Paul Etherington Talks Mobilizing Friends in Your Charity

The good news is that there seems to be another young professional-run charity event in our cities happening weekly.

The drawback? If we supported them all, many of us would have to turn to charitable donations ourselves to survive. Between costly charity ball tickets (which can set you back on average of $150), raffle ticket purchases, and the constant requests to support a friend in their charity run or bike ride, there’s always another reason for young professionals to give.

That’s why it can get awkward to ask your network when it comes to supporting your cause. On one hand, you want to mobilize and draw on the support of your peers, but on the other, you don’t want to pressure people.

Naturally, we turned to Paul Etherington – founder of the hugely successful motionball and our charity event expert – for his seasoned insight on the issue.

What’s the proper protocol when it comes to engaging friends, clients, and co-workers in a charity or non-for-profit you’re involved with?

Engaging friends, family, and coworkers in your charity is an issue that’s top of mind to many, if not all, not-for-profit event organizers and committee members. It’s a scenario that I have had to deal with for years.  

I have been running motionball events for 12 years now (my thinning hair and weathering face are evidence; heck, some of my buds now call me Weatherington!) and every year the same question arises. Everyone wonders if they’re comfortable asking friends, clients or co-workers for sponsorship support, to buy tickets, to sit on volunteer committees and to make donations.

And my immediate answer every time is, “HELL YES!!” 

My opinion is that if my ask is genuine, if I am passionate about the cause, if I believe the value for that person is greater than the gift they are providing, and that it will be aiding the bottom line of a worthy cause, WHY NOT MAKE THAT ASK?

I fully appreciate that some people aren’t comfortable stepping over that line and I do believe it is more of a grey area for individuals who are getting paid for their services, but in my position as a pure volunteer for motionball and the Special Olympics movement, my friends and co-workers and clients are always my first list of potentials supporters. 

In fact, a good majority of our motionball Event Directors and Committee members are close friends who perhaps started their involvement with motionball simply as ticket buyers, but who now are committed to the cause, have rolled up their sleeves and are taking time out of their busy schedules to engage themselves in the greater movement. In addition, a good majority of our sponsors are clients of Etherington Generations who have made their own assessment on the dividends and return on investment and stay committed to the cause.

In short, as long as you believe in your cause or event or campaign and are confident that you can provide the necessary value back to your friends and clients….go for it. Make the ask and stand by your decision!


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