Last Friday, after weeks of focused effort, Hayley received the last $25 she needed to take her over the edge (a touching contribution from a fellow rappel participant). She did it the old-fashioned way – by asking and asking again. In this special Q&A, Hayley shares her very special story of how she turned her own Outward Bound experience into a campaign of compassion – and inspired support from all corners.
POBS: What inspired you to go Over the Edge with Outward Bound?
Hayley Boyle (HB): When I heard about the Building Adventure 2013, and that each participant had to raise $2,000 for Outward Bound, my initial thought was, ‘I HAVE to do this!’ – partly because I love fundraising for a good cause close to my heart, and partly because I love to get my adrenaline fix. I’m an alum of an Outward Bound Heroic Journey course, and was able to go on that course because of a generous scholarship through Outward Bound and former NFL quarterback Brian Griese’s foundation, Judi’s House. I know that my course cost at that time was just shy of $2,000, so I look at this opportunity to raise money and give back.
POBS: Were there times when you weren’t sure you were going to make it?
HB: I can’t say I ever doubted I would reach my $2,000 goal. I truly and deeply believe in others’ generosity and willingness to give–even if only a few dollars. I have three examples of this–the first is my friend Jimmy, who gave $5, the second is my cousin Barbara who gave $8, and the third is my mom’s friend, Thomas, who gave $17. I’m not saying that any donation means any more or any less, but these three people gave what they felt they could give, even if it wasn’t the “standard” $10, $25, or $50 donation. When fundraisers say, “every dollar counts,” we absolutely mean it. Every. Single. Dollar. So while the fundraising may be tough at times, it always gave me a renewed sense of hope when I got those “small” (though, certainly not small in meaning) donations.
POBS: What kept you going when the fundraising was tough or slow?
HB: The overwhelming amount of love and support from my network and community kept me going. There were people who weren’t able to donate, but who sent out my fundraising page to their families and friends or who posted it to their Facebook pages–and that is powerful. Knowing that, although they couldn’t support me monetarily, they still wanted to support me in other ways, humbled me beyond words. They were “spreading the word,” and, ultimately, that’s the point of fundraising.
POBS: What are some of the tactics you used to achieve your goal?
HB: I sent out emails to family. I posted my link to my Facebook page. I asked the nonprofit I work for to donate and my coworkers. I focused on smaller daily or weekly goals. Every few days I would reassess where I was and say, “Okay, I want to hit $500 dollars by Sunday.” It makes it a lot more manageable and less daunting when you think of it in smaller amounts instead of, “I have to raise $2,000 by October 17 or else.” Also, if you break it down for people, and tell them, “Look, I want to raise $50 today… I only need 5 people to donate $10 to make that possible.” They won’t feel as pressured to make large donations, which often discourages them from make any donation at all.
POBS: What advice would you give your fellow fundraisers who haven’t yet hit $2,000?
HB: Don’t give up. Keep your head in the game, and think outside of the box. One thing I learned on my Outward Bound trips was to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and fundraising is certainly a challenge and one that pushes people far outside of the comfort zone. It’s not easy asking people for money. But if you tell your story, if you’re open and honest, people give. People want to give. Giving feels good. They just need a reason to do it.
POBS: What three things are you most looking forward to for the 18th?
HB: Really, there is one thing that I am most looking forward to on October 18th. For those who know my story, October 18th is a significant day for me. My half-brother, Brendan, who killed himself by overdosing on heroin, died on October 17, 2007. However, I am not defined by my struggles or pain. Everyone experiences struggle and pain in his/her life. And so, I’m most looking forward to facing the big day as a dedication to Brendan and to anyone who is struggling with addiction, as a way of saying, “There is life and goodness and adventure beyond what any of us can imagine. We just have to be strong and open to saying ‘I am better than my struggles and pain. I can overcome.”