Fundraising is hard work, done with the best intentions in mind. While you might get caught up in the spirit of “doing good,” you could be doing it wrong. Whether it’s a communication failure or a lack of foresight, here are five mistakes you’ll want to avoid when coordinating your next big fundraising event:
Fundraising is all about building relationships--it doesn't matter if you're raising money for non-profits or for your kid's school, you need to connect with potential and past donors.
Nurture these relationships by staying in touch, saying thank you for their contribution, and keeping them posted on the results of the fundraising efforts.
It's always nice to call to say thanks or to send a personalized note, but relationship building can take place in the digital sphere, as well. Share stories with donors. Upload images of your charity in action, and invite people to share. Not only will this assure donors that their generosity is being put to good use, but they'll also feel appreciated.
If you're selling merch, the signs are there. Customers are starting to say, "no thanks" far too often. You're seeing small orders and fielding complainers.
If this is happening in your organization, it's time to revisit the goods you’re selling. Get rid of the junk in favor of better quality items. A good measure is, asking yourself if you would buy these items for yourself or give them as a gift. If the answer is no, look for a new supplier and start selling items people want. Just because something is for charity doesn't mean that the customers’ needs don't matter, too.
Not sure what to sell? Take a cue from the experts at ABC Fundraising.
Running a school fundraiser? Make sure you consider holidays, weather, exam schedules, and competitive fundraising efforts. Naturally, it's a good idea to avoid anything that falls to close to the big holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s. Additionally, many people take off for long weekends like Labor Day, Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.
Weather plays a role in participation, too. Don't host a fundraiser that involves delivering edible items that require refrigeration or selling chocolate bars out in the sun. Instead, consider hosting a pool party, selling cool treats or running a car wash.
Another factor is whether you're relying on students to sell products for the fundraiser. If that's the case, consult the school calendar and avoid deadlines that fall too close to midterms, finals, or big school events like prom or homecoming.
Finally, make sure you're aware of any community events that will block off traffic or that will be hosting much of your target population. Think the local marathon, a street festival, and so on.
Don't overwork your volunteers. This leads to good people burning out with no one to relieve them. Instead, build a deep pool of volunteers who can donate a couple hours here and there for a good cause.
Take to social media and make sure you clearly lay out what you'll need help with. It helps to write these needs down like a job description—with the roles, responsibilities, and time commitment expected.
Another way to prevent volunteer fatigue is to put out the call at the beginning of the school year. Naturally, this will require some planning over the summer, but it'll save you time in the long run and lead to more satisfied volunteers.
Spread the word! No one will give you money if you don't tell them what's going on. Make flyers and put them up at the school and in local businesses. Promote it on social media and ask community members to share with their extended networks. Send a press release. While advertising can take up time, consider making promotion efforts a position you recruit for. You never know, you might have a marketer in your midst happy to help.
In the end, your biggest mistake comes down to a failure of planning. Advertising, recruiting, and finding the right products will be the key to success. Oh, and don’t forget to thank all those helping hands that made things possible.