Friday, February 26, 2010

Fundraising: Part 4 - Tips For Fundraising

The third topic I'd like to cover in my five part fundraising series is "Tips For Fundraising"

This is an important topic. Not only is it important to know, but it's important to PASS IT ON to others once you know it. Don't hoard information, because if you want others to provide you with the information they may already know, then sometimes it takes giving a little to get a little. So if you have any other ideas, please share them in a comment after reading through!

While fundraising you must keep in mind the logistics.

Who, what, when, where, why and how.
Who is your audience? Who are you trying to target? Who are the people likely to donate to your cause? Who are you giving a speech to, discussing your ideas with, or writing a letter to?
What is your objective? What are your goals? What is the amount of money you want to raise? What is the money going to? What are the CONCRETE DETAILS of your cause?
When are you having your fundraiser? When meaning: time, place, date? When is a GOOD time to have your fundraiser?
Why are you fundraising? Why is it important that you fundraise? Why are you asking people to give you money? Why is it a good cause to fundraise for?
How do you plan to fundraise? How much money do you plan to make? How will your organization's members be involved? How can you get people excited about your cause so they are willing to donate?

Make sure you create excel sheets to stay organized. The last thing you want when you're fundraising is to be disorganized. If people are going to be donating money to your cause, the last thing you want to do is be careless with their donations -- not only because they might not donate again in the future, but also because that could be $20 less that your cause receives, and that's counterproductive.

Be unique in your fundraising. Tailor your fundraisers to the environment you are in. Are you on a campus? At a concert? At a fair or festival for a small town? A church? All of these environments cater to different people, meaning you should, too. Don't just have one spiel and hope it works for everyone. Also be willing to have some incentive for people, such as free food, candy, t-shirts, posters, keychains, or something that you can give away with your logo on it. Not only does that help get your name out there, but it helps people remember you.

I cannot stress this enough. If you plan on selling roses on and around Valentine's Day to raise money, and you want to sell them for a dollar a piece, but you have to purchase them for 50 cents initially, be sure you will be able to sell AT LEAST enough so that you don't LOSE money! If you buy 100 roses, you need to be sure that you can sell at least 50 of them in order to break even, that way, even if you don't end up making a profit, at least you don't lose money.

Know your budget, as well. If you can stand to lose some money (and let's face it, most of us can't) then maybe you won't feel as afraid to risk buying those 100 roses even though you know you might only sell 30 of them. However, knowing your budget helps you (or at least having a treasurer who DOES, and who knows it well) will keep you in the clear of wasting money and losing it to failed fundraising attempts with risky start up costs. Don't overestimate your turnout, because most of the time you won't get lucky and then you'll lose money. Additionally, try to get items donated. If you can find a flower shop that will donate 100 roses instead of selling them for 50 cents a piece, every rose you sell is 100% profit, and there are no start up costs. Donated items make fundraising much smoother and easier, and although it's not always possible, NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK! It's worth a shot!

Get your name out there by telling a compelling story. Statistics mean nothing to most people, unless you're speaking in front of a group of statisticians. So instead of throwing numbers at people that don't mean a thing in the long run and that are hard to remember, tell your story. How did you get involved? Why did you get involved? What makes your cause important? Make it personal, make it compelling, and make it honest. The money will come. If you provide concrete examples of your time in a foreign country helping orphaned children, that will stir up compassion more than the fact that x-number of children are orphaned in that country.

If you're having a fundraiser, then relate it's theme to your cause. For example, with SHH, you could play some Reggaeton music, serve Baleadas for free food, and maybe have a slideshow of photos from Honduras and the children. Having a fun atmosphere at your fundraisers will engage people and encourage them to donate.

Is your fundraiser catered toward an older crowd who are all (or mostly) going to be above 21 years of age? Than hold a Happy Hour at a local bar or pub. 

Advertise, advertise, advertise!
Put up flyers, create a Facebook event or group, send out written or printed invitations, send out emails on listservs. Let people know about your fundraising event so that you have a good turn out. If people don't know, they won't come, so advertising is IMPORTANT! Viral advertising is probably the most successful kind in today's world. Social networking websites, youtube videos, and listservs can almost guarantee a successful turnout. And don't be afraid to send out a reminder email or invitation. People are busy and tend to forget, so reminders are appreciated (and necessary).

Think about impromptu ways to fundraise, as well. Don't always depend solely on the well planned fundraisers that take months or weeks of preparation. Did a snow storm just come through? Shovel for your neighbors and ask for a donation for doing so. Are the leaves falling from the trees? Rake some yards for a couple of bucks. Is someone looking to paint their fence soon? Offer to do it for them for a small fee towards your organization or cause.
Tournaments (like soccer, ultimate frisbee, flag football, kickball, or basketball) are also great ways to get people out, active, socializing and donating to a great cause! Babysit on weekends for some change for your organization. Start a coin jar, or what I like to call "Spare Change to Change the World."

Even have members of your organization compete in a "77 in 7" game, where pairs have 7 minutes to think of "77 fundraisers." Encourage them to write ANYTHING and be creative! How about bringing the circus to town? Renting out the nicest restaurant in town? Hot air ballon rides? Sure, some of those 77 ideas may be ridiculous and not plausible in the least, but you're bound to get SOME good ideas from the numerous pairs and their 77 ideas for fundraising.

What are some fundraisers that have worked for you?
What has been successful and what hasn't?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fundraising: Part 3 - Expanding Your Organization

There are many ways to expand your organization so that you have more members who are able to help you fundraise. Yesterday I covered how to maintain membership in your organization, and today I will discuss ways to expand your membership.

Recruit, recruit, recruit!

Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, classmates. Anyone who you can think of that will listen. Even if only two people from each group join, that's still 8 more people in your organization than before, and that's 8 more people with ideas for fundraising. Also, don't be afraid to tap the resources of other organizations, even ones you aren't involved in. Go to meetings of other organizations and speak briefly about yours. Maybe a few will decide to join.

Be sure to hold events to get your name out there. Have a table at activity fairs, expos, conventions, whatever there may be in your town or school. That way you are able to talk to people who are already open to looking for new organizations to join and participate in.

Take advantage of Listservs. Different universities and colleges have different regulations, so contact listserv administrators to find out what the rules are. But send out mass emails. Most people probably won't read your email, but there are always some people who do, and those people may be the ones who decide to come out to your next meeting. Listservs can be in all different varieties--classes, other clubs and organizations, offices on campus, departments, athletics, or even the entire university or college. Use these listservs to your advantage and send out an information filled, but brief email. If your email is too long, no one will read it. Make it short, sweet and to the point with all the important and relevant information about meeting times and places.

When you attend events to get your name out there, make sure that your purpose is clear. Have posters, photos, a slideshow on a laptop, and people who understand the mission of your organization there to answer questions. Set up a table during a high traffic time in a main building on campus. Cosponsor events with other organizations. Get noticed!

Be heard! Get out and talk about your organization. Give speeches, talk in front of your class briefly before it starts if your professor allows you to, network with other groups who have similar goals or topics. All of these are great ways to expand your membership.

Hold interest meetings! I stressed this is my post yesterday, but they are really important! People who want to join might feel funny coming out for a regular meeting without really knowing what you're all about, so interest meetings are a safe way to allow people to hear your spiel.

Don't forget to have fun! If you are fun, happy and welcoming people will feel more comfortable approaching you and getting involved! Have socials, movie nights, potluck dinners, etc. These create a relaxed atmosphere where people can get involved while having some fun with food or a movie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fundraising: Part 2 - How To Retain Membership In Your Organization

The first presentation that I attended for the SHH Fundraising Summit yesterday was called: "How to Retain Membership At Your School's SHH Chapter."

This can apply for any organization or association, however, and not just a chapter of SHH at a university.

Hold interest meetings year round. These don't have to be weekly, but perhaps once every other month in order to allow people to come out and learn around your organization. It's important that new members feel welcome, and interest meetings are a great way to obtain this goal. Create conditions that make it easy for people who come to interest meetings to attend your regular meetings. Send out reminder emails three days before a meeting, and also the night before or the day of so that people won't forget. It's easy to forget meeting times, locations and details, especially if you're as busy as I am, so being the head of your group means that it's your responsibility to make sure new members have reminders. You can also distribute flyers, post signs, market your events, and use social networking sites like Facebook.

Once you get some new members, make them feel welcome. Don't scare them away. Involve them in meetings through icebreakers, where both new and old members can introduce themselves and have fun getting to know each other. Also give newcomers simple tasks that make them feel needed, but be sure not to give them too large of a task, or else they will feel overwhelmed and not come back.

Make sure you have an agenda for your meetings. Have an activity planned. Make the meetings fun and enjoyable, so that people desire to return to upcoming meetings. Plan events for fundraising, socials, or whatever it may be. Get people involved & feeling needed.

Make sure you distribute evaluation or suggestion sheets on a fairly regular basis. Allow members to input their own thoughts about what they life or do not like. Members are full of good ideas for how to make your organization stronger and better, so give them the opportunity to voice those opinions in a constructive way.

Make phone calls instead of emailing every once in a while. This gives your organization a more personal tone, and shows your members that you're interested enough in keeping them involved that you go out of your way to individually talk to them. Have socials, as well, because bonding is important for groups. This gives your members the opportunity to form lasting friendships with you and with each other.

Don't let your members get:

1) Burnt-Out - don't give them too much responsibility, because this can overwhelm them and deter them from coming back.

2) Cooled-Out - don't give them too little responsibility either, because this will make them feel unneeded and again, deter them from coming back.

3) Kept-out - make sure new members don't feel alienated from the group. Involve them through icebreakers, activities, and socials. Avoid inside jokes amongst veteran members, as this makes newcomers feel unwelcomed and "outside" of the circle.

4) Pulled-out - Keep your meetings fun! Crack a joke, have a reflection, learn something new, invite a speaker to your meeting. This gives diversity and variety to your meetings and keeps member from drifting away over time, or pulling out of your organization.

Establish challenging and creative goals. Don't set your sights too low, instead set them fairly high so that way you challenge your members to go above and beyond their perceived "limits." Once you achieve your goal, or even if you come up short, show your appreciate for all of the hard work by sending your thanks to your members, or by holding a social in order to celebrate. Perhaps institute a "Hustler of the Week" award so that each week you can honor a member who went above and beyond the expectations. Keep your group focused on the serious issues, but have fun, too!

Make sure you educate new members about the issues you discuss or the topics you cover. If there is any unfamiliar terminology, define it so that new members can understand what you are talking about during meetings. Discuss the mission of your organization often, so that everyone can be familiar with it.

Increase motivation of your members by allowing them to choose the jobs they want to do. Instead of assigning jobs, give them the opportunity to pick. That way you will gain the most out of the work your members do because they are doing the jobs they enjoy. During your meetings, create an enjoyable and comfortable atmosphere, perhaps by playing relevant music, having a slideshow of photos from past events, or allowing a member to talk about their ideas for fundraising or other goals.

There are so many ways to retain your membership, and these are only some.

Do you have any ways that you retain membership for an organization that you are involved in?
Have you ever started an organization?

Leave a comment with your ideas and thoughts!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fundraising: Part 1

Traveling is fun. You get to learn a lot, you get to try different foods, you get to meet many people.
However, it's expensive.

I've learned that fundraising, especially for service trips, is one of the best ways to help ease the expenses of traveling.

Today I went to the SHH Fundraising Summit at George Mason University in Virginia. SHH (Students Helping Honduras) is the organization I went through for traveling to Honduras several weeks ago over winter break. I was fortunate enough to apply and receive a scholarship for the full cost of the trip (minus airfare and the country exit tax), so that I did not have to do fundraising for this specific trip, but if I want to return in the future, and seeing as how I do want to,  I will most likely have to fundraise in order to afford it.

So todays conference was a great way to brainstorm ideas for fundraising and learn about starting an SHH Chapter at La Salle University.

I went to four of the eight presentations:
1.) How To Retain Membership For Your University's Chapter of SHH
2.) Expanding Your University's Chapter of SHH
3.) Fundraising Tips: Fundraisers That Work, and Fundraisers That Don't
4.) Giving a Fundraising Speech

The other four that I did not have time to attend were:
5.) Raise $600 In Two Hours: Letter Writing Campaigns
6.) Hosting a Successful Skype Chat
7.) Organizing a Service Trip
8.) Raise $40 An Hour By Selling SHH Coffee

Of the four presentations that I did have time to attend, I'm going to post an overview of the ideas from each one in a series of 5, starting with this post as my introduction.

Fundraising is difficult; it is time consuming; it takes a lot of effort, energy and patience. However, it is extremely rewarding. Whatever the cause, fundraising can be a great way to unite your group and create a fun bonding experience if done with enthusiasm and charisma. Although it's tough to fundraise, staying positive and being smart about decision making can make for a pleasant and successful experience--one that group members will enjoy and remember.

I've done a lot of fundraising over the past three years, and I've learned a lot of good and bad things to do. Going to these presentations was a great way to compile others' experiences with my own in order to form new ideas for future fundraising. I've actually enjoyed doing the majority of the fundraising that I've had to do--which is a good thing seeing as it's something that I'll probably be doing for the rest of my life with my tentative possible career choices for my future.

As for SHH, today marked the beginning of our 100 Day Fundraising Campaign to raise $200,000.
$100,000 will go to the Education and Empowerment Fund.
$50,000 will go to a Children's Home.
$50,000 will go to an income generating business center for Villa Soleada.

It's a huge goal, but one that is 100% achievable. There are, as of right now, 34 colleges, universities and high schools pledged to raise money for SHH. It's incredibly empowering to know that we are all working together for this common goal to help the people we all love who live in Honduras in Villa Soleada.

Friday, February 19, 2010

World Recipe Fridays - Afghanistan

It's been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that.
Unfortunately, I've been having a rough past two weeks and haven't had time to sit down and post. I also haven't had much time on my computer because of my commitment to organization and time management for the month of February, as I've been focusing more intently on my schoolwork and reading instead of time on the computer.
However, I feel that keeping this updated is important and should be part of my commitment to organization and time management, and therefore I am refocusing my efforts to include my blog.

I've also decided that I am going to designate Fridays as World Recipe days.

Each week I am going to post a recipe from a country of the world. I'll be trying to keep the recipes as authentic as possible. I'll determine which countries I choose from an alphabetical list of independent recognized nations according to That way if you are interested to know which recipe I will be covering each week, you can follow along from the list I've included here.

The first country I'll be covering is:

Afghanistan is located in the Middle East, or South Central Asia. It is a landlocked country, and it is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, TurkmenistanUzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. 

Afghan cuisine is largely reflective of its chief crops, including wheat, barley and rice. It also includes dairy products like yogurt and whey, various nuts, vegetables and fresh and dried fruits. There is emphasis on seasoning, but typically the food is neither too spicy or too bland. Lamb and chicken are the two most popular meats when available, but are typically consumed by more affluent citizens, as it is expensive, and domesticated animals are valued more for the products they produce like eggs and dairy rather than slaughtering them for meat. Rice dishes are the most widely consumed dishes.

Afghani Lamb with Spinach Stew

  • 2 and 1/2 lb lamb stew meat (preferably leg)

  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

  • 3/4 lb  of onions (diced large)

  • 4 ts of chopped garlic

  • 2 ts of turmeric

  • 1/4 ts of nutmeg

  • 1/4 ts of ground cardamom

  • 1 ts of crushed red pepper (or to your taste if you like it spicier or more bland)

  • 1/2 ts of cinnamon

  • 32 oz of can tomatoes (drain & chop)

  • 1 cup of rich brown veal stock OR 1 cup of rich beef stock

  • 1/3 lb of fresh spinach (wash & drain)

  • 1/2 cup of yogurt

  • 1 tb of grated lemon peel

  • salt (add as much or as little as you see fit, depending on your taste)

  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts (roasted at 350 F. for about 3 minutes)

  • Sear the lamb in the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. 
    Add the onions and saute them for 2 minutes.
    Then add the garlic and saute it for 1 minute. 
    Put in the turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom, crushed red pepper and cinnamon and saute the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes more, being careful not to burn the onions or garlic. 
    Add the tomatoes and veal stock and stir.Cover the dish and bake at 350 F. for about 1 hour, until the meat is tender and begins to break up.
    Remove the dish from the oven and add the spinach, stirring until the spinach is wilted and blended in.
    Allow the stew to cool slightly.
    Add the yogurt, lemon peel and salt to your liking.
    Sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts.

    Approximately 4 servings.

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Charity Navigator: Your Guide to Intelligent Giving

    Have you ever felt hesitant about donating to a charity? Do you ever wonder how exactly your contribution gets used? Where your money goes? How much of it goes to administrative costs? Does most of your money actually go to the cause you intend to support through your donation?

    These are all valid questions, and should absolutely be considered before donating to a charity. However, it's difficult to determine exactly which charities do the best in terms of using your money for how you intend it to be used. Sometimes the information to answer these questions isn't available through a charity's website, and therefore you're stuck. At that point, the questions comes down to: Do you donate, and risk having a large percentage of your donation go to administrative costs of the charity? Or do you forget making a contribution all together?

    However, there are ways of determining which charities do a good job at handling donations wisely and the way that donators intend their money to be used. Websites such as Charity Navigator help you determine all the answers to those hard to answer questions. Especially recently, people want to donate to charities to help Haiti, and many people aren't considering other implications when it comes to donating--but they should.

    What if you donate $100 to an organization that states it's mission is to help get prosthetics to people who lost limbs from the earthquake, collapsing buildings, and other objects in Haiti. Not all of that $100 donation is going to go directly to purchasing a prosthetic for a person who lost a leg or an arm. There is a percentage of that donation that goes to administrative costs. There is typically also a percentage that goes to fundraising efforts. Yes, you read that right--fundraising. Although it may be hard to believe, it does COST something in order to RAISE more money, so there is a fundraising cost for many charities. Then there are other various expenses that programs also have. And this is all before money goes to the actual program means.

    Charities NEED to have these preliminary expenses, though. It's important for a charity to have fundraising efforts, administrative components, and other program components, because without them, the charity would not exist. However, some charities are much more effective and efficient than others in terms of how donations and partitioned, which is why it's important to RESEARCH a charity BEFORE you donate.

    Using websites like Charity Navigator is a great way to do so.

    So before you give, get informed! It's important, and it's the best way to know that your money is going to do the most amount of good possible!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    February: Organization & Time Management

    Already January has come and gone. The "New Year" is already 1/12th over. Hard to believe how quickly time flies!

    Anyway, as part of my Happiness Project for the year 2010, I set up a syllabus of sorts for my year in terms of goals I set for myself. January, which has come and gone, was "Maintaining Healthy Relationships." Just because January is over does not, however, mean that the goal is over. It means that I worked towards establishing and maintaining healthy relationships in January as a start, and that it will now carry on throughout my year, and years to come.

    I feel that maintaining relationships in life is important. It's difficult to maintain a relationship with every person that you meet throughout your life--in fact it's impossible to do so. Think of the hundreds and thousands of people you've met throughout your life. You can't. Because there are far too many to count. However, keeping up to date with certain people is absolutely important. Family, friends, coworkers--all of these people are important people to keep healthy relationships with. If you find yourself in an environment surrounded by the same people day-to-day, it makes work, leisure and life much more enjoyable if you are able to be on good terms with those people instead of awkward, unsure, or even bad terms with them.

    For February, I've set the goal of "Organization & Time Management."

    I'm going to focus on keeping my environment organized. This helps to reduce stress in whatever atmosphere in which you find yourself. If your room is disorganized and a mess, it is much harder to feel comfortable and stress free (especially on a subconscious level). Therefore, keeping a clean and tidy living space is important. The same goes for work space, you car, your yard, or whatever area you spend a lot of time in. Keep it clean. Keep it tidy. It'll pay off.

    I'm also going to focus on spending my time wisely. Instead of wasting time needlessly "surfing the web" or doing other needless activities, I plan to keep organization in the way I spend my time as well. This will also reduce stress, because I'll get my work done ahead of time, affording me more leisure time when I actually need or want it. This will also help me improve my quality of work for classes and other various extra-curricular activities that I participate in.

    It's already 4 days into February, but these goals are certainly doable and important.

    What are your goals for February?

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