By Ilana DeBare
When Lisa Eileen Hern agreed to take part in Golden Gate Audubon’s Birdathon last year, she thought she’d raise $100 … if she were lucky.
She ended up raising $520!
“The response was overwhelming,” said Lisa, a San Francisco resident. “It was mostly from a general posting on Facebook. I didn’t even approach people individually. It was amazing how many people jumped in.”
As Golden Gate Audubon gears up for Birdathon 2014 during April, many members are asking themselves if they have what it takes to fundraise.
Maybe you’re one of them?
You want to help Golden Gate Audubon, you’d love to go on some of the Birdathon trips… but you’ve never really asked people for money. What if they say no? What if they get mad?
Lisa’s story is an inspiring example of someone who didn’t know she could fundraise… until she tried.
A lifelong birder and a longtime member of National Audubon, Lisa got involved with GGAS a few years ago when she wanted to work on behalf of birds locally. She became a Burrowing Owl docent, who monitors and helps passersby learn about the small owls that winter at the Berkeley Marina.
She channeled that owl passion into her request for Birdathon support. And her friends responded.
“One donor, a biologist, said he’d seen my Facebook posts about the Burrowing Owls and thought they were great,” Lisa said. “Another said that her father used to be a big fan of Burrowing owls… Apparently my ramblings about visiting the Burrowing Owls resonated with people.”
This year Lisa is on the volunteer committee that did the planning for Birdathon. The committee came up with a slew of exciting events, such as a field trip led by Rusty Scalf to see California Condors at Pinnacles National Park.
That trip attracted another novice fundraiser, Holly Bern.
Holly had always been fascinated by birds and was a GGAS member. But she had never been to a Golden Gate Audubon event – not a single meeting or field trip.
When she learned about the Birdathon trip to the Pinnacles, though, she signed up immediately.
“I had turned 50 and was thinking about some kind of challenge like running a marathon,” said Holly, who lives in Oakland. “But it has been on my list for a long time to go see condors at the Pinnacles. When I saw this trip, I knew I had to do it.”
Holly immediately started asking friends to sponsor her. “I went through my address book, to see if someone felt like a close enough friend, or if they were someone I had supported in the past,” she said. “I started off my email with, ‘I’ve never done this before.’ ”
Within one week, she had raised $800! And her total – now at $1200 – continues to rise.
Holly’s secret? Her deep love of birds and her drive to protect them through Golden Gate Audubon’s conservation work.
“Rather than feeling like I’m asking people for money, I’m asking them to support something I really believe in,” she said. “”It feels like it’s coming from the heart. People said it really struck a chord with them.”
Both Lisa and Holly offer similar advice to novice fundraisers:
Don’t be afraid. Speak from your heart.
“People really want to help,” Lisa said. “They want to be of service, but they can’t be unless you ask them. Step out on that limb and make the ask. Remember – you’re not asking for yourself. You’re asking for Golden Gate Audubon.”
Want to get involved in Birdathon? To reach our goal of $50,000, we need everyone’s help!
Click here to see a list of Birdathon trips. Then click here to create a fundraising page that you can share with friends. (It only takes about three minutes.)
Can’t go on a trip yourself? Sponsor a Birdathon fundraiser like Holly or Lisa, or make a general donation to Birdathon. Click here to see a directory of Birdathon fundraisers.