Creating successful fundraisers is just a matter of following the map.
So, you’ve decided to hold a fundraiser for your non-profit group, but you want it to reap real rewards. It’s actually easier than you think. Here are some tried and true methods to rock your next campaign.
1. What are your existing resources?
- Whether you are a group of 10 or 10,000, chances are you have a pool of very talented people. Don’t be afraid to ask your group members if they have any special skills. Marketing, social media expertise, public relations, or even a graphic designer to make flyers or posters. Keep an updated record of who can do what. Even if you don’t need a specific talent today, an opportunity may arise as you progress in your planning.
- Does your group have an Instagram page or a Facebook profile?
- Use your social media accounts to communicate with group members and potential supporters. Maybe it’s the players on you sports team or maybe it’s the people who already follow you on Facebook. Use social media to its fullest and get the word out that you are raising money. In most cases, non-profit groups can have a free profile. Research has found this step alone can boost sales by as much as 40%. You really have nothing to lose but the time it takes to create the profile. If you don’t have a social media presence, it’s probably a good idea to start one as soon as possible.
- What resources do you still need to find? Consider putting a call out on social media or advertise at a local university. Maybe there is a student who has the skills, but needs work experience for their resume. Young people who are fresh out of school often have a passion for their field. However, lacking experience can make it difficult for them to get a job. Even a few weeks of work in a related position can be the boost they need. Would they exchange their time for a strong reference or letter of recommendation from your group? This may be more enticing than a paycheck and help launch their career. Finding volunteers or a student means your group can keep more of the profit from your efforts. Sometimes groups can even apply for grants to offset the cost of hiring a summer student. This is the case here in Alberta.
Knowing where you’re starting from will help you lay out a clear path to where you want to be.
2. Draft your budget
- Presumably you’ve considered your fundraising options and decided on one you’d like to pursue. It’s time to evaluate both the potential costs of holding a fundraiser and the profits you can reasonably expect. TeamFund can be an invaluable resource when evaluating cost versus benefits of your sales campaign. If you are creating your own campaign you may need to do some additional research.
- Just like in step one; you’ll want to know how many volunteers you have. If you’re selling products, it goes without saying that the more people you have the more sales you’ll likely make.
- Ultimately you want to know if you’re efforts get you closer to your goal. Set realistic targets. If you can’t get half of your players to come to practice, they may not be dedicated sellers.
Make sure everyone knows your goals and why they are important to your non-profit group. If you have strong buy in, you’ll see that reflected in sales.
3. Set a timeline for each step
- Make sure that you give yourself enough time to plan out your event or campaign. Having plenty of time to accomplish all the tasks on your list will lead to better outcomes. A disorganized fundraiser can be off putting to supporters and could ultimately mean lost profits.
- Find the right balance between when you announce your event and when it happens. The perfect amount will vary based on what form of fundraising you are doing. Large events such as a gala should be announced further in advance than a car wash. Just be careful. Too much time and you risk people forgetting about your event entirely.
- In our experience, three weeks is usually the perfect length for selling a tangible product. The first week allows sellers to get going and put the word out. Week two will generally be a time of steady sales. The final week is the big push. It allows anyone who got busy to have the chance to still support your group. You can also create some urgency as the campaign comes to a close. It’s tempting to think more time equals more profit, but this rarely materializes. In fact, we’ve found it can stall sales throughout the entire campaign and sometimes results in few profits. Short and sweet is the key.
Your supporters are busy, so you want to close as many sales as you can, as soon as you can. An extended fundraiser wears out your volunteers and supporters may put off purchases indefinitely.
- Clear communication is essential at all stages of your fundraiser. First, let people know about your campaign and the reason you are looking for funds.
- The middle of the campaign should be focused on putting your plan into action. Make sure all your sellers are engaged and that nobody is having problems with the platform you are using. You may also be answering questions about your particular group and it’s goals as well as the products you’re selling. This is the most critical time to provide prompt responses to both your volunteers and supporters. Whether it’s a question about tickets to your event or selling goods, a slow response often equals a lost sale.
- Once the event is over it can be tempting to sit back and take a much deserved rest. However, following up with supporters is critical to closing your campaign on a high note. Make sure to thank everyone who contributed to the success of your fundraiser. Volunteers and supporters made this possible, so let them know you couldn’t have done it without them. You will also want to ensure that everyone is clear when a product or service is being delivered. Remember that you’ll likely be asking these same people to support future endeavors. The last thing you want them to remember is a frustrating experience so make certain to finish strong.
Having a successful fundraiser really is about being prepared and making sure everyone knows what to expect. Following a step by step plan can lead you to success.