“Once you really believe, you’ll do something”

In the weeks leading up to last year’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, Joe Vitale joined Habitat’s online fundraising campaign, in which U.S. supporters were invited to set up personal web pages to encourage family and friends to donate.

Vitale’s efforts resulted in $10,550 — and he achieved that tremendous amount in less than two weeks.

The entrepreneur and author shares the hows and whys of his accomplishment with Habitat World.

Q: Why Habitat?
A: Habitat is an organization that’s on the ground, doing something for people that’s measurable. It’s visible, it’s concrete. I wanted to support an organization that made a difference that I could actually track or document or even touch, and that’s Habitat.

Q: Have you supported Habitat for a while with donations?
A: This was my first time to do it in a more public way, putting up the website and enlisting people to go there.

Habitat made it easy. I’m on the email list, and I got the invitation. I thought, “That is brilliant,” so I clicked on the link, I answered all the questions, I uploaded a photo of me  and lo and behold, I had a website. Then it was just telling people, which is fairly easy for me to do.

Q: You raised quite a bit fairly quickly. What was the timeframe?
A: It seems to me that we raised a few thousand dollars within a few hours. But I wasn’t satisfied with that. I’m personally challenged by goals, and I wanted more than that. It seems like within a week, we had brought it up to $10,000. It was pretty quick.

Q: How did you do that?
A: The first thing was having a website up, and Habitat made that easy. So that was step one.

Step two is: you have to tell somebody. I’ve been online for 20-some years. I have a bit of a following, so I told them. That’s the second step.

But what I found out is, just telling them and having a good cause isn’t enough because a lot of people are being asked to give money when money’s tight. So the third thing that I did was say, “Look, if you give any amount of money, I will give you a free special report that I wrote.” So I said, “You give something to me, and I’ll give something to you.” That’s what brought us up to over $10,000.

Q: Do have advice for people who don’t have the kind of network you do?
A: Well, sincerity is really the key. Telling a true story of why you want people to make a contribution is powerful. For me, I was homeless 30-some years ago. So when I tell anybody, “Look, I was homeless, I was in poverty, I know what it’s like to struggle. I’ve found a cause I believe in that’s making a difference. Please help me help other people.” — that short little statement right there, because of the truthfulness of it, is what compels people to believe and end up giving.

So when somebody says, “I believe in Habitat for Humanity,” I want to hear why. Do they have a personal story? Did they help build a house, were they homeless or in poverty? Why are you involved in this? Because that sincere story can compel me to enlist in the same cause.

I think that’s important. Once you really believe in something, you’ll tell family, you’ll tell friends, you’ll create a newsletter, you’ll find a way to get the word out, you’ll do something. Because you’re driven by this passion to share that story, that sincerity, that plea.

Inspired? Join Habitat’s email list to be among the first to know about future fundraising opportunities.