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You gotta give to receive

May 13, 2011

Not long ago, a friend of mine called Kees was stopped by a homeless guy near Liverpool Street.

“Here y’are, mate!” said the homeless guy, and gave him a penny.

Kees laughed his head off. “What’s this for?” he asked.

“I’m an alternative beggar,” said the homeless guy. “I’m giving you a penny.”

Kees thought this was the most hilarious thing he’d heard for ages. Of course, he dug his hand in his pocket and gave the guy a few pounds.

What does this example teach us?

Free stuff is irresistible, isn’t it? Remember when you were 5? Did you manage to get your parents to buy the cereal with the free toy inside too? Seth Godin did. His books, “The Big Moo!” and “Free Prize Inside!” are all about doing something different and giving away a special free gift.

For Kees, the free gift wasn’t the penny. He didn’t need the penny! It was the special feeling he got from this experience. He was shocked, he was surprised, he was entertained – and he had a great story to tell to everyone he met. THAT was the free gift.

Seth Godin has a great list of those ‘free gift’ experiences right here on his blog.

And for the homeless guy, what did it cost him? A bright idea, a couple of minutes and just one penny.

What can you do to make your target audience feel that free gift feeling?


How to study for free

May 12, 2011

I was overjoyed when I received my place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. I had tried for three years to get into acting school, and this was the opportunity of a lifetime! There was just one catch: the cost.

All together, the fees and maintenance for the course came to over £25,000. The course was a three-year diploma course and I wasn’t entitled to a student grant or a student loan. The course was 50 hours a week plus evening rehearsals so a part-time job was out of the question. My family earned a lot less than the national average and could not afford to pay for me. What was I going to do?

A little leaflet from another drama school gave me a sneaky peek at the truth. It gave some basic information on a student who had managed to raise everything they needed to pay for their own acting training. And if someone else had done it, I was damn sure I could! I spent months researching, planning and building a fundraising campaign that raised over £25,000.

What I discovered is now revealed in Free Degrees, and together with this website, offers a step-by-step guide in raising all of the money you need for college or university without getting into debt.

Free Degrees has been described as a ‘life saver’, ‘first class’ and given rave reviews by parents, students and academics alike. Here’s what you can expect from the book:

• How to find out how much your education really costs and write a budget
• How to market yourself, communicate your message and gain huge publicity
• How to appeal your local authority’s decision to refuse you a grant
• How to raise thousands of pounds from people you have never met before
• How to search and find hundreds of scholarships and bursaries
• How to hold fun charity events that really bring in the cash

The knowledge and skills I gained from my experience have lasted me well beyond my student days. Don’t let debt get in the way of your studies. You deserve to get the very best out of your education, and it doesn’t have to come at a price.

Graduates don’t make more money

May 12, 2011

I was reading the NUS report ‘Broke and Broken’ recently, which highlights the current state of student debt. Apparently Barclays reckon by 2010, the average student will owe over £30,ooo by the time they graduate.

The NUS report also shows you how much the average graduate will earn extra over their lifetime, compared to someone with just A levels or a college education. As you might expect, doctors, lawyers and business CEOs are up there earning hundreds of thousands of pounds extra. Good times! They might have an expensive education, but the hard work and investment have paid off.

But arts and humanities graduates have a different story. The NUS report predicts that in the lifetime of the average arts and humanities graduate, they will earn just £35,000 more than someone with A levels.

That’s not per year, that’s over a lifetime!

So let’s get this straight… you are going to study History at university… you borrow £30,000 to pay for your education… you end up making £30,000 more as a result. So three years hard work has actually made you nothing extra. Not a penny. Thirty grand in, and thirty grand out. Bad times.

These statistics are frightening. But then think about everyone you know with a degree. Are they all working in the careers they studied for? I know Design graduates who sell cars for a living, and Sociology graduates who work for Club 18-30. There is nothing wrong with that, but the truth is, more and more graduates are not working in the field of work they studied for and are not earning any more than the national average.

However, help is at hand. You don’t need to graduate will huge debts. You can raise all of the money you need to study without taking on any loans or credit. I know because I raised over £25,000 for my education with no previous experience in fundraising. Trust me, I’m no genius. I did it and you can do it too.

Hello world!

May 12, 2011

Welcome to the all new Degrees For Free website!

We hope to help you raise all the money you need for your education.

If you are new to fundraising, start with Help Me Fundraise!

Check out free downloadable resources like sample letters asking for business sponsorship and press releases in Tools.

If you want to buy a copy of Free Degrees, you can do so here, through Amazon.

And if you have any specific questions, I will do my best to answer them. Just leave a comment or email me:

Happy fundraising!

Lyndi Smith, The Funraiser