Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Hello my dear happiness nerds, welcome back!

I’m back from the summer break with a topic that is very dear to my heart: Helping beautiful Mother Nature to recover from global warming. And I think I found a way that beats every other way I’ve heard of, pondered, or researched (at least for individuals like myself – the systemic changes must happen additionally, of course). It’s a win-win-win-win-win method in my opinion and here’s a preview of some of its benefits, so you can decide if this post is worth your time:

  • It’s incredibly simple.
  • It’s very efficient.
  • It’s fun.
  • It’s meaningful.
  • It connects you with others.
  • It doesn’t cost you a penny (it only costs a little of your time and how much of it is up to you).
  • You’re in total control.
  • Anyone can do it.
  • You can adapt it to your situation.
  • You can apply it to any other cause that is dear to you – it doesn’t have to be saving nature (although, if you want to pay me some tribute for this idea, please consider applying it at least in part to this cause).

So, what is this alleged wonder-method for helping the planet (or contributing to any other cause)? I call it fun-raising and, in a nutshell, it works like this: You help somebody else and instead of paying you they donate to a charity of your choice.

Simple, right? Yet, it combines much of what is best about fundraising, volunteer work, and pro bono work (which are all terrific already!) and adds some unique advantages. I was discussing fun-raising with my best friend the other day and we just kept noticing benefit after benefit (hence the long list above). So much for the tl;dnr part – let’s dig deeper!

How does fun-raising work, exactly?

There’s actually not much more to say than in the nutshell above: You take something you’re reasonably good at and enjoy reasonably well and offer it as a service, which people compensate you for by donating to a cause/organization you care about (if you want, you can offer a range of causes/organizations to your service-users). You should be good at the service you offer so people would desire your service in the first place. If you’re good at what you’re offering you’re likely going to enjoy it (because you feel competent while doing it) – you might even get into the wonderful state of flow and reap its many benefits! Your enjoyment also makes sure that you’ll keep up the fun-raising more or less effortlessly for some years to come. As you can see, I named my method “fun-raising” for a reason. The fun-part is really crucial.

This might bother some people, who’d like to see good deeds being done purely for altruistic (i.e., non-selfish) reasons. And I get that. But when it comes to helping the planet recover, I’m pragmatic. I’ll favor what does the most good with the least harm. And I think fun-raising strikes a great balance here – the only cost being some of your time. And it does not have to be much time either. In my case, I’m aiming for 1 hour per week in which I offer psychological counseling for donations to the amazing Rainforest Coalition. In an ideal year with 48 sessions (I grant myself four weeks of vacation here, too), I’d raise around 5000 USD (donations per session would vary based on the clients’ wallets). And that’s tax-free money, another advantage of the method!

The barriers fun-raising overcomes

I think the benefits of fun-raising become clearest when I first mention some of the main barriers to getting active:

  • Barriers to giving money: Donating one’s hard earned money hurts even though it’s probably the most effective way of doing good. And maybe you literally cannot afford to do so, because you don’t have the funds. With fun-raising the money your clients donate was never in your pockets to begin with. Rationally it shouldn’t make a difference but psychologically it so does!
  • Barriers to devoting one’s career: If you’re like me you didn’t plan your career around the cause you care most about now. Therefore, you’re not qualified to contribute with paid work. And earning a suitable qualification may take too long, be too expensive, be too big of a commitment, or simply not enjoyable to you. For example, I love nature but studying environmental engineering is just not an option for me. With fun-raising I can just deploy the skills that I already have.
  • Barriers to contributing with one’s time: Maybe unskilled volunteer work might be a good alternative then? It can be, but often it’s not the most efficient option or comes with its own problems. Take planting trees, for example: Planting trees here in Switzerland would be way less efficient than doing it in, say, Ethiopia. But flying there would produce more CO2 than all the trees I could plant would compensate. Plus, it’s not the best use of my skills as a psychologist and I might break my decrepit nerd back in the process. Lastly, I’d take away meaningful work from a local, who would not have to fly anywhere to do good. With fun-raising I can get the most out of my skillset and transform it into wisely-used money wherever I am without damaging local economies.

The benefits of fun-raising in more detail

  • Simple: You don’t need much to start with fun-raising. Just post your service on social media and the word will spread. In my experience, people love the idea and you’ll have enough requests in no time. Beat the perfectionist in you – you don’t need a pretty website, impressive business cards, or anything like that. Five minutes for a social media post is all it takes.
  • Efficient: As I said, five minutes is all it takes to get started. Also, people can make their donations directly to the charity, so you don’t need any “payment” infrastructure and you don’t have any fuss with bookkeeping, taxes, and the like. Virtually all of the time you spend with fun-raising is spent on providing the service.
  • Fun: You choose the service freely and you’re good at the service you’re offering, so fun is guaranteed. Also, you’re helping somebody for free (after all, you’re not being paid!) while creating funds for a cause you care about. The other person knows this, so they’re usually excited, too, which creates a much more pleasant environment than when they’re expecting the most bang for their hard-earned bucks. They just donated to a good cause and your service kind of comes as a bonus, so it’s already a win-win situation from the start.
  • Meaningful: Fun-raising feels more meaningful than donating or doing volunteer work, because one is providing a service to a person who is right in front of oneself. The benefits from this are felt immediately and concretely. One is not only contributing to a greater, more abstract, and harder to measure cause like reversing climate change, but also helping a fellow human being here and now (which, according to happiness research, is one of the most effective ways towards one’s own happiness, too).
  • Connecting: If you start fun-raising, please let me know! We’ll be connected through it. More importantly though, fun-raising is a means to connecting with your service-users in a positive, constructive, and, as I mentioned, fun way. In the process you’re likely to inspire others to start their own fun-raising journeys, thereby expanding your network of connection even further!
  • Free: As I said: The money you create for your cause through fun-raising was never yours to begin with.
  • Self-determined: All decisions in fun-raising are yours: What service you offer, which service-users you work with, how much time you dedicate and at what time of the day and week, if you team up with others, what charity you support, and so on. You’re the boss of your own little fun-raising enterprise!
  • Inclusive: Anyone can fun-raise, because everybody has something to offer. Giving guitar lessons, gardening, teaching sign language, babysitting, helping with tax returns, designing a brand logo, repairing a car, giving legal advice, photographing a wedding, and so on – the possibilities are endless!
  • Flexible: You can adapt fun-raising to every situation in your life. Especially stressful months? Take a break! A project got cancelled? Do something meaningful by fun-raising a bit more for a while! Stuck at home during a pandemic lockdown? Offer a service online! New in town? Get to know the generosity of the locals by sharing your own. Got bored of a service or the service-users weren’t satisfied? Offer a different service! Found an even more awesome charity you want to support? Go for it or support several charities at a time! Remember: You’re free to fun-raise in any way that works best for you in your current situation.  

So, this is fun-raising. Let me know in the comments below what you think about it and if you have any suggestions for improving it. Please also let me know if you’ve encountered this concept elsewhere – I’ve done some research to see if it already existed but I didn’t find anything like it. And most of all: Please brainstorm some activities you enjoy right now. Maybe you’ll find five minutes to start your fun-raising journey – alone or with like-minded friends – soon!

Much love

Thomas

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42 thoughts on “The Best Idea I’ve Ever Had

  1. I’m so grateful for this solution, normally I wouldn’t post my post in your post, but I remember having the problem of finding something I was passionate about changing but not having an idea for a solution of ending Mingi in 2020 or at least working towards it (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bubblegummonkey.com/1180) and I hit a wall of wanting to do something, but something accessible, I found out Amazon.com via Amazon Smile can donate a small amount towards whatever charity you pick if you shop from the link for smile rather than the normal link, but after doing that I still wanted to do more. I wanted to do more, but without trying to involve people who didn’t resonate with what I was resonating with. I’m defiantly going to pursue fun-raising. I used to has a massage therapy license, I let it lapse, but the license board offered me to renew it, maybe I will do that, but I’ll defiantly give it a shot somehow. Really excited by the idea. I’ve been exploring the value of ujamaa cooperative economics this month and it’s a beautiful for of it to do this kind of fun-raising, I’m so excited to be able to show my kids we can make the world a little better without overextending ourselves. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sakura, thanks so much for another great contribution! Unfortunately, the link didn’t work when I clicked it. Massages sound like a great service for fun-raising! 😃 You’re kids are really lucky to have such an active and good mom! I hope they follow your example 😊

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, this one worked! Haha, like you said in the post: You don’t have to have all the answers and with time a solution will come. I’m happy I could be a part of it 😊 And it’s a great cause you care about. I wish you good luck with it!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I emailed the license board already, so here’s to hoping that works out well because I used to volunteer to do that so it would be the easiest for me to go back to I think. I would love to make some kind of card to print with the donation information making that side easier to do, I would love to add something from you to kind of work in solidarity though, towards different goals, I used to have a club of the student massage therapists, we all volunteered, once I get settled in a bit I’ll bet one or two of them would join me in the quest for good. ⚽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, I love how you took action right away! 🌟 Cool idea with the cards – it really does make things easier. Thanks for wanting to add something from me, too. Maybe a TinyURL linking to the fun-raising blog post? So they can read up and hopefully get inspired, too 😊 And working together with other students will multiply your efforts even further, that’s awesome! Thanks again so much! 🙏

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      1. I told my husband about the project yesterday and he was really excited, changing the name to fun-raising really makes a difference on not only the intent, but also the reception. I wouldn’t have guessed it would make such a big effect to change one letter. I think everyone wants to help, but we feel like the problems we care about are above the level we could help, this really psychologically brought what I wanted to do down to my level somehow and that makes me feel more inspired about life and excited to become more of a service person, when before I really wasn’t open to that, because I am quite introverted, but knowing I’m in control of the choices makes it empowering rather than a chore. Possibly you could start a coach.me habit group for “fun-raising” it’s free, it would be a place people can check off their habit to keep track of it, it also allows users to ask questions, answer questions, and take either public or private notes.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Cool that your husband likes it, too! Does he have a service in mind that he could offer? I thought long about how to name it and I was also amazed by what a difference a little letter could make. Thanks for the idea with the coaching platform, it sounds great! Right now I have very little free time, but that’ll change towards the end of this year. It would be a really nice project for sure!

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          1. The first day of actual action started really slow, I was timid to bring up the donation, even though I was at home with my daughter, she didn’t mind at all, my four-year-old donated $2 to Elevate Orphan, for a massage, which was great. It was a lower pressure situation to make sure the links worked and all those logistics. My daughter felt really happy to donate as well, she wants to do it again, it only took my one-time fun-raising to meet three of my initial goals (teaching my children about helping mankind, being a part of helping the mingi orphans, and starting to open myself up to be a part of the larger problems in the world, but in a tolerable way). As small as the donation was it was probably a needed step for me to deal with indecision as to how I will volunteer, finding out the charity I support changed names again “Omo Hope” to “Elevate Orphan” and accepting that people are going to give me cash sometimes because it’s easier… so I can just be accountable to transfer that myself if it’s the only way that the whole thing is going to work. I think maybe I’ll start suggesting a $2 donation now because suggesting a donation feels like a big deal, you have to decide how much, you may feel how much you want to give is out of reach, suggesting $2 makes it so possible, then they can choose on the screen more than that if they want to and it’s in a way an extra bonus because they got to give and they got to also give extra (probably). It’s not a lot of money, but it creates a link between the possibility of doing it, kind of like a neuron connecting to another, the first connection is thin and weak, but it opens the way for a stronger one to be built upon. Anyways, felt a bit embarrassed to be shy asking for a donation, to have taken so long ruminating about what to do, and also about the amount I raised at first, but I’m beginning to be proud of it instead. I think whatever the barriers are for everyone will be different, whether it be shyness, picking a charity, not knowing what to do, but admitting them and feeling excited about the fun-raising project overall pushed me through it. Another motivator could be reading “The Blue Zones” book, it explains that both purpose and human connection matter to human health on the level of diet and exercise, so fun-raising could potentially save or improve your own life as you do that. Anyways I wanted to check in that I haven’t forgotten and as small as it is I think the first success will snowball. ☃️

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Hi Sakura! Thanks so much for sharing your first steps with fun-raising! I empathize with the challenges and self-judgements in the beginning – I think everybody has them, I sure did. But I think the more important point – and you raise this yourself – is that you started the journey, you gained some experience, and you inspired your children to want to do (more) good. So congratulations!! If I may give my oppinion about what amount to suggest for the donations. For adults I would ask 75-100% of what they would usually pay for that kind of service. Don’t sell your service short, it’s valuable! Plus, your customers and you will enjoy the good deed probably more if it helps more. But that’s just my oppinion. I’m happy to see that you’re going your own way and I hope you’ll continue on it. Thanks again for sharing and hope to read you again, soon! =)

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        1. That’s great, I think pro bono work is wonderful! If they’d donate some to a good cause for your free work it would already be fun-raising. But they’re probably already using their funds for a good cause, so fun-raising probably doesn’t apply here.

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  3. Thanks for the idea, this could snowball us into doing more of the things we enjoy in life in the name of global positive change. Let’s have our own little inspiring, perpetual charity run on the side 🙂
    I can see how fun-raising could be a way for me to spend more time on my hobby photographing portraits and weddings. Instead of me working for absolutely free or registering a company, clients would offer “charitable monetary compensation”. This would give me a higher sense of purpose as I hone my craft and at some point could even go professional. Also, chances are that clients appreciate the idea and recommend me to more of their friends which further increases my portfolio, reputation and experience. I’m going to give this concept a go 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is really awesome, thanks for sharing! 😃 I’ve seen you’re photographs and they’re absolutely worth some generous donations! And true, fun-raising can be a great preparation before starting a business. Later, one can just keep working part of the job for donations once gone pro. Wish you a lot of success with your projects! Best, Thomas

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  4. I was really surprised at how it is difficult to have fun, do something I’ve already done, connect to others, and explain about fun-raising. It reads so easy, yet the execution steps are more tricky, but it was so rewarding I wouldn’t think of not continuing, yet I know it’s going to be a while until I’ve gotten into the flow state, which is my goal for small, but pretty continuos fun-raising as a lifestyle rather than an event. 🐢

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All beginnings are hard and I’m sure you’ll get more comfortable quickly 😃 The more I’m happy to hear that it was rewarding already. Keep up the great work! 💪✨

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