Raising £21,000 in 21 days aged 21 was an amazing journey. It was also such an incredible learning experience. Here are a few things that I learnt and wanted to share.
I’m a planner. I plan everything. Although planning is great and necessary, it can sometimes hold you back. I guess the good thing about my campaign is that I had a deadline. My Masters fees had to be paid by a certain date. I couldn’t really waste much time; I had to just start. But I could have started a lot later. I originally wanted to launch the campaign at the end of August as this would give more time to plan. I wanted things to be perfect. I spoke with my mentor and my parents about this but they encouraged me to start sooner. Why wait they said? Just get on with it. So I went for it. I put in the extra hours, I didn’t sleep as much, and I worked towards a launch date in July. My mum always says to me ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. That’s exactly what I did.
2.You never know unless you try.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign is a massive risk. You’re putting yourself out there with no guarantee of success. In life I always like to think to myself, what is the worst that can happen? In this situation the worst that could happen was me not reaching my target. If this happened, I decided I would then take a year out, work, save, and apply for the post-graduate loan for the following year (2016/2017). But I wanted to try anyway. I wanted to say that I tried and had no regrets about it. I decided to go for it. It was a huge leap of faith. Was I scared? If it didn’t work out, would I have found it embarrassing? Hell yeah. As humans we are always scared of failure, scared that things may not work out. But you never know until you try.
3.Be mentored, mentor.
A few years ago I was a delegate on the Powerlist Foundation Leadership Programme and I met Rachael Owhin. I watched the success of her amazing crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000, in 10 days, to study at Oxford – #Oxford10000. She inspired me. When the time came, I knew who to call on to get advice. She told me what I needed to think about to have a successful campaign and ultimately believed in me. Even before this, when I was applying to Masters programmes, she gave me so much support during the process; she gave me feedback on my personal statement, gave me advice on what colleges to apply to, and just generally shared her experience of Oxford and doing a 9 month Masters programme. She was a mentor. I feel so passionate about mentoring. I would not be where I am today without the help and support of so many amazing people. I feel it’s my duty to help and support wherever I can. To share success with others: your knowledge and your experiences.
4.The kindness of strangers.
I had so many people donate to my campaign that didn’t know me personally. I had hundreds of anonymous donations. One of the most amazing things about my campaign was Suzi (my guardian angel) who said she would made up the shortfall. She didn’t know me well at all but donated an amazing £6,000 which contributed to the overall £21,000 I needed. I will forever be grateful.
5.The power of social media.
Social media occupies a very interesting space in our cultural context. My sister recently wrote a blog post on how social media can be damaging for us in terms of it being a perpetual mechanism for evaluating our self-worth and what others think of us – how many retweets and likes we get. Moreover, we are continuously comparing our lives to the lives of others who have nothing to do with us. I 100% agree with this. Self-love and self-care are super important, and it is important to protect your personal space both online and offline. But social media also has such amazing benefits. My campaign and my story was able to spread far and wide because of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You honestly never know know how a simple click or retweet can change someone’s life. And that’s why, whenever I can, I share people’s posts to help spread their message and help their dreams come true.
6.You never know how your life can inspire others.
Being offered a place at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world – and also being able to attend debt-free – was an amazing blessing. However, what was even more amazing was seeing the incredible impact that it had. This for me, is why Chapter 21 was so special. It was able to inspire others – and that inspires me.
7.All things are possible
One of the biggest things that I learnt from Chapter 21 is that all things are possible. When I really sit down and think about it, it’s amazing. There were some people who believed that I could meet my target, but there were also a number of people who told me I wouldn’t be able to. I proved them wrong. It’s amazing when you are able to do that. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, go and show them. Show everyone who ever doubted you, whether that be your teachers, your parents, or your colleagues. Show them that you’re going to be everything they never expected.
P.S. If you need any advice or would like a crowdfunding consultation shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on:
Twitter – @shani_akilah
Instagram – @shani_akilah