We know there are many farmers who need help more than we do. But what we did to launch a campaign like Adopt A Sheep can be done by anyone with a computer, an email account, access to the Internet and a willingness to try something new.
We used BLOGGER to build the site for FREE (3 easy steps).
We used PayPal to accept payments, NO UPFRONT COST, ie. FREE (six easy steps).
We did our own PR. (This isn't free. It took me several years to learn how to write a press release. But I'll write any genuine farmer's publicity material who does the first two steps). Going to a newspaper's website and finding out who to email is FREE and two easy steps.
We will send a simple step-by-step guide to any farmer who emails for it on firstname.lastname@example.org
In fact, if it works (and it appears to) I will tour the country teaching farmers how to do it. I've promised Dan that we will push to have it made a national program, to teach farm families how to connect with city people. Bridging the City/Country Gap has always one of our dreams.
HOW TO GET STARTED
The whole thing starts with an idea. That's the hardest part. Having ideas is a proud Australian farming tradition. I haven't met a farmer yet who wasn't an inventor.
Most marketing ideas are stolen. I stole the idea for Adopt A Sheep from World Vision which is running an "Adopt a Child for Christmas". Louisa and I were sitting at the kitchen table trying to decide whether to sell our breeding flock into a depressed market for a low price, and face buying a new flock after the drought at a high price. (DIsaster.) Or whether we can hope against hope that, if we hold out for 3 months, the rains will come... Then on comes this World Vision commercial, and I said 'adopt a chicken' as a joke, then out popped: "Adopt a sheep"... I got all excited about it, but Louisa thought it was too stupid for words and wouldn't cheer up. She was depressed and went to bed. I followed after clearing my email, but she was asleep. I tossed and turned and fell asleep, but got up around 3am and went to the computer and started work. By 7am I had finished the basics.
I had already taught myself how to create a blogsite. (3 steps) I had already taught myself how to download photos from the digital camera and upload them to the blog site. (5 steps) What I didn't know was about PayPal. Like anything else connected with technology, I was taught how to learn it from my grandson - push all the buttons and see what happens. A half-hour later I had installed PayPal as a "Make a donation" button on the blogsite.
It's that easy. It's that hard.
I would support your brilliant Adopt A Sheep brainwave even if I wasn't a good New Zealand girl originally from the South Island, where I was lucky enough to have a country childhood in the middle of Central Otago's high country sheep stations.
Good luck to you and I think I'll donate my new adopted sheep to my 5 year old nephew - so he can tell his schoolmates about it and get you some more adoptions.
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