With the start of the Fall 2012 semester this week, those of us who took the summer off are quickly reminded of the juggling we will need to do in order to maintain our family responsibilities and jobs. Schedules need to be re-arranged, social outings declined or cancelled, and sometimes we have to ask others for help. I’ve already had to ask my brother to spend time with Athena, my daughter’s Chihuahua, because we are both keeping long days with work and school, and in my case, training for the marathon too.

Asking for help has become a new talent of mine. It is how I have been able to raise over $2,500 for the American Cancer Society and how reaching the goal of $3,500 is attainable. Since the CUNY School of Professional Studies has an opportunity to fundraise for Komen’s Race for the Cure, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my fundraising secrets that have made “asking for help” a lot easier than it sounds.

Social media has been my number one source for donations. Using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn and blogging, I make the opportunity available to many potential donors. I engage my audience of friends, family and colleagues by making meaningful posts about my progress, set-backs, victories and challenges. I invite others to comment, share, and get involved. I offer opportunities to support me with either financial support, moral support—or both.

One of the most engaging tools I’ve used is MapMyRun. While running, it tracks me and my friends can watch me live on the app. (Feel free to add me if you use MapMyRun, user name: xahndra.) One of the coolest features with MapMyRun is that when my run is complete, it posts a map and a custom message with my mapped run. I set the program so that it will automatically post to Facebook and Twitter after my run with a link to my fundraising page. My online community sees that I am doing the work and that their funds mean something to me. (It also socially holds me responsible to stick with my program and training days… Win Win!)

I try to think of gimmicks and mini-goals. For example, the hashtag on Twitter, #FF stands for FollowFriday. Many Twitter users actually search for that hashtag to see what fun people to follow on Fridays. Also, people pay attention to the #FF in their Twitter feed. So, I made #FF stand for something else. FUNDRAISING FRIDAY!

Fundraising Friday works best when you have some sort of mini-goal associated with it. For example, a few Frundraising Friday’s ago, I was very close to the 50% mark. I needed just a hundred dollars or so. By the time #FF Fundraising Friday was almost over, I needed just $19.25 to hit 50%. I sent out a tweet and status update requesting that amount and instead I received two more $25 donations pushing me well over 50% of my goal. It’s fun because now some of my teammates are using #FF Fundraising Friday and having success as well. Try using #FF this Friday as a member of the CUNY SPS team for Komen’s Race for the Cure. Let me know if it worked for you too!

In all my tweets and updates through social media, I try to engage others. If I can get a well known handle to retweet me or donate their status update for me, it’s a good day for my awareness. I always tag organizations on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve actually been retweeted by authors, sporting good stores, and the American Cancer Society. When this happens, it’s a great day for my awareness campaign! I’ve even asked for a status updates and tweet donations from my friends and followers. It’s really helped me reach the friends of my friends. In the last 3 months, I’ve actually doubled my number of Twitter followers. This will really help me for the next time around.

Outside of social media, I write bi-monthly email updates to all my contributors, family, friends and colleagues. This keeps them engaged and aware of the huge impact they’ve made in my life and reminds them of the good cause they have contributed to. I write updates to the blog on my fundraising page regularly, reporting my progress and milestones. I’ve held two happy hour fundraisers with friends and colleagues and I plan on doing a bake sale in the office. There really are so many little things that a #CharityRunner could do to raise big money without costing too much time.

So, here’s my personal challenge to the CUNY SPS community. As a team, let’s try to raise some serious cash for the Susan G. Komen #RaceForTheCure! So far we have 17 team members. If each of us raised $100, we would be making a huge impact with $1,700 raised as a team. That’s almost half of what I am raising on my own for the American Cancer Society. Can we do it? I think we can! To join our team and efforts, please visit http://bit.ly/CUNYSPS.

Alexandra Hertel is an Ohioan living in Brooklyn, New York. She attends CUNY’s School of Professional Studies and works full-time in the events industry.

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