101 Fundraising Tips

These fundraising tips are all about improving your results through fine-tuning your activities and then applying a few simple enhancements. Read these for some quick “how-to” ideas for maximizing the results of your fundraisers.

Big Picture Fundraising Tips:

1) Maximize value to maximize results
Make this your mantra. More value means more prospects. More value means more buyers or donors. More value means more money for your group!

2) State a value proposition
Sum up the specifics of what you’re doing and why in two sentences or less. State exactly what your fundraiser is all about. Make sure it has a compelling call to action. Include it in all your communications and fit it into your sales script.

3) Set a public goal
Make a commitment about your group’s fundraising goal and state it publicly. This causes your mind to internalize it as a verbal commitment. Your goal should be realistic, but also aim high. Structure your sales efforts to emphasize and reward achievement of that goal.

4) Everyone take ownership
Make sure everyone takes ownership of the fundraiser’s success on an individual level as well as within the group effort. Everyone should be committed to doing whatever it takes to reach the group goal.

5) Keep it fun
Fun is part of fundraising. Don’t make it drudgery to be a volunteer or a participant. Remember that they’re giving up their free time to help. Plan fun things to do during each stage of the process that reward involvement.

6) Provide alternative options
Explore all ways to allow alternate giving from the community. Some people just don’t like fundraisers, but would be willing to contribute in another way. Consider offering a membership option of supporting your group with one annual check or an automatic donation each month.

7) Quality, quality, quality
Quality sales presentations and quality goods mean more sales. Quality rewards mean more motivation. A quality program exudes confidence and confidence breeds success.

8) Avoid any risk taking
Always caution against unsafe selling practices. All neighborhood sales activities should include adult accompaniment. Seller safety is your highest priority.

9) Have a written project plan
Run your fundraiser like a small business. Have a written project plan that spells out all roles and responsibilities. Slot motivated individuals into those roles and equip them with everything they need to do a great job.

10) Help others
Don’t forget to increase your organization’s visibility by giving back to the community. Visit the elderly, volunteer your group to help with other charity work such as Special Olympics or Community Warmth programs. Write letters to military personnel posted overseas, or other causes that have special meaning to your group.

Fundraising Tips – Publicity:

11) Use your website
If you don’t have one, get one. Use it to communicate your goals, thank your sponsors, highlight periodic offerings, recognize successes, honor individual contributors, etc. Promote your web site on all your materials.

12) Actively seek more publicity
Get the word out about your fundraiser in as many ways as possible. Get into as many neighborhood newsletters and other public forms of communication as you can. Send out press releases to the local media and invite coverage with photo ops at your fundraising events.

13) Utilize any gathering
Make announcements at other events to spread the word, display products, take orders, make sales, and recruit volunteers. Take a joint venture approach to marketing your group by giving something of value back to all those who join your team.

14) Goal awareness
Heavily promote the goal of your fundraiser in all communications, particularly between sellers and buyers. A good cause gets the money out. Make sure that all participants know a specific reason why the money is being raised.

15) Communication
Use all available means of increasing awareness of your group’s efforts including roadside signs, e-mail lists, phone calling tree, newsletter, flyers, posters, bulletin boards, recorded hotline messages, etc.

16) Sponsorship decals
Offer these free to supporting merchants. Sell to membership level supporters. Use the glass stick on type for storefronts or vehicle windows. This ?branding? gets the word out to the community that your organization has a strong support base.

17) Bumper sticker
Sell your organization year round with every fundraiser by offering one that says “Proud Supporter of _____.” Give one to every volunteer and group member.

18) Flyers everywhere
Hit local mailboxes (follow postal regulations) and car windshields in shopping centers. Give fundraiser details in your flyer in a way that promotes sales and gives contact information.

Put a coupon or free gift offer into the flyer that will keep it from being thrown away. Your merchant base will help provide the offers because this is free advertising for them. For example, a flyer including a car wash, dry cleaners, or oil change coupon. (Or even all three!)

Fundraising Tips – Preparation:

19) Review previous records
See what’s been successful before. Look for ways to improve upon the past. What items sold best? Get more of them. Has your gift-wrap sale lost its luster with declining revenues? Jazz it up with newer offerings.

20) Set a specific timeline
Make sure that your start date and end date are both firm. The best selling period is 17 days, including 3 weekends. Any longer and the drive runs out of gas; any shorter and you limit your prospects. Avoid any scheduling conflicts. Plan ahead to avoid overlapping other important community events, holidays, etc.

21) Get everybody feeling good
Make sure your sales force knows the objective and feels good about the goal and about what they’re selling. If they’re not enthusiastic, sales will suffer.

22) Use a consultant
If it doesn’t cost you anything extra in the price of the merchandise, use a consultant for anything and everything you can think of. Tap their expertise for new and unique approaches that have been successful elsewhere.

23) Actively recruit volunteers
Get more and better volunteers by going after them. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Use a calling tree to root out prospects. Ask for dads, older siblings, and grandparents to get involved. Advertise for specific help via newsletters, flyers, and word of mouth.

24) Seek prize donations
Otherwise, rewards always come out of your net profit one way or another. Ask for items that can be awarded as prizes. These could be services such as a 30-minute computer tutorial, car wash, discount coupon, or other offer. Consider giving a free ad in your newsletter in exchange for a prize.

25) Offer membership levels
Offer a tiered membership structure offering bronze, silver, gold, platinum levels with appropriate cost/reward structure. Consider giving some kind of “status symbol” such as special bumper stickers, decals, etc. Don’t forget to recognize your members and thank them often.

26) IPTAY Club
Clemson University’s athletic department raised $20 million in 2001 from their IPTAY club, which originally meant, “I Pay Ten Dollars A Year.” Membership giving is a growing trend. Don’t forget about it when designing your annual plan. Create your own variation along the line of… say, $5 a month or $25 a year.

27) Partnerships are important
Fundraising is always more effective when done in partnership with the community. Seek out other organizations with compatible goals. Give them a reason to help you in return by assisting them first.

28) Matching funds
Ask corporate sponsors for matching donation as a percentage match. Many large companies have such programs. Ask your membership for details of programs where they work. If there’s money available, don’t be afraid to ask for it. For how-to tips, study books on grant writing.

29) Identify needs and define roles
Do it ahead of time and match your group’s needs to each volunteer’s skills and availability by including it in each of the volunteer position’s description.

30) Start early
Get your fundraising team assembled and out there before competing groups. The early bird gets the biggest orders.

31) Set personal goals
Motivate each salesperson with a self-selected personal goal stated in front of their peer group. This verbal commitment is a powerful psychological motivator that brings results.

32) Perception is reality
It really is reality if someone thinks it is. People relay their impressions to all their personal contacts. To promote good word-of-mouth, always strive to make a good impression and give fair value.

33) Weather wise
Pick products or events that match the season. Don’t sell chocolate in the summer or lemonade in the winter.

Fundraising Tips – Organization:

34) Use different people
Double up, particularly for key positions. Fill organizational roles well ahead of time with different people than on the last fundraiser unless there is a good reason not to switch.

35) Start early to broaden participation
Put the word out early and often about what volunteers you need. Get plenty of them so no one feels overworked. Offer a volunteer sign-up sheet for different events at the very first meeting of the year.

36) The chairperson matters most
Pick someone who’s motivated, has available time, great people skills, is unflappable, good in math, well organized, efficient, and experienced. Make sure the ego is checked at the door and that credit is spread across the entire organization. Prima donnas will ruin it for everyone. Yeah, you know this person too!

37) Control expenses
Review records to see which expenses can be eliminated or reduced. Cost control increases your net profit at a higher rate than additional sales will. Of course, don’t forget to expense Fundraising Success!

38) Show appreciation
Show your appreciation to all facets of your organization and supporter base. Be sure you do fun things that aren’t fundraisers. Example: discounts on tickets to athletic events, group outings, parties, barbecue night.

39) Boost involvement
Make sure key organizational figures are actively involved with your fundraiser. Example: principal of school should be directly involved with PTA fundraising activities and kept informed of all details.

40) Have a master sergeant
Use a strong communicator to help group and assign volunteers. Some people are a natural for this key role.

41) Set small group goals
Break overall goal down into what’s needed from each sub-group. Set up each unit with their own goal and translate that into what’s in it for them. Reward each sub-group based on their own success. That will reinforce the correlation between funds raised and their own efforts.

42) Distribute the workload
Get everyone pulling their fair share. Too much of a burden on a core group leads to burnout and resentment.

43) Money handling
Always split responsibility for money handling between two unrelated individuals. Check and double-check everything financial in nature. Be sure to keep checks and money locked up until they are deposited.

44) Boost parental involvement
Identify roles suitable for working parents. Example: assisting with delivery day on a weekend. This is a great way to get dads involved. Increased involvement means more people with a stake in your success.

Fundraising Tips – Execution:

45) Approach merchants only as partners
Never ask for something without providing value in return. State specifically that you’re looking to partner with them. Give them a flyer explaining your goals and add them to your call back contact list. They can supply gift certificates, tie-in coupons, and offer extra discounts to prize winners.

46) Adaptability
Circumstances change. Adapt your offerings to a changing environment. If someone can’t buy your fundraising product, ask if they can help by an outright gift. Another example: Merchant donation of slow moving merchandise as prizes in exchange for prominent ad.

47) Sales reports
Do interim reporting to track progress. Allow sufficient time for final push to stated objectives. Summarize important numbers such as participation levels, average sale, revenue per participant, etc.

48) Respect workplace etiquette
Don’t have parents pressure anyone at work to buy something in your child’s fundraiser. Only approach regular co-workers unless their workplace has a high traffic area where a catalog can be left for independent signups. Practice reciprocal fund raising or co-back scratching, as I like to call it. Always buy something from someone who buys from you.

49) Teamwork
Make sure everybody pulls together and everybody wins. Build a sense of camaraderie among all organization leaders and volunteers.

50) Use an order drop-off box
Have one set up for those participants who complete their first order form right away. Have only two keys to the box. You can also use it for donations, notes, and questions.

51) Order forms
Make sure they are filled out correctly before separating payment. If it’s been a problem in the past, provide a correctly filled out sample to each of your sellers.

52) Double-check the checks
Make sure they are made out correctly and signed before separating them from the associated order form.

53) Bounced checks
You’ll get some eventually. Note selling source on back of each check before depositing. It’s a big help later. Whenever you do get one, act immediately with notification and follow-up. Never deliver a large merchandise order if a check hasn’t cleared and never put a child in the middle of trying to resolve these issues.

Fundraising Sales Tips:

54) Emphasize setting a personal challenge goal
Have sellers make a commitment to be their sub-group’s best salesperson. Structure their sales efforts to emphasize achievement, not failure.

55) Sellers state their solo goal out loud
By publicly stating what you’ll accomplish to your peer group, you’ve reinforced the commitment. Who wants to say publicly that they’ll fail to achieve?

56) Make a prospect list
All sellers should make a list of prospective customers before they start. Review it and make sure they have at least ten targets.

57) Define your best customers
Stick to the people you know – friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Don’t forget co-workers and out-of-town contacts for your major fundraisers.

58) Rehearse the sales pitch
Have everyone practice your group’s sales pitch at home. Fine tune your value proposition and make sure that every seller uses it.

59) Be armed and dangerous
Be prepared. Sellers should carry their order form and sales materials wherever they go.

60) Smile and introduce yourself
Remind all your sellers to smile and introduce themselves before launching into their two-sentence pitch.

61) The power of “because”
Use the word “because” when stating the group’s goal and first request for help. It’s an extremely potent trigger word. “We need your help because our band needs new uniforms.”

62) Ask for the order
Always include a direct request for an order in your sales script after the because statement. “Can you help us meet our goal?”

63) Personalize by picking favorites
Tell each seller to find one or two items that they like and then promote those enthusiastically. “These green ones are great.”

64) Ask for more
After the initial order is placed, offer supplemental items for more revenue or ask for referrals, etc. Ask these questions. “Can I show you another program we’re offering because it’s a great deal too. Can you think of anyone else I should contact?”

65) Make it easy to buy
Do everything you can to make buying your offering easier. Offer to fill out the form yourself. Remind the prospect that a certain item makes a good gift or that it’s all for a good cause. Resolve all objections. Offer to call back if they can’t decide.

66) Re-contact misses
Do a follow-up sales pitch to any absentees who weren’t available the first time around.

Fundraising Tips – Boosting Results:

67) Sidewalk sales
Set up a table to make sales in front of a participating or cooperative local merchant. Have a different team work it every weekend of your fundraiser in one or two-hour shifts.

68) Have a no sale response ready
Don’t just walk away from a prospect that isn’t interested. Part of selling is being ready to persuade. Remind them about other possible uses. “Other people have bought one to give as a gift. We sure could use your help because…”

69) Gift certificates
Boost your net by offering a gift certificate to buy after the regular fundraiser has been discussed. Use national merchants for the best draw, local merchants for a community tie-in. Tap into both their discretionary and mainstream spending.

70) Combine programs
Supplement your regular fundraiser with something extra at the same time. Example: When doing a candy bar sale, add a discount card offering to it.

That way, you’ll double dip each prospect for twice the fundraising dollars. If you’re going to do a major campaign, always be sure to maximize the results from everyone’s time and efforts.

71) Local merchant certificates
Sell a supplemental pack of local merchant certificates for $10 with real value to items included. Make sure the value adds up to more than the asking price ($20 in certificates for $10). Your sellers and supporters will feel it’s a bargain and big sales will follow. Work a 50% split with participating merchants. Make sure the certificates have expiration dates.

72) Buy right with “Is that the best you can do?”
Getting the best price on what you’re selling is critical to maximizing your profits. Always ask the supplier if that’s the best they can do, then be quiet.

You’ll almost always get an extra discount. Check the supplier cross-reference and supplier profiles for comparing who’s got the best deal on what you’re selling.

73) Maximize revenue
Concentrate on maximizing revenue from each customer and sales totals will spike up. Once the buying decision has been made (preferably by showing inexpensive items first), its much easier to get them to buy even more of what you have to offer.

74) Prize preview
Show off what sellers can win for different levels of achievement. Build a “want” or desire to have one or more of those prizes in each of your participants.

75) Scratch card donations
If you’re using a donation (no merchandise) fundraiser like a scratch card promotion, be sure to create a local merchant flyer of coupons to give to each customer as a thank you.

Your sellers will feel better about the promotion and so will your contributors. Consider giving more free value with larger donations.

76) Step them up
Create a unique bundle available only to “gold club members” (those who buy a certain amount). Make it irresistible. Example: If you’re selling $1 candy bars and someone says they’ll take three, immediately offer them a deal. “If you buy five candy bars, you get one free.” Everybody likes freebies and your profit just went up from $1.50 to $2.00.

77) Varied merchandise
Sell something new occasionally like music CDs. Don’t repeat the same sales over and over again without a break.

78) Set a stretch goal
Have a super goal that’s at least 20% beyond the regular goal. This allows you to keep the sales momentum going once your first goal is reached. You’ll be surprised how hard everyone will work to hit that goal. Give it a big reward!

Fundraising Tips – Customer or Donor Incentives:

79) Local merchant discounts
Give away a flyer to everyone you contact that contains coupons for discounts at local merchants. This in turn will draw more traffic to your sponsoring merchants.

80) National merchant discounts
Same as local ones, but you may have to get home office approval. Place emphasis on everyday items like fast food, hardware store, dry cleaners, chain retailers, etc.

81) Reward big customers
On sales from a catalog, consider motivating customers to make even bigger buys by offering prizes for the biggest orders. Good coupons always work. Example: Give a coupon for a free car wash with a $50 order or a free restaurant meal with a $100 order.

82) Reward buyers unexpectedly
During product delivery, give them an additional sheet of premium coupons from merchants that have some extra value. They’ll remember it the next time around. If you’re doing a customer pickup of merchandise, have small treats for smaller children and pets. People will remember the kindness.

83) Say thank you
You can’ say thank you often enough to your supporters and participants.

84) Provide feedback
Always give feedback to all supporters and buyers on how your fundraiser turned out. Make them feel good for participating.

Fundraising Tips – Participant Rewards:

85) Offer more prizes
The more prizes that you offer, the happier your team will be. Get creative with local merchant support. Have escalating levels of rewards for buyers, sellers, and volunteers.

86) Reward every potential customer
Give out a flyer sheet of donated discount coupons. Be sure that your organization’s name and fundraising goal are prominently displayed. Your merchant base will be glad to see the extra customer traffic. Don’t forget to reward your volunteers. You want them to come back, don’t you?

87) Give progressively larger rewards
Offer ever-increasing levels of rewards for better sales volume. Allow roll-up combination of rewards into one big one. Be sure to structure rewards fairly. Design your program so that everyone is rewarded proportionately and proud of participating.

88) Valuable rewards
Give awards for success that have real value. Nobody wants junk. Skip trinkets and work with your community to come up with better prizes that don’t subtract from your net.
Example: $5 coupon from a local fun center such as miniature golf, bowling, etc. Those merchants know that more spending will result from that visit.

89) Fast start bonus
Offer prizes for those quick starters who fill their quota the fastest. Motivate your overachievers to go for more. The 80/20 rule applies to fundraising as well.

90) Cast party
Have one for all volunteers at conclusion. Get together at someone’s home or in the fellowship hall with everyone bringing potluck. It’s a nice way to build goodwill and reinforce a sense of community for future recruiting.

91) Unique volunteer recognition
Give all volunteers something that no one else has as a direct result of their efforts and as a thank you. Example: donated t-shirt, decal, or plaque – be creative.

92) Use a consultant for bonuses
A Fundraising Consultant may offer benefits for using their services: free pizza on delivery day, doughnuts at the wrap-up session. Just ask.

93) Merchant prizes
Work with local merchants for best prizes that mean the most to your sellers. Work deals for movie passes, merchandise discounts, gift certificates, miniature golf, IMAX theater trip for top ten, etc. Follow the Merchant Plan guidelines.

94) Classroom incentives
In school fundraisers, always include something that directly benefits each class.

95) Offer a sub-group reward
Ice cream, pizza, movies, field trip, in-class movie, etc. can be great motivators and increase competition between sub groups.

96) Fun incentives
Offer a Cream Pie Attack party to all sellers reaching a certain level. Have a whack attack where key organizational figures promise to do something funny for meeting goals. Examples: shaved head, blue hair, funny wig, dressing like a clown, etc.

Fundraising Tips – Leverage Your Website:

97) Build an e-mail list
Ask for an e-mail address for a newsletter distribution when you’re fundraising. Have opt-in links on your web site. Build an online community of supporters by offering them extras available only at your site.

98) Offer click-through sales (the silent fundraiser)
Offer gift certificates, CDs, DVDs, etc. where your group gets a monthly check from suppliers. Check out Amazon and their affiliate program. Many organizations are making hundreds of dollars each month with these silent fundraisers.

99) Website Q&A
Provide information to the community in general. Offer your supporters a way to e-mail submission of inquiries about orders. Provide key contact information. Promote your web site on all your materials.

100) Setup a year-round online store
Find a way for your organization to keep generating funds every month of the year without external marketing. Examples include a school store website, an ongoing catalog sale with drop shipments, or a web shopping mall with click through purchasing that pays a commission to your organization.


101) Consult my book, Fundraising Success
Refer to the appropriate sections early and often. Use the checklist and other supplemental offerings that have been provided.

Take advantage of the links in the supplier profiles to go directly to their websites. Add your own ideas by e-mailing them to us.

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