The 5 Secrets of Successful Fundraising
Fundraising has become one of my biggest passions. I have been part of a fundraising team for many years, and continue to lead fundraising events to this day. Along the way, I have picked up many secrets to fundraising that I would like to share with you, so you can have the same success as I’ve had.
Secret #1: Good Leadership
The first year I was part of the fundraising team for my daughter’s school, I noticed something interesting about it: There was no leader. Everyone worked together, and planning seemed to take forever. When it came time to do the actual fundraising, it was a miserable failure.
A couple months later, we tried another fundraiser. This time, some of the team members suggested we appoint a fundraising leader from the middle school to help.
While I knew the problem was the lack of a good leader, since I was new, I didn’t want to step on any toes. Sure enough though, the next fundraising event went without a hiccup, and we raised $500 for the spring field day activities.
When choosing a leader for your fundraising event, make sure you choose someone who is able to delegate tasks, and keep everyone on the right path. The leader also has the job of motivating the team, and deciding on rewards for meeting goals. The more creative, involved, and motived the leader is the more successful the fundraising team will be with an event.
Secret #2: Research the Competition
While in college, I joined the volleyball team. Every year, we would have a fundraising event to make enough money to send us to special camps for extra coaching. One year we decided to do car washing, as it was something we could pull together quickly, and it had a history of securing enough money to get us to our goal.
The only problem was that the day we planned our car washing, so did the local high school dance team, and middle school gymnastics team. There were three car-washing stations on the one main street we had in our Western Massachusetts college town.
As you can guess, we didn’t make as much money as we had expected that year.
This is why it is crucial that fundraising teams always search the community for fundraising events happening at the same time, especially if they are having the same type of fundraiser. You can do this by calling the city to ask if anyone has scheduled a fundraising event, or by calling schools, and other local organizations. Also, check the local paper and social networking sites for news about your area, since this is where many people advertise their fundraising events.
Secret #3: Target an Audience
Most fundraising teams I’ve been on don’t usually talk about who they will target for selling products or advertising events. They’re usually marketed to everyone, and anyone. The problem with this, though, is that it led to wasted time: When you try to sell products, or market events to an audience that is not interested in your organization or your products or events, you usually end up with a rejection, and a damaged ego. If you market to an audience that is interested in your products, events, and organization though, you end up having more success with donors, and feel motivated to keep raising money.
So, my advice is to identify the groups of people you believe are most likely to donate, and target them. Don’t waste your time with people you don’t think will support you; surround yourself with all those that will because they will help you reach your goal.
Secret #4: Timing Is Everything
Having a fundraiser right after Christmas is not a good idea. Having a fundraiser right before Christmas in which you sell things that can be good gifts is an excellent idea. Do you see the difference? People won’t be inclined to donate if they just spent hundreds of dollars on Christmas gifts, but they will be more than happy to do it if they have the spirit of Christmas in their hearts and minds.
Another good time of the year, I have found, is around tax season. While they can’t put down the taxable donation for that year, they can for the next year. The tax season reminds them of that, so they are more likely to do it.
Summer can also be a successful time for fundraising because people are much happier during this season with the increase in vacations, good weather, and good times.
Secret #5: Thank You Notes and Following Up
I can’t tell you how many times people have been repeat donors to the fundraisers I have been a part of. I learned this trick when I was in high school. The leader had a list of past donors for us to call to let them know we were having another one. Most of them were thrilled we would be coming around again, and some even donated more than the previous year.
One of the biggest parts of fundraising that many people don’t know is that it’s about relationships. It’s important to build a relationship with your donors. You can do this simply by thanking any first time donors, and especially repeat ones. Sending a follow up letter, and possibly even monthly newsletters about what your organization has been doing can really make them feel valued. This value makes them feel special. To continue that feeling, they donate again.
Though These are Secrets, Spread Them Far and Wide
I’ve given you a gift, the gift of the secrets I have found to lead to successful fundraising. Now go ahead and use them, and spread them to everyone you believe can benefit from them. After all, we’re all in this together.
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