Fundraising without Social Media? Jennifer Tiu has proven that it's possible
Dressember advocates come from all walks of life, each with their own unique sphere of influence. In the 2017 Dressember campaign, Jennifer Tiu raised $7,347 from 32 donors, exceeding her goal of $6,300 - enough to fund an entire rescue mission.
Jennifer Tiu is a bookkeeper living in Pasadena, CA. She first heard about Dressember through founder, Blythe Hill, because they happen to attend the same church. When Jennifer first heard Blythe’s presentation four years ago, she was moved but did not immediately become an advocate. One year later, she was stirred into action. She had never done any fundraising before, so she was not sure just how to get started, but the website made it clear how she could launch a page. While Jennifer does not have personal experiences that mirror the kind of horrific trauma that the victims we are advocating for have gone through, she recalls plenty of times in life where she was lied to, manipulated and made to feel less than worthwhile. “Maybe all of us can relate to that in a small way,” Jennifer claims.
Because she has come to see that she is not particularly savvy with technology, Jennifer has found it easier to fundraise “the old fashioned way" - without the use of social media. Sometimes we have to remember that there was a time when you had to talk to people face-to-face in order to talk to them about your cause. She is not on Facebook and has never used Twitter. Most of her time is spent working and being a mother, so when she is home she focuses on being present. Maybe we could learn something from this. While Jennifer has nothing against social media, she chooses to use email exclusively because that is what she knows best.
When the advocating season starts, Jennifer sets up her page and goes about emailing everyone in her contacts with a link to donate. She sends a reminder once a week with photographic evidence of her wearing dresses, to show that she has kept up her end of the deal. With a few days left in the month, she sends an email with four weeks worth of pictures. The next email goes out on December 31, which Jennifer calls “Procrastinator’s Day."
Her photographic evidence has evolved over the years. Her first year, she tried to strike a pose in all her photos. The second year, she wanted to do something even more interesting, so she enlisted the help of her office’s IT technician, asking him if he could combine a week’s worth of pictures into one group shot. The IT tech, Stephen, had a lot of fun with it, having seven Jennifers linking arms, making a Jennifer snowflake, showing seven Jennifers riding Santa’s reindeer, and hanging seven Jennifer ornaments on a Christmas tree! Her final email boasted three Jennifer’s posing on a giant “Happy New Year” logo. This year was her third year advocating, and she was not sure how to top the brilliant artwork of 2016. But in 2017, she went on a teaching trip to Nigeria for the first nine days of Dressember, and decided to take a photo with a different person or group of people each day. Upon her return to California, she continued taking pictures with other people that she found interesting.
Every December for the past three years, at least a few people ask her why she is “dressed up." She always answers that she is running a marathon. “Since I’m not physically capable of running an actual marathon to raise charitable funds, I’m doing Dressember,” Jennifer told us. That comment typically opens up a conversation about Dressember, and it usually leads to a donation.
When she started advocating, Jennifer wondered if she would be able to raise very much money at all. She truly felt called to get involved, but didn’t know if she could actually make a difference. Even though she is a simple bookkeeper and not wealthy herself, she works for people who are quite wealthy and cautiously includes them in her appeals each year. She has been amazed at not only how generous her clients have been, but her friends and family who also contribute what they are able. The donations she has collected range from a few dollars to $2,000 - and it all adds up. Over the past few years, she has continued to be a top fundraiser.
One important lesson we can take away from Jennifer's story is to not forget the impact of a simple, personal email, even if we continue to use social media platforms to convince potential donors. With or without the trendiest communication methods, anyone can be an advocate and raise money to end slavery! Jennifer shows us that we can use what works for us to advocate for the cause, and we do not need to put ourselves in a box just because that box has worked for others.
Raise your voice against slavery this December!
Commit to wearing a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, expand your knowledge on modern slavery, and be equipped to lead your community in the fight to end human trafficking. Registration is open for Dressember 2018 and fundraising has already started! Be a part of the impact for our local and global partners by creating your campaign page today!
About the Author
Rae Rohm is an avid baker, an enthusiastic storyteller, and a thoughtful writer who hails from Delaware. She is a graduate of Biola University, where she studied journalism. When she is not teaching people about the glories of her home state, she can be found enjoying nature with her sweet but mischievous puppy, singing along to music while running on the treadmill, and making gifts for her family and friends. Rae loves using her skills and talents to bring all people - past and present, near and far - into fellowship with one another.