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Fund Raising For a Cause or Organization
credits and disclaimer

Introduction

You are a teenager or adult who wants to make a difference in the world and raise money for a cause or organization you believe in.

Or you have signed up to raise money in conjunction with a walk or fun-run or club, but you have never done this before.

How does a volunteer raise money for a cause he or she feels passionately about -- or an event or club you have to help but perhaps don't feel all that passionate about?

First, you need to learn the basics about the organization you want to support:

  • What is the name of the organization?
  • In what city, state and country is it based?
  • What's its web address?
  • What services does this organization provide?
  • What difference does this organization make? Why is it important?
You need to be able to answer all of those questions from memory before you proceed any further.

Next, you have to become even more knowledgeable about the organization. You need to be receiving information from the organization regularly, at least during this period of fundraising:

  • Become friends with the organization on Facebook or follow the organization on Twitter or GooglePlus or some other social networking platform -- in other words, connect with the organization one online social networking site
  • Subscribe to the organization's email newsletter, if they have such
Read the messages you get from this organization, to keep you knowledgeable about what they are doing.

 
Permission from the Organization

You should get written permission from the organization to fund raise on its behalf. Contact the organization and tell them you might want to engage in fundraising for them, and the activity you have in mind (suggestions below). You will need to know their rules for money management and advertising, and any other policies they may have, regarding fundraising.

The organization may say, "You are welcomed to give us all the money from your garage sale, but you have to make it clear that your garage sale is NOT an officially-sanctioned event for us." Don't take that as the organization being ungrateful; they just really want to keep control of their image and things done in their name.

The organization may also say, "You cannot collect money for us; you have to send people to our web site, to donate directly to our organization." Again, don't take that as the organization being ungrateful; they just really want to keep control of their image and ensure all donations come to them.

If you want to hold an event for a person or family (to cover medical bills, to cover funeral expenses, etc.) make sure you have permission by the person or family to do so. It's best if the family opens a bank account for these expenses and people donate directly to that fund through the bank, to ensure all money goes where it is supposed to.

 
Getting Started

Tell everyone via your FaceBook status or Twitter feed or status on any social networking site, as well as via email, on your blog, at a social event, etc. that you are fundraising on behalf of an organization and why you are doing so. Say the name of the organization in full and offer a URL so people know the organization is legitimate. Note how long you will be doing this (for the next four weeks, for the next three months, etc.).

People do not give money when the reason offered is: "This poor nonprofit/person is desperately in need of funds, please come give some money!" That message says this organization or person:

    cannot manage its money and resources
    is not well-run
    will be making this desperate plea again and again

Instead, focus on these two qualities of the organization:

  • What services does this organization provide?
  • What difference does this organization make? Why is it important?

THOSE are the reasons people give money to an organization. Those two bullets are what the donations are going to actually fund.

If someone says, "I don't want my money going to administrative costs," explain that, without paying rent and utilities, without having computers and a copy machine, without paying electricity bills, without paying the salaries of qualified, fully-trained staff so they can work full time, without paying for an accounting system, etc., the organization could NOT provide any services at all. Also explain that no nonprofit hands out cash to clients, including homeless shelters; donations pay for services.

 
Track EVERY Donation In Writing

Keep a notebook or a spreadsheet and write down the name of every person who donates, and how much they donate. Thank these people after their donation with a card or postcard.

Keep everyone updated about your fundraising efforts and the work of the organization you fundraised on behalf of - this is easy to do via your FaceBook status, a Twitter feed, your blog, etc. A weekly update via online social networking is not too much!

 
Very Simple Fundraising Ideas

  • You have to walk your talk -- you cannot ask people to do something you have not done yourself. Therefore, tell everyone via your FaceBook or MySpace profile, via email, at a social event, etc., that you have donated to the organization yourself. You do not have to say how much.

  • For one day or during a particular week, donate a certain percent of the money you make at your job or via informal work to the organization, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Have friends and family pledge to do so in a public way, such as on their own FaceBook or MySpace or Google Plus profile. When someone makes a pledge, call them and email them, thank them, and work out how you will collect the money for the organization if they aren't going to make the donation directly to the organization.

  • Get a group of friends to work a series of jobs in the informal sector (walk dogs, pet sit, provide child care/baby sit, do yard work for neighbors and friends, wash cars, etc.) to raise money for the organization or cause. Be up front with neighbors, friends and family about why you are doing these jobs and where the money will go. When someone hires you or anyone on your team to do one of these jobs, call them and email them, thank them, and work out how you will collect the money for the organization. Tell everyone via your FaceBook or MySpace profile, via email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity and encourage them to hire one of your team for informal work.

  • Have a garage sale. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors and others to donate items for your sale. Have large signs at the garage sale that say you are raising money for a particular organization or cause, and have flyers from the organization so people can learn more about it. Tell everyone via your FaceBook or MySpace or GooglePlus or whatever profile, via email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity.

  • Sell items on eBay. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors and others to donate items for your sale. Tell everyone via your social networking sites, via email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity and encourage them to have a look at what you are selling, and to tell their own networks.

  • Turn your birthday party into a fundraiser. Invite friends to your house or to a restaurant, and ask in your invitation that, in lieu of gifts to you, people make donations to the organization or cause.

  • Host a party, cookout or reception at your home, invite your friends (and encourage them to invite their friends), and show a film or documentary relating to the organization you want to raise money for. Or, the film could simply be a movie you and your friends really love. In your invitation, note clearly that this is a fundraiser for a particular organization and that you will be asking for donations; do NOT wait until the party, cookout or reception to tell invitees that you have invited them there in order to ask for donations. At the event, make a brief speech that you are raising money for the organization, and have flyers from the organization so people can learn more about it.

  • Hold a fundraiser at a local bar, with the local bar's permission. Don't rent the facility; simply ask the bar if there is a slow day or night that you could use as a fundraiser for your cause. Tell everyone via your FaceBook or MySpace profile, via email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity and encourage them to attend and to share the information via their own networks as well. Ask a band or friends who sing to provide entertainment (with permission from the bar owner or manager), create a big wall display about the organization, have information to pass out, and make a five-minute speech before and in the middle of the event saying what the event is about and how people can donate.

  • Invite your friends to your house, back yard or park for a shred or burn your grudge day. Each person can write down on a piece of paper ONE bad thing that has happened to him or her in the previous year, or ever - a bad break-up, a negative experience on the job, losing a job, a missed opportunity, a disappointment - and, for a small donation for each grudge ($1? $5?), you shread the grudge in a paper shredder or burn it.

  • Sell home-made, baked goods at a small event, with permission of the event organizers. Large events require those who want to sell food to meet government health and safety standards, so if you can't do that, stick to small events (a career day at a school, an open house, etc.). Tell everyone via your FaceBook or MySpace profile, via email, at a social event, etc., that you are undertaking this activity and encourage them to attend and tell their friends. Have information about the organization to pass out and a sign that lets people know where their money is going.

  • Get permission from your city for a temporary hot dog stand or baked goods stand in a part of your city populated by bars and pubs - and heavily populated by patrons. You will have to buy or make the food yourself that you are going to sell. Have a big sign on your stand that says why you are selling this food, and have brochures or handouts that have information about the organization you are fundraising for. You also have to stay safe; this is not an appropriate activity for anyone under 21, for anyone doing this alone, for an area that is not very well-lit, and in a neighborhood where it would be easy to victimize you.

  • Have your group sell performing telegrams -- singing telegrams, Shakespearean telegrams, etc. You will need to get costumes somehow (ask friends and relatives). Advertise via your FaceBook and MySpace profiles, via email, in fliers, in the bulletin of your community of faith (church, temple, mosque), etc., and always note that this is a fundraiser for a particular group or cause. Encourage people to hire you or your group's members to deliver in-person birthday, anniversary, or other greetings. Don't make it an official business -- don't take out advertising, for instance -- because official businesses need to be officially registered, taxed, etc.

  • If you are a school-based organization, ask if you can set up an information booth during lunch or at a sporting event. Your display should have the name of the organization you are raising money for and information about what the organization does and why it is important. You need a large sign that says "Donate Today"! Have a large, clear container for these donations. Invite people to friend you on Facebook as well so they can get updates about your efforts. At least two people need to be at the booth at all times to answer questions and keep an eye on the money jar. You can say to everyone who passes, "Would you like to donate to such-and-such?".

  • Contact the city or county about having an information booth at a street fair or other community event. You may have to pay a fee to have this display. Your display should have the name of the organization you are raising money for and information about what the organization does and why it is important. You need a large sign that says "Donate Today"! Have a large, clear container/jar for these donations. Invite people to friend you on Facebook as well so they can get updates about your efforts. At least two people need to be at the booth at all times to answer questions and keep an eye on the money jar. Make sure you are permitted to say to everyone who passes, "Would you like to donate to such-and-such?", as some cities or counties forbid this kind of active solicitation (also ask if they allow you to have the donation jar).

 
You can also explore holding mid-sized or large fund raising events, such as concerts, golf tournaments, dinners, auctions, dinners and walks. Just note that there is nothing simple, easy or low-cost about them. This resource provides details of what it takes to create a successful fund raising event -- one that actually raises money for a nonprofit or charity. It details the costs of such events, logistics and responsibilities, how to identify and approach sponsors and marketing.

 
Also see

© 2010 by Jayne Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express written permission by Jayne Cravens.

 

 
 
 
 
Suggested books:

 
Planning Special Events (J-B Fund Raising School Series)

 
Fundraising When Money Is Tight: A Strategic and Practical Guide to Surviving Tough Times and Thriving in the Future (The Mal Warwick Fundraising Series)

 
199 Fun and Effective Fundraising Events for Nonprofit Organizations

 
Raising More Money: The Ask Event Handbook

 
Doing Good Together: 101 Easy, Meaningful Service Projects for Families, Schools, and Communities

 
Engage Every Parent!: Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference

 
Legal Answer Book for Fund-Raisers Set, Set Contains:First and Second Legal Answer Books for Fund-Raisers

 
Start Your Own Event Planning Business  


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    Credits & Copyright
    2010-12 by Jayne Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express written permission by Jayne Cravens.

    Please contact me for permission to reprint, present or distribute these materials.