The single most critical thing you have to learn is that it's not your charity. It belongs to the public. whatever else you do, you've got to take them along for the ride. When you do, it's magic.
Here's how it worked out a couple of days ago.
So I'm fostering this total spook Greyhound/Deerhound cross girlie, maybe two years old, who is such a spook that I initially thought she was deaf. No idea about her background -- she's coming to us from a shelter with the damning label of "semi-feral." She bites through leashes, tries to hide from everyone, and had zero chance of making it out of the shelter alive.
Enter SHUG, Sighthound Underground. SHUG's Director posts a picture of this pitiful little nugget and says, "We'd like to pull her -- who can foster?"
My community quickly became fascinated with New Girl Hope. I was deluged with suggestions, comments and predictions on how to best help her.
One morning, an odd thing happened. A shredded yellow cardboard box turned up in Hope's crate. Evidently she's been out and about overnight.
The folks following her story started speculating on what she might snag next. The next morning, a disposable plastic shopping bag was shredded in her crate.
The community went wild. And the idea was born.
The New Girl Hope Scavenging Bingo game!
I posted the idea and everyone loved it. Alyson Lex, copywriter extraordinaire and marketer and car rescuer, jumped in and offered to create the bingo cards. Turns out she knew of a website that did just this. (freebingocards.com)
We batted around the idea of doing something custom, using her graphics team to pull something together in Canva.com. In the end, because the community was hot on the idea, we just went with the packages offered by the site.
I sprang $10 for 100 unique bingo cards. The cards featured items that New Girl Hope might collect for her crate, e.g. mangled bit of bungie cord, scrap of paper, pencil, and yes -- a potato. For some odd reason, potatoes are high value play items for sighthounds.
Then I made the pitch to the community: donate $10 to At Risk Intervention and get a Bingo card. Prize for the winner, a pint of my apple butter, which is sort of a thing for the community. When I put a pint in one of our fundraising auctions, it usually goes for more than $100. I think it's pretty good, but not THAT good. But the community's gone with me as I picked apples out,then processed and cooked them.
So half of you are still on about the potato. The other half are mathing, saying, "Hmmm, $10 x100 only equals $1,000."
Here's the magic -- the people who didn't want to play Bingo still donated. And in the end, we raised $2168.74 using an old potato.
UPDATE: Three months later, and after a course of Purina Calm supplement and specially-compounded CBD, New Girl Hope now spends most of her day out of the crate. She is now allowing her people to touch her head, neck, and body. Feet are still off limits.