From being a donor to a fundraiser – A journey

In 1989, while living in Bangalore, one morning my neighbour’s six-year-old daughter came to me to ask for donations to support underprivileged children.  When I asked her why she was doing this, she spoke animatedly about how she wanted to help someone in need. I immediately bought the remaining five Rs 20-coupons and the smile that lit up on her face is still in my heart. Since then I have continued to support causes where I can see the direct impact.

When Ashwin, a friend and a colleague explained about Mera Terah Run (MTR) and the cause that he was raising money for, without hesitation I extended my support. I loved how MTR 2014’s team was planning to run 13 miles everyday across 13 cities (via 13 train rides) within 13 days. The concept struck a chord with me. It combined two of my favourite things – travelling and supporting a cause. When I donated to Ashwin’s campaign in 2014, I told him that I wanted to be part of MTR 2015.

My Journey as a Mera Terah Run Yatri

When I was officially signing up for 2015 run in August, I had to mention the amount of money I pledge to raise. I was about to tick on Rs 1 lakh-box when I realized that apart from my family, I have many friends who would do anything for me at my simple request. So, as I decided to stretch my limits and I chose the maximum amount listed on the form.

Although I signed up in Aug’15, I began the physical preparation in March’15.  I enrolled with a dietician to prepare my body for the endurance that was expected of me to do MTR 2015 (13 days, 13 cities, 13 Km/day). Also, I walked an hour a day to and gradually stretched it to two hours. Meanwhile, I also participated in my first half marathon in Bangalore in October. It really boosted my confidence & I felt prepared for the MTR journey.

Apart from prep, fundraising was an integral part of the endurathon. It was the first time I was fundraising and given my pledge amount, I needed a plan. I created a list of people who I knew
I could count upon. Of the hundreds of people I knew, 137 people became a part of my list. Next step was outreach. Now, although MTR had prepared email templates, I realized that people who knew me well enough would know that it wasn’t my writing. So, instead of blasting mass-mailers, I started writing personalized emails to friends and family. I told them about my plans to run 13 km/day over 13 cities and explained the causes I was supporting. Those mailers were sent in wee hours of the morning but it was worth the effort. Meanwhile, whenever I bumped into at someone, who wasn’t already on my list, I would tell them about MTR and my initiative. Eventually, I had 160 names on my list.

160 people; 300+ phone calls & WhatsApp messages; 380+ emails; 60+ hours of personal time spent and 30 days later, I had raised about Rs 7 lakhs.

At the end of it, there was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, but also a great learning that cannot be learnt in schools. Here are a few:

  • Conviction for the cause is critical: Without believing in the cause, there is no way I could have convinced others to support me. Whether it was emails or calls, my messages were filled with my passion towards the cause. In fact, many people replied that they were very touched by my initiative.
  • Expect the unexpected: I reached out to someone, who I had worked with 9 years ago. However, within 30 mins of my mail, he contributed significantly to the fundraiser. Meanwhile, people who I saw everyday didn’t share my enthusiasm.
  • No correlation between a designation and amount of money donated: In fact, some of the people with low paying jobs gave more money and that was quite overwhelming.
  • Over two reminders are meaningless: If someone wanted to donate, they would give it right away or maybe within a few reminders. Show gratitude: I thanked everyone, whether they contributed or not. I wanted to ensure that my relationship with them was not just about fundraising; I wanted their support in spirit too!

Thanks to MTR’15, I am 15Kgs lighter and have a sense of accomplishment. The fact that I had a set of friends and family that I could count upon made me feel that I have done some things right in life! Thanks to my friends and family, I feel extremely blessed.

Looking forward to Mera Terah Run 2016! As they say, the journey never ends…

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