Sunday, March 19, 2017

Raising Money, Doing Good

ad by Sarah Windisch

The Russian election of the Orange Menace hit a lot of us in different ways, but one of the resounding reactions was, "I must put something good into the world." We felt helpless, angry, and in need of something, anything, to affirm that yes there are good people in the world and no Americans aren't all like Komrade Racist Misogynist Nazi-pants.

I wanted to donate to two of the groups we figured would be right in the firing line of the new administration- Planned Parenthood (because they help women and that cannot stand) and the ACLU (who know they've got a lot of fight on their hands). But I don't have much. I know, every little bit helps, but maybe there's a way to do a little bit more.

One of the benefits of being an independently published author is I control everything about my books. I set the price, it's easy to resupply, I don't have a publisher to check with or go through or even give a cut to. I am the process (once has done its process). And that means I can give my books away, jack up the prices (which I'd never do, but still), or take all the profits and do whatever I want. Normally that means buying records.*

So I decided to have a fundraiser.

For one 24-hour period the profits of every single Doug Robertson book sold by me personally, not through amazon, createspace, or smashwords would be split evenly between Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. I chose Jan 20th because that was a depressing day and I needed something positive to focus on.

I had no idea how well the fundraiser would work. Selling books is a tricky thing. Maybe no one would buy. Maybe a few would. I had a pretty decent stash at my house for conferences and the occasional online autographed book sale, and my secret hope was I'd run out of books and have to resupply. Which would slow delivery but would mean we raised some decent cash.

The 20th came and my inbox didn't explode, but it did expand rapidly. Orders came in all day. It was a work day, and it was gratifying to look at my phone at breaks and see email notification piling up. That night I designed a Sheet to track all the orders, then shared it with my wife, who is the organized one, and she redesigned it and did that spreadsheet magic thing where it adds and totals automatically.

The process wasn't swift, because we had to wait for the Weirdlings to go down, and I had to email people the totals with shipping for their orders, and they can to pay, and some had to email me addresses and yadda yadda it took longer than expected all together. But eventually, after many emails and nights, shipments started going out.

first batch

We'd reached my secret goal and I also had to order more of every book so some shipments got delayed while I waited for CreateSpace to send me more.
second batch

Due to the magic of spreadsheets, it's was easy to figure out the actual profits. He's the Weird Teacher and The Unforgiving Road are $13 each. THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome) is $6. Shipping was built into the totals I emailed to people (side note- shipping to Canada from the US is reeeediculous). I subtracted the cost of each book to me and the cost of them getting to me, and got the total donation for each order.
 Those two Bonus Donations at the bottom are from two people who gave $10 and $14 more than their order. The total profit from one special day of sales was $464.87. I divided that in half...
...and arrived at how much we'd be donating to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood- $232.43 each (I know, there's half a penny left over). After that it was easy, since both organizations accept payments from PayPal.

I'm not writing this to be all Check Me Out, I Did a Good Thing. One- because that's not cool and it kinda defeats the purpose of doing a cool thing, and Two- Because I didn't do it. I set up an avenue for people to do a cool thing, and a lot of people took it. This didn't work because of me. If it had been me, I'd have sent each group ten bucks. But working together, we managed to send a decent chunk of change to two groups fighting for our rights in a time where those rights are under attack.

And we can continue to help-

Donate to the ACLU**
Donate to Planned Parenthood**

I wrote this because I want everyone who ordered a book on Jan 20th to know their money went where they wanted it to go. We're in this together. The work goes beyond the classroom, and there's ways for all of us to make a difference, monetarily and otherwise.

Thank you for reading, and for donating.

*partially true- that actually means putting a dent in car payments and whatnot on good months
** No PayPal on these pages, but you can through their mobile sites

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written two books about teaching- He’s the Weird Teacher and THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome). I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.


  1. Hi!

    I recently embarked on a teaching career, after waiting too long to accept that my brain has simply been programmed for this line of work. I discovered one of your videos on youtube, and you really struck a chord with me. What a nice reminder of what makes teaching such an absolute privilege.

    1. That's awesome! Welcome to the club. Please reach out for any reason at all.