Retail fundraisers have a choice:
You can give a gift along with a donation and spend all your time talking about how great the gift is. The MS bikeathon in New York is like this. The entire pitch is how rare or fun the ride is, with very little time spent on the difficult chore of selling people on raising money for a disease that's hard to visualize and not ubiquitous. The worst example of this is the gala at the fancy restaurant, where novices expect that $500 a plate somehow means the food is going to be good.
You can give a gift that serves as a badge, a symbol for the tribe. It could be your name in the program, or on the wall, or a t-shirt or coffee mug that lets others see what you did. Maybe you'll sit with someone interesting at the dinner…
Or you could focus on the way it feels to do something good, on the urgency, the emergency and the good that's getting done.
With the End Malaria project, Michael and I spent a lot wrestling with this.
The magic of a digital tote bag is that you can spend a fortune, a huge amount of time and effort, produce something magical and each incremental copy doesn't cost a thing. So instead of boiled chicken or a sweatship gimcrack, you get a world class book by 62 authors. A great book, and an important one for you to read, sure, but once you say to people, "buy this book," then you have to spend a lot of time persuading people to buy any book, to sell reading and the search for wisdom and the notion of actually buying, you know, a book.
"Is the book really worth $20? Can I get a copy at the library? Why not wait?" I'm not good at doing a hard sell of a book–if you don't like books, I can't get you to like them by writing a paragraph or two.
Instead, I hope you'll buy a copy today even if you don't buy books, even if you don't even intend to read it, even if you don't have a Kindle or a Kindle app. That would be fabulous, because it means that the transference of emotion has kicked in, and you have realized what a screaming bargain it is to pay $20 for the peace of mind that comes with saving someone's life.
Way more useful than a tote bag.
PS thanks to you (or your colleagues) as I write this, the book is the #1 business book, an instant worldwide bestseller. As a thank you to those that bought a copy, here's a link to a five hour long podcast interview with some of the authors. It's the honor system, of course. (And thanks to our biggest cash sponsors, Ashley Sleep and HubSpot, for their generous donations to MNM.)