Despite having all the best intentions, it’s not uncommon to face fundraising obstacles – but don’t let that put you off! Let each hurdle motivate you that much further: excel in the face of adversity and do your charity and sponsors proud!
Whether you’re starting your fundraising campaign from scratch or looking for inspiration, let our top 10 fundraising tips guide you to success.
Choose your charity
If you haven’t already, make the time to choose the perfect charity. Don’t pick one at random – you need an organisation that’s close to your heart; one that will spur you on during the toughest moments of your campaign. There are thousands of registered charities to choose from, but which cause really stands out to you?
Once you’ve made your choice, try getting in contact with the charity you plan to fundraise for – they may have tips or material of their own which you could benefit from.
If you’re passionate about a campaign but a fun run or bake sale just doesn’t cut it, think outside the box – it could be the best fundraising move you ever make.
A whole host of amazing fundraising campaigns have generated worldwide attention thanks to their ingenuity. From the #nomakeupselfie for Cancer Research to the Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Association (we’re still shivering from that one!) Both are relatively simple concepts, but managed to take social media by storm.
To really maximise your campaign – plan, plan, plan! Fundraising is all about selling your project to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. Imagine you’re on Dragon’s Den and your sponsors are the dragons. You’ve a tough pitch ahead, but once you’ve got the ball rolling and secured that initial ‘investment,’ the sponsorships will start flying in. Dig out the pen and paper, and start brainstorming!
Know your goals: First, be clear on your project and your goals. Encouraging others to sponsor your efforts is easy when you’re well versed in what your charity stands for. Be ready to detail the hard facts: who your charity is, why you’re fundraising for them and what you ultimately hope to achieve. If you don’t believe in what you’re fundraising for, no one will. To start, simply get to know the ins and outs of your fundraising campaign.
Know your audience: In the planning stages, it’s important to think about who your campaign is targeted at. Don’t focus on specific groups of people; instead, concentrate on creating a narrative that’s accessible and relatable to all. What aspects of your project strike a chord and will persuade people to get involved? Think about language, tone and projecting the right tone of voice.
Call on your team: If you’re struggling to put you campaign into words, call on the help of friends and family. Having a great support network from the off can be just the motivation you need to push your campaign to its potential.
Create a realistic time frame
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your campaign. The earlier you start to collect sponsors and start the better. It takes the pressure off, and gives you plenty of time to smash those targets.
Timing is critical. If there are any events, festivals or special dates coming up, use them as an opportunity to promote your fundraising campaign. Create a calendar that highlights important occasions and organise your marketing efforts accordingly.
Set an ambitious sponsorship target
Ask any fundraiser, the physical challenge or organisation isn’t the toughest part, asking for money is. But don’t let that deter you from setting an ambitious target – the sky’s the limit! Here are a few ways you can make it less stressful.
Be specific: Ambiguity is a no-no when it comes to requesting sponsorships. If you want to persuade the public to part ways with their hard earned cash, you need to be pretty convincing. Being specific helps, for example, explaining that the target you’ve set can ‘buy a dialysis machine’ is more likely to generate interest than a vague description of your campaign ambitions.
List your sponsors in order: By listing your sponsors in order, with the most generous donation at the top, you set the bar. Potential sponsors tend to be unsure what to donate at first, so let them see what other people have already contributed – it can have a massive influence on their final pay out.
Break it down: If setting a huge sponsorship total is too daunting, approach it week-by-week. Smaller, more manageable targets can still highlight your amazing progress.
Be aware of tax incentives
If you’re able to/eligible, boost your donations even further by encouraging sponsors to say yes to tax incentives. Tax incentives are available for both corporate (in 77% of counties) and individual donors (66% of countries) across the world – an effective way to increase donations and promote global philanthropy.
An illuminating study made by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) back in December 2014 unveiled the true value of tax incentives on world giving. According to CAF, ‘the percentage of people donating money to charity is 33 percent higher in nations offering tax incentives to individuals than in those that don’t.’
Be aware of tax incentives and make the most of them. It varies country to country; in the UK for instance, there exists a Gift Aid scheme in which registered charities can reclaim tax on a donation made by a UK taxpayer, whereas in France, individuals and corporate donors are offered tax credits.
Check out the ‘Rules To Give By Country Reports and Downloads’ made by Nexus, who outline which of the 193 countries provide tax exemption for nonprofits and what tax incentives are available.
Share your story
Fundraising campaigns are all the more inspiring if you’ve a personal anecdote to share alongside. Whilst the charity you choose does play a huge role in generating donations; the success of your fundraising stems from how well you express your own story.
People like stories – stories we can relate to, stories that move and inspire, stories that make us see life from another perspective. And often, it’s the unique and harrowing personal tales of fundraisers that motivates people to reach in their pocket and help out too.
Being brutally honest about what’s driving you to the finish line can be hard, but also cathartic. Not only does it humanise your campaign; it also proves to sponsors that you’re passionate about what you do and that you’ve no intention of backing out.
Whilst the support of your family and friends is great, it’s only the beginning. If you want your campaign to attract as much attention as possible, you need to speak to the right people.
Do more than just carry your sponsorship form in your back pocket: make calls to relevant businesses, send proposal letters, arrange meetings and cultivate relationships with sponsors and non-sponsors alike. Being proactive and direct promises positive results.
Make it clear that you’re not taking their money and running – you’re passionate about your chosen charity and appreciate that they share your values too. Send thank you letters, and keep them updated with your progress.
Use social media
We can’t stress the importance of social media enough. It gets the conversation started between you and your sponsors, worldwide. According to a study published by Black Baud “event participants that adopted integrated social media tools increased their fundraising by as much as 40 percent compared to their peers who weren’t using the available online tools.”
In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes, create a blog that documents your every move – it brings a face to your campaign, whilst also generating further support.
That’s not to say you should ignore traditional methods completely. All media types offer potential; contact your local newspaper and let them spread the word too.
There are no two ways about it; fundraising is hard. It takes an incredible amount of effort and perseveration and yes, sometimes it will feel like your enthusiasm is falling on deaf ears. But don’t be disheartened! The highs always outshine the lows.
When you catch yourself feeling down about fundraising, picture the end results: how amazing you’ll feel, how impressed your sponsors will be and the difference you’ll make to your chosen charity.
As Nelson Mandela said, “it always seems impossible, until it’s done.” Don’t feel fazed and keep up the good work!