Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. And no matter how deep their pockets are, most people have been faced with a situation where they’ve had to raise a large sum of funds before. If you’ve ever had to do it, you know that sorting out how to raise money as well as the fundraising process is no walk in the park.
So for all you first-time fundraising organizers or anyone who just feels lost or overwhelmed with figuring out how to raise money, here are steps to successful fundraising.
- Define a Goal & Deadline:
You don’t have to get carried away with setting a specific monetary goal, but it’s good to think about what you hope to achieve with your fundraiser. The main purpose of this is to give your potential donors a clear idea of where exactly their donations will be going. Setting a goal is also a good way to keep you focused and motivated in your fundraising efforts. Make a list of expenses you’d like your fundraiser to cover and add them up—this will help you get a better sense of what your fundraiser means and make it easier to persuade people to donate to it. People are more likely to give money to a cause that is clearly defined; where they know exactly what their money will be used for.
After you’ve established a goal, estimate how long it will take you to reach it and set a deadline for your fundraiser. Deadlines are important because they create a sense of urgency that will make donors respond faster. Be smart when you set your deadline: Try to find a date that has meaning. For example, if you’re fundraising for breast cancer, you could start your fundraiser on the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and end on the last. If you’re fundraising for medical expenses for a friend, you can set the deadline for the day they leave the hospital or their birthday.
- Know Your Options:
The fundraising well is deep, friends. Depending on what your goal is, there are vast and varied ways to raise those necessary funds. To list just a few, there’s loans, grants, restaurant fundraisers, trust funds, nonprofit partnerships, and crowdfunding. It’s important to research all your options before starting your fundraiser, to be sure the method you’ve chosen is really the best way to reach your goal.
- Choose a Platform:
Once you know all your options, you have to choose which platform is best suited to your needs. You can host your fundraiser either online or in person, with a whole trove of specific fundraising ideas in each category. I recommend using a combination of tactics to raise more money. Many successful fundraisers combined both on- and offline efforts to maximize their reach and total money raised.
- Organize Your Campaign:
We know it seems like there are a million things to keep track of when you’re raising money. It’s very important to stay organized when planning a fundraiser. Consider investing in a fundraising notebook to jot down ideas, keep track of donations, remind yourself of your final goal, and schedule mini-goal deadlines.
- Use Your Resources:
The best way to get the most from your fundraising efforts is to try to emulate best practices. I usually help out with fundraising tips I have used before.
- Enlist a Team:
Fundraising is way easier and much more fun with a little help from your friends. Make a list (Are you sensing a pattern here? Organized fundraising means a lot of lists.) of friends who might be interested in helping you with your cause. Maybe you know they’re passionate about the environment and would want to help you raise money for a recycling event. Maybe you know they lost a close family member to cancer and might want to help fundraise for a cancer walk.
Regardless of their reason for wanting to join, getting together 3-5 friends to make a fundraising team will make the whole process easier. You can divide up the work (put someone in charge of online campaigning, have someone else plan an in-person event) while maximizing your reach by tapping into every member’s social network.
- Get Word Out:
If a fundraiser falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? …We think it’s probably better not to leave this one to chance. So after you’ve planned out your fundraiser, either online or in person, you have to advertise. Share your fundraising page on social media, through email and by word of mouth. Contact your local newspaper to see if you can advertise and get media coverage. Solicit help from local businesses – sometimes they’re willing to donate or help organize fundraising events. The more visible your fundraiser is, the more donations you’ll receive.
And as in all aspects of your fundraiser, it’s important that you stay consistent. One single post asking for donations at the beginning of your fundraiser is not going to be enough to reach your goal. You should remind people, when appropriate; to donate by posting updates and photos that will keep them engaged in your cause.
- Show Your Appreciation:
This seems apparent, but it really is very important to remember to show gratitude to your donors. The fact that people chose to give their hard-earned money to help you reach your goal when they certainly didn’t have to, is incredible. So give back! Simple, personalized thank you letters are an easy way to show your appreciation and strengthen those relationships with your donors.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember when navigating the challenge of how to raise money online is that it’s okay to ask for help – including initially asking for donations and also organizing a fundraiser. The beauty of fundraisers is seeing people come together to help reach a common goal – and with a little help, that goal doesn’t have to be hard to reach.