Fundraising Ideas That Work

How to raise $500 to $5000 quickly for your school, church, sports, or public service charity.
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Why does your group need money?

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.



This may sound like a silly question. But it is fundamental to raising funds. The act of fundraising is emotional. You are asking someone to give you their hard earned funds in exchange for a good feeling and maybe a token thank you object.

The Mr. and Mrs. Public are constantly being asked for money to support this cause or that cause. And frankly, they are tired of it. They do not understand or believe your needs. It’s nothing personal. It is just a fact. When you ask Mrs. Public for a $10 donation for your playground fund, she unintentionally puts up a protective wall and thinks:

• Don’t I pay taxes to cover the cost of the playground?

• My kids are in college, how important is a playground? Money to lower the cost of college books, now that is important.

• Boy does my back hurt, and why does everyone think I’m made of money!

When asking for a donation, it is imperative that you answer the fundamental question, “What’s in it for me!”

What’s in it for me!

When I teach this to new groups, I always get polite pushback. I have been told, “You sound cynical, people are very giving.”

I agree people are very giving, but they are also people. They have feelings and they have life experiences. I have never met a person that donated money that didn’t want something back for the donation. I imagine even the most altruistic donor thinks, “Is my donation being well spent?” Others may think, “Wow it’s up to $5 a box, why does it cost 5 bucks to buy 20 cookies?”

This is not bad or less caring. It is human nature to want something for your money. And if you expect to get donations for your organization, you need to be able to meet your potential donor’s needs.

What is the best no-cost way to meet your donor’s needs?

The best way to meet your donor’s needs is to have a clear answer for why your group needs their donation. Having a clear answer is also very helpful for your group, too. It will force you to clarify what you plan on doing with the donations.

The general statement: Raising money for the church

The specific statement: Raising money for the kindergarten classroom’s roof. It leaks and winter is coming.

The specific is a much better fundraising motivator.

What is a case statement?

Professional fundraisers use the words, case statement to discuss the importance of a written definition of what you are doing and why. Simply put, a case statement is a concise guide post for why you are raising money. Once written, your group can compare ideas against this guidepost to make sure that you are all staying on target.

Groups should use their case statement to teach others to and hold themselves accountable as to why they are raising money. One old veteran summed it up before an organization meeting, “Let’s raise it up the flagpole and see who salutes.” The case statement is the flag, waving in the sunlight for all to see.

This is nothing to get worried about, the process is simple, invaluable, and important to your fundraising success. It is the preparation that needs to be done so you can answer Mr. and Mrs. Public’s initial (often hidden) thoughts when you ask them for help.

What goes into a case statement?

The best case statements I have seen are as short as one paragraph, but no more than two pages. They are specific. Fancy words are not needed. They answer these questions:

1. What is the problem or problems that we are focusing on?

2. How can we help solve these problems?

3. How much money will it take to solve the problem?

4. What people power or assets do we have to solve this problem?

I advise that your fundraising committee, which may just be you, answers these questions. Start with a brainstorming session and whittle the ideas down until you have a consensus of thought. Once you’re at a general understanding of how and why, now the fun begins. Answer the first three questions in a single sentence, and the forth in a list: each person’s name and skill.

By fine tuning each question into a single sentence, you force yourselves to truly understand what your goal is. These one sentence answers many be all your group needs as a guidepost, or they can be the topic sentence for the first paragraph of the 4 parts of your concise 1-2 page answer.

If your group is taking on a huge problem, you may need many case statements, one for each subsection of the large problem you are working on.

A little more information about the parts, if you please.

Let’s look at each question and make sure we understand what it means:

1. What is the problem or problems that we are focusing on?

This is where you get down to brass tacks.

General: Our nonprofit martial arts after school program needs money.

Specific: Our nonprofit martial arts after school program needs to buy liability insurance so we can continue the program in the free space offered by the school.

General: Our high school band has embarrassingly old smelly uniforms.

Specific: The high school band needs 84 new uniforms for it to compete in band competitions, so it can represent our town throughout the state.

General: Our nonprofit animal shelter is overwhelmed with stray dogs and cats.

Specific: Due to the increasing amount of home foreclosures in our area, our nonprofit animal shelter is in need of 1700 dog and puppy meals and 450 cat and kitten meals per month.

2. How can we help solve these problems?

Martial arts after school program: raise money to cover the cost of the liability insurance.

High school band: raise money to buy uniforms

Animal shelter: make it easy for animal lovers to donate food or money.

(Please note that these examples are all about raising funds, the focus of this article. But your group may need to raise other things, such as a work force, public opinion, or to educate the public.)

3. How much money will it take to solve the problem?

Martial arts after school program: the liability insurance costs $1,200 per year.

High school band: New Uniforms will cost $200 each for a total of $16,800.

Animal shelter: It costs 50 cents per dog/puppy and 35 cents per cat/kitten, or its equivalent, in donated food.

4. What people power or assets do we have to solve this problem?

Here we are talking about people in your group and the “stuff” your group already has such office space, media contact, email list and twitter followers.

A chart tends to be the best way to view assets, for example:

A chart tends to be the best way to view assets

This list is as endless as your group’s imagination.



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