Get Your Fundraiser Noticed

Katherine, Editor – Skratchers Fundraising Insider

The popular saying “if you build it they will come” may be wishful thinking so don’t assume that everyone will find out about your fundraiser. Make sure you get the word out ahead of time and make it as visible as possible.

1- Get Advertised / Publicity
MOST important is that people know about your fundraising event. Be sure to make the message clear: WHO it’s for, WHAT it’s for, WHEN, WHERE and HOW much you are trying to raise. Use local radio station community spots, community paper, school and church newsletters, local TV, posters and flyers.

2- Get a Central / Well Known Location
Pick a location that everyone knows by name, directing them to an address will improve your attendance. Also pick a location that can handle the requirements of your fundraising event, such as large crowds.

3- Pick the Right Day
Saturdays are usually best. Most people are not working and have less family or religious events to attend. Also, check your calendar so you’re not competing with another big event or holiday. Better yet, take advantage of the traffic from other’s events by setting up your fundraising event near them.

4- Get Trusted Volunteers

Make sure you get the commitment of your fundraising event volunteers. Your fundraiser will fall short if you can’t rely on your helpers. Have backup volunteers lined up in case of absent helpers.

About the Author

The Skratchers team has 12 years experience in fundraising and has been providing fundraisers through the Internet for 6 years. To request your free Spring 2005 fundraising kit go to Free Skratchers Sample Kit or call toll free at 1-888-800-9506. Visit www.Skratchers.com.

Fundraising Is All About Marketing

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Girl Scout selling cookies door to door or a National Group doing a mass mailing, fundraising is all about “marketing”.

The methods your group uses to market your fundraising products will vary greatly depending on the size and scope of your fundraising operation. The amount of money needed, number of members, method of fundraising, budget, and many other factors determine how you market your product or ask for a donation.

If you’re a small group then going door to door with your fundraising article is simple enough, unless you need a large amount of money for your cause. If that’s the case then you might want to do some advanced planning on your Group’s marketing strategy.

What can you do to make your fundraiser bring in more money with the same amount of marketing or work? Adding a new product to your annual fundraiser might help. For example, everyone expects the Girl Scout cookie sale fundraiser every year. What if that Girl Scout had some product to offer in addition to the cookies? What if that product was something everyone wanted? She’s doing the same amount of footwork with possibly a much higher return for the same amount of work.

Using TV and newspaper to aid your fundraising project can definitely be beneficial. Just because you are a small group, don’t be afraid to ask the Big Media for help in advertising your fundraising project. Most of the media will give free advertising to non-profit groups or give a substantial discount to their fees. Ask and you might just receive.

On the other end of the fundraising spectrum you have the largest fundraising groups like United Way, Red Cross, Major Political Parties, and thousands of smaller National groups using all kinds of media to promote their cause and get their share of the roughly $240 billion raised yearly by non-profit groups.

Mass mailings asking donors directly for money, newspaper articles, TV news, billboards and all other conceivable media are used to get the word out to everyone about the particular group’s cause. Just because you’re a small group doesn’t mean you can’t use the big media to market your cause.

The recent Tsunami disaster exemplifies what fundraising is all about. It was a naturally occurring human tragedy of great proportions. All types of

media everywhere, in a natural way, marketed the event to the world. In this case “marketing” was simply letting the people of the world know of a need and the world pitched in to help.

So in short marketing is telling everyone about your group’s purpose or reason to raise funds. Marketing is giving people a reason to buy something from a group member to help your group get the needed money to carry out your mission. You might simplify this to “tell’em and sell’em” or “communicate the need”. Remember, the wheel that creaks the loudest gets the oil. Marketing is creating a buzz about your fundraising project.

About the Author

13-year veteran event-fundraising coordinator Phillip Emerson presents this article from www.findraiserforall.com, home of over three million fundraising products that your group can market to the world. Phone 336-352-4410, email phillip@fundraiserforall.com, or write e-systems, 869 Prison Camp Rd, Dobson, NC 27017

7 Tips for Choosing a Sales Fundraiser for Your Group

Product sales are the most common form of fundraising in schools and other youth groups. For the most part, they are easy to organize, parents know what to do, and the results are fairly predictable. In addition, the amount of administrative oversight on a product sale is relatively low, when compared to other kinds of fundraising events like auctions or walk-a-thons. It’s no wonder product sales have gained such popularity.

However, this kind of a fundraising activity is only successful if proper planning and forethought go into them. There are several factors that could sink your product sale, if you don’t take care. Here are a few to keep in mind.

1. Think About Your Group’s Overall Mission
It is wise to take your overall mission into account when deciding what product you want to sell. If you are oblivious to the nature of your organization, you run the risk of very low participation in the exercise, as well as the possibility of alienating the very people you desire to serve.

2. Provide Good Quality Products
When you are speaking to the company, I would even suggest asking them to send you a sample of the product ahead of time for you to judge the quality. If you don’t do this level of background checking, you could end up having very dissatisfied customers who will be unlikely to support future sales from your school.

3. The Info Packet Should Be Easy to Read and Understand
Make sure that the information packet that contains all the information about the sale is concise and easy to understand. Put yourself in the shoes of parents with three or four kids. The amount of paper that funnels into their houses on a daily basis is unbelievable. If they can’t understand what they are supposed to do in just a page or two, you’re going to lose them. Don’t drown your families in paperwork.

4. Pick a Sale with a High Profit Sharing Plan
Make sure you truly understand how much money you will earn from each kind of product sale. I don’t recommend going with any company who won’t reward you with at least 50% of what your group sells. If the company wants more than 50%, you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth all the time and effort your community will put in. Also, will parents at large support the effort if it has such a low return? Be wary.

5. Think About Other Fundraisers in Your Community
There will be families who have multiple children, and they will all be selling something at some time. I would strongly recommend doing a little research within your community to find out when various sales forces will be in the field. The United Way, where I live, actually puts together a yearly calendar of all the non-profit fundraising events in our community, for this very purpose. It helps us avoid scheduling two auctions on the same night and so on.

6. Conduct a Formal or Informal Survey of Your Sales Force
One of the common complaints I’ve heard from parents is “I don’t want anymore wrapping paper!” Or, whatever you happen to be selling. I realize that you can’t please everyone, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a wide range of input about what product you actually end up selling. Perhaps there is a trend for environmentally-friendly products or a strong desire for hand-made Christmas Wreaths. Each community is different. Don’t try to sell a square peg to a round hole school.

7. The Importance of Traditions
I have personally found that some parents struggle with fundraising overload. They have multiple children and all of them have something to sell. I, myself, have four children, so I am particularly sensitive to this concern. Therefore, I recommend that you try to find product sales that are so popular with parents that they actually look forward to selling them. I know you’ll never please everyone, but this is still an effective strategy to follow. When I worked at the Christian school, there was a tradition of selling locally made Christmas wreaths. I was getting some feedback that we, as a school, were having too many small fundraisers, so I thought about cutting out the wreath sale. Once word got out about my plan, I was overwhelmed with admonitions to the contrary. Knowing that the wreath sale was as popular as it was took away so much pressure from me, it was a totally enjoyable sales experience.

Conclusion

Because product sales have become so popular, there is a wide variety of items to sell. You don’t have to rush your decision and make a bad choice. By giving yourself time and by doing your homework before settling on an item, it is very likely you will reach the goals you set.

About the Author

James Berigan is a former school principal who enjoys guiding schools with their fundraising efforts. He writes for the Top School Fundraisers blog at http://TopSchoolFundraisers.com/news which includes a variety of fundraising options like cookie dough fundraisers and chocolate fundraisers.

6 Ways to Motivate Your Fundraising Group

Katherine, Editor – Skratchers Fundraising Insider

Motivate your group with prizes, prizes and more prizes. Here are a few ideas to help you motivate your members and maximize your sales.

1. Intangible Prizes:
These ones have no cash value but are proven motivators and provide great entertainment. A few examples include:

a) Allow the participants to throw cream pies at the organizers’ if the goal is reached! (not sure if you’ll like this one, but it usually gets the money raised)

b) Have the principal sleep on the roof of the school or the group leader(s) sleep somewhere awkward if the goal is achieved. Set an even bigger goal to extend the number of days they must sleep there.

c) Let the group have an activity of their choice instead of the normal schedule (for example: a free afternoon of sports activities in the schoolyard instead of class)

2. Raffles:
For each achieved mini goal (ex. for every 10 units sold or $100 in sales reached) the participant gets their names put in the raffle for various merchandise. The more they sell, the more times they can have their name put in the raffle and the more chances they have to win.

3. Top Seller Grand Prize:
Give a Grand Prize to your top seller. It may be a computer, a bike, movie tickets, cash or anything else that inspires your group members. Don’t get carried away and offer something your group can’t afford.

4. Top Class or Team Prizes:
This is a great way to motivate the kids and get them working as a team – perfect synergy! If you’re a small group, you can create teams by putting your members in groups of twos, threes or fours. If you’re a school you can do it by class and if you’re a league simply do it by team. You can offer the best-selling group a free pizza party or a field trip outing to the place of their choice…ask them what they’d like.

5. Individual Completion Prizes:
Individual completion prizes are very good because they are risk-free for your organization. Once your member raises a certain amount THEN they receive their incentive gift. For example: Receive $10 cash for every $100 of products sold. Other completion prizes may include a gift certificate to a music, video, book, or sports store.

6. Early Bird Prizes:
You can offer early bird prizes to the first, second and/or third person who reaches a specific objective by a certain deadline. For example: if you launch the fundraiser on Monday, you can have the first three people that generate $100 in sales or more by Friday receive a $15 gift certificate

Also Remember:
Solicit Sponsors for Prizes
You can get many prizes for free by simply soliciting the local restaurants, sports, book and music stores, as well as other local retailers. Tell them what it’s for and offer to mention their name in parent’s letters and at the campaign launch.

Get the Right Prizes

What could be worse than no incentive prizes? Investing in incentive prizes that simply don’t motivate your members! Make sure the prizes you get are relevant to your member’s age group and interests. Ask them what they’d like to receive as incentives given a certain budget.

About the Author

The Skratchers team has 12 years experience in fundraising and has been providing fundraisers through the Internet for 6 years. To request your free Spring 2005 fundraising kit go to Free Skratchers Sample Kit or call toll free at 1-888-800-9506. Visit www.Skratchers.com.

7 Strategies for Writing Fundraising Letters

Writing fundraising letters can be an effective way to request donations to a charitable cause. Letters are used for a variety of purposes and can be sent to a large number of people or a select few. The results of a writing a fundraising letter can vary greatly depending on the purpose of the letter, the way the letter is written, and the audience that receives the letter.

If you are having trouble getting started writing your letter, first start with a fundraising letter template. Then revise the letter based upon your own situation, the request you are making. By using the template and the strategies below, writing fundraising letters will be much easier.

These 7 strategies will not only make writing fundraising letters easier, they will also help you write a letter that is more interesting, compelling and generates more responses.

1. Write to ONE person – When you start writing the fundraising letter, imagine you are writing to only one person, not a group of people. This will help you get into the best frame of mind to write the letter. It also will help your letter sound more personable.

Use singular word forms, not plural – avoid words and phrases like “some of you” or “anyone” when addressing the reader. Instead use the personal, singular form “you.” This mirrors the way that the letter will be read by the recipient.

2. Be Specific – When writing fundraising letters the more specific you can be, the better your message will be understood and the greater the response rate. Ask your reader to make a specific response, such as a donation of money, goods or services. You can offer several specific dollar amounts include a specific date that you need the response by.

If your appeal will benefit a specific project, mission or program, say so. Describe how the donations will help with this particular project. Include a few brief details about where the donation will be used and the positive results it will bring.

3. Stay Focused – When writing a fundraising letter stay focused on the outcome you would like to see. Make one request and communicate this message clearly. Avoid discussing topics that are not directly related to your appeal or that do not support the message of your letter.

4. Descriptive Phrases – Use the most descriptive adjectives and adverbs in your letter to clarify your message. However, when writing fundraising letters be especially careful not to over embellish or exaggerate.

5. Keep it Simple – It’s important to include information about your organization and why you’re writing. However, a fundraising letter is not the place to include lengthy official mission statements or a long description of your future plans.

When writing fundraising letters don’t go overboard with extremely detailed numbers and jargon that the reader may not be familiar with. Remember to focus on information that is relevant and compelling to the potential reader.

6. Personalization – If you are writing a fundraising letter to a specific donor, include specific information related to them. If it’s a repeat donor, discuss ways that his or her previous contributions have made a difference in your organization.

7. Narratives & Success Stories – One of the most successful ways that you can get your message across is to describe a story of a specific person or situation that your organization has helped. If your group has made some major achievements and successes these can also be of use. When writing a fundraising letter remember to include stories that will engage the reader, not just show off accomplishments.

About the Author

Sandra Sims has been fundraising for various charities for over 10 years. She is the publisher of Step By Step Fundraising newsletter, which will help you get maximum results from your charity fundraising campaign. To get a free copy of the special report “The 5 Keys to Successful Fundraising” visit StepByStepFundraising.com

New to Fundraising? 15 Tips for 1st Time Fundraising

Katherine, Editor – The JustFundraising Insider

Fundraising for the first time can be overwhelming but these quick and simple tips will get you on track so you can have the first of many successful fundraisers.

1. Decide how much money your group needs to raise
This will help you evaluate products and programs that will be ideal for your group.

2. Watch for hidden costs
Don’t let your group’s profits disappear because of hidden costs (ex. shipping, prizes).

3. Give yourself & your group lots of time to prepare
Select your fundraising program early. This will give you lots of time to plan. Include your fundraiser on school or community calendars and newsletters.

4. Timing
Make sure to stagger the various fundraisers to avoid flooding your potential consumers and to avoid competing with other fundraisers.

5. Set up specific dates & stick to them
If you avoid setting clear target dates the campaign tends to drag on and often without direction.

6. Try to conduct fewer & more effective programs
This will help maintain motivation and avoid “fundraising fatigue”.

7. Rely on your fundraising company’s expertise
Ask lots of questions & use your fundraising company’s suggestions & advice.

8. Stay motivated throughout the program
Some organizers tend to lose interest once the program is underway. Put a 10-12 day time limit on order taking. It’s easier to stay motivated with clear goals and deadlines.

9. Communicate clearly before, during & after the program is put in place
Keep energy levels high by reminding parents, teachers and other volunteers of the fundraising goals and deadlines.

10. Avoid shipping and ordering problems
Work closely with your volunteers and assure their order forms are legible and filled out completely.

11. Keep copies of the order forms
Always keep copies of the order forms before you send them to your fundraising company.

12. Recruit adult volunteers ahead of time
This will make the distribution of the products to the volunteers more efficient.

13. Double-check products received against your order forms
This needs to be done before the products are given to the volunteers to ensure that nothing is damaged or missing.

14. Keep absent volunteers informed
Don’t forget to communicate the program’s kick off and other important meetings to absent volunteers.

15. Have Fun!

A good attitude = better success.

About the Author

The JustFundraising team has 12 years experience in fundraising and has been providing fundraisers through the Internet for 6 years. To request your free Spring 2005 fundraising kit go to Free Spring 2005 Fundraising Kit or call toll free at 1-888-440-4114. Visit www.JustFundraising.com.

Why is Profit Percentage used as the main factor to assess school fundraising companies?

Let’s begin with a simple mathematic assessment of this question and for ease of example let’s use a discount card fundraiser as the product. We will have to make a few assumptions, but they will be valid assumptions based on our market knowledge.

Group A uses company XYZ and is offered 90% profit on the fundraising discount card program. Assume company XYZ produces a less than average card and sub par discounts. Company XYZ gives the group no guidance on how to properly execute the fundraising program. Because of these factors Group A sells 400 cards at $10 a piece. 400 discount cards X $10 per card X 90% profit margin = $3,600 profit for Group A.

Group B uses company ABC and is offered 60% profit margin on their school discount card program. Assume company ABC does a good job with the discounts on the card and give solid presale advice to the customer. Because of these factors Group B’s discount card program goes much better. Group B sells 1,000 cards. 1,000 discount cards X $10 per card X 60% profit margin = $6,000 profit for Group B.

Obviously these are hypothetical examples, but the take away is very real. When picking a school fundraising company you should ask what you get for your money. Find out what services are provided, what the pre-fundraising strategy is and who is chipping in for the prizes. These factors can be drastically different among companies.

Also be aware that a lot of times in order to get the highest profit percentage there is a non refundable commitment involved. You must be honest with yourself when committing to a portion of the fundraising program because if something goes wrong you are on the hook. Your profit percentage doesn’t look nearly as good if you are paying for unsold product.

Now that I have given my free advice I like to close with a cheesy marketing line. Believe it or not, I don’t just write this to promote ESC Promotions. I write this because I believe it. At ESC Promotions, http://www.escpromotions.com/, we attempt to approach every program with the client’s needs in mind. There are so many different fundraising companies that offer a vast array of different products in the market. It can be overwhelming. This is why our representatives are standing by to answer questions regarding different options. Whether you choose ESC Promotions for your next fundraiser or not please consider all of the factors when choosing a fundraiser. Happy Fundraising.

About the Author

For over a decade, ESC Promotions has responded to customers working with them to develop fundraising solutions to meet the needs of their particular organization. They have been able to not only enjoy personal and long-lasting relationships with their customers, but they have also been able to expand their options and modify their programs to obtain the maximum results. Visit them on the web at www.escpromotions.com or contact Chad Wolfe at ESC Promotions, 765-683-9374 or 1-888-478-5273 (toll free).

Top 5 Fun Fundraisers

Some of the best fundraisers are just plain fun. When you are looking for fundraising ideas, finding a program that participants will enjoy will boost your success.

Here is a short list of unique, fun fundraiser ideas to get you started. These are great for schools, but you can modify these ideas for a office, church or other setting, too.

1. Kiss a Pig – We did this one back in high school, and it was a big hit. The students’ favorite (or least favorite) teachers are persuaded to join in. Jars with each teachers name are placed in a prominent location in the school. Which ever teacher has received the most money by a given date has to “kiss the pig” in a school assembly. Find out exactly how a high school raised money with this event.

2. Singing Telegrams – This fundraiser idea is great for school or church choirs. Buyers select the song, recipient and any special message. Singers visit the recipient in their class to give the telegram. This one is great for Valentines Day.

3. Goofy Olympics – Pick fun and silly games for an “Olympics” day. Participants pay an entry fee per game or for the whole day. Prizes (donated) are given to winners of each contest or game. Combine this program with food booths for more fun and profits.

4. Pie and cake auction – The cooks and the sweet lovers in your group will enjoy this fundraiser idea! Ask for donations of cakes and pies. Label each dessert with the name of the dessert and the cook. Ask your most humorous and charismatic person to be the auctioneer who can entertain the crowd and boost the auction prices.

5. World’s Longest Banana Split – You don’t have to beat any records to have fun at this event. This fun fundraiser is tasty to boot. Sell tickets in advance, at a set price per person, for all you can eat banana splits. A suggested price is $3 per ticket. Have drink booths set up separately.

Plastic gutters, found at any hardware store, are cleaned and/or lined with foil to provide your banana boats. Set these up on tables or sawhorses. Have volunteers set up at various points on the line to add bananas, ice cream, and toppings. Have a gun shot, or loud speaker announcement as the starting time.

To boost the proceeds for this event, ask members of your organization to donate supplies ahead of time. Purchase all remaining supplies, bananas and ice cream the day before the event.

About the Author

Sandra Sims has been fundraising for various charities for over 10 years. She is the publisher of Step By Step Fundraising newsletter, which will help you get maximum results from your charity fundraising campaign. To get a free copy of the special report “The 5 Keys to Successful Fundraising” visit StepByStepFundraising.com

Matching Your Organization with the Right Fundraiser

Creating a good match between your organization and an appropriate fundraiser will result in more funds being raised more easily.

So how do you go about the process of matching? Primarily this is an information gathering and discussion oriented process that occurs during the initial planning stages. This should happen months or even a year or more ahead of the expected date of your fundraising event or program.

The 5 Matching Points:

1. Mission – Consider the mission and purpose of your organization. If you plan a fundraiser that fits well with the mission of the group, a consistent harmony will be created that not only raises money but also supports the cause that your group represents.

Examples:
Art museum: opening night party, art auction, craft show
School band: special concert
Humanitarian: Direct gift requests through fundraising letters or collections

2. Style – Consider the personal preferences and interests of the members, donors or volunteers in your organization. What type of fundraiser would appeal most to your audience?

Examples:
Casual: picnic, ice cream social
Formal: gala, dinner
Socialites: gala events, fashion show
Competitive: contests, ticket sales challenges, prize program
Sporty: walk-a-thon, sports tournament
Busy: no-bake bake sale, online sales, direct donation

3. Donation Capacity – One of the most important factors is your audience’s capacity and inclination toward giving. Would they be willing to donate at levels expected for a live auction, formal dinner, or other gala? What ticket price would be appropriate for your audience?

4. Planning Time – How much time will it take to plan the fundraiser? How many months in advance does planning need to begin? How many man hours, by staff and/or volunteers, will be required to plan the fundraiser? If it’s an event, how many volunteers will be needed on the actual day of the event? Evaluate whether your group has the capacity and willingness to devote the time needed for the fundraiser in question.

5. Return on Investment – Does the potential revenue justify the costs that would be incurred by the fundraising program? Will the fundraising event or program bring in much more than what it cost?

Perhaps you’re wondering what weight to give each of these five matching points. It all depends upon what will most benefit and appeal to your audience. Often it’s a combination of factors. The first time a fundraising program or event is used should also be viewed as a learning experience. You’ll likely discover ways to raise more and create an even better match the next year.

About the Author

Sandra Sims has been fundraising for various charities for over 10 years. She is the publisher of Step By Step Fundraising newsletter, which will help you get maximum results from your charity fundraising campaign. To get a free copy of the special report “The 5 Keys to Successful Fundraising” visit StepByStepFundraising.com