Before we begin, you must answer these questions:
- So, are you a staff person for a charity or a volunteer?
- Did you volunteer to raise money for XYZ charity or did someone beg you to be on the fundraising committee or chair their gala?
- Did you see a need in your community and want to fill it by helping those kids/animals/earth and just need to raise some bucks to put your 501(c)(3) on the map?
- Are you crazy?
NOTE: The photo above is of me with two great fundraisers -- Christie Carter and Lynn McBee. Love them and all they do for Community Partners of Dallas and so many others in our community!
I have been a professional in the non-profit world for many years now (15+ years) and even before that I was a volunteer, so let's just say that I have more than 25 years of experience in fundraising.
You'd think that with all of that knowledge we'd be raking it in at Community Partners of Dallas. Alas, even with 1,000 years of experience, fundraising takes work.
So, here are my quick tips for fundraising success:
- Start with a plan. This sounds simple, but it isn't. Think about your community -- will they respond to a fundraising event or a mailing or both? BUDGET!
- Research is key -- look at other groups and see what they are doing to raise funds. If their cause is similar to yours, the types of fundraising they do (and the people who give to them) might be a good start for you.
- How much seed money do you have to start? It takes more money to hold an event than it does to ring doorbells or phones asking for donations. Choose accordingly.
- You must care about the cause or forget it -- you need to have passion in order to inspire others to give. If your personal story aligns with the mission of the agency (i.e., you are a cancer survivor and you are raising money for the American Cancer Society), you have the perfect way to ask -- tell your story. This is power with a capital P.
- You need to ask your friends and family for donations. If you can't ask them, who can you ask? But if they say no, don't take it personally. All you are doing is offering them an opportunity to help a cause. If they say no, there could be a million reasons why they made that decision. The next person may say yes. And no doesn't always mean no -- that no person may come back to you in a week or 10 years later. Leave them feeling good about you and their decision -- whatever it is.
- Always be honest. Tell the truth about how the money will be used and why you need it.
"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
P.S. That last one works in many situations -- not just fundraising ones...