How to Change the Awareness Game

Stay tuned – at the end of this post I’m giving away two tickets to a fabulous event being held in Ottawa on November 14th!

I’ve been involved in charity work pretty much my whole life. My parents set the example when I was just a kid. We lived in a very small, isolated community on the west coast of Canada, and every year, my parents would work with the community to broadcast a 21 hour telethon on local tv, and a community of 1800 people would raise over $25,000 for children with disabilities (that was a lot of money back then). Since 1980, the same telethon that my parents helped start has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Helping others is ingrained in me. I’ve worked for non-profits, volunteered countless hours, and our company does a ton of work with charities and non profits in many different capacities.

Charities have taken a big hit in the past couple of years. Lots of people talk these days about “donor fatigue”, especially with the onset of social media. Its seems everywhere you turn someone else is asking for your dollars. The economy has also played a role – the dollars that used to be going into charities are simply drying up, and it’s been quite a blow.

Fundraising and awareness are more challenging than ever. But I have to stress the awareness part. There are basically two ways that charities can successfully raise funds these days…either get a LOT of people to donate a small amount, or get big corporations on board to make large contributions. Both of these strategies take a TONNE of awareness. Way more than your average “pledge-a-thon”.

So it’s great to see people creating events that are putting the emphasis on awareness, and finding really creative ways to do it. is a prime example of this. Oh sure, it’s raising lots of money (over $50,000 at last count) but it’s raising even more awareness. The charities chosen each month are benefiting from huge amounts of eyeballs, because of the nature of the social network and the “I’ll tell two friends” philosophy at work.

Another great example of creatively gaining awareness was my friend Cheryl’s Local TV Matters to Local Artists” event, held on October 25th. She invited local musicians to come out and do a free show at a local cafe, to raise awareness for the plight of local television. People showed up in droves for the free concert, found out some more info on the local TV situation, and signed a bunch of support letters. Mission accomplished, and everyone had fun doing it.

An event that I’m really pumped about is coming up here in Ottawa on November 14th. It’s called “Timeraiser”. Put together by the Framework Foundation, the aim of the event is to increase the number of volunteer hours being done in a community. The way it works is, people go to the Timeraiser event, and they go around to different booths and find out about various organizations they can get involved with. Then via silent auction, they bid on works of art with volunteer hours instead of cash. The winning bidders then put in their volunteer hours over the year, and at the end of it they get to take home a beautiful piece of original art. Brilliant!

Here’s more about how the whole thing works.

In the future, I believe charities will make money one of two ways – by large volumes of people giving smaller amounts or by awareness and eyeballs being so high that corporate donors would be crazy not to jump on the opportunity to make large donations and take advantage of all the good that does.

The successful charities will be the ones who can come up with novel ways to raise awareness and encourage people to spread the word in their communities.

I’ll be going to Timeraiser on November 14th, and I hope to see you there. The good people at Timeraiser have been kind enough to offer me two tickets to give away, so here goes. Just reply in the comments with “I wanna go to Timeraiser, Suze!” and I’ll enter you in the draw, which I’ll do on November 9th.

Good luck!

How to Build a Community Web Site
Creating Amazing Video – An e-Book


  • November 3, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I wanna go to Timeraiser Suze!

    Suze – great post – bang on about awareness.

    Communications Manager
    HR Council for the Voluntary & Non-profit Sector

  • November 3, 2009 at 11:50 am
    Amanda Mayer

    I wanna go to Timeraiser, Suze! and I look forward to seeing you there 🙂

  • November 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I saw this last year. Your interpretation of how awareness is changing philanthropy is interesting….never made the connection to eyeballs and corporate dollars.



15 49.0138 8.38624 1 0 4000 1 300 0