Thank you for choosing to take on this critical role in the Relay For Life of InWorldz. Whether this is your first season as Captain or veteran, you doubtless have many questions. You'll find many answers here. Over the season, the RFL of IW Committee will help you with answers to many more. For new Captains, particularly those who have limited experience in event management or fundraising, there are a few things that will be productive to consider early.
Defining Your Goal
It's good to have a goal! Setting a fundraising goal for your Team gives everyone a clear objective and creates a dramatic energy that can really motivate people who come to your events and those who work to produce them.
Determining the actual amount for a goal can be challenging, especially if you are new to the RFL of IW, to being a Team Captain, or to event organizing in general. How much money can you realistically raise from any given event? That can be a hard question to answer, but it's an important one, because setting a goal too high can have a discouraging effect on everyone.
As a starting point, ask other Captains how much they have raised from events similar to yours and adapt their results to your situation. Here are a few other proven tactics you might consider.
Think In Increments
Remember that if you reach a goal early on in an event, you can raise it. This can be very effective: everyone enjoys the feeling of accomplishment that comes from reaching the goal, and as long as you don't then raise it by an unrealistic amount, you'll be able to keep that positive energy going.
In general, the closer you get to reaching your goal amount, the more people are motivated to give. Therefore, it's much better to set a goal for "this hour" as opposed to "this season." You as a Team Captain will have an amount you would like your Team to raise over the season. But people will be more compelled to donate if the goal you are communicating to them is for the event they are presently attending.
Have a Solid Plan
A good rule is simply this: Don't "goal" money that you don't have a plan for raising.
There are so many different kinds of events possible in the RFL of IW that any list of suggestions for how to do each well would be very long. But whatever kind of event you choose, make these three elements your top priorities:
- Publicize it to as many people as possible.
- Put your energy into making it a quality experience for your guests.
- Treat each guest and every team member with the respect and gratitude any person is due. That's how you can give your Team the best chance for success.
Always Be Inclusive
Most people can't afford to give as much as they would like. They may hear that the goal is to raise "$20,000 izzies during this concert" and decide that the $50 izzies they can afford to give will not be very helpful in reaching the goal.
A good tactic, therefore, especially for new Captains, Teams, or events, is to set a goal for a number of donors instead of an amount of money. This can be even more effective when combined with the use of a Matching Challenge. For example, at the start of a dance party, the DJ might announce that the goal for the hour is to get 25 people to donate any amount to RFL, and when that goal is reached, a donor is standing by to give a large amount. This encourages people to donate who don't have much to give, because any amount will help move the event closer to its goal.
Of course, even having a good plan doesn't guarantee that you'll reach your goal - any fundraising event is subject to variables that you as Team Captain can't control, such as the global economy, weather and other types of news events, or the technical variables common to any InWorldz event. As a Captain, never be discouraged if you miss the target amount for an event. If you raise $500 izzies at a Relay event in IW, you've raised US$1 - and every one of those is precious, and a step in the right direction. That is not rhetoric. Every donation matters.
And remember that everyone in Relay is a volunteer, including you! Being a Team Captain is not an easy task, so be as thoughtful in how you treat yourself as you are in treating others.
Crafting The Message
There are always many worthy causes competing for the charitable money that we can afford to give. With so much need on the part of so many, it is a challenge for any of those organizations to be heard. And it is a challenge for us to decide the limits of our budget, and how to divide that total amount among the causes to which we feel most dedicated.
These challenges, combined with others - including people's sensible concerns for the security of their personal information - add up to a kind of inertia that must be overcome before they will make a charitable donation. As Captain of a Relay For Life Team in InWorldz, it is your challenge to create events and to deliver a message whose energy is great enough to overcome that inertia.
A virtual event, even one as globally embraced as Relay, is subject to a unique set of challenges. But it also benefits from unique advantages:
- The amounts you will be asking for are small by comparison to the amounts solicited by organizations in traditional media.
- The "path to giving" - the number and complexity of the steps required to make a donation - is among the simplest ever devised.
- At most hours of the day, there are (as of this writing) 300 people signed on to IW, and most of them are in search of something fun, meaningful, and compelling to do.
Those are powerful advantages, and as Captain, you can harness them to raise money, raise awareness, and move us all closer to a world without cancer.
For all the thousands who have attended Relay Events and made donations there are many more who haven't yet, but would love to do just that. In fact, they need to do it. We just haven't been able to get an invitation to them yet. That's where you come in! Your task is go where we have not yet gone and to ask for support from those who have not yet been asked.
So universal is the devastation and grief cancer causes that few people need to hear a lengthy discourse on why they should support the largest and most effective global effort to end it. It is true that Relay works toward a day when all types of cancer are cured. But the single most compelling message you as a Captain can incorporate into your Team events is that Relay is improving and saving lives *today*.
The RFL of IW Committee will distribute information to you throughout the season that will include facts and figures about the progress that has been made in the fight against cancer. This is a message that resonates with all of us, even those who have lost loved ones already, because we Relay as much to spare others that grief as to honor the memory of those we have lost.
So, keep the message positive. Keep the energy high. The vast majority of those who attend your events will be in good spirits, because like you, they have a need to act and to make a difference. Each of us has our own reason, but ultimately, we have all arrived at the same conclusion: "Something must be done and I must be a part of it."
You represent a cause that people care deeply about. You have a large population online at any hour of the day. You're not asking for large amounts of money in general, and the actual path to giving couldn't be much easier. For all of its limitations, the possibilities for creating exciting and compelling events in the virtual world are vast. And you can convey the message that Relay's efforts are working. We are making a difference.
Still, in 2013, almost thirteen million people around the world will hear the words, "You have cancer."
And we're going to have their backs.
Good hunting, Captain.