Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to get sponsors for the Clarion West Write-a-thon

This year, like last, I'm involved on the organisational periphery of Clarion West's Write-a-thon: a fundraiser that not only brings in money for the workshop but motivates hundreds of writers (this year 345 from 22 countries) to write up to their limit. I'm not exaggerating when I say it changes lives.

So, the Write-a-thon is important, for the participating writers and the workshop. Everyone works hard. But I've noticed that many participants, while good at signing up for, committing to, and meeting their writing goals, are not well-versed in asking for sponsorship. This blog post is a How-to...


Once you've signed up, the most important thing you can do for the Write-a-thon is bring in sponsors. That's part of the point, after all: to raise money for your favourite non-profit.

The best way to do that? Ask. There's no way around this part: You have to ask people to sponsor you.

Remember, you're not asking for yourself, you're asking for Clarion West. (Or the NMSS. Or to support research into breast cancer, or Parkinson's, or whatever.)

Kelley did the Write-a-thon in 2010, 2011, and 2012; I got behind her and pushed. We've found that the best way to ask for sponsorship is by email: a personal and personable mass email to a hundred (or so) family, friends, and colleagues.

Here, with her permission, is a copy of the email Kelley send out last year:
I'm reaching out to let you know that once again, I am participating as a writer in the six-week Clarion West Write-a-thon from June 17 to July 27. 
The Write-a-thon raises money for the nonprofit Clarion West Writers Workshop, which I chair. It's like a walk-a-thon with words, or like NaNoWriMo with a nonprofit fundraising component.
Many of you sponsored me last year, and I'm very grateful for your support. I hope you'll consider supporting me this summer. It's not just about giving money to sustain a wonderful workshop. It's also about helping to sustain my writing spirit. Here's more about what your support means personally to me. 
This year, I am offering sponsors the chance to take my writing journey with me. I will  be working every day on current personal writing projects (screenplay, fiction or personal essay). Anyone who donates any amount to Clarion West to sponsor me will receive a weekly email about my writing process and my writing life: what I've accomplished, technical challenges, how I'm finding writing/life balance, my process of making story choices and writing decisions -- whatever my current issues. It will be honest, wide-ranging, and (I hope) helpful for other writers and interesting for readers.
And if you are a writer, please sign up to participate! I guarantee that the Write-a-thon is a wonderful focusing tool, and I'd love to be able to cheer you on.
Finally, I hope you'll help me spread the word to other potential sponsors. I appreciate any publicity you give me.
I hope you're well and happy.
Best as always, 
Tell them what you're doing, who for, and why. Tell them what it means to you, personally. Tell them briefly but clearly. And ask them to support you.

We recommend that you blog, and link (as above) to further detail of what it means to you, to info about the workshop, and to your Write-a-thon page where sponsors can donate.

Donations come in gradually but they will come in. You just have to ask. Seeing the sponsorship numbers mount up will galvinise you and thrill you, spur you to greater heights, and the money will make all the difference in the world to Clarion West. And here's the thing: it's never too late to ask.

So write, ask, and don't forget to blog, tweet and Facebook your progress--and  when you do, always include links to your Clarion West donation page. Make it easy for people to give you (er, Clarion West) money.

Onward! May your mind run free and your words flow...
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