Goal Achiever: Run for Biodiversity 2013

Last year, my mom, husband, and I walked 5km as part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to raise money for USC Canada’s Run for Biodiversity. Fundraising efforts for 2012 on behalf of the volunteers collectively were record-breaking, inspiring me to be more active in that respect the follow year.

Here’s the problem: I hate fundraising. I find asking for money one of the most difficult tasks (dad: cue jokes). So I looked at this project as a way to “do one thing everyday that scares you”. comfortzone1

My tactic was this:

  • send requests repeatedly and relentlessly
  • include tidbits of information and ways to learn more
  • make it personal
  • make it light

I used twitter, facebook, and email to reach out to my own little network, posting/sending almost daily. I found that facebook is too diluted to really make people actionable, though I did have several donors contribute whom I would not have thought to target directly. Email was more tricky: I felt that the people who would really be interested in the subject matter were not fully engaging in the content. Perhaps a barrier is created as soon as they know I’m asking for money. Also, the moment a donation was made, they expected to stop hearing from me. On the contrary, I kept them in the loop assuming they had donated because they were interested and would appreciate knowing more. Moreover, I reminded them that they could reach out to their own networks if they really felt passionately about the cause.

In terms of the information shared, I found this the most useful for me. It got me combing through the USC website and clicking through to many of the articles they’ve quoted or tweeted about recently. It enabled me to more fully engage in what I was raising money for, which spurred me on to spread the word. It also cemented my resolve to participate in R4b each year and continue to learn about USC’s work and do my part to help others understand the importance.

As far as making it light and personal, this was the creative and silly part: I created roughly 10 memes, some ridiculous, some personal, some informational, that I planned to include as visuals with the daily information. At times I would try to mirror the content of that day’s message: for example, the story of Ethiopian farmers having saved beer was accompanied by a meme of Cliff’s famous line to Norm (of Cheers), “Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this…”.

Once my visuals were created, I did worry they were not serious enough to be representing the organization. I concluded that I was in no way representing USC directly; that the memes were my own creation and reflected how I interacted with the messages and how I could get through to my family and friends; and that they were largely being distributed within a very small, personal network.

Below are most of the memes I was able to use. I’m quite aware that I’m often the only one laughing at my own jokes; some of the visuals that had me in stitches are probably only marginally funny to the rest of the world. So be it. I still like the James Earl Jones meme the most but the pregnant napping meme is probably what got the most traction in terms of actionable response.

Memes Used
The stretching was not an act, I am surprised at how immobile I can be lately!
The dog is my own. The paw-on-body-part is her trademark for begging.


The following are some memes I didn’t get a chance to use. I was writing exams the week before the race so I fell short on posting. I still find the meme intended to promote the Taste of Honduras lunch the funnest but by the time I had planned to use it, the lunch was sold out. It’s probably best as the image is likely in poor taste. Get it… poor taste! (see what I mean about not actually being funny).

Memes Not Used
*the MINE! meme was to accompany some information about “a handful of multinational seed and agrochemical corporations [that] have been gobbling up the world seed market”.

In the end, I managed to raise $700. Roughly $500 was raised through my own network with the last bit from attendants of the Honduras lunch held on Saturday. Richard and I decided to match my fundraising efforts as a way of celebrating our marriage, so that bumped up the final number and got me a beautiful shiny “Goal Achieved” seal on my fundraising page (which, on the smaller iPhone screen I initially read as “Goal Achiever” and thus spent the rest afternoon feeling warm and fuzzy).

The walk itself? Cold but not rainy this year. We managed to walk the 5km in an hour and ten minutes. I blame the bathroom breaks for pushing us over the 1 hr goal. Despite feeling incredible soreness in my legs, we still happened to walk another 5-6km from the finish line back to our car. At least we made a pit stop for crepes along the way!

Check out my flickr set of the few photos we took. Check out USC’s flickr set of all the R4B photos since 1995.

To everyone who supported me, THANK YOU and see you next year!

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