Jill Johnson Pledges 31st Birthday to RAINN

Jill Johnson wanted to pledge her 31st birthday to a cause she cared about. When she learned about RAINN’s volunteer fundraiser program, she knew it was the perfect fit.

“So many people close to me have experienced this pain—as a child, as an adult, with friends when they thought they were safe, or from a family member who they should have been able to trust,” said Jill.

Volunteer Fundraiser Jill JohnsonJill is one of RAINN’s volunteer fundraisers, individuals from across the country who develop their own campaigns to support survivors of sexual violence. She is passionate about RAINN because of just how many important people in her life have experienced some form of sexual violence.

She raised more than $450 for RAINN, using social media to spread the word and drum up donations. She also offered incentives from her own “Geek Stash,” her personal collection of pop culture rarities and collectibles.

Jill shared insights on making a fundraiser work, asking for donations, and working with RAINN.


How did you develop your fundraising idea?

Originally I wanted to organize a mac-n-cheese cook-off fundraiser. There was a lot of interest at first, but then it looked like I might not have the attendance needed for such an event. I started to get disheartened, but an email from fundraiser coach Colleen McDaniel at RAINN gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going.

So, I turned it into an online fundraiser, and I was offering thank you gifts from my “Geek Stash” of things I’d accumulated over the years—geeky thank you gifts to anyone that donated $10 or more, with the top donor getting two gifts and first pick. I know someone who increased his donation amount because of a specific item that he wanted for his child.

How do you think overcoming this planning obstacle changed your fundraiser?

It got smaller than I originally wanted with the cook-off, but it also became more personal. When it was a cook-off I was asking $10 per plate—but when I just asked for donations, I was getting $20, $50, $100 for donations.

What advice would you give to folks about asking friends and family for donations?

Don’t be afraid to make the ask. I don’t like spamming people’s newsfeed on social media or making it seem like I’m begging. But this is different. I felt OK asking people to donate because it has affected so many people.

Every time I posted about it, I would get another donation. I started getting donations from people I didn’t even know, thanks to my boyfriend sharing the fundraising page with his friends and family. Just when I thought it was coming to an end, I would post again and get yet another donation.

I also made it educational. I shared [on social media] pictures of survivors and captions from their stories on RAINN’s site. I also posted a poll asking how many survivors people thought that the National Sexual Assault Hotline helped per month. The guesses were low; most didn’t reach the thousands. (RAINN’s victim service programs actually help more than 17,000 survivors each month.)

How did RAINN help with your fundraising goals?

My biggest advice to anyone raising money for survivors of sexual violence is to make use of a fundraiser coach at RAINN. When I talked to them, they were so warm and encouraging. Anyone who is running a campaign should definitely reach out to them. Their suggestions and support really gave me the confidence I needed to make my fundraiser a success. 

Update September 29, 2016: After publication of this article, Jill reached her goal of raising more than $500 for survivors of sexual violence. She is grateful to all those who donated—and continue to donate—to her campaign. 

This is the first Fundraiser Highlight in an upcoming series. Interested in supporting survivors of sexual violence? You can start your own fundraiser like Jill. Learn more about creating your own campaign.