Fundraising is not difficult but does involve effort and follow-up. Your enthusiasm and dedication to the mission of the Face of America ride to Gettysburg and to World T.E.A.M. as a non-profit organization will encourage your friends, family and colleagues to offer generous financial support. You can meet and exceed your commitment through email outreach, personal contact and even by some special fundraising events on your own.
Successful Fundraising Tips from Experts can help you Succeed
Paul Tyler, a past World T.E.A.M. CEO and President, and a current member of the non-profit organization’s board of directors, is a successful fundraiser. Paul has raised thousands of dollars in support of his participation in events and programs in the United States, including Face of America. He provides this brief guide to successful fundraising.
It’s hard to ask people for money, so I asked a group of highly successful fundraisers to share their best tips on raising money while training for events.
The New York City chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society graciously put me in touch with seven of their most successful Team in Training (TNT) fundraisers in the New York metro area. These individuals come from a wide variety of professions including attorneys, artists and construction managers. Some were raised in the city and others recently moved there for new jobs. All share a passion for adventure, triathlon, and supporting great causes.
11 Tips to Elevate Your Fundraising
Veronica Perez, Senior Director for New York City’s Team in Training says timing is everything. “We never want people to procrastinate. We don’t want people to hit goals, we want them to exceed them.” Alejandro Moreno, a financial analyst and first-time fundraiser, raised close to $9,000 recently for the New York City Triathlon, echoed this recommendation. “Email people the minute you start…once you’re in training, you will lose a lot of free time and energy,” he advised.
Often, organizations will offer added benefits for reaching goals by a particular deadline prior to the event. These benefits may be special gift packets, free gear, even complimentary lodging and/or transportation. Why not take advantage of these special opportunities to make your Face of America event experience more memorable?
Most of the people consulted about successful fundraising are mentors for other Team in Training participants. All agreed that getting over the hurdle of asking other people for money is one of the most important steps to getting started. Doug Jossem says, “Get over any nervousness early in the process.” Jossem is an advertising executive who personally raised $39,000 for a recent NYC Triathlon and was captain of a corporate team that raised over $200,000 that same year. “Recognize that this is truly a selfless act that will benefit others,” he said. Jason Hare and his wife raised over $16,000 recently for the same event. He also emphasized the importance of a positive mindset. “Be proud of raising money for a cause.” Think that ‘I’m proud to raise it’ and that ‘you’ll be proud to donate’,” he said.
To be an effective advocate for a particular charitable event and sponsoring organization, you must have conviction about the work it does and the people who benefit from it. Some participants have very direct links to the cause – Doug Jossem’s mother passed away from acute leukemia, and so he sought out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their fundraising events. Amy Abramson, who raised over $10,000 for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida recently, lost an aunt to lymphoma. Jason Hare and his wife built a connection to the cause by talking to people who had lost children to leukemia. Hare also started working for the Bone Marrow Foundation to provide more support. Consider how you relate to World T.E.A.M. and the organization’s mission and events.
Your fundraising letter must have an impact on the recipient. It must clearly explain why you are raising money for the charity and why the charity deserves support. The first year that Doug Jossem raised money for TNT, he raised a remarkable $4,500 within 24 hours of sending his email solicitation. Laura Leitner said that if you’re raising money for an event for a second year in a row, tell people about your experience in the previous year and tie it to your motivation for the current year. Leitner has raised $12,000 for three different events. “Just before a race last year, I received a text from a friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It said ‘thanks.’ I kept that in mind for the race the entire next day. I told people that story the following year.”
Include links in your message to supportive online photographs, videos, websites and downloadable applications that provide more information about the event and the sponsoring organization. Provide your audience with information as to why the event and the organization are worth supporting.
Let people decide on their own how much to donate, based upon your story and their own tie to Face of America. “On the pledge page, don’t push people to specific amounts – high or low. Let the strength of your story draw the appropriate donations,” Doug Jossem advised. Encourage people to submit matching gift forms if their employers have an established program. Include ways in your email message for people to support you without sending money. Ask them to send you names to put on your jersey in their honor or memory. And remember to ask them to forward your request on to others who may also support your cause.
All of the successful fundraisers stressed the importance of sending the message to everyone you possibly can. “Ask anyone and everyone…you never know who will give,” said Alejandro Moreno. For cancer-related causes, most people know someone who has suffered from the illness. For adaptive veterans, everyone knows someone or is related to someone who has served in the military. It’s impossible to predict who will relate strongly to your cause. “People always surprise you,” says Laura Leitner, who has received significant contributions from her landlord and even ex-boyfriends. Use email as much as possible because it’s so easy to forward. However, don’t forget snail-mail appeals, particularly for your parents and people they may know who may not have email accounts or may not check email frequently. Also send your request to any association, network, or congregation to which you belong or used to belong. Frequently, they will forward your message to their entire membership list.
Tell your story on your Facebook and Google Plus pages and through Twitter. If you have photographs of your participation in an event, start a photo sharing site through Flickr, Shutterfly or another free online service. People will “like” and retweet your story to others who may donate. One friend of Laura Leitner made a very large donation without even being asked, just because of her Facebook post. You can also use these sites as ways to document your progress raising money and preparing for the event.
A QR code (“quick response”) is a new digital tool to use for supporting your cause. Organizations are beginning to create QR codes for events, allowing the use of free SmartPhone applications that read the code and automatically open a web browser to the event page. This eliminates the tedious task of correctly typing event web addresses, which can tend to be long and complex. Download and add the QR code to your email message or to personal appeal letters, or be creative and print a custom t-shirt or button with the code. By the way, QR codes are available for free downloading online – in minutes, anyone can create a code providing a direct link to their personal fundraising page.
Let people follow your progress. As Amy Abramson put it, “People want to live vicariously through you.” You should create an online blog or a Facebook page with lots of pictures that people can access when and how they want. Post photos on that page that show you training and participating in events. There was some disagreement among the fundraisers about how to encourage people to keep coming back to your page. Some, like Doug Jossem, advise against sending update emails beyond the original message that contained the link to your blog or event page. Abramson, however, sent two to three emails to her contacts over the course of a campaign. A few other fundraisers sent personal notes to their email list every other week. Everyone agreed that the frequency needs to be right for the targeted group and that you shouldn’t flood people with email messages.
“If someone promises to donate, put a reminder in your calendar and follow up within two weeks if they have not contributed,” Doug Jossem recommended. Alejandro Moreno concurred. He says, “Follow up with people who said they want to give, but don’t be too aggressive.” Again, learn to anticipate what the most effective communication strategy is within your own network.
If you hit a wall in raising money, think of creative programs to build excitement among your donors. Given the effort this requires, first consider piggybacking off another similar event. Fabian Quesada, who raised $30,000 over four years for an event, suggested working with existing efforts. He talked to organizers of a business-related golf outing, built a program within their event and raised $10,000.
If you create do your own event, Laura Leitner stressed the importance of making the event fit your personality. “Think about your strengths and go from there,” she said. For instance, Jason Hare is an accomplished musician and arranged with his friends to do a benefit concert at a local bar. He raised $1,000 through the concert. Miriam Weiskind, in her fifth year of fundraising for TNT, specializes in creative events. One year, she took orders for home-baked brownies. One batch cost her $50 in materials. The same batch personally delivered by her in a wetsuit cost $100. She raised $1,000 through her effort. The next year, friends of the loquacious designer paid money to make her remain silent for an entire day. She raised $1,600 by saying nothing. The third year, she committed to running a race in a small bikini in the middle of February. Friends paid $10 a word to have messages written on her body. Certain areas of her body cost more than others. She raised a total of $3,000 for that single run. Bottom line, use your imagination and make your personalized fundraising event fun!
Last, but not least, make sure that everyone who makes a donation, whether large or small, receives a personal word of thanks from you. You might choose to send your thank you at the time of the donation, or immediately following the conclusion of the event. Some people send their thanks via email messages; others make a point of sending handwritten notes by mail. The style and format is ultimately up to you, but the core message must convey the gratitude for and the impact of their contribution.
During a holiday, ask your friends and family to donate to your fundraising instead of purchasing you that gift you don’t really need. Or, host a festive holiday party and encourage your friends to donate $20 to your event instead of bringing a bottle of wine or bubbly.
If you have a friend or family member on your list that has everything and needs nothing, make a donation in their name to your personal or team Face of America fundraising account.
People often get busy and simply forget when it comes to supporting events like Face of America. In this era of information overload, many of us receive hundreds of emails every day. Sometimes, the emails are deleted before they are even opened; other times, they are opened, but we think “I will do that when I get to my home computer, when I get off work or in a minute,” then we get sidetracked and forget. If you take the time to send a friendly reminder email each week to your friends and family and ask them to support you or your team by making a small donation, most likely, they will take the time to donate.
Remember, make a point to say “thank you” to each donor once you receive your donation notification. The automated acknowledgment message they receive from World T.E.A.M. after their online donation will be appreciated particularly when it comes time for filing taxes, but a personal “thank you” from you is what they will remember.
Start your email campaign today and you’ll be amazed how quickly your donation numbers add up!
In addition to sending email communications asking for support, consider using various social media to share your participation and encourage your family, friends and colleagues to support you. Facebook is certainly an option (remembering to link direct to your fundraising page and not allow Facebook to collect donations for you), but you should also consider Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. For each of these social media, you may want to create a specific message that is most appropriate for that audience.
Always remember to include a link to your personal fundraising page and to be positive in your message.
Plan a Face of America-themed happy hour gathering with your friends and co-workers. Many of us already participate in a weekly happy hour with friends or co-workers – make your next one a Face of America fundraiser! Ask your local hangout if you can host a fund-raising happy hour. They can offer anything, from just a place to host your event, to a portion of the proceeds of the evening’s festivities.
Once your location is set, invite your friends and co-workers. Encourage them to each bring a friend. Before you know it, you’ll have a packed house and be raising money for a great cause!
Remember, at your event, talk about Face of America and why you are riding. Let people know what the ride is about and why you are raising money. When people connect with this inspirational cause, they will tell others, and they will also donate.
Organize a Sale! Get creative or just do something simple to increase your donations for your event by using American ingenuity and being an entrepreneur. Rather than asking someone to donate cash, give them a reason to donate through providing goods or a needed service.
One sure way to increase your donated funds is to host a bake sale at your office. As long as it is okay with your company’s policies (be sure to check first!), offices have a captive audience of hungry workers eager to eat. Ask friends and family to donate some baked goods or bake your own. Holidays like Valentines Day are great to host office bake sales. Create cookies and cupcakes with hearts and package them in pink and red and sell, sell, sell! St. Patrick’s Day in March is also a great holiday to sell green-themed bake goods.
Another idea is to organize a yard or garage sale with your teammates, friends or neighbors. Ask each participant to give you a percentage of their sales – anything from 20 to 50 percent is fair. A yard or garage sale is a fantastic way to clear out some junk (er…treasures!) and to get the word out about your event participation.
Do you or a friend or colleague have a skill to make crafts? Jewelry, bird houses, dog collars … we’ve seen it all and the more creative your idea, the more money you’ll make.
Remember, at whichever fundraising event you choose to create, be sure to talk with your participants about Face of America and why you are raising money in support of the ride. Share printed handouts from the Toolbox on this page. When people connect with the exceptional cause, they will tell others, and they will also donate in your name.
Start planning your sale today! If you have a friend or friends who are participating, join together as a team to make it a collective effort. If you are participating in the event as a part of a team, work together. It will be much more fun for everyone and you can split the proceeds between the team members.
Holidays and special events such as college basketball’s “March Madness,” Valentine’s Day and President’s Day are great times to fund raise for yourself or your team.
One year, a Face of America team ride held an impromptu Big Game fundraiser. In only 24 hours, the team collected $750 for its general team donations. Not bad for a day’s work!
Think about the fundraising possibilities you might undertake for March Madness or other popular national events. For basketball’s biggest tournament, combine picking your team brackets with a local pub fundraiser. With the right planning, you can raise $1,000 or more.
St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March is also a great time to host a party that everyone will want to attend. There are several ways to increase sponsorship revenue at your event – start by visiting your local dollar store to pick up inexpensive Irish trinkets to give at the door with every $5 donation. Once your party is underway, have some specialty green drinks available – when purchased, a portion of the proceeds is applied to your fundraising total.
Any holiday or special event that has a particular theme that you can use to bring in friends and colleagues. Academy Awards, anyone?
When was the last email you sent out asking for your friends and family to sponsor you at Face of America? Perhaps it was the day you registered for the ride. If that is the case, today is the day to send another email, a “friendly reminder” that you are still raising money for a great cause. Add a link to the Face of America website and our inspiring event videos so they can learn more about the ride.
Don’t forget that when you are fundraising, you should always talk with your donors about what you are doing and why you are raising money. Share printed handouts about the ride with a group of friends and colleagues. When people connect with the cause, they will tell others, and they will also donate in your name.
All of us have something we can do to earn a donation. One participant recently offered a home-cooked meal to anyone who donated $50 to her by the end of the day. She raised $300 in the process, and greatly enjoyed visiting with her friends during the group dinner she cooked! Another participant likes to clean bikes. He offered to do spring bike cleaning for all his friends for a $50 donation and raised $500 in the process.
We’ve seen offers to clean a house or a garage in exchange for a donation and even offers to watch a friend’s children or to walk their pets. There are all kinds of activities that are easy to do and can help you reach your fundraising goal! Be creative and have fun in the process.
Have a Garage Sale this weekend to raise funds for yourself or for your team. Take a day and clean out your closets, your basement and all the other places you’ve been storing the things you don’t really need. Your “junk” can be someone else’s treasure. Get with your team, your neighbors or fly solo and host a Saturday garage sale. Be sure to let your patrons know that the money is going to a wonderful charitable cause – hopefully, that will keep the price haggling to a minimum.
Use social media to your advantage in promoting your event and your fundraising. If you are a member of Facebook, let your friends know what you’re doing, and that raising money to support an inspiring event. You probably have several friends who are not on your email list that would be happy to donate if they know about your cause.
Ask a friend or associate who owns a local business to promote you and your cause for a week. They can set out a box to collect donations and match what is collected, or perhaps donate a percentage of what they make through sales for a specified period of time to add to your fundraising.
One Face of America team regularly coordinates with a regional comedy club a night in which a percentage of the sales are provided to the team. Another team held a fundraiser at a local restaurant chain that offered to not only give a percentage of their local food sales for the night, but coordinated with other franchise owners for the entire month in all of northern Virginia.
Such fundraisers are a great way to earn additional support for your fundraising account or for your team!
Experienced fundraisers suggest finding a local business with which you can partner with to promote your participation as an individual or as a team.
For instance, a partner business might be a local bar in which you arrange for a promotional happy hour on a Friday afternoon. You could sell special wrist bands at the door for $5 or $10 each, which would allow the holder to receive a percentage off their bar tab.
Another fundraiser was inspired by Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Team members purchased multiple sets of inexpensive colored beads and sold them at the door of a partner bar/restaurant. The beads provided a fun holiday spirit to the bar, and created interest for the team and the event. (And, no, purchasers did not have to show anything for their beads!)
Yet another team worked with a restaurant and offered to create a promotional coupon. The coupon offered a percentage off the cost of a meal at the restaurant and also promoted the team’s participation in a sporting event. The team would receive a small percentage of all meal sales during the term of the coupon. Team members brought the coupons around to various businesses in the area and the businesses agreed to set the coupons out on their check-out counters. To the team’s surprise, they were presented with a sizable check at the end of the promotion by the partner restaurant, which greatly appreciated the marketing and increased business. The owner looked forward to working with the team in coming years.
In today’s Internet-connected world, email messages and social media posts can be easily ignored, overlooked or forgotten. To make a big impression on your list of contacts, consider going “old school,” that is, using direct mail techniques to share your fundraising request. We’ve added to our Tool Box page multiple PDF documents that you can download and print on your local printer to include in a mailed request. Include a personal letter, and you have a direct mail effort that will make a big impression. Be sure to include your fundraising page address in your letter so that your motivated recipient will immediately go online to make their donation.
In addition, printed materials are often useful for sharing at the office, including posting on an office bulletin board. Sometimes, local businesses will even allow you to post your promotional piece on their bulletin boards.
Successful Team Fundraising Strategies
Being a member of a team provides strategic benefits for participants in fundraising. Although each team member is individually responsible to meet or exceed their own fundraising commitment before the charge date, teams collectively can help each member meet this commitment.
Team members can work together to raise funds collectively, and many do so through special fundraising events ranging from restaurant promotions to comedy shows to bake sales to team sponsorship support from local companies. Teams add these funds as general team donations to their team account, either by mailing a check or checks to World T.E.A.M.’s national office in Holbrook with a request or making a credit card donation directly to their team page.
After September 15, the team captain can contact World T.E.A.M. by email message with detailed instructions on how to split these team funds to assist individual team members who may be running short in meeting their fundraising commitment. For instance, a team raises $1,000 collectively through a fundraising dinner with a local restaurant. After adding the funds to their team account, the captain then requests that this money be split between four team members:
- $100 to member 1
- $500 to member 2
- $350 to member 3
- $50 to member 4
Team donation redistribution requests should indicate the donor name and amount, and the participant receiving the credit. If a donation is larger than the amount to be distributed, that should be noted. For example, donor A provided $500 in support of the team. Of this amount, $100 should be transferred to team member 2.
Remember that teams are not allowed to combine fundraising between members. As an example, a team has a very strong fundraiser who on her own raises $8,000 to her fundraising account through corporate contacts. Unless she planned ahead and asked her donors to donate to her team in general on her behalf, the money is tied to her account. As much as she may want to help a fellow team member or members who are short on their commitment, she is not able to transfer or share these funds.