October 27, 2010

Dating for a cause

Since I’m super behind on fundraising for the New York City Marathon, I knew that it wasn’t going to work to simply ask friends and go the normal route. What I needed was some sort of big idea – one that could bring in a lot of money in a short time.
My current week’s reading material for the plane is Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Given that context, my first instinct was to think about what motivates people to donate. If I send a mass mail to my friends, I’d get a few people who want to support me and have plenty of charity dollars. If I contacted people individually, I could probably get people to donate because they’d cave to the pressure and be too embarrassed to say no. But if I wanted to really motivate people to give money (and even get some complete strangers to do so), I knew I needed some sort of incentive for this one time gift – beyond the joys of contributing to charity.
I thought for a while about what sort of reward I could offer and decided that my best bet was to come up with one prize and award it in a random drawing – much easier on my end, and if I made the prize good enough, hopefully people would still want a raffle ticket. A few of my male friends told me that I ought to raffle myself off, date-auction style, but I wasn’t so sure – that seemed pretty darn conceited. I thought about leveraging Justin’s fame as a former pro tennis player and getting him to sign something or donate a prize, but he’s doing his own fundraising and it wouldn’t really be fair to make him provide some sort of prize for me. What could I offer that would be a one-of-a-kind thing that people would actually value?
But then it hit me – what about combining the two? Maybe I would feel silly about asking my friends to donate money for a date with me, but complete strangers might be interested in my marathon expertise. Plus, with all the talk about celebrities doing the marathon, I bet that some people might be interested in seeing firsthand what happens after the race. What I could easily offer by myself was the chance to be my date to our afterparty – providing the winner with the opportunity to hobnob with Justin and whatever tennis friends are there (no word on whether Roddick will show up to present the check in person, but I’m hoping!), get a date with me, and get all kinds of marathon advice from me on how to recover and when to do your next marathon (next weekend!).
Now the question – promoting this contest. My plan was to post this on the Runners’ World forums for people doing the NYC Marathon, and then try to find some tennis message board equivalent. But after IMing a few personal acquaintances I discovered the true value: sending it to guys I know who have been pressuring me for a date. No donation, no can do! From now on this is going to be my standard Okcupid response. Hey, guys like girls who are out of their league and play hard to get, right?

*Update: Justin generously offered to allow any of my supporters to come to the afterparty, so I’ve changed it from a raffle to a simple “donate money and you will get an invite.” Join the fun and come!


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