Raising funds for a worthy cause is a noble gesture, but it can also be a pretty scary and daunting task to take on, especially when you are doing it independently. Getting started on your first independent fundraiser can be overwhelming because of all the activities involved in making it a success. The good news, however, is that there is a first time for everything. By following this detailed guide, you can increase the chances of independently raising funds lucratively, and over time, you would be able to fundraise like the big boys.
Read up on the guidelines and best practices that can help you execute a successful independent fundraiser.
1. Conquer your fear
Let’s face it; it’s natural to have some level of anxiety when venturing into something entirely new. It’s no different when it comes to planning your first independent fundraiser. Sending out your first fundraiser call will probably feel unsettling because asking strangers for money is awkward and embarrassing. However, it hasn’t stopped other individuals and organizations from fundraising, so why should it stop you?
You have to conquer your fear if you intend to become a kick-ass independent fundraiser. How do you do this? Well, there is no particular fix for fear, but there are some steps you can take to manage it. For starters, you need to build your confidence. Confidence is developed through knowledge, practice, and positive thinking. You need to gather lots of information about fundraising by studying how successful charities do it. Knowledge acquisition should then be closely followed by practice. Take part in fundraisers to get the hang of things. And finally, be a positive thinker. Imagine all your leads resulting into fruitful endeavors.
Of course, confidence is not something that you build in a day so it might take some time before you get used to the idea of asking strangers for financial aid. Nevertheless, it becomes easier as you gain experience.
2. Identify your fundraiser’s core elements
Organising a successful fundraiser involves a lot of moving parts, but there are core elements that every fundraiser needs to keep in mind.
You see, the primary objective of a fundraiser is not the money. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive because after all, there is a reason why we call it a fundraiser. However, a fundraiser is about the mission to change or save lives. You need to focus more on showing how you will help improve lives rather than focusing too much on the money you need.
Another core aspect of fundraising is transparency. You need to win and maintain donors’ trust from the moment you contact them, all the way to after they donate to you. It sounds like an uphill task, but it’s straightforward when you display honesty, consistency, and gratitude.
Honesty: Be clear about your fundraiser’s objective. Your donors need the whole scope of what they are donating towards.
Consistency: It helps if you have proof of involvement in other similar fundraisers. If you are running an organisation, you can show evidence of the work that you have done in the past.
Gratitude: Express your appreciation. Don’t take the donor’s money and go silent. It might give donors the impression that they have been duped. Always make sure to send a message of gratitude to your donors after completing the fundraiser.
3. Prospect for donors
After eliminating the fear of fundraising and identifying your core fundraiser elements, you need to prospect for donors by pinpointing people with an affinity for your cause. Your prospect should also be someone with the ability to give. For example, if you are planning an animal shelter fundraiser, your prospect would be someone who loves animals and has money to give.
The next step after profiling your ideal donor is finding prospects. Ideally, the best way to get prospects is through referrals from friends and existing donors. If you don’t have referrers, then you can explore other options like hosting a non-ask event. A non-ask event is an introductory event where prospects come to familiarise themselves with your organisation and its mission. The primary objective of the event is not raising funds, but instead, building relations with your prospects. You can then follow up with the attendees later on and cultivate them.
If you don’t have the budget for an introductory event, you can opt for other cost-effective methods such as an online campaign, direct mailing, and reaching out to donor clubs. These methods might be cost effective, but they lack the personal interaction aspect that non-ask events have. They may, therefore, take longer to get prospects interested in your mission.
4. Turn prospects into donors
Once you’ve made initial contact with your prospects, it’s time to cultivate them, run them through your donor funnel, and turn them into donors. Turning a prospect into a donor is like making a new friend. You need to build a relationship with them and keep them interested before asking for a donation. It would help if you didn’t ask for a donation in your first follow-up message.
Once you’ve established relationships with your prospects, it is time to hold the fundraiser and invite them. Your fundraiser can be in the form of a themed event that matches your mission. You can also go with online fundraising efforts such as a crowdfunding campaign.
When the fundraising is over, don’t just take the loot and run. Maintain contact with your donors and show gratitude by sending them thank you notes. Keep your donors updated on your mission’s progress, so that they can see the impact they made with their donations. For example, if you were raising money to buy medical supplies for an animal shelter, take pictures of the happy animals that benefited from the funds and send an email update to all of the donors. Keeping in touch with your donors after a fundraiser builds trust and increases the chance of the same donors contributing to you again.
By conquering your fear, identifying your fundraising core elements, prospecting people, and successfully turning them into donors, you’ll be able to independently raise funds for your animal rescue as often as needed. Read more about organizing effective fundraisers in our blog!