Fundraising tips : what you should know before you start
Fundraising tips are often offered to novice fundraisers, but ignored almost as often. In the course of your first fundraising campaign, you will probably begin by disregarding advice from more experienced fundraisers, slowly come to realise that they had a point, and end by wishing you'd listened harder. However, if you are looking for some advice before beginning a fundraising project, here are some fundraising tips for you. Our page on fundraising campaign s gives some tips for professionals.
Keep it simple at first
This is one of the most useful fundraising tips, although it's often ignored. It is easy to underestimate the amount of organization involved in any fundraising project, especially when there is a whole team of people involved. So don't pick anything that looks like an organizational challenge. Pick a project that seems almost too easy, and it will probably test you to the limit. If it doesn't, great! You have the energy to start another project.
Get as much as possible for free
When you're organizing a fundraising project, one of the best ways of keeping costs down is to get things for free. Go through every cost on your budget and ask yourself: is there a (legal) way I can get this without spending any money? For example, local companies may be willing to donate prizes for a raffle, while companies with printing facilities may be prepared to produce your programs. Businesses that help you out will usually be doing it for the free publicity, so stick to your side of the bargain and make sure you publicly acknowledge the help you have received.
Use existing structures
Live Aid has a lot to answer for. As well as raising millions of pounds for a good cause, the Live Aid phenomenon has had the unforeseen effect of giving inexperienced fundraisers delusions of grandeur. Of course everyone would like to organize a one-off, glamorous event whose sole purpose is fundraising. However, the reality is that it is easier and less costly to use existing networks for your fundraising efforts. For example, instead of hiring a hall for your wine-tasting fundraiser, why not ask the organizer of the local school PTA if you can hold the fundraiser directly after the PTA meeting? It takes less work to persuade people to stay for a drink after the meeting than it does to persuade people to clear their diaries for a fundraising event. Not only that, but you save on venue hire costs too.
Be prepared to ask twice
Sometimes it seems that the hardest part of fundraising is asking for favors , whether you're asking a business for a donation or asking a friend to help you distribute leaflets. The really hard part is asking for a second time. Many people are full of good intentions and are happy to promise you help, but forgetfulness, laziness, procrastination and busy schedules get in the way. You will need to perfect the art of the gentle reminder.
Get sponsorship money early
Always try to get sponsors to pay up at the same time as pledging their money. See our page on information handling for your fund raising project for more about this.
Don't forget the power of advertising
This goes for your own advertising and other people's. You can usually advertise your fundraising event without spending too much money. For example, cheaply photocopied flyers, handed out or pinned up on notice boards , will bring it to people's attention. Word of mouth is also very useful.
As for other people's advertising, tie-ins often mean more money for your cause. For example, if you're selling fundraising calendars , ask local businesses if they will pay to take out a small advert in each calendar.
These fundraising tips should help you to avoid some of the biggest pitfalls in fundraising. However, every novice fundraiser makes a few mistakes along the way. The best (and most expensive) teacher is your own experience, but using online resources like this one lets you learn from the experience of others too.