Raising Funds for your organization

At the heart of many non-profit organization is a great cause…and the need for funding. No one enjoys asking for money, whether it’s for a small project initiated by a volunteer board, or a capital campaign.

There are many questions we ask in fundraising world. What fundraising strategy best fits what I want to accomplish and who I want to attract as donors. How much engagement do donors expect before they write a cheque? And, if we asked an individual or business for money once, can we ask again?

Just like any business or organization with something to sell, a non-profit has a chance to show off their brand, and leverage all that is great about the organization when engaging potential donors.

Incite, an Edmonton-based marketing strategy firm says, recommends create a journey for your donors and dedicate time to your touchpoints. Principal, Jesse Meyers says “Consider experiential activities with your donors such as facility tours, personalized thank you notes from program participants, or offering family/staff volunteer experiences.”

He also advises, patience goes a long way in building a donor relationship: “[Invite] them to events, [introduce] them to the staff team, let them interact with program recipients. If we put a bit more energy and effort into cultivating efforts – more money can be gained in the long term.”

Reinventing the usual fundraising activities can also be an advantageous move; silent auctions, raffle ticket sales, applying for a grant, and viral fundraising can get old and boring; however, this is where a non-profit’s brand can really shine. Put a spin on your fundraiser, make it an original event or activity that no audience has experienced before, whether that is giving donors a place to go in their gala-best, or bid on some original artwork not available anywhere else.

Eventbrite, an online ticket sales platform helping organizations with the administrative work of an event, is in the business of knowing what it takes to sell a ticket or two. In their “10-Step Guide to Raising Money at Non-profit Events,” they recommend to set a theme for your event. A fun theme, that is. One that will get donors excited and ready to invite all their friends for a fun night out. “Raising Money” is not a theme—“Singles Charity Night” is.

When choosing your venue, they advise to ask the following questions: Special rates for non-profits? Are there days of the week or times of the year that are cheaper than others? And What do you include in the price of your venue? are some of the questions to consider when looking for a place to hold an event.

If you do choose to hold an event as your annual or bi-annual fundraiser, promotion of the event is also key to ensuring you end up on the right side of the budget. Eventbrite suggests calling on all your email contacts through an email campaign, or social media marketing or posting your event on an event discovery site, such as Facebook Events, or other one specific to your location.

Sponsorship is one way to create some donor loyalty. Transacting with a company who can benefit from, or relate to the work you do gives them a corporate social responsibility focus they can contribute to every year, and weave into their business culture.

Eventbrite suggests the following when looking to approach a potential sponsor:

1. “Identify companies whose customer demographics align with your event participants’ demographics.”

2. “Focus on businesses that align with your level of reach, [whether that is local, national or international.]”

3. Look for companies that might be able to offer you in-kind donations—that is services or products that can help promote what they sell.

4. Determine who you want to target as a sponsor before companies create their budget for the year.

For anyone looking for a donor, it is helpful to first build a relationship, understand your potential donor’s goals and long-term vision, and then, figure out how you can help them achieve their mission.

What does your next fundraiser look like? Here’s a list to get those ideas flowing:

  • White party
  • Gala event
  • 3km Run
  • Treasure hunt
  • Carnival/Street party
  • Silent auction with local artisan products & local business support (paintings & other artwork, homemade jams, cooking lessons with local restaurant, etc.)

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