Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fundraising - What Works. What Doesn't.

As you know I have been helping a team raise money for Believe in Tomorrow with their Port to Fort 6K fundraising event this Sunday. In talking to team members, I have gathered ideas and feedback about the whole fundraising experience and have learned a lot.  I have never been an active fundraiser, but once my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, that all changed.  I am much more receptive to donating to causes that my friends are sponsoring.  As I've learned, if A LOT of people gave a little, you would be getting a lot.

As one manager that works at American Amalgamated Corrugated Conglomerates of America told me, the hardest part about raising money is asking.  If you can get past that, you'll find that most people are willing donors.

What Works?
Emailing coworkers really works.  The majority of donations received by the team that I'm helping have come from coworkers.  "Hey, I'm raising money for Believe in Tomorrow.  Would you be willing to make a donation?"  Surprisingly, MOST people at your place of employment will say yes.  And with online donations, it is so EASY.  Does your company match donations?  Even better!  Free money!

What Doesn't Work?
Emailing local businesses to make a donation.  I emailed many local businesses in Eldersburg asking if they would make a donation.  Surprisingly, none of them responded.  I'm certainly not mad at them, but I was a bit surprised.  Who did I ask?  Jiffy Lube, Dick's Lawn and Garden Center, Cobblestone, the Harvest Farm Inn, Glazed to Perfection, and Glory Days just to name a few.  Perhaps they get lots of requests and have to be selective.  And how are they to tell if it's spam or not?  I added my phone number and my name, but that didn't work.  I didn't really have time to go to them in person to ask for money.  Perhaps that would be a method that works.

What Works?
Asking family.  They better damn well respond, right?  Just kidding.  Of course your family is supportive.  At least ours is.  Last year my niece was one of our top 5 fund raisers.  And she's a teenager.  Rock the vote, as they say on MTV.

What Doesn't Work?
Clicking on your fundraising page 9,000 times per day to see if anyone donated does not work.  Hitting the refresh button multiple times during the same visit has little success, as well.

What Doesn't Work Too Well?
Emailing the families of the your kids' sports teams. Perhaps because I coach the teams, I'm not as close to the parents as say, a parent who is not coaching.  Those parents are sitting in the bleachers and sidelines chatting away during practices and games while I'm on the field coaching.  Therefore, we don't have as much of a personal connection.

What Works Moderately?
Asking for donations on Facebook.  The problem with Facebook is that is that it is a snapshot in time.  If you post something at 6pm and your friends get on at 10pm, it's likely that they won't even see your post.  I've posted multiple requests at various times, but have only received moderate support.  It's a less personal request as it is a broadcast to the world, not to a specific person.  I would continue to use it as a tool for fundraising, but I would not expect to get the majority of your donations from your Facebook friends.

What Doesn't Work?
Speaking of broadcasts, a broadcast email to multiple people does not work either.  I heard that sending it to your entire group resulted in minimal success.  However, customized emails to individuals is much more successful.  And it doesn't hurt to follow up with slackers with the "gentle reminder".

What Doesn't Work?
Harassment.  "Hey, jackass, are you going to donate or what?"  "Do you hate kids with cancer or something?"  Yes, surprisingly these tactics are met with high levels of resistance.

What REALLY Doesn't Work?
Asking Martin O'Malley.  He wants to take your money, but he's never donated to any cause that I've worked on.  However, Governor, there is still time for you to improve your unflattering reputation as a supporter of local charities.

What Doesn't Work?
Posting requests on your blog. Sigh.  I've raised no money via my blog.  But I'm not giving up!

If you'd be interested in making a donation to Believe in Tomorrow to help them raise money, please select this link, click on the green Donate button, and be a pal!


Karen L said...

As a small business owner, I get (no exaggeration) 3-5 requests a week for donations, sponsorships, etc. Mostly good causes I would love to support, unfortunately MOM doesn't ask nicely, he just raises my unemployment contribution willy-nilly and I'm left saying no to lots of nice local folks! Best wishes for your events success!

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