Causes such as Movember and Dry July are all well and good if you drink and aren't normally hairy, but what if you don't have vices to speak of? Create your own challenges instead.
Somehow, this is all my fault.
Well, I say that, but the reality is that this really is all my fault, but it's for the best of reasons. It really is.
Nearly a month ago, I was procrastinating on Twitter (as you do), chatting to various people I know. As with Twitter, there are some you know in person because you see them all the time, and others you only know through Twitter.
Up popped Anna Spargo-Ryan (@annaspargoryan). I should point out that I've never met Anna in person; merely traded terrible puns about the difficulties of being a writer over Twitter with her. Anyway, she posed a question that almost could have been written as an Ask Lifehacker.
I don't drink alcohol, I wax my mo' and I will never run. How can I raise funds for causes I like? HOW?
Rather flippantly, I replied
Skydive. Or get sponsored to jump into a bath of unusual substance. Baked beans, custard, something that ppl would pay.
Yeah, I can be flippant like that. It's a character flaw, I know, but this got me thinking. So I carried on, which is why this is my fault.
The point is, ppl pay for the discomfort/weirdness of others, charities win. I can do weird, but ppl don't pay just for that.
Or, given your skillset, get sponsored to do Nanowrimo (or similar). Xc/word, etc.
That was something of a throwaway line, although I figured that it was fundamentally true.
Movember isn't about raising awareness of moustache fashion trends. Dry July isn't about selling as much sparkling mineral water as one alcohol-deprived body can take. Head shaves aren't about baldness, something I'm only too familiar with.
Instead, they're about willingly undergoing a little discomfort or ridicule in order to generate interest. Through that interest, you raise money, and that's where a charity can win out through stunts like that.
The thing is, Anna took it quite seriously — and so that's exactly what she did.
So for NanoWrimo — the National Novel Writing month that we've covered extensively here on Lifehacker previously — Anna's going to write a novel on a sponsored basis. 10c buys a word, with all proceeds going to BeyondBlue.
Anna describes the work as, and I quote:
"It's essentially a woman's experiences of grief and denial, and how they manifest (through psychosis and detachment from reality). Told in a garden."
You can read Anna's full pitch and sponsor her here, and I'd strongly encourage you to do so; Mental health issues are something that she and I are both quite passionate about.
In broader context, though, Anna's doing what anyone could do if they had a charity they wished to support but none of the generally accepted "saleable" vices to give up in return for cold hard cash.
All you've got to do is find something that you'd be inconvenienced/uncomfortable/ridiculed for that you reckon somebody (or preferably several somebodies) would pay money to see you go through.
You get the self benefits of doing something good — and perhaps stepping outside your comfort zone — and the charity of your choice wins. If you do fit into the vices of the convenient and well known charity efforts, that's still great work too, but if you don't, or couldn't for whatever reason manage them, there's no reason why you shouldn't create a charity effort of your own.
My Story: Anna Spargo-Ryan [Everyday Hero]