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9 Fundraising Lessons From the World’s Weirdest Charity Stunts

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Most people’s fundraising experience ends at running a race for charity or selling candy for a good cause—but if you really want to go big with your efforts, you need to think outside the box. Here are a few of the weirdest charity stunts ever performed, and a few lessons any aspiring fundraiser can learn from them.

1. Be Willing to Suffer for What You Believe In

And recognize that sometimes you don’t know how much you’ll suffer until your fundraising campaign gets started. That was certainly the case when 24-year-old Joe Cooper decided he would help raise some money for his local hospital, the Leicester Royal Infirmary, by agreeing to get his pubic hair waxed. The stunt took place at the Trees Pub, where bidders competed for the chance to rip a wax strip from one of ten men. Many of the other men backed down, but Joe stood by his word. Unfortunately, waxing is something that really should be left to a professional, and Joe probably should have backed down as well.

“I lay down and closed my eyes and the next thing I know I'm in horrendous pain and bleeding,” Joe said.

The friend who ripped off the strip of wax from his groin pulled a little too hard and ripped off six layers of skin. Joe was soon rushed to the hospital where doctors told him that if any more skin came off, his testicle would have come out.

But hey, at least the stunt raised around $4500 for the hospital.

2. Allow Yourself to be Shocked by Other’s Generosity

This concept was quite literal in the case of Sheriff Leon Lott, who auctioned off the opportunity for someone to tase him in order to raise money for the Richland County Sheriff’s Foundation. For every $1000 bid, he would let the tasing go on one more second. The winning bid was $2000, and the sheriff was shocked for two seconds. 

3. Put A Part of Yourself Into Your Fundraising Efforts

But please don’t literally put something that was once a part of your body up for auction like William Shatner did. In late 2005, Shatner went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a kidney stone. After passing the stone, the star tried to put it up for auction on eBay, promising to donate all the money to Habitat For Humanity, but eBay wouldn't let him sell it because it's against policy. Even so, The Golden Palace called up Shatner and ponied up $25,000 to add the kidney stone to their bizarre collection of eBay oddities, including the grilled cheese Virgin Mary, Jerry Garcia’s toilet, and a potato that resembles Pete Townshend. And the company kicked in an extra $50,000 to the charity, just because.

4. Expect to Take a Few Hits For Your Cause

And not just in the form of non-supporters. Matt Jones, the managing director of Poverty Resolutions, wanted to help illustrate what a large number 21,000 is in numbers people could actually understand. Why 21,000? Because that’s how many children die due to poverty every day.

To help people better visualize the number, Matt and four friends agreed to get hit by 21,000 paintballs to raise attention to their cause.

5. Keep It Classy

Bear Grylls is known for doing some pretty crazy things as part of his job, so when it comes to stunts for charity, he’s willing to go an extra mile. To help raise funds for the Prince's Trust, Bear agreed to eat a formal dinner in a suit and tie—25,000 feet in the air underneath a hot air balloon. Grylls had to wear an oxygen mask to breathe! That kind of raises the stakes. After dinner, Bear and his dining companian parachuted to safety. In the process, the two set a new world record for the highest open-air formal dinner party.

6. Sometimes All You Need is the Right Incentive

Is it right to torture someone to raise money for charity? Before you answer that, recognize that the “torture” in question was the repeated playing of Justin Bieber’s song “Baby.” Evanston Township High School Student Council President Charlotte Runzel and a student rep to the Board of Education, Jesse Chat, came up with the idea of asking students to pay to stop the music in order to raise money for BooCoo, a non-profit cultural centre and café near the school. They planned to play the song every day between every class period for a week (eight times a day), promising students they would stop when their $1000 fundraising goal was met. By Wednesday, the student body met the fundraising goal, getting the music to stop once and for all.

7. Find Something People Are Passionate About

For 72-year-old Si Burgher, that was his eyebrows. When he offered up a chance for people to shave his bushy brows at a cost of $100 per trim, people around the town of Bloomfield, Indiana jumped at the chance. In fact, his eyebrows managed to raise $1600 for Rotary International's PolioPlus campaign, which has raised over $500 million towards polio eradication since 1985. Lawyers, bankers, and other townspeople each took a turn trimming Burgher's 3-inch-long eyebrow hairs.

The money raised wasn't the only benefit: Burgher got a lesson about self-grooming in the process. "I don't care if they ever grow back," he said, "My wife says I look 20 years younger."

8. Strip Off All Pretense

There are a lot of people who claim they care about a cause, but when it comes to doing something about it, that’s another story. If you want to get people to take action, you might need to offer them a little more incentive than the simple pleasure of doing a good deed. That’s why The Admiral Theater in Chicago holds an annual "Lap Dances for the Needy" event promising one lap dance to anyone who brings in a new, unwrapped toy to be given to local churches and donated to needy children.

9. Give the People What They Want

If you run a restaurant, offer discounts or free food to customers if you donate. If you own a TV porn channel, the same concept applies. For Japanese channel Paradise TV, that means offering a breast squeezing event wherein participants can squeeze an adult film star’s breast twice for every donation made to STOP!AIDS, an AIDS prevention, treatment, and awareness program.

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This Just In
7 Ways You Can Help Hurricane Irma Victims
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Want to assist Hurricane Irma victims? Instead of raiding your closets and pantries for clothing, food, and blankets, the Center for International Disaster Information recommends donating cash, rather than material goods, to carefully vetted relief organizations. Or, consider donating your time by either opening your home to evacuees or helping to rebuild ravaged towns and cities. Here are just a few ways you can lend a hand.

1. HELP PUERTO RICO REBUILD HOMES.

Hundreds of Puerto Rico residents lost their homes in the storm, and many have been stranded without power. Local nonprofit ConPRmetidos is raising money to rebuild houses and provide on-the-ground relief and aid to hurricane victims.

2. SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS IN BOTH THE CARIBBEAN AND THE U.S.

Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization based in Springfield, Missouri, is sending food, water, and emergency supplies to Hurricane Irma survivors in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, and continues to support Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Donate $10 to their #HurricaneIrma response by texting "IRMA" to 50555.

3. LIST YOUR HOME ON AIRBNB.

Homeowners in the Florida Panhandle, northern Georgia, and northwest and southeast South Carolina can open their doors to Irma evacuees and relief workers for free by marking them available on Airbnb's Irma page until September 28, 2017.

4. VOLUNTEER WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY.

Good with a hammer, and want to help out for the long haul? Sign up on Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry, or donate to help rebuild homes destroyed by Irma.

5. DONATE TO THE FLORIDA DISASTER FUND.

Irma weakened into a tropical storm as it tore through Florida, but cities are still flooded, and millions are now without power. The Florida Disaster Fund, which is the State of Florida’s official private disaster recovery fund, accepts donations for response and recovery efforts, and also has a list of resources (including open shelters) available online. 

6. HELP ANIMALS BY DONATING TO THE SOUTH FLORIDA WILDLIFE CENTER.

Support injured or orphaned animals by donating to the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, which is billed as the nation’s highest-volume wildlife hospital, trauma center, and rehabilitation facility.

7. GIVE TO THE UNITED WAY.

The United Way of Miami-Dade is requesting donations on behalf of the support organization's locations in all hurricane-ravaged areas. Relief funds can be directed to either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey.

JUST REMEMBER...

Donations often pour in right in the aftermath of a natural disaster, but charities are still going to need your long-term financial support as afflicted communities continue to recover from Irma. Consider giving money over the course of a few weeks or months, instead of just a one-time payment.

And before donating, vet the credentials of nonprofits on websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar (although they may not list smaller, community-based organizations). In this case, the Federal Trade Commission has a list of tips for giving. They include never sending cash or wiring money, doing some background research on the organization, and even calling them if necessary.

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Lists
10 Ways You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Victims
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Want to lend a helping hand to Texans in need, but don't know where to start? Here are just a few ways you can make a difference in the aftermath of the destructive storm.

1. DONATE TO THE TEXAS DIAPER BANK.

The Texas Diaper Bank is requesting money and diaper donations to provide displaced families with emergency diaper kits. (Diapers often aren’t provided by disaster relief agencies.) Visit their donation page here.

2. LIST YOUR HOME ON AIRBNB.

Airbnb has waived service fees for evacuees who check in before September 1, 2017, and the site is also connecting people in need with volunteer hosts. Find a place to stay, or offer your space for free here.

3. LEND YOUR TIME, MONEY, AND EXTRA PET SUPPLIES TO RESCUE ANIMALS.

Austin Pets Alive—which has rescued hundreds of abandoned and shelter pets from flood-stricken areas—currently needs money, dog and cat fosters able to keep animals through adoption, and supplies like cat litter, large plastic or metal bins, and liquid laundry soap. For more information, click here.

Other animal groups in need include the SPCA of Texas, Dallas Animal Services, and the San Antonio Humane Society.

4. DONATE TO A LOCAL FOOD BANK.

The Galveston County Food Bank, the Houston Food Bank, and the Corpus Christi Food Bank all accept online donations.

5. GIVE BLOOD.

Hospitals in Texas are reportedly facing blood shortages. If you’re local, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and Carter BloodCare are seeking blood donations.

6. DONATE TO THE SALVATION ARMY.

The Salvation Army will offer both immediate and long-term disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey victims. Make a single donation here, or arrange to make a recurring monthly donation.

7. BROWSE GOFUNDME FOR CREATIVE WAYS TO DONATE.

Help out families, charities, animals, relief organizations, and other small groups by visiting GoFundMe’s Hurricane Harvey Relief page and donating to a fundraising campaign.

8. HELP OUT DISASTER RESPONSE GROUP PORTLIGHT.

Disaster response organization Portlight provides medical equipment, shelter, and evacuation assistance to people with disabilities. Find out how you can help here.

9. BUY A COLORING BOOK.

Contribute to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund for libraries damaged by the storm. Donate here, or purchase a TLA coloring book instead. A set of two costs $10, and all proceeds benefit the relief fund.

10. GIVE MONEY TO THE RED CROSS.

Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit redcross.org, or call 1- 800-RED CROSS.

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