Blog Post

These mentors always take on the challenge!

The iMentor Challenge returns on March 1, 2018! 

The iMentor Challenge is our biggest mentor-driven crowdfunding event, and every year it gets bigger and better. Last year, our mentors and champions raised more than $255,000 to support our students and programs. This year we’re upping the ante—we think our community can raise more than $300,000! Will you take on the challenge? 

As a mentor in our program, you know our story better than anyone. We’re asking our volunteers to SHARE their mentoring story, BUILD our community, and in the process, RAISE critical dollars that we need to keep our program running. We’ll help you along the way with tips and templates too.  

Still nervous about fundraising? Here are some tips from experienced mentors who take on the iMentor Challenge each year!


What held you back from fundraising if anything, and what perspective do you have on that now?

Sean: My biggest hesitation was being able to articulate the story of working with my mentee, Paul, in a way that was different from other charitable requests that my community receives on a regular basis. The impact that every mentor has directly on the life of their mentee is huge and the examples that I was able to show with Paul proved to be very powerful motivators for people to want to support the work that iMentor does every year.

Ashley: I don’t like asking people for money, but I am part of a “wine club” with some girlfriends where we take turns hosting a themed night of dinner and, well, wine. Some hostesses ask for contributions for food when they host, so I decided to host wine club for the month of March last year and asked for a donation to my campaign page instead!

What was most exciting to you about participating in the Challenge?

Sherman: The anticipation. You never know what's going to happen. It's like getting ready for a big championship game or event!

Kate: I love the thrill of competition! With every new donation, I loved checking to see how I stacked up against others in total dollars. And it pumped up my donors too! Knowing that we could raise meaningful money to go to such an incredible cause feels amazing.

Sean: I’m a very competitive person so I was excited by the leaderboard on the iMentor Challenge website and found myself regularly checking the standings to try and stay ahead of my peers! Additionally, I found it motivating to be able to directly correlate the amount of money raised with specific iMentor activities. It allowed me to set clear fundraising goals.

Did anyone who donated to your campaign surprise you?

Ashley: My parents' dog! And also some of my coworkers... I send a different email to them than I do the rest of my network with additional steps on how to also declare their donation within our company's generous gift match program.

Gordon: Many of my friends and colleagues have consistently given generously each year, but every year there's always a handful of contacts on social media who come out of nowhere with a contribution! Thanking them is also a great opportunity to get back in touch.

Kate: It always thrills me to see donors approach me and say they want to get involved as mentors. My favorite donor is my old boss from 5 years ago… It blows me away that he still finds it a priority to donate to a cause that is so meaningful for me!

Sherman: I am always surprised when I receive a donation to my Crowdrise page. For the simple fact that people are not obligated to give, but my family, friends, and coworkers have always supported me. When I receive that email alert that someone made a contribution, I am humbled and thankful because you don't know what challenges they're going through. For someone to give $1, $5, or $50 out of their pockets means a great deal to me. 

Sean: The biggest surprise to me wasn’t the people who donated, but the amount and speed with which some people donated – people were energized by my story and within a few minutes of sending some e-mails, I’d have donations on the page!

Were any conversations started from the campaign that you didn’t expect to have? 

Sherman: The only conversations I recall being started were those of best wishes, encouragement, and “keep up the great work!” 

Sean: Yes, I was able to hear stories from other people who engage in philanthropic work and reaching out via iMentor gave us another common interest to discuss. As a result, I learned more about some very cool organizations across education, social issues, and healthcare that I never would have known about otherwise. 

Gordon: I always include the link to become a mentor in my fundraising emails and posts, so there are usually a handful of colleagues each year who reach out to me about signing up. We've probably recruited 20 new mentors this way over the years!

Any advice for current mentors who are thinking about doing the Challenge? 

Sherman: Keep it simple. When you're fundraising start with the WHY. Tell your story and why you volunteer your time and efforts. Then illustrate the HOW and WHAT. How iMentor is helping high school students and what it means to be paired with your mentee in this program. Be creative. Use incentives if applicable. Show case your relationship with your mentee and have fun with it.

Ashley: Use the resources that the iMentor staff put together for us. It makes the process SO easy! 

Sean: Dive into the challenge and feel confident that the work you’ve done with your mentee will be supported by your community of family and friends. I certainly found that everyone I reached out to was incredibly supportive of Paul’s achievements and wanted to help push the program forward. 

Kate: $100 is better than nothing! Even if you only get 10 people to donate $10 each, you are starting something, driving awareness, building momentum… and no better place to spend that $100 than with iMentor!

Gordon: Challenge another mentor at your school to participate with you, and then compete! Also, if you are planning on making a donation anyway, offer to match your supporters' contributions up to that amount (plus your employer's match, if that's available).

Are you ready to accept the challenge? Create your Crowdrise page today! You can choose to fundraise for iMentor NYC, iMentor Chicago, or iMentor Bay Area. After you create your page, we'll follow up to ensure your campaign is a success!