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And How to Avoid Them in the Future
Fundraising is a tricky art. It disguises itself as a lot of things: marketing, sales, begging, bribery. The list could go on and the list could get worse. But, the truth is, fundraising is a necessity for any non-profit business, organization, or school that is seeking support for a greater goal.
If you are reading this, we’re going to bet you have either participated in, given to, volunteered for, or (dare we say it?) organized and ran a fundraising campaign. If you are in that last category then this article is for you, so you can see the mistakes you’ve made in the past and learn how to avoid them when it comes time to fundraise again.
If you are in any of the other groups, keep reading. It’s about time we revealed to everyone that fundraising is none of those things listed above, and going through the common flaws in fundraising is a great place to start. Ready? Let’s do it.
Expecting the money to come to you
Let’s say you have a great cause. We’re talking cancer research for kids or saving all those puppies roaming the streets in Russia. A cause that everyone, or so we always think, will get behind and support financially. No problem, right? Wrong. There is always a problem and that problem rests in the fact that fundraising requires money and people LOVE their money.
So, don’t expect funds to always come piling in simply because your goal is a great one.
The solution? Seek out support! If you have a great cause then make sure people know about it, including where their money will go, the story behind your organization and why your issue is one that needs to be focused on and financed right now.
A big part of getting great exposure and seeking out support is making sure to research your audience. Find out what interests they have and what issues directly affect them. If you are trying to fund new computers for students, don’t communicate all of the expenses that go into the endeavor. Rather, make sure your audience knows the importance of understanding technology and how computer literacy directly ties into a student’s future success.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for support (“support” not “money” is a key word here!). We’ll focus more on this one later, but a great tool we offer here at TGMC for seeking out support is our Student Profiles. These work a lot like social media profiles, with a picture of the student, info about the fundraiser, and a direct link for giving.
These are great for a few reasons: 1. They put a face to the cause. 2. They allow parents to reach out to friends and family around the world. 3. They allow donators to be directly involved with the fundraiser by leaving comments and seeing how their donation boosts the level of raised money on the Pledge Meter.
Focusing on the sale
It has long been a staple of fundraising to sell candy, cookies, and coupon books door-to-door in an attempt to appeal to the consumer lifestyle and bring in the bacon. But, more and more we are seeing that this type of fundraising does not work. Because, when the focus becomes the item you're selling rather than the cause you're supporting, you have taken away the number one incentive people have for donating.
A huge part of fundraising is based on relationships: The relationship between your organization and those you’re supporting, the relationship between donator and receiver (i.e., students, homeless pups, etc.), and, especially, the relationship between your organization and your donators.
When the focus is on the sale, this necessary relationship is replaced with a simple transaction. Your donators place an order, give you money and get their goods. End of story. But, if your donators are deeply involved with the mission of your organization and the progress of your fundraiser, then they are much more likely to give often and give big.
Think about it: there is a big difference between giving and buying. Recall the last time you donated to an organization, gave out spare change to a homeless person or took a bag of old clothes to the Salvation Army. Now, think of all the things you bought on your last trip to the grocery store. Which had a bigger impact on you? Which would you encourage your friends and family to do with you?
A great way to get away from the habit of focusing on the sale is to tell your story through your fundraiser.
Example of a story worth investing in? The Get Movin’ Crew set out to make a difference in the way schools fundraise. We stand for event-based fundraising with a focus on health and activity for the students and simplicity for PTO Groups and parents. Our Fun Runs are big, fun events, promote healthy living, get the kids to be active, are easy for PTO Groups to pull off and simple for parents to get behind and support. Thus, through our Fun Runs we tell our story and express the mission of The Get Movin’ Crew.
Avoiding the question
Simply put: sometimes the best way to get the support you need is to ask for it.
Important!: the key word here is “support.” When we fundraise, we are asking for so much more than money; we are asking for a commitment to support a great cause and a big goal that requires donations, big and small, from people who want to make a difference in the world.
If you have presented your cause in a way that aligns with the interest of your audience and if you are continuously telling your story through your fundraising efforts, then there should be nothing holding you back from asking for the support to succeed.
We hope highlighting these common fundraising flaws has been helpful to your future fundraising efforts. Keep tabs on our blog and Facebook page for more tips and discussion about putting on flawless fundraisers.