We did it! We raised the necessary funds to take the H2yOu Project to Antarctica!!!! In 12 weeks, we raised over $20,000!!! Who does we include? It is 200 individuals, families, and companies that have supported the H2yOu Project in mentorship, encouragement, prayers, sponsorships and monetary donations. My heart is full of gratitude as I take these 200 names with me to Antarctica! These names all are invested now and I will share what I learn.
In November 2015, Robert Swan personally invited me to join his 2016 International Antarctic Expedition. He nonchalantly stated this would be pending the challenge of fundraising an amount that I soon learned was about $20,000 (expedition fees, travel costs, supplies). This sounded like an impossible feat, but Swan’s confidence in his invitation hooked me, especially when he said, “You must join me to expand your project. If you’re not on my ship next March then I have failed.” (Read here about the journey of this goal.)
How did I fundraise over $20,000?
I set my mind to it. I lived and breathed this goal. It was on my mind when I was awake and when I was asleep – at least the bits that I did sleep. I often laid awake at night thinking how to accomplish this. Failure was not an option here. People would ask me “what if you don’t meet your goal?” My response: “There is no ‘what if.’ There is no plan b. I will accomplish this fundraising.”
And so – I committed to this goal. I opened a gofundme account and shared it on facebook and twitter again and again. I asked others to share it – and they did. It was shared 606 times (as of 3/6/16). Friends of friends of friends 6 times removed shared it. 78 out of those 606 donated over $6,000. The people that shared it and did not donate – they read the message of the importance of water conservation and spread the word. This is a win!
I committed to this goal with my entire being. In fact, as soon as I raised $2,000, I purchased my plane ticket. Some would say, “Laura, what happens if you don’t raise enough – will you fly to Ushuaia, Argentina and watch the ship depart without you?”
My response, “Nope. This plane ticket is a symbol of my commitment. I will achieve this goal.” (Read here.)
I didn’t care if people were tired of hearing about my mission to bring the H2yOu Project to Antarctica, Swan, and 2041. Swan and the 2041’s mission to renew the Antarctic Treaty in 2041, as well as spreading the word of my H2yOu Project is important! I talked to EVERYONE about it – my friends, family, co-workers, the gas station attendant, my vet, anyone who would listen!
It worked. Every single day from December 1st until the funds were due Feb. 29th – someone donated. Often these donors even referred me to other donors. People donated not only their funds, but their time and talent to get others to join. Sometimes I’d talk about this endeavor and others would not only donate, but offer their efforts to recruit other donations! Here is a list of efforts that contributed:
- Prayer. I prayed daily for guidance and strength in this goal. I was spiritually led to do this.
- My friends throwing a painting fundraiser called “Water Into Wine“
- Toledo Yoga allowed my friend and I to co-teach a nature yoga fundraiser class
- Writing dozens of proposal letters to businesses
- My mom and I sold penguin and polar bear jewelry that she made herself
- I gave 4 presentations to the community on my project and other travels, asking for donations at the end
- Sharing my spiritual journey at First Presbyterian Church in Marshall, MI
- Personal gifts
- We advertised this video: https://vimeo.com/152932696
- Education – I joined my students in the fundraising story. I wanted them to do the math of the donations with me and see an example of determination. They celebrated successes with me. Unexpectedly, a few students contributed. One student handed me her piggy bank full of change saying, “Your dreams are my dreams, so I want you to succeed. Go to Antarctica, come back, and teach me about it.” A true gift from her heart. Another student had her dentist donate to me. These kids are invested now.
- A co-worker friend rallied donations from my other co-workers
Patience and persistence pays off. Corporate organizations take awhile to process. I followed up with the many companies I wrote to again and again. The following businesses/organizations sponsored me: Ohio Council of Community Schools, Rotary Club of Maumee, The Leona Group, Kohne Camera & Photo, Pheasants Forever, Trin Inc, Dave’s Running Shop – THANK YOU!
Finally, on the last day of fundraising, I was still short funds needed to pay the expedition fees. I was calculating the amount to put on my credit card when First Solar called me. Their generous sponsorship allowed me to not only reach my goal, but exceed it for a grand total of over $20,000! This amount completely covers the expedition and travel costs and necessary gear (i.e. equipment to prevent frostbite and hypothermia down south!). In fact, I even have a little leftover that will be used to further develop the H2yOu Project, as well as to disseminate the information that I learn in Antarctica with the world!
The sponsorship from First Solar I quickly learned is beyond them posting their logo on the expedition and my project. Rather, First Solar, The H2yOu Project, and myself are now a true partnership. Solar panels offset excessive water use. The H2yOu Project is all about water conservation. Our missions align, and we are discussing how our efforts will combine post-expedition. Upon return to the US, we will collaborate so I can share the inspiration of Antarctica with their employees.
I have learned a LOT in the last 3 months.
- People can come together to achieve the unthinkable.
- Dreams do come true with hard work.
- It’s ok if someone says no. My friend Sean McKenzie told me when I first started fundraising: “SWSWSWWN. Some will. Some won’t. So what? What’s (or who’s) next?”
- Pray for guidance in finding your life path.
- Be brave and confident in asking for support when it’s for good things; just as Oprah says, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
- When you stay true to your life’s purpose and passion, “the universe conspires for your success.” -Paulo Coehlo
I can’t wait to go to Antarctica in just 6 days now! I am so excited to share what I learn with my students, and my local and global community! THANK YOU all for your support and for joining my path to save our amazing planet!