The fundraiser, which took place at a popular bar on a Saturday night, was our baby of a project. With no medical training, while we could fold gauze and clean syringes until the sun went down, we knew this was our big chance to make an impact.
The groundwork was already set. The island’s most popular bar, Lotus Bar, was sympathetic to the clinics cause. They allowed us to buy our own alcohol and sell it out of one of the smaller bars. As a bigger way to bring in cash, we created a raffle by soliciting donations from dive centers, restaurants and spas and made all the associated signage, tickets, and certificates. Everyone on the island knows the vet, Jae, and most seem to have a story of how she saved their furry friend, so the real work was not in getting willing participants but suggesting donations and making up certificates. (Gift certificates are a foreign concept here, so it was interesting explaining to a Thai masseuse how she would “give us” a one hour foot reflexology session.)
We then covered the island in posters, sold tickets and bought the obviously necessary matching outfits. Selling the tickets more than four days ahead of time proved to be a challenge as most people are island hopping and only tend to stay that long! So the few nights before we were busy bees. That night we hustled, selling last minute raffle tickets and heckling merrymakers to buy from “our” bar. Our genius marketing strategy, gracing signs and posters? “You’re drinking anyway, do it for the dogs!” As Justine so eloquently put it: “We are going to fundraise the shit out of this bitch.” (Sorry Grandma).
And fundraise we did. In the end we netted nearly 30,000 baht, about $880, which goes a long way on an island where it costs $5 to neuter a dog. Not only was it a fantastically fun night, but also a great sense of community as local Thais, longterm expats and short term tourists came together to make the night a success. The warm fuzzies will keep me going for a long time.