In many areas of the country, the month of August means it’s back to school time – another school year is about to begin. Your organization can give Mom and Dad a hand and raffle off gift baskets full of supplies for a back to school fundraiser. Continue reading
When it comes to fundraisers, it’s fun to offer something different. If your organization is looking for an unusual drawing, think about experience raffles.
At first glance, this drawing looks much like many others: you print out your customized raffle tickets and sell them throughout the community. What makes this type of event unique is that the prizes aren’t tangible. Instead, entrants enter to win the chance to do or participate in something they’ll never forget. Continue reading
With the month of June come Father’s Day and the first official days of summer – warm, sunny days that are perfect for cookouts and outdoor fun. Your organization can host a barbecue and serve up delicious food and games for the whole family. Continue reading
The month of May is associated with Mother’s Day, a time to remember Mom and go out of your way to shower her with love and attention. With a Mother’s Day spa fundraiser, your organization can help pamper and celebrate these wonderful women while raising funds for your cause. Continue reading
With the arrival of spring, gardeners’ thoughts and dreams turn to the promise of another growing season. It’s time to plan the lush landscapes of vibrant, colorful flowers and the rows of veggies and herbs, whether grown at home from seed or purchased as a young, healthy plant. Your organization can be part of the action by hosting a lawn and garden show and sale that brings together those who love plants and local growers. Continue reading
As we turn the calendar to March, winter relaxes its grip and lawns gradually shed their drab yellows and browns in favor of the bright green of early spring. Another type of green becomes prevalent during this month: the green of St. Patrick’s Day. This day celebrates Irish culture and traditions and offers a variety of fun, family-friendly fundraising opportunities for your organization. Continue reading
Ahhh, autumn. The season of hot cocoa, bright colors on trees, lengthening shadows and the first crisp, frosty mornings. It’s a great season to celebrate with a fall fundraiser!
With harvest season fast approaching, your organization could team up with a local pumpkin or apple farm (sometimes one and the same) to help you raise money for your cause. Larger farms often hold a festival on their grounds to showcase the bounty of their harvest, with fun rides and events for little ones – they may be willing to donate a percentage of their profits on a given day to your group.
Many people in cooler climates look forward to warming up with a steaming hot bowl of soup after a brisk day – so why not hold an elegant soup sampling event? Ask local restaurants to participate by bringing their favorite soups to share with the community, either as samples or as part of a cook-off competition. Your local VFW, American Legion or school may be able to provide kitchen and dining facilities at a discount or even for fee. A pottery business in your area could donate bowls in which the soup will be served, and the bowls could be raffled off or sold outright as a way to raise additional funds.
Even as the leaves are turning colors, they’re also dropping from the trees and piling up in the yard. By holding a yardwork-a-thon, your group can help eliminate the hassle for folks while giving them an opportunity to support your cause. Collect pledge donations in advance of the event by posting fliers around the neighborhood and in post offices, supermarkets and other public areas, sending out an e-mail or postal mail blast and through word of mouth. Be sure to include such details as the date and times available for the cleanups, what services will be offered (raking leaves, bringing outdoor toys or sensitive plants in, etc.). Each household in whose yard you work could be entered into a raffle for practical, related yardwork tools such as a lawn mower, a new hedge trimmer, and so on – be sure to have plenty of tickets handy!
Keep in mind the fact that fall weather is notoriously unpredictable. When holding an outdoor event, remind everyone working at the event to dress for changing conditions and to bring a knit hat, a light jacket, gloves and boots. In addition, the hours of available daylight are decreasing, so you’ll want to be aware of what time sunset takes place in your area and be sure to finish your event before darkness falls.
Good luck and enjoy your fall fundraising!
A key element to the success of any business in operation today is its business plan – a road map that outlines the route a business plans to take to increase its revenues and grow financially. A similar road map exists for nonprofits and other organizations that raise monies for their continued growth and success.
Called a fundraising plan, this road map helps you to look ahead, establish fundraising goals and then focus your efforts on how to achieve those goals. A comprehensive, written fundraising plan becomes a document that you and everyone else can refer to for guidance on tactics and strategies while you’re in the middle of mailing letters, making phone calls and composing e-mails.
Under the best scenario, fundraising plans are written by members of your organization’s development committee in consultation with the CEO or executive director and the board. In the absence of a development staff, the executive director or CEO should write it while consulting with the board. Development consultants are another option; they can help your charity write a fundraising plan that suits your needs, but be sure they are qualified to do so.
A common approach to writing a fundraising plan is to start by listing the overall fundraising goal for the coming year. Articulate what the end goal is for your group’s efforts, based on the organization’s actual needs. Be sure to base your figure on a demonstrable need, not just what seems like a good amount. This is the time to think about what activities your organization would like to carry out, and how much money it will take to do so.
The next step is to think about the mission of your organization – why do you need the money? What is your operating budget, and why is it the size that it is? Once you raise the money, what will you do with it?
Now you’re ready to consider exactly how you will reach your fundraising goals. What methods have worked in the past? Or, if your group is entirely new to fundraising, brainstorm ideas and list them one by one.
You may decide that holding events will be the sole means of raising the money needed to reach your goals. Perhaps a mixture of events, asking donors to make individual gifts (called “individual giving”) to your organization, and soliciting giving from major donor groups is best for your group. These are certainly valid options, but you are not limited to them. Some other tactics include direct mail, telemarketing, pursuing corporate giving programs, online and e-giving, and participatory fundraising (walk-a-thons, cook-offs, etc.).
Once you have a list of tactics, establish a timeline that covers the coming year and pinpoint where on the timeline each tactic belongs. Treat each tactic as a smaller goal that leads to your organization’s success: even though they are smaller, they are important pieces of your fundraising puzzle and need just as much care and attention. Look at each tactic and break them down into timelines of their own – when will a decision on venue need to be made? When will sponsors be solicited? When will invitations need to be sent?
The same approach can be taken for a fundraising plan that looks ahead 2 years, 5 years and beyond. A one-year fundraising plan should be seen as a starting point to charting out years of success for your organization. It’s well worth taking the time to do this work at the very beginning to help avoid stress and even financial panic down the road.
Running a successful fundraising campaign can be mentally and emotionally tiring for even the most enthusiastic volunteer. After weeks and months of hard work trying to keep the community’s enthusiasm high, workers themselves can be in need of a pick-me-up. Here are some ideas to help prevent the candle from burning at both ends and keep your team’s motivation boosted.
1. Make sure there aren’t too many tasks in too little time for the number of workers. Few things are as demotivating and morale-crushing as the perception that one’s tasks are too onerous, too complicated or too numerous. Spread the workload evenly among the team, and check in with everyone regularly to gauge where they’re at. If you receive feedback indicating a need for more support or resources, or learn that some workers are carrying more than their fair share of the weight, make workload adjustments accordingly as possible.
If you’re the head of the fundraising committee, check yourself: Are you carrying your fair share of the work? Delegation is, of course, an important skill for event organizers and managers, but there’s a definite line between delegating and shirking. Be honest with yourself and evaluate your own level of effort.
2. On a related note, honor the people with whom you’re working. Be sure to praise committee members – particularly those who are volunteers – for jobs well done and thank them throughout the campaign – not just at the end – for all their hard work. Not only does genuine gratitude and recognition buoy flagging spirits, it helps foster an atmosphere of open communication, which is critical.
3. Keep track of your committee’s progress toward the goal and be sure it’s visible to all. A classic means of doing this is to set up goal thermometers in public areas with gradations and fill in the appropriate amount that’s already been raised. This lets the community see at a glance how your fundraising is coming and how close you are to meeting your goal – and which often has the effect of rallying people to step up and help your group make it.
4. Along the same lines, regular (if not daily) updates on your campaign’s progress can be made available on your organization’s website and/or social media outlets (Twitter and Facebook are especially useful for this purpose).
5. Coordinate mini-campaigns or surprise 24-hour contests during the course of the fundraising campaign, with fun and exciting prizes that many participants can win, not just the top few. You could raffle off larger prizes, tied in to sales; keep in mind that some prizes, like an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World or a visit to a winery or other local destination, tend to inspire people more strongly than, say, a jarred candle.
6. When the campaign is over, a nice touch that really says thank you for everyone’s hard work is to throw a party! Have one last gathering somewhere special, such as a bowling alley, a local museum, a public garden or a park. Be sure to make reservations well in advance if required by the venue.
The main thing to keep in mind is that your fundraising committee is composed of people who are volunteering their free time to help support your organization. By making sure you do everything in your power to make them feel appreciated and welcome, you’re raking huge steps toward securing their continued support in future campaigns.
With the month of May come not one, but two big holidays for fundraising: Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.
Flowers and chocolates are both widely associated with Mother’s Day. Carnations and daisies are particularly popular, as are roses, lilies, tulips, irises and gladioli. If selling flowers, decide whether to sell pre-orders of bouquets for delivery or pickup just before the holiday or to sell individual flowers on Mother’s Day itself. Work with a florist in your community who is willing to help you put together some lovely flowers or stunning bouquets at a discount in exchange for recognition at your event.
As for chocolates … well, few are the moms who will turn up their nose at a box of gourmet chocolates! And the mouthwatering treat comes in more forms than just small squares in a box. Hold a bake sale right before Mother’s Day and sell variations on a chocolate theme: brownies, chocolate-chip cookies and so on. Be sure to include a variety of other flavors, such as lemon, red velvet and vanilla. With a bake sale, you will likely find a number of volunteer bakers eager to show off their baking skills while lending your organization a hand.
You may decide that it makes sense for your organization to offer both flowers and goodies for sale at a larger fundraising event. Consider holding a craft show if you have access to a gymnasium or other large space – this would provide people with an opportunity to browse among quality handcrafted items and pick out a special gift for Mom to go along with the bouquet and sweets. Ask crafters to donate one or two of their products (or put together a festive, decorated basket) for a raffle drawing; also, see if local businesses that may not have purchased table space at the show are willing to donate gift certificates or coupons for the raffle. Sell sequentially numbered tickets at the door for as little as $1, collect the tickets in a bucket, basket or even a coffee can, and then set aside time during your event to pick and announce the winning ticket numbers.
Memorial Day is at once a solemn occasion, a day set aside to celebrate the service of all military veterans, and a joyful event that informally marks the beginning of the summer season. You can decide which way to go if your organization chooses to hold a Memorial Day fundraiser.
Most communities hold a parade, a festival or a similar type of event on Memorial Day weekend. Your organization can be as big or small a part of the action as your creativity and budget allow. Consider offering small or full-size American flags for sale prior to the holiday or during a local event – these flags can be purchased online from party supply stores, which may give a discount on bulk orders if asked.
On a larger scale, if you have access to suitable cooking equipment and adequate space you could hold a breakfast event before the parade starts using supplies donated by a local grocer (be sure to check with your municipality and obtain any necessary permits beforehand).
The warmer temperatures and generally pleasant weather of late May help fuel spring-cleaning events – another fun way to raise funds for your organization. Solicit members of your community to donate sellable items in good condition for your group to sell over the holiday weekend. Price the articles at full price on the first day and then offer deep discounts on the second day to help prevent leftover items. You could hold a drawing to raffle off any eye-catching, popular items.
Good luck and have fun with your May fundraisers!