Day 1 of my Dr. Henry Fundraiser

The team at Crash inspired me to “learn out loud.” So I’ve decided to blog my attempt to run a fundraiser.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that Dr. Bonnie Henry was a kick-ass communicator – someone who was calm, clear, and knowledgeable, but also someone who cared deeply about the people she worked with and BC’s citizens.

I had also noticed that in Alberta, a PhD student from Calgary had run a successful t-shirt fundraiser for the Calgary Food Bank (from which I myself have eaten, so kinda personal). She raised $26,000, or something near that, which is freakin amazing!

The gears started clicking and I put my entrepreneur glasses on. BAM! I should start a store that sells Dr. Bonnie Henry t-shirts! I looked at my competitors and found…NONE! And since the first law of marketing is Be the First in your Category, I thought I had a great head start.

Then I quickly messaged my friend Rob, who is a master’s student in London, and asked him if he’d like to make a Bonnie Henry design for a fundraiser (who happens to be a great designer). All of the money would go to the Okanagan Food Bank, which probably doesn’t have as much support as other food banks in the main land. Rob said yes, and set out to design something.

But Rob (and I) were both really busy, so the design got pushed to the next day and the next day and the next day. I also procrastinated with writing the copy for the website and setting up all of the settings. Then, last Monday, I read a daily hive article whose title was something like “This is our favourite Bonnie Henry Merch”. I was upset because our design would no longer be the first.

Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride and looked at the products. They were actually pretty cool.

And then,

a new idea hatched.

The artist who was making the tshirts on that website was taking the orders manually. In other words, if you wanted to buy a tshirt, you had to send her an email, and then she would put in the order for you.

I thought “man, that must be getting exhausting!” and reached out to her. My new idea was then to make my shopify store (which I had spent a bunch of time developing) a hub for BC merch of Dr. Bonnie Henry. After all, the designs were BC made, the tshirts were BC printed, and I noticed that the province’s health officials were stoking provincial pride.

Since then, I figured that I may as well reach out to any artists who have made artwork. Their work will be turned into tshirts anyways, so I figured that they may as well get the proceeds from the sales rather than some guy who’s just copying their work. Most of the artists have responded to me but are still thinking, so we’ll see what happens.

One issue that I’ve encountered is trust building. Artists are (rightly and rationally) concerned that I will snatch away all of the profits for myself. The best things that I’ve done to convince them that I will actually donate them is to have donated a small but sizeable sum of money to the Okgn food bank ($35) to show that I have skin in the game, and to be radically transparent.

I have been telling people in detail how the t-shirt printing process works, but other than the basic details, they don’t seem to be interested! I would think that this was really interesting because, well, as artists, they could be making so much money from their designs! Figuring out what information someone finds relevant is a difficult balance. If you don’t give enough, it looks as if you are being secretive. If you give too much, you’re boring and waste their time. I think that the mean is to give them information but leave out just a little to keep them wanting more – like a good mystery novel. Anyways, I digress.

Other than that, I test bought a tshirt from my store, and the process seems to work! It’ll come in the mail soon. I then opened the website up to the public, so we’ll see how well it succeeds.

Here’s a link to the website in case you’d like to check it out:

The title of this blog is a bit misleading because it isn’t really “DAY 1”, it’s more like two weeks after the first steps. But I wouldn’t change it because, as I wrote in another blog post, writing and speaking about my endeavours tends to deceive me into thinking that I’m actually doing work. But now that everything’s up and running and now that I’ve donated, I think it’s okay to share. I still won’t share this project with people in real life conversations, but blogging about it while it happens, on a blog that nobody but me reads anyways, should be okay.

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