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Remembering 9/11: The 20th Anniversary

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Although two decades have passed since that terrifying and tragic incident, everyone who’s old enough to remember, can recall where they were when they first heard the news of the twin towers being hit. For those who were there in person, they remember it as the day the sky turned black, clouded with ash and smoke, over New York City. 

That day started like any other day. No one could have expected such an event would take place, stopping time for people nationwide. It was televised worldwide and broadcasted across radio stations across the U.S. All eyes and ears were on NYC that day. In that moment, the world was forever changed by the attack that caused 3,000 lives to be lost. 

Even though I was too young to remember where I was, or what I was doing, on that day (as I was just a toddler at the time), I do clearly remember the aftershock of 9/11. It was taught and talked about all the time as I grew up. I was told about how the world worked to heal, repair, and better defend itself in the days, months, and even years after what had happened. That event claimed more than just a day. It lives in the memories of millions of people, especially those directly affected by the attack. I grew up with these stories. I’ve watched videos, seen photos, heard testimonies from actual survivors, and read articles about that day. Whether you were there or not, it’s a memory shared by the world. And even though I know we can’t experience time as God does, it amazes me that the people of NYC didn’t feel the presence of the future staring back at them on that day. 

But, despite the gravity and devastation of 9/11, there is and was hope to be found in Jesus. 

How can I say this when such evil things like this happen? 

Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”

This passage, among many others in the Bible, promises us that God didn’t abandon the world on that day. He didn’t desert those who were killed, the first responders who risked their lives to save people trapped under debris, or the people who lost loved ones due to the attack. Even in situations where the world was literally crumbling at people’s feet, God promised to be a refuge for those who were hurting and needed a Savior. God was still moving, providing hope, help, and comfort to those in need. 

Likewise, He is a God of justice who will bring about the judgement of those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Psalms 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves justice and does not abandon His godly ones; They are protected forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be eliminated.” It also says in Proverbs 21:15, “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.”

I want to end with the following quote. This quote is an excerpt of a prayer by John Piper who said this a decade after 9/11 took place. He said: 

“We turn to you, heavenly Father, as our rock and our refuge, as our King and our comforter. We pray that you continue to sustain all those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Show them mercy. Give them comfort. For those who believe in you, minister by your Spirit and the truths of your word. For those who are far from you, use this tragedy in a new way a decade later to draw these broken-hearted men, women, and children to yourself...We thank you Lord for the firemen and police officers who risked their lives, and often gave their lives, to search for and rescue the victims of 9/11... May every moment of adversity and prosperity point us to Christ. Keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfector of our faith. Let us run to Christ. Let us cling to Christ. Let us find forgiveness in Christ. Let us find assurance in Christ. For the only true promise of peace, in this life and in the next, is found in Christ. We gladly confess that he is our only comfort in life and in death. Some trust in chariots; some trust in horses; some trust in the Koran; some trust in their wealth; some trust in their ancestors; some trust in their degrees; some trust in tanks and talks and predator drones. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God. It’s in his name of the Lord Jesus that we live and move and have our being, and it’s in his name we pray, Amen.”
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Tips for Updating Your Backers

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0

Whether it’s on social media, sending out an email, or directly on your GiveSendGo campaign page it’s important to update backers about the progress of your campaign. After all, they’ve made the decision to invest in you and your idea, you should invest in them too! 

Here are a few tips on how to update your backers throughout your campaigning process, as well as a few guidelines on how to write a great campaign update!

So, what are some reasons or occasions why you should, or would need to, update your backers?

1. Fundraising Progress or New Developments

So you’ve created your campaign and are now asking people to donate to a cause you care about. That’s great! You’ve completed the first step. Now that you’ve opened that dialogue with your backers and potential backers, it would seem a little insensitive to never speak to them again. From a potential backer’s viewpoint, this would look like you only cared about getting the money you needed and not about their support. You need to also show your investment, not only in your campaign’s mission, but in the people who are giving to you. 

This is why it’s important to share fundraising milestones and new developments in your campaign with your supporters. Let’s say you reached $1,000 raised or maybe you’ve reached the halfway point in your campaign. Let your supporters know you’re grateful for their help and share your milestones with them. 

Who knows, someone out there might see your campaign update and want to give to help you reach your final goal! Sharing updates isn’t always about communicating with your supporters, although that is important, it’s also about reaching people who may not even know your campaign exists. The more updates you give, the stronger the support you will have, which means you’ll most likely reach your goal faster! 

2. Thanking and Recognizing Your Backers

Show your gratitude and share it often! If you’re getting any support at all in your campaign, that’s more support than what you started out with. You should recognize those people for the impact they’re making on your life through their donations. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to reach your goal, so they deserve to see and hear how appreciative you are for their help. An update alone shows you care about keeping your backers in the loop, but adding an extra thank you tells them that you truly appreciate what they’ve done for you! 

3. Personal Stories
 
It’s important for people to see the heart and the drive behind your campaign’s mission. People love stories, especially ones they can empathize with. You’d be surprised how much people want to help other people. But, without sharing a need or the story behind your goal, they might just see you as just another campaign in a sea of hundreds of campaigns. Give them something to be passionate about, something that makes you stand out. Everyone’s story is unique, so don’t be afraid to be vulnerable when you tell it. Just make sure you’re being honest. Your story might speak to someone on a level you may not expect. It may also inspire someone to start their own campaign if they see you sharing your mission with the world. So, share your story!

4. Sharing Links Related to Your Campaign

Sharing your campaign with local news organizations is a great way to get more awareness about your goal and mission. If they decide to run with it, now you have an article or news story you can share on social media or even share through email/text. It’s a win-win! Be sure to also share this article or video link as an update on your GiveSendGo campaign page, so people can see an outside perspective on your campaign! Who knows, you might have dozens or hundreds of people outside of your circle interested in your campaign now simply because the news covered it! Those are people who may never have known about it otherwise! 

On a similar note, you can also share in an update to your backers the different social media platforms you use and regularly post to. This is another way for you to update your backers more frequently and to stay in touch with your supporters! It’s also a way of welcoming them into your life and story!

5. Share What You’re Using the Money For

So now people know about your story and your campaign goal, but what about the money? People are sometimes hesitant to give because they don’t know where the money they’re donating will actually be going and if it’s actually going to be used for what it’s intended for. Give them an update from time to time sharing the details of where or what your money is going to and how you plan to use it. 

If your campaign is to raise money for an organization you’re passionate about, share about them and how that money will be benefiting that specific cause. If it’s for you or a group to go on a mission trip, share specific details about what their money will cover such as flights, hotels, transportation, food etc. Or, if you plan to use the money to help build houses in a third world country, then share that in an update too. The more specific you can be, the more confident people will feel in their giving to your campaign. 

6. Image or Photos

Sharing a personal update through a photo or video is a great way to connect with your backers and potential backers on a more personal level. Sometimes this means just sharing a glimpse into your life and other times it means sharing an update specific to your campaign journey. 

For instance, let’s say you’re raising money to pay for medical expenses for a loved one. You might decide to share an update about the state of their health, or maybe they have a message they want to share with those who are supporting them and you need to relay that message. Especially in this case, if someone has donated to your campaign then they probably also care about you as a person, not just about helping you reach your monetary goal. A photo or video that updates your backers helps you engage with them on a deeper level than just through text. It’s also a really simple way to let your backers know how your campaign journey is going! 

How to Write a Great Update

Now that you have all of these tips on what to update your backers about, it’s a matter of how do you do it? Your update doesn’t have to be really long, but if you feel led to share a blog post or a longer message with your supporters that’s great too! It also doesn’t need to sound deep or really professional to get the information or message across. The important thing is that you be honest in your update, genuine, and that it be relevant to your campaign. Sometimes the shorter the update the better since most people don’t want to read pages of information, nor will that help communicate clearly what you need to share. Whatever you’re updating your backers about, simply write a few paragraphs (or maybe just a few sentences depending on the update). 

Then, be sure to thank them for their continued support and be sure to mention how they can keep supporting you. Make sure you’re providing updates at least once a week, even if the update is short and to the point. Depending on the nature of your update, there are a lot of templates online that give specific steps in how to write an update like this. But at the end of the day, remember, just be you! 

Shine Brightly!
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10 Fundraising Ideas to Study Abroad or Go On An Educational Trip

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
Classes are in session for many schools around the nation! This means that many educational trips and opportunities to study abroad over the course of this school year will start becoming available for student’s consideration (if they haven’t already). 

Students who have studied abroad or gone on an educational trip describe it as a unique, unforgettable experience everyone should get to do at some point in their lives. However, many students forgo these opportunities altogether simply due to the cost. Flights alone can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on where you’re going, not to mention the cost of hotels, ground transportation, food, and other activities. 

So, in the following 10 fundraising ideas, we will hopefully provide some tips to help you raise the money you need to take the trip of a lifetime! 

1. Create a GiveSendGo Campaign

GiveSendGo has a lot of individuals and groups using our platform to raise money for their educational needs. If you click on our education campaign category, you’ll notice that we have  a lot of educational campaigns and each campaign listed is unique, ranging anywhere from raising funds for the classroom, for an educational organization, for homeschooling, tuition, and more. If you or anyone you know is looking to raise funds for education, especially to study abroad to go on an educational trip we encourage you to use our platform as a resource to help you raise that money more effectively!

Just like with any other campaign, it’s important to tell your story. Be sure to share your heart and why you (and/or) your group is studying abroad or taking that educational trip. Share what you’ll be learning or studying while you’re there. Be as detailed as you can, so people can understand what you’ll be needing the money for. If the money is going to be used to cover flights, housing, food, or any other expenses be sure to explain that in your campaign. You can also include specific amounts they can give, so they don’t have to guess what you need, such as $50, $100, $150 - you get the picture. 

Once you’ve shared your story, share your campaign as much as you can with your family, friends, social media community, church family, co-workers, and your local community. Share it on your social media sites, send the campaign url through email to relatives and co-workers, and text the campaign url to your closest friends and family. The best way to raise funds for your trip is to spread awareness and get as many people involved as you can, so don’t be shy with that share button. You can’t share it too much and you might even be surprised by the amount of people who want to help support you and your group on this journey! 
You can also implement several of the following ideas into your GiveSendGo campaign or vice versa! 

2. Letters To…

Sending letters is one of the easiest fundraising methods you can do. Just as we mentioned before with the GiveSendGo campaign, be detailed in your letter as to what you’ll be doing on your trip, what the money people will be sending will cover, and how their donation will be making a difference in your trip. Be sure to also include the various methods they can use to give. The best part about this method is that you can provide the url to your GiveSendGo campaign in the letter, so people have another option to give aside from sending cash or a check through the mail. If you feel stuck and aren’t quite sure what to say in your letter, you’re not alone! There are hundreds of templates online geared specifically towards how to write a fundraising letter about studying abroad or an educational trip to help get you started in writing your letter. 

Once you’ve completed your letter, all you need to do is print it off, seal it in an envelope, and mail it off to you family, friends, church family, co-workers, community, professors, etc. For an extra personal touch, you can personally sign each letter before sealing it. Another tip is to include a stamped or plain envelope inside your letter. This makes it easier for the giver since they only have to send their money in your already stamped envelope, meaning you’re likely to receive more donations. 

3. Sell Items Online or at a Garage/Yard Sale

If the weather outside is nice you can hold a garage sale or yard sale to help fundraise for your trip. Weeks before you plan to do the sale, ask your family, friends, church family, and community to donate items they no longer want to you for your sale. Whatever money you raise can then be put towards your trip. You can apply the same steps to an online sale if you choose that method instead. However, you should keep in mind if you sell items online you will be responsible for also mailing all of those items out as well and if you have larger items that might end up being more of a hassle on your part.

4. Do a Presentation for Your Church About Your Trip in Exchange for a Scholarship 

This is a pretty common method also used for educational trips, studying abroad, and even mission trips if you’re a member of a church. Ask your church if they have any scholarships available or if they would be willing to either take up a love offering or donate money to your trip. If they say yes, you can offer to do a presentation on your experience for the church when you come back. This method not only gets you money for your trip, it also gives everyone the chance to hear about the trip they supported which is another way of thanking, or giving back, to those who donated and prayed for you! 

5. Ask People to Donate their Frequent Flyer Miles

This method is starting to become more and more popular. Whether you’re studying abroad or taking an education trip, most likely you’ll need to pay for your own flights, which aren’t cheap. If you know friends or family members who travel a lot, or if people aren’t able to give you monetary donations, you can ask them to donate their frequent flyer miles. Sometimes these points even cover hotel stays. 

6. $10 Destination Photos

People really enjoy having pieces of art to hang on their walls. This is especially true for photos and artwork that has special meaning to them. This fundraising method allows you to ask friends, family, co-workers, church family, etc. to prepay $10 for a photo, or per photo, from your trip. You could also charge extra if you plan on printing and framing those pieces when you return, but that’s up to you! Likewise you can charge $5 (prepaid before your trip) for a postmarked postcard sent from your destination. Just be sure to be intentional about taking decent photos while you’re gone and don’t forget! Now, everytime that person sees your picture on the wall, they’ll be reminded of how they helped support you! 

7. Clean Houses or Do Yard Work Around Your Neighborhood

This is a great way to reach out to your community for donations in exchange for practical help inside or outside of their homes. There are a lot of people who need help with various projects around the house, whether it’s a job they need extra hands for, or they’re an elderly person who can’t do extensive labor. Use these opportunities to reach out to those in need around your community to clean homes, do yard work, build something, or just help out with whatever they need for a few hours in exchange for a donation for your trip. You’d be surprised how many people will take you up on your offer! This also gives you the opportunity to get to know people around your community or church too! 

We’d suggest you dedicate a few hours each week to doing these jobs so you don’t take on more than you can handle. This method will earn you a few hundred dollars plus tips if you do a good job! Depending on how frequently you take up jobs like this, you could raise most of the money you need in just a few weeks! 

8. Offer Private Lessons

If you have some extra time in your schedule and either a skill or knowledge you can share, offer lessons or even tutoring to raise some extra money for your trip. What’s great about this method is that you can take on students in your community and even online! You could teach violin, dance, or simply help out a student with their math or science. Either way, people will pay a pretty penny for someone they trust to teach them, or their child, something they’re interested in, especially if they know their money will also be supporting you too!

9. Custom Calendar

This is very similar to the destination photos method. However, this custom calendar idea might just be even simpler and more creative! Before leaving on your trip, explain to those interested in supporting you that while you’re away you’ll be taking pictures of your experience, which you will then be transforming into a custom calendar when you come home. Let them know that by donating to your GiveSendGo campaign or directly paying you, they’ll be preordering/prepaying for this unique calendar they’ll receive when you come home. 

For this method, all you need is 12 good photos (or more) from your trip and you can start creating your custom calendar when you return from your trip. There are tons of websites out there that will allow you to create your own custom calendar with whatever photos you choose. Design your custom calendar, include your personal touches, and maybe even sneak in a “thank you!” to your supporters. Then, you can just send your calendars off to everyone who donated to you and your trip. Make sure to include another thank you note for their support along with your calendar! 

10. Become an Uber or Lyft Driver 

Although this method isn’t donation based, it’s a great way to earn some money towards your trip and also meet some new people! For this method to pan out, you’ll need a qualifying vehicle, sign-up for either Uber or Lyft, and make sure you’re verified to drive on their behalf. Once that’s settled, you can start earning money for your study abroad trip or educational trip. 

Shine Brightly!
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