There is nothing quite as satisfying as engaging in some good community service activities, and knowing that your efforts have left a positive mark on someone’s life. Majority of us have taken part in fundraising events back in high school too, and it’s an increasingly popular social service activity, focusing it’s outreach on the youth. Social work needn’t be all serious work, it also needn’t be something you devote five out seven days a week too. If social work is something you wish to do, and if you want to involve a larger group of people into it, fundraising is perhaps the simplest and most fun way to go about it. Now of course, by simple we don’t mean that it will be an organizational cakewalk, however it is simple in terms of its approach and agenda. It can be as small or as big you’d like to make it, and it can be twisted in virtually any which way you like. Here’s a quick start guide on organizing a fundraising event in your locality:
Know your cause
Before you start planning any social service event, take some time out to think about your cause. Do you have one? Is it going to help someone? Are you going to be able to strike a cord with people? Will it solve a problem? These are the questions you should ask yourself. Whether it’s an independent cause or associated with an NGO, research is important, especially if it’s the latter. You must be thorough with what your non-profit endorses, about its programs and donors, and about how they will be using the money you raise. Contact the non profit and let them know that you’d like to help. They will probably get you in touch with someone who will give you a clear picture of the options available to you, and how the money will be used by them. They might also be able to provide you with some resources such as flyers and posters to get the word around.
If you’re planning to raise money for an independent cause, such as getting special buses for kids who use wheelchairs, or for Christmas gifts for a nearby orphanage, you can perhaps explore ways of your own to make the event fun and entertaining for everyone. Even with an independent cause, be sure of the fact that you’ll actually be able to put the money into good use, and that it will not end up being an exercise in futility. Be true to the cause you are trying to support.
Get started on a plan
Once you’ve identified a cause, get started on the planning. There are four essential areas you must chalk out for your fundraising event: venue and dates, budget, activities/sales, and target audience.
The first concern for you is deciding on a suitable venue and date for your event. The venue must be kept at a place where you can reach out to maximum people, depending on your target audience. If you wish to focus more on college going kids for example, then college grounds or a nearby hangout would be ideal. Similarly, if you want to target people in your locality where you live, a centrally located park is an option. Your second concern is a realistic budget. It’s important to decide how much money you are willing to spend on organizing the fundraiser, and how much you wish to raise. Stick to this budget at all times, and communicate your progress and expenditures to your donors and supporters at all stages, if you do have any outside organizations willing to donate money to your cause too. The third concern is sales. This includes what you wish to sell in your fundraiser to raise the money as well as any innovative activities you’d specifically want to have, the resources for which need to be arranged for beforehand. Planning well will allow you freedom to experiment and try new things too. Finally, know your target audience well. This does not mean just knowing who they are, but also what will strike a chord with them, what won’t. If you’ll have people of all ages present, make sure you have something for everyone.
Find motivated team members
Fundraising requires a dedicated and driven team, who are motivated and committed towards the cause. A single person cannot possibly organize an entire event themselves, and while you might have a core group of people who conceived the idea with you, if you wish to expand your team, then know how to get your message across to people. Don’t hesitate to ask people, you are after all doing it for good reason. Fundraising is more fun when you have more people to work with, so ask everyone you know! It’s about establishing connections and getting to know people as you work together for cause. Use all your connections and networks, be it through social networking websites, or word of mouth. At the same time, make sure that the people who join you are as motivated as you are towards hosting the event, and you must not end up being disappointed with the team of people you worked with. Have team meetings regularly and address problems and concerns together to establish the much required team spirit. If you as a leader can communicate effectively and be passionate enough about your cause, your team members will automatically feel the energy around them too.
Assess your outreach and raise awareness
With your team in order, return to the plan you created and start brainstorming methods of expanding your outreach to raise awareness about your event and cause. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can go for both online and offline outreach such as creating a facebook event page, or other create a fundraising project on websites such as www.mygivingpoint.org or find additional resources on www.dosomething.org as well. Alternatively, you can write emails to friends, family, official letters to potential donors and even the organization you are a part of. The advantage of online advertising for your event is that it can take advantage of the million connections available online and get more people.
Offline methods can be effective too, among which posters, flyers, banners and even interesting merchandise such as badges and keychains can be given out. The advantage of offline outreach is that you can interact with people directly and perhaps explain them in the concept better. Use all the resources available to you to in order to get a good response for your cause.
Make the activity fun
The activities you plan for your event have a direct impact on its success. Decide on what you wish to sell at your fundraiser – this can be anything from candy, to homemade bakes and other treats, or even have a theme event such as a Halloween trick or treat event, or a Christmas donation camp. One can even have a raffle/auction for items made kids at your local blind school, or community donated items. Keep fun contests, and games that attract people of all ages.
Alternatively, you can have the event focusing on one particular activity, instead of many. A dance challenge, carwash, a local baseball game, or even a pet show. You can have ticket sales for these events which will be the source of money. The idea is to ensure that your target audience enjoys what you are organizing, hence getting the beat of what they’d prefer to participate in is essential. For this purpose, in the early stages of your planning, it’s a good idea to perhaps conduct a local survey to get an idea of what people might like to spend their money on, while contributing to a good cause.
Bonus tip: Online fundraising
A fundraiser organized in a physical space is always fun and the direct connections you establish with people are unparalleled. However, if you wish to carry on with your cause and keep raising money for it, then online fundraising is also an option. If you do not have the required resources to host a fundraiser in your community, that should not stop you from pursuing your cause and supporting it with your efforts. Plenty of websites have the option of helping non-profits and individuals in raising money for their respective cause. Few options you can explore are www.gogetfunding.com, www.chipin.com, www.youcaring.com, www.crowdrise.com or www.causes.com. Most of them are free to use, apart from a small fee they charge for incoming donations. One can even use Paypal to collect donations. If you have a blog or website dedicated to your cause, then add a “Donate” button to it, which will allow you to channel donations through Paypal.
Fundraising options are countless on the web, however choose wisely to make sure that your money and resources are in the right hand.