How to Organise a First Class Fundraiser

Raising money for a cause that's dear to your heart is both satisfying and rewarding. You can do this as part of an organised national event such as a bike ride, swim, run, walk etc and it's easy to get others to donate.

But if your charity is a local one without national appeal, how do you go about raising good amounts of money for it?

There are some dos and a don't - so read on.

Do get the right team to help you.

  • Right from the start, look for a mix of people who have complementary skills and approaches that will bring your project to life.
  • You'll need people who are artistic and have ideas for design - for invitations to events, posters and publicity;
  • you'll need people who are detail-oriented and good with numbers to help with the accounts, spell checking and fact checking;
  • people who are dynamic and make things happen, who can stay positive when something goes wrong (as it invariably does) and can keep others positive too. These people are charismatic, popular in the community and therefore essential to getting the word out about your efforts.
  • You'll also need foot soldiers who can work on their own when given instructions and a task to do. These people will also come with their own skills to share.
  • Get commitment from each before you enlist their help, as you need to know that you can rely on them.

Do meet regularly.

At your first meeting, gain people's commitment again - it does no harm for them to show their commitment to the group as well as to you as an individual. Set out roles and responsibilities and at each meeting, review your progress against your targets and timelines.

Do have a realistic goal for the amount of money you want to raise.

Where will the money come from - ticket sales, donations, car washing, entry fees etc? How much do you want from each source?

Do identify your target market.

Who do you want to come to your event/etc? Families, business people, single people, couples, townsfolk? This will determine your publicity messages - what you write - and where you put these messages - in the local gym, cafe, business hub etc? Remember that people won't come to an event just because it's in aid of a good cause. They're selfish. They want to come because they will get something out of it so you need to let your target audience know what's in it for them.

Do think about what people will pay money for.

The majority of the attendees to your event will be members of the public, not just already devoted followers of the cause. What will entertain your target audience and how can you make this an opportunity to get more people involved in the charity? Lists of ideas for fundraising events at www.polarchallenge.com and www.doitforcharity.com.

Do make a budget and stick to it.

The idea is to do things cheaply without looking cheap. Nowadays people have developed a taste for slick and professional events, even when it's for a charity, so when you're having invitations printed, hiring marquees or venues, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Tell the person or company you're buying from that you're working for a charity and have a very limited budget. Ask what you could do so that they will bring the price down. Free advertising for them on a program, ticket or event notice is useful. Can companies 'pay in kind' for some of the things you need? Check State or national tax laws as donations to charity often come with tax relief for businesses.

Do get the word out there.

A great event isn't greatly profitable if no one knows about it. Overkill on the posters and advertising is better than under doing it as a person may need to see a poster or advert several times before he takes notice of it. Be mindful of your budget again and pull in all the favours you can. Get the local papers and TV crews involved - especially if there's a local personality, anniversary or story involved, tell all your friends, add details of your event to your email signature, Facebook and Twitter pages, involve other complementary charities and share the cost and their expertise. Think creatively about how you can get as many people as possible to come and bring their friends.

Don't fall foul of the law.

Check health and safety regulations and be sure that you want to do is legal for a charity. A Google search including the name of your locality will help with this.

Be proud of all you achieve and learn lessons for next time. Above remember the 'fun' in 'fundraising'.

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