Planning Successful Fundraisers

There are so many tips for successful fundraisers I could give, but it’s impossible to list each one here. These ten are among the most important:

  • Leadership & organization
  • Rehearse the sales pitch
  • Choose the right fundraiser
  • Try new ideas
  • Planning & coordination
  • Organize & divide tasks
  • Follow tax laws
  • Use a consultant
  • Study the competition
  • Participant benefits

Strong leadership and organizational skills

It’s critical to have strong leadership for your fundraiser. Be sure that your chairperson has the time, energy, and personality to drive your sales efforts to the limit.

Your group also needs to select the best, most appropriate fundraiser and be well organized to execute successfully on each major step. Good communication is essential, particularly the instructions given to your participants.

Practice your sales pitch

Your sales group should rehearse their sales presentations in a role-playing scenario at least twice before making actual sales calls. Every contact is important. Each one should be approached in a professional manner with quality sales support materials that make decision-making a snap for each prospect.

If your primary participants are kids, remember that many children are shy by nature. When they are shy, they mumble, look at the ground, or forget what to say.

Obviously, you don’t want them to do that, but have you taken the time to show and tell them how to do it right?

If you haven’t, take the time to do so and make it a priority.

Have the right fundraiser

Choose what’s most appropriate for your target market. It will vastly increase your retained earnings. Good value in products (perceived and actual) is a must for successful long-term fundraising. Choose your offerings wisely and match their price range with community demographics.

Be sure to track your achievements each time against previous fundraising benchmarks. Keep good records over time of what works best so that others who assume your role later will benefit from your experience.

Try newer items for fundraisers

Some of the new varieties of fundraising ideas that are becoming popular are compilation (best of) CDs, online shopping rebates, gift certificates to local and national merchants, clothing catalogs, along with DVDs and video movies.

These fundraisers offer the ability to tap into enormous pools of discretionary spending. See the Section on Best Fundraising Ideas for more ideas.

Planning and coordination

This is essential for all group activities. Begin assigning roles and responsibilities at least thirty days before your actual campaign begins and be sure to assign firm timelines to every task.

Assign team leaders right away and meet regularly with your group or team leaders to ensure complete understanding of all relevant details by the respective leaders.

Be organized

Lack of organization can and usually will cost your group money in extra costs. Mistakes, lapses, oversights, misunderstandings with suppliers, order confusion, and duplication will eat into your hard earned profits, so get organized early to avoid them.

Divide the labor

A good rule of thumb is to allocate no more than fifteen hours of work to any individual. It’s necessary to avoid resentment and burnout by people being saddled with too many tasks.

Other volunteer tasks can take much less time, but are just as critical to your success. Be sure to offer these volunteer positions for those who want to help, but don’t have as much time to offer.

Follow all laws

Make sure to follow all state, local, and federal tax laws pertaining to non-profit fundraising.

Using a consultant

Professional fundraising consultants, also known as sales representatives, can be a big help. If there’s no additional cost to your organization, I’d recommend using one.

Only the largest suppliers have field sales reps and they can provide invaluable assistance, particularly if you lack experience. They can provide a variety of choices, advice on what works elsewhere, help coordinate events, and offer planning assistance.

Consider the competition

Other organizations supporting good causes are directly competing with your organization. Emphasize in your communications to your participants (and possibly in your sales script) what differentiates you from your competition. Never say anything negative about any other group.

As an enthusiastic consumer of Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints rule!), I know that several Girl Scouts will approach me each year to buy cookies. I plan my buying accordingly and buy only a portion of my yearly cookie purchase from each Girl Scout. Don’t do a cookie dough fundraiser when the Girl Scouts are actively selling.

Similarly, try not to offer the same thing everyone else is. Otherwise, many potential supporters will have committed to buying their gift wrap, for example, from another organization. This is one of the main reasons why you want an alternate or supplemental offering in your seller’s toolbox.

Other considerations

There are many other considerations involved in fundraising, including the benefits it provides for participants, what size revenue stream to tap, and how selling higher-priced items takes only slightly more effort with much better results.

Fundraising provides benefits for participants:

  • Often it’s their first introduction to volunteer work
  • Gives a sense of belonging to a greater group
  • Achieving goals through teamwork
  • Learn community service and other life lessons
  • Personal growth via helping others
  • Becoming a good citizen and making good choices
  • Reinforces positive behaviors such as selflessness
  • Active involvement lowers propensity for alcohol/drug use

So, pay attention to these elements of successful fundraisers, but don’t forget about the benefits of participation!