Money motivation

Written by on July 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

With her family a thousand miles away, Kahm was concerned about her ability to fundraise. But she asked anyway — and was surprised by the response.

I'm not sure if it's a Midwestern sensibility, a sense of shyness, or just plain pride, but I have always felt awkward asking people for money. I knew this long before I signed up for the Challenge Walk, so from the start, I knew that the solicitation and fundraising aspects of the event would be my biggest trial.

On any given day, if you gave me the choice, I'd probably be more comfortable walking an extra 30 miles than asking for donations! But that's not the way this walk works, and the bar is set high with a requested $1,500 minimum per walker. So not knowing what else to do, I followed the lead of my boyfriend (a long-time walker and bike crew member for this event) and started writing solicitation letters.

Those who received my solicitation were, without exception, family in some way, and I have the extra challenge of not living near any family. Could I really expect people who live over 1,000 miles from New England to care about this walk? What's more, I know that some of them are having a hard time making ends meet right now; could I in good conscience even solicit them in the first place? With all these questions weighing on me, I became worried that I should start eliminating prospective donors from my already small pool. What's more, I was becoming convinced that there was no possible way to hit that fundraising minimum.

But Ken, kind and sometimes even wise man that he is, gave me a small but intrinsic piece of advice — it's not my place to decide whether someone else can afford to donate, or to decide how big a priority charity is for them. All I can do is offer the opportunity and see who wants to take it.

With that in mind, I rallied my courage, stamped a bunch of envelopes, and dropped them all in the mail before I could change my mind. Now that some donations are coming back, I'm seeing his point: some of the donations are much bigger than I expected. A few are a little smaller. But overall, I'm surprised by the level of generosity my family is showing to this walk — even if they aren't anywhere near New England and don't know anyone who has MS, many of them still want to support me in my pursuits, and for some of them, that's reason enough to contribute. For others, perhaps they're glad to know that I'm spending my spare time promoting good causes. I may not know each person's motivation for donating, but I do respond with all the gratitude I feel for their support.

Though that $1,500 goal is still very lofty, this first round of fundraising has given me the motivation to look for other opportunities to close the gap. I don't know if I'll be selling my home-grown cucumbers, hosting a back-to-school party for my classmates, or just outright begging, but I'm going to do what I can to raise money for this cause. Whether or not I make the minimum, I can walk proudly if I know I gave it my best effort.

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

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