As I mentioned in my last blog entry, my cancer friend Sam Long agreed to write a fundraising guide for me to share with you guys. Many cancer fighters/survivors and their loved ones channel their energy into things like Light the Night, Team-In-Training, Race for the Cure, Stupid Cancer players club and an untold number of other cancer related fundraising/awareness events. Sam is particularly great at it. She was already involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society before she was diagnosed, and since her diagnosis has become even more successful at fundraising. I forgot what the final numbers were on her fundraiser (I’m sure she will comment to correct me) but it was in the multiple tens of thousands of dollars. Being relatively knew to the fundraising world myself, I asked her to do this blog post for my own benefit as well as your’s!
I really wish I had asked her to do this a LONG time ago. Some of these tips I had to stumble across the hard way this season with Team-In-Training, and others I hadn’t even considered yet.
So here it is: The Sam Long Guide to Fundraising
1. Consider things your friends and family already do.
Are they big shoppers? Do they gamble? Do they like sports? Are they bar-goers? Are they interested in the arts or being creative?
Many of the things your core group already does can be turned into a successful fundraiser.
Hosting events at local restaurants or bars is a great way to get people to do something they normally would (such as go out to dinner o out for drinks) but for a good cause. Contact your local favorites – see if they’ll donate a percentage of sales. Many large restaurant chains will offer dine-to-donate nights. Bars and restaurants often have open bar or catered packages that can be slightly marked up to raise funds as well. This is one way to host a Beef and Beer event!
Professional sports teams often give away memorabilia and sell discounted group tickets. If fans are already gathering at the stadium, why not raise money? Make it a tailgate too and double your fun!
Appeal to those who can’t resist a gamble by raffling off gift baskets or setting up a bus trip to the casinos. Many companies will donate items if you ask in writing and provide the organization’s tax ID number.
There are lots of great events out there…you just need to find something that appeals to your target audience and promote it.
2. Use social media marketing to your advantage.
Twenty years ago these terms would have made as much sense as the Dewey decimal system…but today they’re solid gold.
Tweet, retweet, blog, post, repost, Youtube, IM, share, message, text, voicemail, Facebook, inbox, Instagram, tag, MySpace, facetime, Gchat, Skype, email, video message, and just plain on talk about it. Tell everyone you know. Be annoying. Sure people may block you or avoid your incessant contact but you’re doing it for the right reasons. Just remember…stalking is stalking, even when a computer is involved.
Once you have your goal, tell people about it. Share your mission. Invite people to events. Kindly request they donate money or volunteer time. Understand that not all events are for all people and that some people may not have the means to be charitable even if they’d like to be. Some people may prefer to volunteer rather to raise money or donate. Let people know there is more than one way to help.
Here are some helpful links:
It’s a simple concept, but hard to do.
Ask your friends and family to join you in the cause. Make sure you share your reasons for fundraising and why it’s so important to you.
Ask companies for donations or gift cards/merchandise to use as fundraising incentives. Use donated items for raffles to raise money or prizes for joining the team/raising the most. You’d be surprised how many organizations are willing to contribute. Check local grocery stores and chain restaurants, small businesses, and online retailers.
Ask people for their support. So many people have a talent or skill that can help your mission. And you wouldn’t believe how generous people can be with their time and energy if they are approached the right way.
There is the old saying, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not going to kill you. If someone says no, take note of that and avoid that potential uncomfortable situation the next time.
4. Show you care.
Don’t get involved with an organization or a fundraiser if you don’t really care about the cause. It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon but do you expect others to blindly follow your lead if they can tell you’re not invested?
Take the time to read up on the mission of your organization. Volunteer at a local chapter. Share knowledge, tips, patient services, and other material that is available.
Life is what you make of it; make the most of it and make it matter.
Here are some more sites with helpful tips and information on fundraising:
In-kind donation request letter template: