Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things I've learned about fundraising

Until I signed up with Team in Training (TNT) my experience in conducting fundraising has been limited to selling candy, cookies, bowl-a-thons, etc. In these activities I was always a participant rather than an organizer, so all I had to do was take the stuff and sell it or take the forms and collect money. Once I signed up with TNT I had to be responsible to get the fundraising started, events planned and whatnot. So here are a few things that I've learned so far:

1. Plaster social networks with you fundraising events or requests (I use primarily Facebook but did a little on Twitter and Google+ as well); but be careful not  to overdo it (or what other people may think is overdoing it) as you may get bumped from groups. Ask me how I know!! lol!

2. Try to find a gimmick that might encourage people to donate. One I tried with a fairly good response was to design a badge (see below) of sorts that showed that people had donated, had their name prominently on it and also provided information as to how others could donate. Everyone who donated got one of these posted on their Facebook page when I received their donation.

3. Another gimmick I tried that didn't really work was to urge people to give up a trip to Starbucks, Jamba Juice or a fast food stop and instead donate that amount. Didn't have any takers, but it's worth a try. I also tried a $5 donation challenge which didn't work either.

4. I came up with several different images to rotate through advertising my fundraising. I just felt that people might be more apt to read what was on an image rather than what was scrolling in the updates bar on Facebook. If you couldn't tell already most of my stuff was done on Facebook.

5. Come up with some fundraising events. I did a 5K run/walk that went okay but wasn't a big money maker. Two problems...not much of a running community here and it was in November (read cold & windy). My big event was a Zumbathon. I'm a newly licensed Zumba instructor so between fundraising and training I haven't been able to get a set of music together to teach, but I did use my new network of instructors to organize a six hour event that was highly successful; enough so, that I'm working on a Zumbathon for next month for the American Cancer Society.

6. When planning an event do some advertising. For the first two events, I was fortunate enough to have a local print shop donate printing of 1000 half page flyers. I did have to have some signs and extra flyers printed out of pocket. For the current event I'm planning I had some postcards printed at Vista Print. I did print up a few signs to be posted on doors and such out of pocket but it didn't cost much.

7. Try to keep costs in control as much as possible. I have a tendency to over prepare and a lot of stuff that I bought for the first event I can continue to use for future fundraisers (i.e. - label maker, markers, pens, tickets, etc.). Now, these reusable items are not able to be claimed as donations. However, single use items can be claimed as donations (i.e. - refreshments, printing expenses, etc.).  

8. When arranging the venue for your event realize that having the event at a business similar to places that you plan to advertise at may limit your ability to advertise. When I went to bring a door sign and flyers to a local gym they specifically asked where the event was being held. Luckily it's going to be at the college gym because I'm pretty positive that if I had said it was going to be at a competing gym they probably would have taken any of the flyers or signs. So, try to hold you event at a neutral location.

9. Write and mail fundraising letters. It took me nearly two months to get around to this. I find it difficult to ask strangers for money, but I did. I mailed out letters to over 50 local businesses. I only got a handful of responses but every little bit helps.

10. Send follow-up notes/cards to everyone who hasn't donated after a month or two. I'm having 500 follow-up postcards printed at Vista Print that I can use for future Team in Training events. I'm also having another 500 printed for the American Cancer Society - Relay for Life events.

11. Send thank you notes. Try to do this in person, if possible.

That's all I can think of right now, but I'll add more if I think of anything else.

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