The first time I fundraised for a campaign was when I was 11 years-old. I traveled door-to-door selling cartoon-themed wrapping paper for my public school. I sold $100 worth of tacky Sesame Street and daffy duck paraphernalia, complete with matching ribbons and bows. I venture that my meager success was largely based on sympathy. It rained. I tripped in the mud and ruined my rain jacket. I was bit by a dog and forced to end my campaign in the ER.
Since my 11-year old wrapping paper debacle, I’ve come a long way to learn how to successfully manage a fundraising campaign. For one thing, walking door-to-door was not the most successful strategy. I would have been more effective targeting 30 to 50 individuals in advance, each of which with connections to my school, family, or faith organization. Fundraising is not about how many people you request for donations, it’s about finding people that identify with your cause or are already looking for ways to be involved in a charitable endeavor.
As the Global Poverty Project kicks off Live Below the Line in the United States, thousands will agree to partake in their own fundraising campaigns by eating and drinking for $1.50/day for five days. Here are some tips participants have used to secure funds for the challenge:
1) THE ASK
One of the biggest hurdles that participants must overcome is their hesitancy to ask potential donors for money. Remember, you aren’t asking for a new Ipod, the money is for important charity projects! Write out a short speech with or email with clear reasons as to why you feel passionately about the organization and where the donated funds will be spent.
2) THE DONORS
The first step in finding interested donors is to scroll through your phone list, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and members of your faith community. Once you have made a list of these individuals, ask if they know any business owners or community organizations. Add them to your list. Networking is the single most important part of fundraising, be it through personal connections or social media. Family, friends, or business owners are far more likely to donate to people they know and trust. Even if you don’t know them directly, having a friend in common goes a long way to increase participation.
3) THE MONEY
It’s important to ask for the right amount of money. It’s a balance. You don’t want to overwhelm a potential donor by asking for an unreasonable amount of money for each day of the challenge, but you also don’t want to “under-ask”. When requesting a donation, it’s better to have a conversation about what they would feel comfortable contributing. Suggest a few different amounts that other donors have pledged in the past. We suggest asking between $50 to $100 per day from businesses or for-profit companies. From family and friends, ask for $20 per day, or if they are voracious coffee/tea drinkers, ask that they donate what they would typically spend on coffee or tea for the week.
Most importantly, when fundraising, don’t give up! You may hear “no” from the first three or four people you approach. Find out why these individuals have reservations about giving and change your strategy. Be creative. Friends may not be financially able to contribute, but maybe they can throw you a music show or Live Below the Line dinner!