If this is your first time here, WELCOME!

This blog is all about fundraising, HOW TO DO IT! And so today I’m sharing my fundraising journey with a new tool for me, IndieGogo!

What is it like?

It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like the sound of raspberries tastes!

Why am I running this fundraising campaign for Pokey the Penguin?

I LOVE POKEY THE PENGUIN. I think it is a true treasure of the internet, one of the first webcomics, and I’ve read it since 1999. My friend Summer Unsinn put Pokey the Penguin in her email signature in college, and that’s how I first heard about it.

I thought, well, Summer likes it so much, so I’ll go read it.

What the hell is this?


It took reading 50 comics before I could really comprehend what was going on… But by the time I was reading 100 comics, I got it. It was hilarious. It made me laugh more than Bloom County (also about a penguin) and Calvin and Hobbes. Of course, it’s not as pretty as calvin and hobbes, but that is kind of the point.

When i went to England in 1999 I found TONS of people there who loved Pokey too. It spread without effort on the part of the creator, Steve Havelka. It was the early days of the internet, and there wasn’t a lot out there. But people found Pokey-they made friendships where they quoted POKEY all the time, they even wallpapered their bathrooms in it.

I got back to the US and started quoting it all the time with my friend Summer and some other friends. I never thought I would meet the creator of POKEY the Penguin.


When we first met, back in 2009, I asked him if he would ever consider running a fundraising campaign around his comic. And, well…

Pokey the Penguin was quite popular back in 1998 and 1999, but for the last several years the website has seen less and less traffic. Steve never wanted to attach his name to it, because he felt like it might “ruin the magic.”


But at long last, after 17 years, Steve decided that he needed to rally POKEY fans if he was ever going to make more Pokey comics-to have some freedom to feel happy enough to make the comics. So, Steve came to me.

As you know, I’ve worked in fundraising for a long time. Written books, given webinars, workshops, courses, and spoken at conferences about fundraising.

Now I want to share this new fundraising journey with you.

How is the campaign going?

So far, so good!

Things I am learning:

0. You need to be really transparent about where the money goes.

Steve, the creator of Pokey the Penguin, wants to be able to take on less client work–which drags him down–and spend more time writing comics. So we were a bit opaque about the money in the beginning, and then we changed the language so people would know what they’re donating for. This campaign is doing its job!


1. GOING where your people are!

For POKEY, Talking to people on Twitter really works.


I am consistently thanking people on Twitter, and I’m so jazzed about how people are responding so readily.

2. Starting a pokey email list and getting people updates that way as well

We used MailChimp, that has helped the authors of Pokey the Penguin get more donations. I encouraged steve to do this several years ago when he started making Pokey books, and it has helped people find out when there are new books to buy, and now it’s also helping with the campaign.

3. Doing a video that makes people happy-Well, enough said!
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This is not a typical fundraising video. It does say We NEED YOUR SUPPORT though. So I think it works. THE FIRST PAGE OF THE SECOND CHAPTER!

4. We are also making video updates… that are not your typical fundraising video updates either.The tool we are using is Animoto.


The videos are… unusual, and nonprofits could probably NOT replicate these videos, because the videos are of what people have said about Pokey the Penguin in the last few years, and their fan art around Pokey the Penguin.

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Our video and text updates highlight what people have said and done around Pokey. One person made a painting of the characters in pokey the penguin. One person made an homage. One person even made a machine knitting project called Guardians of the Arctic Circle Candy!

It seems to really be drawing people together for the first time, over their love of this comic.

Frankly I privately thought we would be lucky to make $1000 with the campaign, but here we are, almost one and a half weeks into the campaign, and it’s made $1,300!

Largely thanks to people giving $100 at a time, but we’re receiving all sorts of amounts, $10 and $3 too.

I’ve also been emailing people to thank them.

WHY has this campaign worked?

1. People love this comic. So even though we don’t have an email list or a ready-made group of supporters, people are finding this campaign and giving. Steve wanted to make something so awful yet lovable- and he succeeded. People all over the world love Pokey. It is possibly because he does not insert references to current events or pop culture, and the language is clean. But it is more likely that people love it because it’s actually really funny. And it stays funny, no matter how many years pass.

2. All of our language are Donor and Supporter focused in every way.  We want to draw together, for the first time, people that love Pokey.  And Steve would not keep making them if people did not share their feelings about them. Truly, there would be no Pokey the Penguin comics without supporters. People’s responses over the years have ranged from the bizarre to the deranged, to people telling the authors that they had brain damage. One fan wrote to Pokey recently- “I will love you forever” and it made Steve so happy.

3. We keep updating people and thanking them. And we help them feel like a part of the action! (See #2)

So how can you succeed with indiegogo fundraising?

What lessons can you take from this journey so far?

Use Mailchimp, Animoto, Indiegogo, and screenshots of tweets, if that is where your supporters are talking about you. If they aren’t talking about you, then try to get the conversation started.

ALWAYS BE THANKING! It’s really quite simple. Thank people all the time. They really like that! Who doesn’t? But we often wait until after the donation to thank. No, thank people before they give anything. It works.