Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Defining Your Fundraising Needs
From the onset of civilization there has been a need to help one another. In ancient times, people may have gathered together to find shelter or hunt food. The advent of compensation or barter for goods and services, however, whether it was a cow, a tract of land or gold coins, provided reason for one individual to give an item to, or perform a service for another individual. It also created a clear separation between those who "had" and those who "had not". As civilization grew, the inherent human element of helping other people merged with the need to raise some form of compensation for those who did not have what they needed to survive. Thus emerged the basic concept of fundraising, helping to raise funds to help alleviate the problems and meet the needs of individuals, communities, governments, animals or our environment.
Why A Fundraiser?
Whether it's a leaky roof on an old church, a need for new textbooks for the local high school or the opportunity to buy clothing for the homeless, we look to raise money for worthwhile purposes. A fundraiser, as defined throughout this book, is a manner in which you can procure funds for a defined purpose or cause. This may mean an ongoing fundraising drive or a specific activity or event, which you plan to raise money. Fundraising can encompass a wide range of possibilities, from raising several million dollars for a new wing to be added to a local hospital to raising a few hundred dollars for new sports equipment for an elementary school. As long as there is a goal and a need to raise money to accomplish that goal, you have the impetus for a fundraiser. The idea of fundraising, however, offers a community, school or organization more than just a means of raising money. It can also provide:
Valuable illustrations of teamwork and camaraderie. Individuals a place in which to utilize skills and talents they may not use in their everyday workplace. A lesson in responsibility to youngsters. A sense of community.
Your fundraiser may be the starting point for members of your neighborhood to meet other likeminded individuals and start discussing various community issues. It may also be a way of generating support for a cause that you believe in.
Today, it is common to find schools encouraging students from grade school through college to engage in fundraising activities. While the parents could raise substantial amounts of money without the help of their children, these activities provide young people with a sense of teamwork and a lesson in responsibility. After all, a fourth grader needs to record how many rolls of wrapping paper he or she has sold and also has to make sure to collect the money and provide the buyer with his or her products. And finally another important aspect of fundraising is what Maslow called "self actualization", or an experience solely for the inherent self worth, regardless of other motives. While fundraising does serve to meet secondary, often personal goals, such as learning a new skill, the special feeling inside that one gets from being involved in the act of helping others is unique onto itself. Often referred to as "the warm and fuzzies", this special feeling not only brings serenity and piece of mind, but can, according to doctors, lower stress and release the same endorphins that one gets when they "fall in love". Support & Involvement
When a group or organization, whether fraternal, charitable or political, holds a fundraiser, they take some of the burden of financial support off of their membership and gain the support of a wider audience. This can help spur public involvement and promote public awareness even at a very minor level.
For example, when individuals pledge money to PBS, they are becoming involved, in a small way, in the work of that organization, while also showing support. Not unlike showing up at a stockholders meeting, they can become a small part of something larger. A sense of belonging has become increasingly important in a society fragmented by shaky economics, social issues and the impersonalization of modern communications technology. Many people are involved in fundraising for the dual purposes of helping others and socialization. Mary, a young mom, who takes part in organizing and running the annual carnivals at her daughter's grade raises money to provide a better education for her daughter and for all the children who attend her school. However, she also acknowledges that it's a great way to meet other moms and get to know more people in the community.
To run a successful fundraising drive or event, you need to introduce your members, volunteers, and everyone involved in the activities to one and other. You want to establish a team for a successful fundraising effort.
Today, people are drawn together at non-profit activities more than ever before. In the past three years, religious groups overall, report-increased turnouts at services following their fundraising drives. Many clubs, associations and organizations have also seen an increase in membership following a fundraising effort.
Good Public Relations
While raising money for a specific goal is the primary objective, be it fighting a disease or building a gymnasium, fundraising objectives also highlight and promote the work of your group or organization. You will find that while promoting the specific fundraising effort, you will also distribute literature and tell others by word of mouth about the goals and mission of your group and the cause behind your fundraiser.
Spreading information about a club, foundation or association to which you belong is a positive result of successful fundraising. For example, if representatives from the American Heart Association are collecting money at a street fair, they will very likely have fliers and data available to distribute so that you can learn more about what they do. In addition you can be sure they will also provide important health related news about how you can keep your cholesterol levels down and similar information. Fundraising often provides a means of educating the public through providing pertinent information gathered by your organization. Political fundraising, discussed later in the book, is very much about raising funds while also promoting what the candidate stands for and what he or she will do while in office.