Fundraising has become a popular form used to raise funds for non-profit organizations and individuals in certain situations. Fundraising ideas are bountiful. They can be of the simplest form or the most creative. In many cases it used to help make certain dreams and aspirations become a reality. But the end result is raising money for a business or an individual.

1. What Is a Fundraiser?

A fundraiser is an event or campaign whose primary function is to raise money for a cause. A fundraiser can also be an individual or company whose primary job is to raise money for a specific charity or a non- profit organization. Fundraisers can often benefit charitable, religious, non-profit and non-governmental organizations but in a few instances fundraisers can benefit for-profit companies and many times individuals. Individuals who fundraise for charities often are directly employed by the charity itself and are known as directors of development. In many cases, charities rely on these individuals and companies who are experts in the field of fund raising and fundraising ideas.

The similarities between fundraising and any other money making operation is that they work by exploiting the difference of their event or idea and the amount of revenue it actually takes in. To classify something as a successful fundraiser, there is generally a wide margin between the idea costs and revenue; unsuccessful fundraisers have a small margin or even no margin at all. It is even possible that the fundraiser can end up losing money when their costs exceeded their expected revenues. Because the main objective of a fundraiser is to raise as much money as possible, there are similar techniques that are universal to many fundraisers. These techniques include charging higher prices for products or items (usually, goods, services, entertainment or affiliation), charging competitive prices for products or items that are secured at low cost or even no cost at all, encouraging individuals or corporations to donate to their idea or cause without anything in return and to recruit volunteers to help with the execution of the fundraiser.

2. How to Begin a Fundraiser

What is the best way to undertake a fundraiser or plan fund-raiser ideas? The best route to take is to simplify the process as much as possible before beginning. The first step for any individual or organization is that you need to classify and realize what your needs are. This may be something that seems quite obvious but many times an organization may actually lack the details to entice donations. What exactly is it that you are raising funds for? How much money are you hoping to make when fund raising, when all is said and done? If the goals of the fundraiser are not clearly known then how can your supporters help you achieve these goals? After it is known what the fundraiser needs to achieve the next step would be to prepare a list of those individuals and or organizations that can help you achieve this. If there is a list of potential donors that were contacted in the past then that would be an excellent place to start. If this is not available then the next step would be is to prepare a prospect list. Pinpoint who to contact first to request a donation and then follow up with a phone call to find out who you can direct your request to. Though everyone can be a possible donator and help to your fundraiser, the best people to start speaking to about your fundraising idea first would be local businesses, co-workers, neighbors, family, friends etc. It never hurts to politely and sincerely ask someone for to help you and the organization you are attempting to fundraise for. The next step is to plan out the fundraiser. How many volunteers will be participating in the fundraiser? When will the fundraiser begin and when will it end? It is recommended that most successful fund-raiser ideas are between one week and three months long. Is there an idea for the fundraiser? Has it been decided what will be sold or marketed? Once these questions are answered and everything is put into place the fundraiser is ready to begin.

3. Would an Online Fundraiser Be a Good Option?

In today's day and age many people are looking towards the Internet and their computer for fundraising ideas and options. The Internet is a wonderful source of opportunities that are endless to help assist in raising funds for a fundraiser but there are laws that can cause legal and financial problems if ignored or if proper research is not done. The Internet as we know is available world wide and can be viewed anywhere in this world. While at first this may sound like something that you would ultimately want for your fundraiser you must be aware of certain aspects. Now being that this is world wide it does make the fundraiser and organization subject to different jurisdictions in different areas that regulate fundraising activities. If there are fundraising opportunities provided online, your site can be viewed anywhere which can look like you are soliciting funds in a certain county or area. You must be aware of the rules and regulations of different areas as in some instances fines can be incurred. There is no easy answer to determine if you or your organization should offer online fundraising or not. Be sure to do the research that is needed and learn as much as you can about compliance within the jurisdictions where you are most likely looking to raise funds. It is never a bad idea to seek legal advice before beginning a fundraiser, if you have any doubts or questions call the lawyer.

4. How Is a Fundraiser Promoted?

Now that your fundraiser has a list of potential donors and how to contact them, what would be the next step in a successful fundraiser? There are simple ways to gain exposure for both the organization and the people who are making donations. Something that is extremely popular is known as a press release. A press release also known as a news release, or press statement is a written or recorded communication directed at the news media for the purpose of announcing something that is claimed to have news value. Sending out a press release will announce the name of the donors; this will provide them with some good publicity and give them even a peace of mind about the arrangement. It would be feasible to first send out a press release regarding the fundraiser on a local level to let your community know about your organization and your fundraising idea. Do not shy away from also sending a press release via the Internet as well as this will reach tens of thousands of people and make them aware of your fundraiser as well. Another successful idea to promote a fundraiser would be to write a newspaper article that revolves around your cause and efforts but one that is also newsworthy. Show excitement in your fundraiser, how the idea first came about and what your fundraiser hopes to achieve. It may take a few tries to get an article published but do not get discouraged. Try calling the newspaper editor as well and convey your intentions and your goals. Lastly, marketing and word of mouth will always help your fundraising cause in a positive way. Hand flyers out all over your neighborhood as well as business cards and signs. There will be some small businesses unable to make a large monetary donation but the can help your fundraiser by spreading the word.

5. Best Ways to Ask for a Donation

Before you begin soliciting for fundraising prospects it may be a good idea to make a list of all potential donations and place them in a money group. What is meant by a money group is if the business you are soliciting is a larger business they will ultimately have more money to donate to the fundraiser and if it is a smaller company you may want to solicit a smaller monetary amount for a donation. A rule of thumb is that it is better to ask for more money than not enough. This allows you a cushion to be able to fall back on. They ultimately may not be able to donate that high an amount to the fundraiser but can possibly offer half. Of course getting half of the donation is much better than getting nothing at all. If you are unsure of what to ask a business to donate to the fundraiser you can attempt to research the company to get an idea of other charitable organizations that they have contributed to in the past. Grouping fundraising prospects is an important part of soliciting donations. It is always a good idea to try and reach out to companies that support your cause and have a sincere interest in your fundraising efforts as well.

6. How to Pinpoint Larger Donations and Donors

As recently mentioned above, before approaching companies in regards to your fundraiser it is a good idea to do a bit of research first. Be sure to find out a head of time which companies are more likely to make a larger donation to your organization and attempt to find out what they have donated to previous fundraisers as well. There are some questions that can be asked and answered when trying to pinpoint if a company can be expected to donate a larger amount to the fundraiser.

1. Why would they have an interest in this particular fundraiser?
2. Does the company want to help others or are they merely donating to the fundraiser for tax purposes?
3. Have they donated to this cause or something similar in the past?
4. Are they making this donation on the advice of a relative, friend or business acquaintance?
5. Do they consider themselves successful and would like to give back to others?
6. Are they making this donation to the fundraiser in memory of a family member or friend that once believed in this
very cause?

This information can be located by searching old press releases or even calling the company directly. Speak with the individual who handles all fundraising requests and inquire about their past fundraisers. Finish the conversation by setting up a face to face appointment.

7. Tips to Make a Fundraiser Successful

There are many ways to make a fundraiser a successful undertaking. But there are some tried and true methods that can definitely put your fundraiser in a positive, successful light.

1. Always know the business and the cause of the fundraiser. If you feel that you or someone in your organization is
having difficulty explaining it then locate someone who can explain it clearly and precisely.
2. Listen to your sponsors and any feedback they may want to provide. This can help not only with the current
fundraiser but their ideas may assist you with another fundraiser in the future.
3. Your organization will always want to present itself as professional. This should be before, during and after the
fundraiser is over. You are representing your cause and must put them in the most positive light so sponsor will
want to donate.
4. Fundraisers pride themselves on lending a helping hand; make sure this is true by helping the visitors and sponsors
throughout your fundraising event.
5. This is not a time for shyness; ask for a gift to be included in the fundraiser. If you do not suggest it another
organization and another fundraising cause will.
6. Some donors and sponsors will need motivation. It is your job to motivate and inspire. Be passionate about your
cause and explain just how they will be benefiting and helping with their donation.
7. Delegate tasks that need to be completed. There are different elements to insure a successful fundraiser, arm
yourself with people who want to help and are as passionate and motivated as you are.
8. For a fundraiser to be a successful one there must be a plan and it must be adhered to, it's easier than you think.
9. Always remember to ask for referrals from your sponsors and contributors. Don't be shy, this is a good cause!
10. Lastly a personal touch will in fact make all the difference. Be interested in your sponsors and donators,
genuinely interested. Also always provide a heartfelt thank you.

8. Giving the Donor an Extra Push

It can be extremely frustrating when a definite answer is not given from your prospect about donating to the fundraiser. It is extremely important not to give up hope and not to wait too long to get an answer. It is your job to keep the donator interested even when they have yet committed to making a donation to the fundraiser; if the person or business has given you a delay on giving a gift, attempt to get a tentative date when you may be in contact with them again. You will want to try and make that date within a couple of days but never longer than a week. This should allow them plenty of time to make a definite decision about your organization but not too long as to forget about your cause and what you want to achieve. Create a sense of urgency about your project and that you are in need of a definite answer either way. If they refuse to solidify a date to contact them again, take it upon yourself to call them back in a few days or a week to see if they have yet come to a final decision. As always, follow up with a thank you card. Persistence in fundraising is essential for success but one most always remember not to be too pushy as well.

9. What Happens with Next Year's Fundraiser?

A yearly fundraising list is the core of successful fundraisers time and time again. A yearly fund establishes long term relationships with potential and existing sponsors and donors. Recurring donors are the key to having a successful fundraiser year after year. They become invested in your organization and cause and this can lead to more financial support and referrals down the line.

When reaching out to begin new fundraising prospects, first call the company and find out who handles all fundraising inquires. You do not want to send your ideas and information to a company without a contact name, you do not want this information to be put on a desk somewhere you want it to be given higher priority. Remember when preparing your yearly fundraising list don't leave any person, family member or business person untouched. Tell everyone about your fundraiser and fundraising ideas, you never know who knows who and how they can benefit your cause. Lastly, do not take existing donors for granted. Be sure and still be attentive and grateful for all their prior help and support. Many times an organization will end up losing the support of a long supporting company due to a lack of a personal relationship. Remember they are donating to the cause and should always feel appreciated.

There are many ways to operate a successful fundraiser. If you show that you are passionate about the cause you are attempting to fundraise for, donors will sense this and be more than happy to help if they can. Remember to research and plan before beginning and there is no reason why you will not have a successful fundraiser time and time again.
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