By Maureen Lunn, contributing writer and Unbound Trailblazer
When I learned about the Unbound Trailblazers, my first thought was, “That sounds really cool. Too bad I hate running.”
I quickly learned that you don’t have to be a runner, walker or competitor to participate in Trailblazers, which is a worldwide team of Unbound sponsors and supporters who challenge poverty by raising money through athletics.
Still, I didn’t know how I could participate (but I really wanted that cool teal Trailblazers shirt). Then it finally hit me — yoga! I’d been practicing yoga for more than a decade and was about to graduate from a year-long yoga teacher training program. Trailblazers would create a perfect platform to request graduation gifts from my friends and family in the form of donations to Unbound.
So I set up my fundraising page through Unbound’s website, acknowledging to those who visited that they probably weren’t planning to get me a graduation gift (other than my mom, of course!), but now that it’s for a great cause, how could they resist? Dedicating my page to raise money for Unbound’s scholarship program, I explained that my yoga teacher training had been life-changing education for me, setting me on a new and unexpected path. I wanted others around the world to have the same chance to pursue their passion through education.
Then I let the website sit there for three months and didn’t show anyone. (Not very effective, I know.)
But as graduation approached, I kicked it into gear, reminding myself that no one’s going to shun me for soliciting donations, and that, worst case scenario, a few people might give a few bucks, which would be better than nothing. So I took a deep yoga breath, gathered my confidence, and posted my fundraising website on Facebook and Instagram and sent it via email to close friends and family.
I got a good number of “likes” on social media, so that’s something, but only about $30 came in those first few days.
I didn’t lose heart. I reminded myself that, doggone it, people like me! And they would probably like Unbound, too, if they didn’t already. I reposted to social media and sent direct text messages to people who had told me they wanted to donate but just hadn’t gotten around to it. I sent email messages to 10 people, asking each of them to give $10 to help me raise an easy $100. Most of them did, and most of them gave more. I tagged people on Facebook who loved yoga or loved Unbound or loved me, inviting them to participate. I shared videos on Instagram explaining why I was passionate about Unbound and how effective the scholarship program is.
With my renewed efforts, I hit my original goal of $200 within a week. So I set a stretch goal of $400, and kept blasting people with reminders over the next few weeks as my graduation date neared.
The more money I raised, the more confident I became in asking others to give.
By the day I received my yoga teacher certificate, my friends and family had generously donated $580.
I was flabbergasted and so grateful. I had raised almost three times my original goal, and I knew that amount could provide a scholarship for a student somewhere in the Unbound world. In the end, it took such little effort from me, but the impact will be huge — a path to education and a better tomorrow for a hardworking student.
It was the best graduation gift I could have asked for.
What’s your path to becoming a Trailblazer? Learn more.