Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fundraising: The Basics

The topic of fundraising is often shrouded in a cloud of ambiguity - and rightly so. Many people, full of good intentions, get stuck and give up before they even start fundraising simply because they lack clear and concise direction on HOW to fundraise.

Over the years, many people have asked me, "How can I get involved?", "How do I raise funds?" or "What type of fundraiser do you recommend I do?". My answer to these questions can be addressed with another list of questions. Successful fundraising requires one to reflect upon their intentions, interests, talents and circles of influence - answer these four questions and I guarantee you'll create a successful fundraiser.  

1. What are my intentions?
  • Before taking any steps toward fundraising you must ask yourself, "What are my intentions in doing this fundraiser?", or more simply put, "Why am I doing this?". Do you have a burning desire to make a positive change in the world or is this just a fleeting moment of an emotional or humanitarian high? Do you have what it takes to plan, maintain and finish strong in your fundraising endeavor? 
  • I'm not trying to intimidate you with this probing and self-revealing question but rather trying to establish whether or not the fundraiser will have the solid foundation it needs to succeed - that solid foundation is - YOU. 
  • You must also ask yourself, "What is my vision for this fundraiser?". In other words, what would you like to accomplish with the funds raised? Provide 20 water filters to supply an entire village in Rwanda with clean water? Build a well, latrines, stand taps and filters in India to provide an entire school with clean water? Try to be as specific as possible when creating your vision for fundraising. The more clear your vision - the more likely you will be in pulling off a successful fundraiser.  
  • Congrats! You just made it through the most difficult of all four questions. You're already well on your way to creating a fundraiser. 
2. What are my interests? 
  • Experience in watching people fundraise has revealed the mind-blowing truth that most successful fundraisers are accomplished when you focus on something that interests you. Do you like hosting parties, organizing events, writing, editing, designing, creating, tech, gaming, sales, marketing, celebrating special events such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, etc.? 
  • You have more control over this question than any other because it directly relates to who you are. 
3. What are my talents?
  • This question can easily become confused with question number two - "What are my interests?". However, it is vitally important to distinguish the two questions from one another. 
  • Just because something interests me does not mean that I'm good at it. The most optimal fundraisers are completed when one recognizes and utilizes BOTH their interest(s) and talent(s) when choosing a theme for their fundraiser. 
  • I.e. You might be very interested in hosting a party but haven't hosted so much as a wiener roast in the last five years. This might translate to a feeling of intimidation when sitting down to write party invitations - thus leading to not writing the invitations which leads to a failed fundraiser. Don't let this speed bump slow you down. Most likely you have a friend that is a pro at hosting parties and would love to help you get back into the swing of things. And there you have it - you're interested in hosting parties AND you're talented at rallying your friend(s) into helping you. 
4. What is my circle of influence?
  • With whom do you hold a significant sway? Do you maintain the interest and attention of those in your workplace, family, neighbors, classmates, team, church, organization, etc.? Of those, who will probably get excited WITH you and will share the passion you have for making a positive change in the world? These are the people that you must identify because they will determine the end result of your fundraiser. 
Done! Now you are ready to fundraise! Keep a close eye on your answers to these four questions and I guarantee you'll have a successful fundraising experience and have fun doing it.

Examples of Successful Fundraisers

These are just a select few of the many wonderful fundraisers that have been accomplished for Thirst Relief. Take a moment to look them over. It just might help get your creative juices flowing and get you even one step closer to making your very own fundraiser become a success.

Designate Your Birthday
Host an Athletic Event
Sell Your Merchandise 
Walk for Water
Christmas Gift

I sincerely hope this blog post was helpful in getting you started with your fundraiser.

All the best,

Nathan White
Director of Operations
Thirst Relief International 

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