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Raise Money with Grassroots Fundraising

Updated on February 22, 2008

What does “grassroots” mean?

  • Grassroots simply means you are ordinary people.
  • Grassroots fundraising means you don’t have to be a professional fundraiser to successfully raise money.

From baking a cake for the bake sale to chairing a fundraising committee, you can raise money for your community using your group’s creativity and energy.

Why You Should Fundraise

Fundraising is a fabulous idea whether you want to raise money for a high school club, political candidate, or a tenants’ association. For successful fundraising you only need a basic understanding of money and people. Everyone works, pays taxes, buys things, and balances budgets, so you already know a lot more about managing money than you might realize. You know a lot about people as well. When you start planning a fundraising event, you can draw from the group activities you have participated in. From throwing a party to collaborating on a group project with co-workers to belonging to the PTA, you have experience with how people work together.

As a fundraiser for a group or organization, you can put what you know about people and money together to lay out your plans. Not only will you raise money, but you will strengthen the group by encouraging everyone to work together.

Choosing a Fundraiser that Fits

Choose a fundraiser that fits your group’s goals. If you want to raise a few hundred dollars, think about small events like bake sales and carwashes. But, if you want to raise larger amounts of money, you will need to plan bigger fundraising events. Learn about the strengths of those you are working with when you set your goals. This will make reaching your goals more realistic because you will be running on everyone’s strong points.

Financial Goals & More

The main point of fundraising is, of course, raising funds. But remember that there are a lot of other benefits from doing your own fundraising. When your group works together to fundraise, you will all gain self-sufficiency, independence, and pride in a job well done. When you begin with grassroots fundraising, you bring in honest money which allows everyone in your group to feel proud. This kind of fundraising shows that there are a lot of people supporting the work your group does. Once you have successfully raised money using grassroots fundraising, it will be easier to raise money from established institutions.

When you apply for grants from foundations and corporations, you will want to show that your group is supported by the people in your community. Showing foundation executives that you signed up 75 new members last month, or had a turnout of 450 people at your carnival, or that you raise the majority of your budget yourself, the organization will feel confident that their money will be well spent.

Establishing successful grassroots fundraising also helps you qualify for matching grants offered by many foundations. A matching grant is when a foundation gives you a certain amount of money if you can raise a set amount within a specified time period. For example, a group might be offered $1500 from a foundation or company if they are able to raise $300 themselves. Grassroots fundraising will allow you to raise this money, leaving your group with at least $1800 to spend on your cause.

Grassroots fundraising improves your organizational goals.

Not only will this kind of fundraising help you earn money, but it will also help three important parts of your organizations: the program, the publicity, and the membership.

You can get a lot of feedback about your program’s goals from the success of your fundraising. Your program is your product, so you need to sell it. If people give you money to send a civics club to Washington D.C., or fight the building of a Wal-mart, or support the local symphony, you know that they support your goals. If you find that contributions to one of your programs or campaigns has dropped, this is a sign that you need to readjust your goals—it might be time to change the program completely.

Good fundraising creates good publicity. Fundraising events offer your group opportunities to reach out to the public. Even if the person you spent twenty minutes explaining your group’s goals to doesn’t buy a cake or raffle ticket, your efforts will still be productive because that will be one more person who knows about your organization.

Grassroots Means Teamwork

Grassroots fundraising reaches out to people in your community on a personal level. This helps your organization draw in new members. Someone will be more likely to join a group when they have met other members at a local rummage sale or block party than they will from receiving an impersonal, informational postcard in the mail. The hoopla of your fundraising events will offer new people a chance to learn what your organization is really about. At the same time, the current members will strengthen their knowledge of the group’s goals by answering questions while fundraising.

People who raise their own money will control their own organization.

If you aren’t solely relying on donations or funding from outside organizations, funding, and corporations, your group’s members will have more creative freedom. Your group will get to make the important decisions and choices because it won’t be financially dependent on other sources.

It is important to plan fundraisers that are fun for everyone. Create events that allow you to share good times together and have something to look forward to. Jokes, good food, and prizes at a fun party will build the friendships that will bond your organization together. Any event, even hanging posters or cleaning up after an event, can be fun if the people like each other. Celebrate all of your successes, and have fun planning your events.


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