The Indianapolis Colts played their first preseason game this past Sunday. They invited us to participate in the Colts Gameday Collections program, allowing us to solicit donations outside Lucas Oil Stadium. There were approximately 40 of us – staff, volunteers, friends and family, all armed with plastic five gallon buckets and official signs. And hundreds of purple Coburn Place koozies. You know, those squishy foam holders that keep your beverage cold. Each person who made a donation received a koozie and an enthusiastic thank you.
Asking complete strangers for money is not something most of us are accustomed to doing. It takes guts, a step outside your comfort zone and the ability to handle rejection. Collecting donations, even for a worthy cause, is not a passive activity, either. My partner, Mallory, and I quickly decided to create a marketing strategy. At first our target audience was those with “unkoozied” beverages. Makes sense, right? This approach worked fairly well. Those with beverages were definitely in the minority, though. We needed a catchy slogan to hook the others. We came up with “Need a koozie for a good cause?” If we timed it right, we could add, “We’re collecting money for Coburn Place.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most people walking around a professional football stadium before game time are there for reasons other than dropping a dollar in a collection bucket. Many people smile, say no thank you and go on their way. Others see you out of the corner of their eyes and pretend not to notice you. A few will even flat out ignore you. Those who take the time to stop and listen will invariably make a donation. A handful of kind souls will offer up $5 bills. One generous man listened as we talked about the Coburn Place mission and handed us $20. He got several koozies and a very heartfelt thank you. All in all, Mallory and I raised about $50 and hopefully a lot more awareness for the work of Coburn Place. We agreed that from now on we will have much more empathy for the donation collectors and bell ringers of the world.
While every dollar counts (The final take was $1,130.45.), the biggest donors of the day were the volunteers. They gave up precious hours of their Sundays to stand in the blazing sun for three hours to ask strangers for money. Willingly and cheerfully, I might add. With a big dose of courage, they took a leap of faith and put themselves out there. They were determined to do what they could to support a mission they believe in and to help others they may never meet. These friends are the ones who made the biggest impact that day. To them we are so grateful. We tip our buckets to you!