In the fall of 2002, Bono made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about the problems facing Africa. Oprah had asked for fans who had been inspired into action by Bono to write in, and African Well Fund discussion list member Ann was one of the fans who were chosen to come to the show's taping and meet him in person. Recently, Ann carried out the African Well Fund's very first independent fundraiser.
On September 11th, 2002, when Ann got the call from Oprah's producers, they were very touched that she was from a small town in Wyoming. Ann told them about how she had become more aware of the world around her and the issues in it because of U2.
During a commercial break, Bono came over to where Ann was sitting to chat with her. He gave her a peck on the cheek and knelt down in front of her. "I thought I was going to be like a Beatles fan and totally freak out," Ann says. "But he was so normal and humble that I didn't freak out at all. He wasn't 'Bono the super rock star.' He was just 'Bono, guy that lives down the street.'"
"I then introduced him to my mom who was sitting behind me. I'll never forget that - 'Bono, mom, mom, Bono.' It always makes me laugh."
Ann took that chance to tell Bono that he was a good person with a good heart and an inspiration to her. "Well I've got you fooled," Bono replied, and kissed her hand.
Later Bono gave his trademark wraparound sunglasses to Oprah as a gift. Ann boldly piped up and asked to try them on. Oprah mock-reluctantly turned them over to Ann and she put them on and looked around.
"The world starts looking a bit different through those doesn't it?" Bono asked her.
Then tell us, Ann -- How does the world look through Bono's sunglasses?
"A bit dirty and distorted," Ann says. "But overall beautiful and exciting."
The main thing that Ann took away from her experience on Oprah, "as cheesy as it sounds," she says, "was that dreams come true."
"I am an even bigger U2 fan than I was before because now I KNOW that Bono is a great person who is humble and sincere. I look at pictures of him differently now. He's not so much the super star but more of a regular guy, and that makes me love him even more. And judging from Bono I can only imagine his 3 best friends [his bandmates, The Edge, Larry, and Adam] are the same way -- and who doesn't like good hearted people?"
So, like rock star; like fan - Ann later became involved with the African Well Fund. She was on a U2 fan club mailing list, and someone posted about the African Well Fund. "And I couldn't resist," she says.
She was drawn to to the grassroots effort of it. "I liked the idea of everyday people coming together to change the world."
After all, she says, Bono can't change the world -- but we can.
Ann was so enthusiastic that she decided to hold the African Well Fund's very first fundraiser. "I thought of designating one week for people to donate money for each time they use water," she says. "In my flyer I suggested a penny for each time someone used their faucet, a dime for a shower and a quarter for the dishwasher. They were just suggested donations, but I think it gave people the general idea of what we were trying to accomplish."
This method of fundraising is ideal for families, churches, and schools alike. "It combines the idea of raising money and raises awareness of how much water we are fortunate enough to have," Ann observes.
To promote the project, Ann contacted her local newspaper and got a small piece written on it. A local high school newspaper did a piece as well. She distributed flyers around her downtown area and made an announcement in her church. She also gave them drop-off points: one at the local YMCA and one at her church. Her mother is the church secretary, so she took them there and kept them locked up. And at the Y, where Ann works, she put them in a locked cabinet and checked it daily.
"The reaction was very positive. I received calls from all over the community with questions and people pledging to donate over the next year."
Having only had a modest five days to promote the project, Ann ultimately raised $250 for the African Well Fund.
Her advice to others who would like to get involved and do fundraising or awareness projects themselves: "Be prepared. Be ready for any questions you will get, have flyers ready, contact information, collection areas etc….Think of anything that my come up and be ready for it. And be happy with whatever results come of it. If you put in hard work and time then there is nothing to be disappointed in."
Also, she adds, it's not just about raising money, but also it's about raising awareness. "Awareness is key," she points out.
Thank you to Ann for her hard work! If you are interested in implimenting Ann's fundraising method in your community, home, or church, e-mail email@example.com for more information!