UPDATE: We mailed a check for $1,645.65 to the Grendalee Alvarado Fund in Boston. I was so pleased and touched to learn that Splitzee generously donated back their fees to our fundraising effort. I have sent a handwritten note with the check and have printed out the comments people made with their donations so the person coordinating the fund in Boston can make those easily available to the family. Thanks again to each one of you who contributed to this fund and shared this story with your networks!

Crowdraising (raising money with social media) is an amazing and humbling process.

Today’s powerful social media tools make it possible to quickly reach out to your online networks and ask for help. Many of us are willing to help others—especially when the process is easy and relatively painless. Small donations add up quickly.

I’m watching it happen right now.

On December 10th I started a splitzee.com crowdraising effort for the family of a seven-year-old, who was killed by a drunk driver in November. To date, we have raised more than $1500 in small donations from people in my social networks.

Here’s how it started.

One of our second graders was struck and killed by a car this afternoon. Details still unfolding but it feels like my heart just shattered. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.

I read my friend’s Facebook update with horror. She teaches second grade at a school in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and often talks about the hardships faced by her students and their families. It was hard to imagine how painful it would be to lose a child—especially right before the holidays. My heart hurt for everyone involved.

Then, a day later.

“Still reeling. Grateful for the presence of a crisis team to support us all at school today. Grateful for the ability to help my very brave and honest kids process their grief and shock. We ended up in a giant group hug that I think everyone needed. I will post any new information I receive about ways you can help the little girl’s family or her teacher and classmates.”

The story unfolded.

Brianna Rosales and her mother, Glendalee Alvarado, were walking home from school on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, when a speeding SUV jumped the curb and hit them, killing Brianna and seriously injuring her mother, who was hospitalized in critical condition after the accident.

According to The Boston Globe, “Olivia Mora, 36, who police say was driving the sports utility vehicle that struck Rosales and Alvarado, pleaded not guilty in Dorchester District Court to charges of motor vehicle homicide and causing bodily injury while operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Mora, a convicted felon living in Dorchester, was ordered held without bail.”

Brianna was a close friend of many of the children my friend teaches. The entire school and surrounding community were shaken to its core. image-of-Brianna-Rosales-crash-site

A few days later my friend posted a plea for financial help for the family. The funeral alone was going to cost $16,000. Brianna’s mother was still in the hospital in critical condition, and the injuries to her leg would require extensive rehabilitation.

The family was in dire need. I decided to get involved.

Just the day before a friend had highly recommended a new site called splitzee.com. Without giving it more thought, I started a Splitzee account and quickly assembled a collector page. After that, I posted the link on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, and waited to see what the reaction would be.

The first day? Not much.

I was mortified to be reminded that so much of what we post in our social networks goes unread and unnoticed by our friends and online contacts. The sheer volume of material shared online today makes it tough to stand out—even with the tragic story I was telling.

I was crushed. Even with the:

  • Holidays approaching
  • Donor fatigue we were all feeling
  • Financial juggling acts so many of us practice in today’s economy
  • End of the year charitable donations we plan to make

Even with all of those things in play, I had expected my social media friends to sit up and take notice and to help by sharing the link with their networks.

And they did.

But not until after I posted and asked and emailed and posted and tweeted and asked and emailed and whined and complained. And posted and tweeted and asked some more. And again.

The truth of our online reality today is that we are overwhelmed. Not only by the volume of the content shared, but by the range and breadth of the tragic stories. By the depth of the need in our world. Often we just click through, scan for the light topics, the cat pictures, the jokes and funny stories.

Until someone we know reaches out and grabs our attention with the 47th post, or email or tweet. Or, perhaps the first blog post written since mid-April.

The responses I’ve gotten have been so interesting: Some people I just assumed would support this effort have totally ignored multiple requests. Others have simply been unaware of the effort. I’ve gotten responses ranging from generous donations, to difficulty donating from outside the US, to statement of personal policies that preclude donation to anything but an established 501C3.

I believe a person’s decision to donate or to share a social media link is a private decision and none of my business. Even as I wish the world would just sit up, pay attention and open their wallets because I believe in this cause.

Crowdraising for a cause is both simple and not. The social media fundraising tools available right now are magnificent. They are many and varied and serve causes from tiny personal projects like mine to large established non-profit organizational fundraising. New ones are added daily.

But it isn’t enough to expect that the tools, no matter how excellent, will do the job without our personal involvement. And the basic work of raising money, which leans heavily on trust, personal requests, and perseverance, hasn’t changed. So, if you plan to take on a crowdraising project? Plan to be gently persistent, creative, and dogged in your attempts to get your friends’ attention and hold it until they manage to donate and share your plea with their networks.

It does work. Even now. Even with. Whatever.

And what is Splitzee?

“Splitzee is a website that allows users to collect funds for an event or to buy just about any item or service, collecting from friends and family who contribute to the collection.

Anyone can visit Splitzee.com and create a collection page for gifts, events, or services that they want to collect funds for. Those wanting to create a collection will set up a personalized collection page and then send out personalized invites to friends and family members inviting them to contribute.

Because Splitzee is a simple and secure way for users to collect funds for an endless variety of uses. Whether you want to raise funds for wedding gifts or a group organization wants to electronically collect membership fees, the possibilities are endless with Splitzee.com. Splitzee.com makes every step of the collection process secure, simple and user-friendly.”

It’s true. They do, and it is.

Splitzee has been easy to use, and I get emails each time someone donates. I am grateful for the help the team has provided by waiving the fee for the project. At the recommendation of the social worker working with Brianna’s family, we will continue to raise funds until after the holidays. When we finish the project, we will convert the funds to a check, which we will mail to the family for their immediate use.

 “Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?”*

image-of-Brianna-Rosales-and-her-mom-Glendalee-AlvaradoIf you have the ability to donate to help Brianna’s family, please do. You can donate easily and securely here: splitzee.com/collection/1627. Share this post with your networks, or just share the link with them. Every small donation helps.

It won’t bring Brianna back or heal her mother’s leg (or heart) any faster. It will demonstrate that there are many people who cared enough to help a family in a desperate time of need.

Thank you to each of you who has taken the time to donate, to comment, and to share Brianna’s story with the people in your networks. I am very grateful for all of you.

Borrowed from the 1931 song “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney.