Teamwork is the missing ingredient in most paddle raisers

There are many types of crowds. Some in which we feel very “connected” to the strangers around us, and some in which we feel very disconnected and alone.

Your paddle raiser (aka fund-a-need) will produce much better results if you can increase the “connected-ness” of your audience members and make them feel like a team all moving in the same direction rather than a bunch of individuals on solo journeys that might just happen to be going the same direction.


In our Comprehensive Guide to Record-Setting Paddle Raisers, we share strategies on how to deepen the engagement with the audience and create teamwork.

We see the paddle raiser audience in two states:  1) airplane passengers or 2) drivers in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

In both cases you’re surrounded by other people, but these two travel experiences not the same, are they?

Would you agree that you generally feel way more connected to the other passengers on an airplane than you feel toward other drivers on the road?

On the plane, we sat in the waiting area together, people watching and getting to know each other.

In our cars, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we not really watching anyone. We may glance around every now and then, but we’re on our phones or listening to music, or deliberately looking straight ahead and avoiding eye contact with anyone.

In the boarding area, we noticed the mother with two small children; we noticed the young couple in love; we noticed the grandmother traveling by herself; we noticed the business travelers with their sense of purpose; we noticed the athletes dressed alike and moving with grace and energy.

The point is that we “noticed” things about each other, and we unconsciously made up stories about each person. Our brains automatically filled in the gaps with thoughts about where they lived, what they did for work, who they were flying to see, etc. That process of “noticing” makes us see our fellow travelers as people, just like us, and it’s part of the bonding.

In our cars, we tend to see the people around us on the in the context of how they’re impeding our progress. The car in front of us is going too slow, the car next to us won’t let us merge into the lane, the car behind us is tailgating.

We notice our neighbors on the highway, but mostly in ways that increase our annoyance and decrease our connected-ness.

On the plane, we’ll stand in line patiently while people get settled in their seats. We’ll help a stranger get his or her bag into the overhead bin. We’ll stand up out of the aisle seat and smile and make eye contact while allowing our seatmates to get to their window and middle seats.

There is something about being on an airplane that turns all of us into a group of acquaintances. We’re not “friends” with our fellow passengers, but we’re several major notches up from complete strangers.

If anything happened on the plane, like a big argument, or a mechanical problem, or a major delay, this calamity would bond the passengers together even more firmly.

On an airplane, there is a definite sense that we’re all in it together. We’re either all going to get there or none of us are going to get there. We all need to comply with the safety procedures. One person can imperil us all.

Too many paddle raiser audiences are like crowded highways. Lots of strangers who happen to be traveling in the same direction, but they have no unifying connection, no sense obligation to their fellow travelers, and certainly no sense that we’re all going to make it or none of us are going to make it.

If there’s a delay on the highway, individual drivers will make u-turns in the media, drive on the shoulder to get to the next exit, etc. It’s every person for himself.

To have a successful paddle raiser, you want your audience to become more like airplane passengers, where they feel that they’re in it together and they feel that they have to work together.

Please click here to download our Comprehensive Paddle Raiser (aka fund-a-need) Guide that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to organize your paddle raiser to achieve your best results ever!

Happy Fundraising!