Release an idea and watch it fly….
A week ago I put a fundraising idea on the UK Schnauzer Forum to raise money for the forum’s Charity of the Year, the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre. It was there that Susie-Belle spent her first 6 months out of the puppy farm, being fostered by the Centre manager, Janet, and being provided with all the veterinary care that she needed to be well enough to come and live with us. We owe DBARC so much for their kindness and generosity and ever since Susie-Belle came into our lives I’ve been fundraising for them in various ways. Someone once recently said that they are a very unassuming charity, which is a good description of the team at DBARC; they do work that many rescues wouldn’t do, or have the resources to, or choose not to do. For example, cataract surgery costs around £2000 per eye and as it’s not life-saving, some would opt to leave it to adopters whether they had it done or not. DBARC have funded many of these operations for dogs, especially puppy farm survivors like Susie-Belle and although not life saving, it is life-changing. But it comes at serious expense for a small charity.
Back to the idea I put out last week. Following the fun of the Annual Schnauzer Walk, and seeing how much people and their dogs enjoyed gathering and walking together, I wondered if it would be possible to get several smaller walks up and running over a weekend in the autumn and to fundraise at the same time. That way, we could be enjoying our dogs together in spirit if not in actual body and doing some wider good. I made the suggestion publicly asking if anyone thought we might get it off the ground as a way of fundraising for DBARC. Initially I thought members of the forum, who had voted for DBARC as the Charity of the year and were familiar with their work would be a good gauge of interest, but then opted to post it on a schnauzer group on Facebook.
I have been stunned by the enthusiasm that people have shown for the idea. People have grasped it with such energy that I have been chasing to keep up with everyone’s input and ideas. What began as an idea that I wondered if I’d get much response to, within hours became a lively topic for discussion both on Facebook and the Forum. It’s been overwhelming and if I’m honest at times, a little alarming at what I may have started without properly thinking through what it might entail and how people would approach the idea. With hindsight, I would have taken a less public approach to seeing if my idea had legs! Brainstorming online with strangers can be a tricky experience and not something I would advise for the fainthearted. When my fledgling idea was thrust into people’s newsfeeds, I should have expected a scrambling of suggestions, this was after all what I’d asked for. But in my naivety I was unprepared for the ensuing whirlwind and for me it has felt at times like a giant chaotic tumbling of online ideas that I felt suddenly responsible for converting into something valid and workable. I have several friends who have been kind enough to help and I am thankful for their calm behind-the-scenes presence in what has been a frenetic few days trying hard not to quell enthusiasm and stifle interest, or be dragged through personality clashes. All the while I have been mindful of the need to have time to reflect on what will work and what may not and recognise that in the online world, things are often fast-moving. When I asked for input, I should have expected this. I’ll know next time!
But, after just a week of amazing, energetic, buzzing ideas coming from all angles, experiences and view points, from the chaos (of my mind) has come the very real Schauzerfest – a weekend of walks across the UK to fundraise for DBARC. Both the timing of the weekend and the name, Schnauzerfest, a play on the German Oktoberfest – was a clever suggestion made by someone on the forum and one I think works well seeing as schnauzers have Germanic origins.
So, we have over the weekend of 18th & 19th October, all over Britain, people hosting dog walks with their schnauzers and other canine companions with donations being made to DBARC. As of today, we have 10 confirmed walks, an online map, a flyer in the making and a logo being finalised. All wonderfully done by people who have got behind the idea and shared their expertise, ideas and enthusiasm. There are plenty of other things that are being talked about and worked through and lots of genuine offers of help and participation which is remarkable for an idea that began life in my head just a week ago.
For an idea of why Forum members voted DBARC as their Charity of the Year and the work they do, read here.