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?

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