I started a charity – look what happened next

 The united heartbeat team celebrating backstage when we were nominated for an award

The united heartbeat team celebrating backstage when we were nominated for an award

 

On crowdfunding, co-operation, modern working and integration. 

My beautiful charity united heartbeat, which buys instruments for musicians who have fled their home country, has just celebrated its first birthday (read the blogpost I wrote when we started).

We raised (and spent) 21,000 Euros, won a major prize, helped musicians, heard a lot of music, met a lot of cool people and learned a lot.  

Here are my thoughts: 

Crowdfunding 

Crowdfunding is hard work. And incredibly rewarding. The fine people at wemakeit.com rejected our proposed project three times  before our content was good enough. They simply know their business and they help projects succeed. People like them change the world. 

What we learned was that a crowdfunding project is a communication project. If you don’t have a clear, strong message, and if you can’t communicate that message to a wide group of people who care about it, you won’t succeed.

Sounds easy eh. It isn’t. It’s hard, hard work. And it’s fun. 

 Delivering brass instruments to the Mor Ephrem Brassband in Vienna

Delivering brass instruments to the Mor Ephrem Brassband in Vienna

Cooperation and modern working

Setting up a charity is like setting up a business. We had a goal, a very clear goal. We knew what we wanted to achieve, and we had a good idea how to do it.   

And then the work started. 

Along the way, someone wrote and asked if they could visit us in our “office”. Oh funny. We haven’t got an office. We’ve got three laptops and three smartphones. We’re a remote organisation, and it’s great.

We used a Basecamp personal project (sadly discontinued) which cost us a lifetime fee of $25. We used Squarespace to make the website, and Google Apps (now called G-Suite) for everything else. 

If you have a non-profit organisation which is registered in your country, you can apply to the Google Non-Profit programme and get the apps free and a huge budget for Google Adwords. Many non-profit organisations don’t know about this, so if you know a charity with a website, make sure they know. 

 Alireza and his new keyboard

Alireza and his new keyboard

Success

Sometimes, people would say to us “Oh, you have such a great idea”, or “Wow, you’ve been so successful”. Well, yes, but there are two important parts to this story. 

First, we spent a long time making our goal as specific as possible. We made sure we set something that people would understand, could relate to, and would be willing to support. 

Secondly, we were successful because many many generous people helped us. But it was very hard work. We worked for every penny we received. And that’s good. No-one asked us to do it, and the results are fantastic. 

Remember, you don’t get rewarded for having an idea. You get rewarded for turning an idea into reality. 

 Our founder Eva (2nd from left) with actors Alfons Haider and Adele Neuhauser and Robert Zadrazil, CEO of Bank Austria, at a gala where we received a 10,000 Euro award. 

Our founder Eva (2nd from left) with actors Alfons Haider and Adele Neuhauser and Robert Zadrazil, CEO of Bank Austria, at a gala where we received a 10,000 Euro award. 

Conclusion

I have learned so much and met so many incredible people over the last year. I’ve learned about different cultures and musical styles, international communication and collaboration, and the difference between a "like" and a euro. 

I’ve heard how frustrating life can be when part of your family is on the other side of the world; when you haven’t seen your parents for four years; when your school friends and relations are in different countries. 

And finally, I have found out that most people are actually interested in culture, co-operation and helping each other. 

A recent study by the Austrian Integration Fond (ÖIF) asked the public what they thought about the risks, dangers and problems of immigration. But they didn’t ask about the chances and opportunities. This is a short-sighted political signal which does not reflect the warmth, openness and generosity of the population. 

So thank you again to Eva Barwart-Reichelt for coming to me with this great idea and for pushing at every opportunity to make it a success. 

By the way

We haven't finished. In the first year, we raised 21,000 Euros to buy instruments for musicians. Help us reach 30,000 Euros before the end of the year.