Recently, I decided to assist our church youth office to raise money and facilitate their trip to the conference at the Kenya School of Government in Embu County, Kenya. To get things rolling, I decided to explore new ideas of raising money before proceeding . One idea I had was to try and raise money for the youth conference without calling for a funds drive. The ideal method for effecting this was to issue church members with small priced business like cards with an additional honorarium or small gift of yoghurt to accompany them. This is because I believe in ideas that provide service to people and not ones that seem to disservice peoples of their hard earned money and resources.
I thought my idea was great to share with some of the church members and in that sense got a bit of applauds from one or two people who concurred with me. But for the pessimists, my idea was just that, an idea, as the only method they knew of fundraising was to stick to the old fashioned way of drawing up letter to invite people to come and help raise money for the conference.But my strong urge to practice novelty pushed me to want to do things differently. I therefore thought through my idea, and decided to shut out the pessimists and test the idea.
And so I kick-started the project by giving out the priced business like cards to the church members; of course with an accompaniment of either a yoghurt or airtime or cake.The least card went for 100shs and was supplemented by a 20shs airtime advance; the 200shs card was complemented by a 250ml yoghurt or 50shs airtime in advance, while the 2000shs card went with and advanced airtime of 200shs or 5000ml yoghurt.
My initial target was to surpass the eight thousand shillings that I had previously garnered the last time I tried the project. Thanks to throwing in the gift idea, at the end of the first month I had made about 15000shs. Two months later I had 30,000shs in my pocket and that was it. I had enough money to take the youth to the conference.
So what made my idea work?
I Completely Believed in My Idea
From inception, I never doubted whether my idea would work. Why? Because I practiced Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s “Think Like A Freak” premise that” Never leave experimentation to the scientists” test it yourself. I believed that people would buy into the card and yoghurt idea because I first was confident enough to try it; and second because I could visualize the positive impact and results it would have on both the project and my target group.
Secondly, I built my concept around my target audience needs, and not so much on maximizing profit. Because of this, my target group enjoyed supporting my idea. They knew that my idea fulfilled one of their needs and thus they participated fully without fear of manipulation.
I Anticipated the Problems
Robert Shuller once said that “Every idea comes with its inbuilt problems”.
The first challenge I had to overcome was getting money to print the cards and buy the accompanying gifts. I therefore had two choices to make, to either borrow money to start the project or use my own money which would hopefully be refunded upon the success of the project. I picked on the latter idea and used the amount I had to print cards and buy the gifts.Consequently, I started issuing out the youth cards to specific individuals whom I knew would payback instantly. I then took the money I got from them and re-invested it back to printing more cards and gifts and at the end, it paid off.
The other challenges I had to overcome was to convince my target audience that my idea could not only work, but provide a solution to the extreme hot summer conditions that was being experienced at that time. This was easy for me because the weather was hot and I knew they would love a good drink of yoghurt to calm them down.
Thirdly, I had to really work hard to follow up and ensure that my target audience make the the payments in time. This was easier as through drinking the yoghurt or getting airtime in advance, supporters of my project had indirectly committed themselves to paying. They simply couldn’t say they have forgotten to pay for what they happily consumed.
I Shipped My Idea
I believed in my idea no matter how ridiculous it sounded to some people and stepped up and did it. A wise man once said, if you can dream it, you can see it, if you can see it, you can believe it and if you can believe it, you can achieve it.
The youth project idea was successful because above the pessimists and negative comments concerning it, I believed the only way to test the success of my idea was to actually do it. I knew that having an idea and shipping it is actually what differentiates leaders from followers. Followers are good builders of other people’s ideas, while shippers are good effectors of both their own and other people’s ideas. Therefore, my idea would not have passed infancy stage if I didn’t believe in it enough to ship it.
I Ignored My Critics
There’s nothing in this world that doesn’t have use; even critics are good for building your success. They (critics) can give you a zero on your idea, but a lot of zeros makes up a good paycheck.
That said, had I listened to the critics, I would have immediately abandoned my idea and conformed to holding a fundraising which would actually have fail because initially, our church had undergone a series of funds drives and people were just tired of fundraisings.
Therefore if you have an idea, do not dismiss it or say it can’t work, start working on your idea by asking yourself “what can I do to make it work?” and do it. Remember, it costs nothing to have ideas, but everything to lack ideas.