9 Fundraising Lessons From the World’s Weirdest Charity Stunts


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.

15 Organizations Helping Women Around the World

Organizations supporting women and promoting equality and fairness in wages, in behavior, and with opportunities have spent years putting women's rights at the forefront of their missions. In honor of International Women's Day, held annually on March 8, we've compiled a list of organizations that are fueling this societal change for the better. Check out the institutions that are helping fight for what's fair, no matter where women are in the world.


A woman walks with her child

Since 2007, this advocacy group has been empowering under-privileged women in Uganda by offering business training and access to microloans to help facilitate their professional independence. The group's contributions have emboldened Ugandans, with five women affiliated with WGEF's programs running for—and winning—political office in 2016.


A Center for Reproductive Rights illustration
Center for Reproductive Rights

Supporting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body is the focus of this legal consortium, which has had impact on local and international laws. They've had influence over reproductive health policies in Asia, Africa, and the U.S., and helped shed light on an oppressive abortion ban in El Salvador that's led to women being jailed for stillbirths. Their efforts on behalf of "Las 17," 17 Salvadoran women accused of having abortions, has seen several women released from prison; the efforts are ongoing.


The Women for Women International logo
Women for Women International

This nonprofit seeks to support women displaced or marginalized by conflict and oppression in eight foreign territories including Iraq and Rwanda. Many of their efforts are education-based, facilitating classes and finding opportunities for graduates. Currently, the group is offering psychosocial and educational resources to Syrian women in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a goal of reaching over 3000 women in the next three years.


A classroom facilitated by School Girls Unite
School Girls Unite

This nonprofit tackles education discrimination among young women in developing countries. In Mali, Africa, for example, only one in four girls make it to 7th grade. School Girls Unite subsidizes their education, often at a cost as little as $75 per child, and follows the recipients to encourage them to complete their education.


The Time's Up logo
Time's Up

The personal and professional consequences of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace have often made it difficult for women to speak out. Fearing they'll be ostracized, they remain quiet. On top of that, legal action can be costly. Backed by the National Women's Law Center, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund seeks to provide legal assistance for women looking to battle harassment in court. Just two months into their existence, organizers have fielded 1700 requests from all across the world, including the U.S., Kenya, and Kuwait.


A mother holds her child's hand

Model Christy Turlington Burns founded this activist group that seeks to improve medical care for mothers around the world by training professionals, improving transportation to care facilities, and donating crucial supplies to clinics. The organization has arranged grants that have improved mother mortality rates in Tanzania, Haiti, and India.


A book is open to the definition of equality

Putting an end to unjust and gender-biased laws is the focus of Equality Now, which has helped change over 50 laws and pursued equal rights since its inception in 1992. Thanks to their activism, women in Kuwait have voting rights; in the U.S., the group's protests and engagement also helped pass the first law prohibiting sex tourism.


A woman works in a field

Persistent cultural traditions endorse the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), which involves the removal of external female genitalia. Risky, unnecessary, and invasive, the tradition is being challenged by Orchid Project, which aims to end the practice by circulating educational information in areas like Ethiopia.


A person types on a laptop

Since 1987, this social enterprise has pursued the mission statement of founder Anita Borg by putting women in a position to excel in the technology field. The group provides resources for education in coding and diversity both in the U.S. and abroad. In India, they organize career fairs for women only, offering companies the chance to improve their gender diversity in the workforce.


A woman sits with her child

Offering financial resources to poverty-stricken areas of Guatemala, Friendship Bridge offers opportunities for education and entrepreneurial training that would otherwise be unavailable.  By offering microcredit loans, women collaborate with other members of a "trust" and take part in educational sessions as part of the terms of the loan. By combining capital with resources, Friendship Bridge is able to facilitate better working conditions for the population.


The Pathfinder International logo
Pathfinder International

Pathfinder seeks to eliminate barriers to health or reproductive services in over 19 countries, working to end unsafe abortions and HIV transmission. The group also offers family planning counseling and aims to expand the availability of contraceptives.


Articles of clothing are arranged on a rack

Wearing the appropriate attire for a job interview is crucial for prospective employees. For over 20 years, the caregivers at Dress for Success have been helping women realize their professional goals by providing apparel they might not otherwise be able to afford. The nonprofit accepts clothing donations and then distributes them to countries and areas that may not have wardrobe resources on hand.


A Global Fund for Women infographic
Global Fund for Women

Movements big and small have been influenced by this nonprofit that seeks to finance efforts toward equality. The group has helped over 5000 directives in 175 countries since 1987, including efforts to improve women's working conditions and halt human trafficking.


A woman sits in a field

Helping women thrive in rural India in the focus of this nonprofit, which prioritizes education, health care, and gender equality. Their goals have emphasized self-defense training for women as well as financial management skills. 


The MADRE logo

Following wars or natural disasters, MADRE teams with local community leaders to create solutions. When resources are scarce, the organization brings in the tools necessary for women to help rebuild. In Kenya, that can mean clean water; in Colombia, it could mean art therapy for survivors of war or abuse.   

Disney/Marvel Studios
Success of Black Panther Inspires Disney to Donate $1 Million to Youth STEM Programs
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Since opening in U.S. theaters on February 16, Blank Panther has already defied industry expectations more than once. The blockbuster now holds the records for biggest February opening, biggest standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and highest-grossing film featuring a black cast. To celebrate the film's groundbreaking success, Disney is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Fortune reports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs to young people from low-income households. They offer kids a place to build their athletic, artistic, and leadership skills, but Disney's donation will go specifically toward funding STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The technology of the fictional African nation of Wakanda plays a central role in Black Panther. Shuri, T'Challa's sister and the head of all things tech in the film, has been praised for potentially inspiring young women to take an interest in STEM. "It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "So it’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use Disney's generous donation to help establish STEM Centers of Innovation in cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, where much of the movie was shot, and Oakland, California, the hometown of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Ten additional cities, from New Orleans to Chicago, will also be getting STEM centers of their own.

The donation is sure to make a huge impact on communities around the country, but it's just a fraction of what Disney is set to make from the film. According to some projections, it won't be long before film surpasses the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

[h/t Fortune]


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