Running a Fundraising Campaign

By: Justin Alan

What Equipment or Assets are Available?

Once you start fundraising in earnest - or rather, before you start, you need to know what equipment is available to help you. The days of pen and notebook are far gone, so start looking for that computer software specially made for fundraisers. Once considered a luxury, software programs for fundraisers are necessary for those whose task is an ongoing one.

If you are just doing a raffle for your local club, you may not need anything like this, but if you are officially the fund-raiser for a large organization, you need equipment. If you don't have an office, then you will certainly need one and all the things that go with it, such as phone, answering machine, photocopier, computer and printer. Special fundraising software will also aid you in your task. Your only trouble might be in choosing the correct package.

To get the one most suited to your needs, you'll need to know the specific elements in your annual fundraising program, how many computers are in your office and their speed, chip, RAM and storage capacity, how much you can spend and what your staffing structure is.

Your program may only need to be the most basic and simple of all, in which it should only cost you around $1,500. Those with all the bells and whistles may cost up to $20,000. There are a variety of in between programs, of course. You are the only one who can work out what your needs are. The most complicated programs will need more staff training, of course, so this may be a consideration.

What about assets? Assets for fundraising may include a variety of things. If you need to have meetings - and you will - is there a room or hall suitable to hold it in? Do you have access to an overhead projector or something similar if you need it? Decent sound equipment is sure to be needed also, unless you want a hoarse voice.

An asset could also be an account for running expenses. You can't raise money without spending some first. Even for a raffle, you need to spend money on the prizes. You may be able to take the expenses out of the raffle money in some cases, but in others, you need to have the prizes on display to sell the tickets.

For fundraising that goes into the thousands or millions, you certainly need an expense account for travel, marketing and advertising and other related things. While board members should be volunteers, their costs such as travel and child-care need to be met.

Who are Your Current Supporters?

The supporters for any fundraising event are usually those who are passionate or interested enough in your cause and help in whatever way they can. Whether this is by making a donation or asking others to make one, or whether it is by offering their skills, talents or time is up to them.

When you are organizing your event, the first line of supporters will be the committee members. They are voluntary board members who offer their time and expertise to help make the plan a success. There will be the president, treasurer and secretary, plus advertising executive, PR person and the marketing manager. Even if you are only arranging a chook raffle, you will need to have volunteers to sell the tickets.

Your supporters can be anyone who agrees with your cause and would like to see it prosper, but your current supporters will generally be those who actually work to support the fundraiser in some way at the present time. It may be that they simply wear a badge or some other icon to promote and advertise it, they may simply give advice and suggestions on the running of it, or they may get in and work very hard in a number of other ways to support you.

Past supporters may be persuaded to come on board once again in another category if they prefer. Being offered the opportunity to serve in a different capacity could stir their interest anew and your organization will benefit greatly from their past experience.

A supporter - or sponsor - is often the one who donates money to your cause. Since the reason for having a fundraiser is to gain funds for a specific cause, a lack of these supporters will mean your fundraiser is doomed to failure. It is important then to get these supporters on side and give them the opportunity to support your cause. While it is great to be able to use modern technology such as email to alert supporters to the chance of making a donation, nothing can really take the place of the personal touch.

If you are able to make appointments to meet with the heads of business who have shown an interest in supporting your cause, then you will be much more likely to gain a donation of considerable use. Most people are not that free with their checking book that they will hand over a large donation to an operation that is largely faceless. Support at every level is the keyword.

What is Your Fundraising Strategy?

Implementing specific strategies is done in all levels of business and no less in fundraising. Fundraising strategies require careful thought. Some organizations concentrate all their efforts on a single annual event, while others may prefer a monthly event or some kind of ongoing fundraising that keeps them constantly in the public eye. What your strategy will be is largely decided by how much money you need and whom it is for.

Smaller, local fundraising efforts often use the once a year approach. This may be in the form of a school fete or a concert to which parents and grandparents are invited. It may be a camp or it may be a cookie drive or a raffle. If there are a limited number of helpers, the raffle or jumble sale is often a good way to go. Sometimes it's better to have these say, four times a year rather than weekly, then people don't get tired of them. Finding out whom your target market will be is also part of the strategy of fundraising.

There are many organizations that will help with ideas for fundraising strategies. For those who have never done fundraising before, using one of these organizations may be the ideal way to start out. You may be provided with a choice of candy bars or lollipops to sell, online magazines to subscribe to or many other ideas. You may decide to have a walkathon, runathon or skipathon. There are strategies to suit large, medium and small groups of helpers. Very often they will help you with advertisements and media kits.

Strategy is not only about what you will sell or do to make money and when, it is also to do with how you will advertise, how the event will be planned and how to get people involved in helping out. It is about 'branding' - how your organization will be known in the community and whether it will be local thing or go nationwide.

One good strategy for all fund-raisers is to present their need as an investment opportunity rather than a need. For instance, if you need funds for a school, present that school as the answer to the problem of unemployment in the area, rather than as funds needed to shore up a failing institution.

Sponsors are much more willing to donate money to what seems like an investment. And if their company employs people from the same area, you can point out how much better their future employees will be fitted for the job once they've been trained with the additional funds.

Stay Tuned for Part 3...

Money Management
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