Today’s post comes from Michael Nealis, Interactive Strategy Coordinator for Points of Light Institute.
Last year I wrote about my Thanksgiving tradition of running a race and having friends over for a dinner. We tried to raise some money for the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati but things didn’t go how we’d hoped. Still, we were able to raise a few dollars and help feed some families in the Cincinnati area.
Just because we didn’t meet our goals doesn’t mean we didn’t try again this year, though. We took what we learned about making dinner and having people over for dinner and trying to raise some money for a cause.
What did we learn about fundraising that we didn’t know last year?
- It takes time. You can’t expect to seed the ground for a few weeks and have everyone give on one day. Sure, there are some really successful giving campaigns that do just that, but I didn’t think I’d meet my fundraising goal in one day. We’ll have our fundraising campaign live for three weeks, and we’re really close to beating our fundraising goal.
- Not everyone can give. It’s the holidays, and not everyone can give right now. Whether it’s because times are tight or they have family all over and are traveling to visit them or they have another cause that they want to support instead of ours. We’re not taking it personally if people don’t donate, but we’re extremely thankful for the people that do.
- Make more than one ask. With an ask window that’s three weeks wide it would be really boring if we had the same message on an almost daily basis. I think it would run past ‘boring’ and straight into ‘annoying.’ Make an ask. Make a funny ask. Make an ask that pulls at the heartstrings. Make an ask that’s just plain silly. Wear a costume and shoot a video. Ask, ask, ask, ask, and when you think you’ve made your last ask make another one. People aren’t going to give if you don’t ask them to, and they might not see your first or third or eighth ask.
- Have some incentives for your donors. I don’t necessarily mean NPR-style incentives either. My biggest incentive for the fundraiser is that if I beat my goal, I’ll run the whole race to PSY’s Gangnam Style, pony-run where appropriate and post a video of it on YouTube. Not your cup of tea? Maybe. Potentially hilarious? Definitely.
- People are unbelievable generous. People are donating more than I ever thought they would, and in amounts that are really surprising. The average donation is almost $50. The thing that really surprises me is that the people making the largest donations don’t even live in the area the food bank serves.
- Say thank you. We’re using Crowdrise this year instead of a passing the hat at dinner because it allows us to have a bigger fundraising window. One of the really awesome things about it, though, is that as soon as someone donates I get an email that lets me know and reminds me to thank them. It’s a great way to get someone a thank you note as soon as they make a donation.
- Say thank you. This one is so important I’m listing it twice. The email as soon as the person donates is great, but is that the only way you should say thank you? I don’t think so. If I beat my goal the silly video is a thank you. The day after turducken I’m putting together another email telling the people who donated what their donation means to families that rely on the Freestore Foodbank so they know what their donation helped to support. At the end of the year I’ll send out another one.
Have you hosted fundraisers before, either privately or for an organization you work or volunteer for? What was the most surprising thing you learned? What tips would you share? Let us know in the comments!