Back in 2010, I randomly decided to run a triathlon with Team in Training, a charity that helps people train for endurance events. In return, those trainees help raise money to go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. At the time, I hadn’t run more than three miles. I didn’t own a bike. And the thought of swimming for a mile in the Schuylkill River was nauseating. Still, the most terrifying part of the whole thing was having to fundraise $3,000 to do it.
While I worked my butt off in the gym to train for the physical part of my race, I also worked my butt off online and throughout the city for the monetary portion of my race. Two different challenges, both requiring a ton of work. But, somehow I finished the race, and I finished it having fundraised over my goal of $3,000.
Now, I’m sharing my tips so you can do it too, and help great causes in the process.
Give Them a Reason to Donate
First of all, tell them about the charity. They are going to want to know what exactly they are donating to and how their money will be used. And, on top of that, they’ll want to know that you know what they are donating to and how their money will be used.
Along with some education, show the emotion as well. This doesn’t mean you have to pull on their heartstrings, but you do want your donors to know why this charity is important to you. Be excited about it. Show that you are passionate about this specific charity and why they should be too. Why would they put their money and support behind something you are just “meh” about?
Make It Personal
When I sent my fundraising letter, I hand wrote each letter in a nice card. Put in the extra effort to show your donors that you care about them. That could mean adding a little personal note to each typed letter or emailing each person individually. If you do choose email, add a little something to each email that is between you two only. That way, they will know they aren’t BCC on a mass email.
Make It Easy
If you can, be flexible when it comes to accepting money. Some people may prefer to make the check out to you, while others may want to make it out to the charity. Some may even want to send the money directly to the charity. Give your donors options. And always, ALWAYS have a way for people to donate online. It is the easiest way for people to donate – especially when they are donating on a whim from a post you made or an email they read. It is especially easy to get online donations when you can include a link in your email and status updates.
Keep Your Donors Involved
Once your donors donate, don’t just leave them in the dark. They are giving money, but also giving their support. Keep them updated on how your training and fundraising is going. Let them know of any big milestones. Create a Facebook group page and invite them to join. Start a blog to share your progress and experiences. After the race, event, mission trip, etc., let them know how it went. They are not just donating because they care about the cause. They are also donating because they care about you!
Find Creative Ways to Fundraise
There are a number of ways you can fundraise. Of course, you should always do the phone calls, emails, social media posts, etc. But, you can also make it fun for you and for your donors. I made $200 by auctioning myself off at a date auction. I made $100 by inviting a bunch of people to a party that gave me a percentage of each ticket sale. I hosted a jewelry party that gave me a percentage of the sales (and I helped a fellow boss babe earn commission at the same time). You’ll be surprised at how many ideas there are and how many people there are who will help you pull them off.
Have a Goal
When people see how much you are trying to fundraise, they are apt to donate based on that. If they see a big goal, they may donate more. This is especially true if they see that you are a certain amount away from your goal. If you’re $100 away, they may donate $20 instead of $15. Or, if you are $30 away from hitting your goal, they may donate $30 instead of the $15 they were going to donate. Be honest about your goal. Don’t bump up the number to get more donations. Also, make sure your goal is attainable. People will be more excited to see that they helped you reach your goal than helping you almost get there.
Say Thank You!
I know this seems obvious, but never forget to say thank you! Make sure your donors know they are appreciated. If you don’t say thank you, they aren’t likely to donate if you fundraise again. Take it a step further. Give them a shout out on social media. Send them a thank you card. Bake them cookies. Just make sure they feel the love.