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Fundraising Strategies


Fundraising strategies : giving shape to your project

Planning fundraising strategies can be difficult, especially if you're a complete novice to the world of fundraising. There are many models of fundraising strategies, but we've provided visual aids to the ones which are most popular with beginners.

Strategy 1

Figure 1


Figure 1 shows a model you'll almost certainly be familiar with: the pyramid model. This has dubious connotations (pyramid schemes and scams) but it's also a perfectly valid way of raising money. It works very simply.

For example, one person might ask four friends to donate money and spread the word. Each of those four friends would then ask four friends of their own to do the same. So that's sixteen people asking four friends each to donate money and spread the word. In just a few stages, 64 people are involved. This can be formalized as a "give and pledge" scheme, where you are given a card which says "I pledge to give $1 and ask four friends to do the same". You take four more cards with you for your friends. Or you can keep it informal, although the more formalized schemes tend to get better results. In the above example, the number of people involved is 85 (1+4+16+64). That's 85 dollars raised, although each person individually has only donated the very affordable sum of one dollar and persuaded four friends to give that small sum.

Compared to other fundraising strategies, pyramid schemes are a good way of spreading the burden of fundraising. The disadvantage is that you are relying on the goodwill of others to do your fundraising for you, as well as donating money yourself. However, the basic pyramid model has been adapted in countless ways (including chain letters), so there must be something in it!

Strategy 2

Figure 2

Another very similar model is the one pictured in Figure 2. This has many names - the web, the network - but the principle is exactly the same as with the pyramid model. The difference is that, as you can see from the picture, the nodules (representing people) come close to each other. In reality, they will almost certainly collide and intersect. If your fundraising is within a small community, you will find that the same people are asked over and over again to contribute as the fundraising drive shows up the interconnected networks of friendships and acquaintance. The disadvantage is the difficulty of getting fresh fundraisers into the scheme, but there are advantages, provided that fundraising isn't your only aim. Such an event can bring a community closer together, partly by making people realise how closely they are all linked. In this case, the cross-links are to be cherished as giving people an opportunity to work together. A church which usually conducts a straightforward collection during or after the service may find that this model breathes new life into the campaign to mend the church roof, as well as breathing new life into the church community itself. (See our pages on church fundraising and church fundraising ideas for more tips on fundraising for your church.)

Strategy 3

Figure 3.

Another good fundraising strategy - if you're lucky enough to manage it - is the matching strategy. Here, you persuade a local business or other body to match, dollar for dollar, the money you make. They may be doing this for charitable reasons, or because they want some good publicity. or both. Remember making paint "butterflies" at school? You work on one half of the butterfly before folding the page over with the wet paint, and creating a whole butterfly. With the matching strategy, you have to keep mentally doubling every sum you raise. Your work is creating only one wing of the butterfly, however magnificent the final result. Figure 3 shows this. It is teamwork between you and the funding body which allows your project to fly! Remember to give fulsome thanks. However, you may find that your benefactor's generosity isn't limitless, and they might only agree to match your funds raised up to a certain point. Make sure this is clear before you start out.

Other strategies

Of course, not all fundraising strategies lend themselves to visual shapes. That doesn't mean they're difficult to do. Cold-calling, for example, is usually a linear process which means calling a list of people, asking each person for funds and adding up the sums as they come in. Other extremely popular fundraising strategies include buying or making items before selling them on at a profit, or sponsored events. The Activities and Ideas section on this site, as well as the section on fundraising products, will give you plenty of information about these.