. His fund raising site is: www.firstgiving.com/mrttattoo.
Also, there is the plea on the site to hook him up with the real Mr. T for an endorsement. If you're just randomly happening across my blog but know how to make this happen -- make it happen!