campaign to watch: trick-or-treat-or-help fund water.

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campaign: Halloween Water Festival
start date: Oct. 25
goal amount: $5,000
amount raised from Halloween night alone: $1,350.50

sorting cards

With hundreds of kids and their parents hitting your doorstep on Halloween, why not use that opportunity to share how they can help fight the water crisis? That’s exactly what Martin Petersen of San Pedro, Calif., did this year. We’ll let him explain how:

So a little bit of background. We live in a neighborhood where lots of kids stop by for Halloween. This year we had 901 guests (yes, we count).

For each child that came by, we gave a piece of candy, and a little slip of paper telling them about charity: water. Then we donated $1 per candy handed out, and a friend of ours donated $.50 per candy.

When I started everything, I shipped out a BCC email to about 100 people and promised updates on the campaign to all of them. I also loosely promoted on Facebook. These promotions outside of Halloween raised about $400.


So far, we’ve raised about $1,700 from all sources. I’m going to try to get to $5,000 by end of the year to build our own well. We’ll see how that goes. I’m happy with results so far. There are a few arms I can probably twist to give, but I think the grassroots thing is a more organic approach capable of making bigger change over the long run.

Between now and year’s end, I’ll most likely do two more large mailings like that — insert photos, show off the amount collected so far, link to the charity: water blog, find water facts and post the link onto Facebook, etc. The larger donors will also get a hand-written note and I will encourage them to spread the word. And I’ve ordered a nice set of postcard-size cards, with water info (and a link to the campaign page) to be inserted in my Christmas cards this year. They are very handsome and hopefully will result in a few donations.


My advice for doing things like this on Halloween — anywhere that you have people gather in large numbers such as what happens in our neighborhood, you’ll have an opportunity. Since it was my party, then I could make up the rules!

I don’t expect donations to roll in from people who got cards. Everybody read the cards, I knew that the message got out because new people came to the door and said, “You’re the water guy, aren’t you?” But there are techniques for getting sales material converted to an actual sell. In this case, the child would need to get the card to the parent, the parent would need to be motivated to go to his/her computer, go to the URL and the put money into the hat. I did not have high expectations that the whole stream of events would occur. We’ll see, but I doubt it.

I think you need to consider, going in, whether the material you give out is informative or it is intended for generating contributions. I’ll give more thought about what I’ll do in the future.

This is my first engagement with charity: water. It’s been fun and rewarding.

– Martin Petersen, mycharity: water fundraiser

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