Two weeks ago, I was in the planning stages of a benefit fika to raise money for Haiti. What I didn't say is that for me, if something is in the planning stages that means there's still time to back out. Drop the ball. Call it quits. Leave the scene before the crime happens. You following?
My follow-through doesn't always live up to expectations; or, at the very least, tends to exist on a different time line than anyone else's. But this was different. As soon as I mentioned it to the good folks at the cafe, aptly named Cafe!, I knew I would have to follow through... or, never go back to that cafe again. I mean, how embarrassing to convince someone to commit to a good deed and then back out myself? Only on the Internet!
So, with Keith encouraging me, I broke it down into steps and went with it.
First order of business: Nail down the details with Arjwan, the fabulous cafe owner. She graciously offered the space for free and the food at-cost, not to mention her time so that we could hold the event after-hours. Keith and I decided to pay for the food ourselves so that all the money people gave could go to the cause. We thought there might be more incentive to give if we could tell them that ALL of their donations would go to a good cause.
Second order of business: Figure out how to invite people (Facebook? Evite? Mass email?) What we discovered in the process is that Partners In Health, the organization we were raising money for, makes it extremely easy to host an event of your own. Seriously - go to their website and there's a link on the lower right-hand side that says "Can you host an event? Click here." The have an invitation tool, logos, thank you notes, and more so that you don't have to spend a lot of time thinking up ways to advertise and what-not. Pretty nifty! So, we used their invite and basically invited everyone we know in Sweden. I always get nervous that if I invite someone I know but only a little bit then their reaction will be, "Why would she think I would want to come to this?!" Or worse yet, "Who's Kate?" This is a very dumb thought to have, though, so I basically got over myself and invited everyone from my closest friends to my midwives.
Third order of business: Talk up the event shamelessly. On Sunday we took business cards from the cafe to church, writing the event details on the back and passed them to people who's email we didn't know, or to people we just met (including the super-cool sisters I ran into. I asked them where they were from since they were speaking English, and they said, "We're half American and half French, but we grew up in Africa and Sweden". I want to be them.) I kept the cards in my coat pocket throughout the week so I could easily hand them to anyone that I thought might be interested. I also posted on-line at some of the forums I'm on, and reminded people on Facebook as well. I will say that the biggest turnout certainly came from our closest friends; but, I think it's great to spread the word any way you can about events like this; and it's great networking for any future events.
And lastly: Show up. So, we did, Thursday evening from 5-7pm. Keith and I got there just a bit early to put out some info about Partners In Health (this is a truly fabulous organization that's been in Haiti for over 25 years), take some pictures, and welcome the guests.
We had a great time! About 20 people came over the course of a couple hours, and enjoyed coffee, tea, and three delicious types of cake. There were suggested donation amounts, although we were collecting donations in a jar so people were free to give more or less depending on their circumstances. There was no programming, people could just sit and study or read, or chat with friends.
We raised 2800 kroner or about $390. While this isn't a mind-blowing amount by any means, we got a lot of other benefit from the event as well... a fun evening out, a gathering of friends, the start of new friendships, and hopefully planting the idea that everyone can make a difference with a little creativity. Despite my aversion to follow-through this took surprisingly little effort on my part but the pay-off feels great, all around.