How to Raise Money for a Good Cause

Preparing to Raise Funds

Making a Plan

1. Review your state's regulations. Most states have specific rules and regulations regarding fundraising. Different forms must be filed from state to state and there may be taxes you need to pay depending on your cause or location. Before you begin planning a fundraiser, review your state's fundraising guidelines on your government website. If you have any questions, reach out to a local non-profit and ask for advice and insight.

2. Get to know your audience. Knowing your audience is key to running a successful fundraiser. Try to get a sense of what types of donors flock to what types of fundraisers. This will give you a better sense of what kind of fundraiser to run.

Review attendance records and donation records for the cause you're supporting. Look at demographics. Is the crowd older, younger, liberal, conservative? You can get a sense of what kind of fundraiser would be most successful based on this data.

If you're working with an older crowd, you might want to fall back on more traditional fundraisers. Things like bake sales and charity auctions might work best. A younger crowd might be more drawn to something light and fun like a karaoke contest. Younger people also tend to be more tech savvy, so online crowd-funding campaigns may be more appealing.

3. Research the best charities, if applicable. Some charities are more effective than others, and you want to make sure that your money will be spent as well as possible. Consider charity rating websites, and testimonials from the community.

Some charities are considered unhelpful by the community they claim to support. For example, many breast cancer awareness campaigns spend more money on hypersexualized awareness ads than on helping survivors, and Autism Speaks exploits and dehumanizes autistic people. Do your research, and look for charities that aren't torn with controversy.

4. Gather like minded people. If you want to run a fundraiser, it's a tough job to do alone. Get a team together of like-minded individuals who believe in the same cause. Work together to put on a successful fundraiser.

In most areas, there are groups dedicated to a variety of causes. See if you can find a relevant group in your area, attend a meeting, and see if anyone is interested in helping with a fundraiser.

Churches are also big on fundraisers. If you attend church, try seeking out help there.

You can advertise on websites like Facebook and Craig's List that you're looking for volunteers to help with a fundraiser.

Brainstorming Ideas

1. Stick to the classics. If you're catering to a more traditional audience, consider sticking to the classics. Fundraisers like bake sales and gift wrapping have existed for a long time for a reason. They work.

Have a bake or craft sale. Bake sales and craft sales allow the community to participate by contribute homemade goods. If planned around a holiday, attendance is generally higher as people are looking for Christmas presents.

Host a party. This is great if you're trying to raise funds locally, or want to target your friends but not pressure them into a donation. Host a party with clear message and inform guests about the opportunity for donating. Give a short presentation on the cause during the gathering if possible.

Hold a car wash. Another classic fundraiser, the car wash is still an effective fundraiser, especially in the summer months.

Set up a dinner fundraiser. If you're running a fundraiser for a larger organization, you can try a fundraising dinner. You'll need to find a venue and prepare the menu, but you'll be able to charge per plate, which can lead to a lot of donations.

Hold a raffle. If you can come up with some good prizes, you may be able to hold a raffle. Be sure to check the local regulations on holding raffles, as they may be considered gambling and require a permit.

Consider gift wrapping if you're fundraising around Christmas. You can charge patrons a small fee to have their items custom gift wrapped for a cause.

2. Network with others. If you're interested in a bigger fundraiser, consider networking with local businesses. This can be a fun way to entice people to participate.

Check with local businesses to see if any are willing to donate prizes. This can often be accomplished by agreeing to advertise the store that donated when discussing the prizes. You can also see if a local business would be willing to host a fundraiser and put a portion of their profits towards your cause.

Hold an auction. Auctions can be an effective way to raise a lot of money, especially if you can get local businesses to contribute desirable prizes. A silent auction is a great way to supplement another event, as guests can take a look during a lull in the activity.

Set up a booth at an event. Fairs, carnivals, sporting events, and other public gatherings can be great places to set up a booth to raise awareness for your cause and solicit donations. It will require gathering materials, but you can reuse the booth whenever you need to fundraise at another event.

3. Start a crowdfunding campaign. In recent years, crowdfunding has taken off as a potential way to run a personal fundraiser. There are a variety of websites online that allow you to create a fundraising campaign for virtually any personal cause. Anyone that visits the page can donate any amount they'd like. Many crowdfunding sites allow you to set up different tiers of donations, with the expectation that higher tiers will be rewarded in some way.

A successful crowdfunding campaign requires a very catchy or compelling statement and description in order to stand out from the thousands of active campaigns. You'll have to advertise on social media heavily.

Due to the newer nature of crowdfunding campaigns, it might be best to crowdfund if you're targeting a younger demographic.

4. Host a competition. People get excited at the opportunity to compete. Consider having some kind of contest, with entry fees or entrance fees going towards your cause.

Try a cooking or baking contest. Allow people to compete for best dish and show off their cooking and baking skills. Events like this can be a lot of fun and tend to draw in a crowd.

Try some kind of sporting event. Marathon charities tend to be very popular events. Try having a hockey or basketball tournament and donations can be made in the form of tickets purchased. You can also consider selling concession items at the game and putting that money towards your cause.

Consider a karaoke contest. Karaoke is a lot of fun and tends to draw in a big crowd. Talk to a local bar that offers karaoke and see if they'd be willing to host.

Putting A Plan in Action

1. Contact the organization you're fundraising for. If you're fundraising for a specific organization, contact that organization beforehand. Many organizations have specific regulations that must be followed in regards to fundraising. They may also have specific ways funds are transferred to their organization. Contact the HR department of the organization you want to work with and make sure your in accordance with their policy.

2. Advertise. Once you've settled on a campaign, you'll need to advertise. Make sure you do so appropriately and effectively.

The way you advertise depends on your audience. Older demographics tend to prefer traditional forms of advertisement, like flyers and radio ads. Younger demographics are most likely to make plans via social media.

Send out invitations if you're doing something like a dinner. A classy invitation can entice people to want to come to your event. If invitations stretch your budget, consider evites.

3. Consider setting up a bank account for the fundraiser. Many local banks will work with you to set up a fund that your donors can contribute to. This is especially useful if you are trying to collect funds for a family in the area or for a renovation project. Stop by your local bank and ask them about creating a bank account for your event.

4. Figure out the logistics. One of the hardest parts of fundraising is the planning stage. Make sure you figure out all the logistics of planning the event.

Assign different tasks to different people. It can help to separate duties into categories and build teams from there. One group can responsible for managing money, another responsible for booking venues, and so on.

Double check all your information. Make sure you're following all regulations regarding fundraisers before engaging in the event. You do not want to host a successful event only to be slapped with a fine later on.

Fundraising Effectively

1. Build a strong social media presence. A strong social media presence is key for successful fundraising. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social media outlets.

Ask a social media savvy friend to help if you're not familiar with these outlets yourself. A strong Facebook fan page, as well as a Twitter presence, can be a great means to spread the word of an event to many people at once.

Reach out to the right people. Blindly inviting your entire Facebook friend's list is a big no-no. You're likely to annoy people who do not live in the area or who are not interested in the cause. Stick to inviting people who you know have similar views and live near enough to attend.

2. Itemize expenses. People are more likely to donate if they know where their money is going. Know exactly where your money will be going and be upfront with people about this. If people know that, say, $5 buys one vaccination for a child in need in a third world country they'll be motivated to give.

3. Keep records. As you'll likely have to go through some auditing process for tax purposes, keep thorough records. Keep records of who donated, how much they donated, and what the money went towards.

4. Believe in your cause. The key to getting people to donate is genuinely believing in your cause yourself. Know as much as you can about your cause so you sincerely believe it's worth it.

If you know a lot about your cause, you're likely to feel more passionate about it. When you send out an e-mail or letter asking for donations, you'll sound more convicted. This can motivate people to donate.

People enjoy contributing to worthy causes. It makes them feel positive about themselves and involved in their community. The stronger you believe in your cause, the more others will want to help you out.

5. Make donating as easy as possible. The easier it is for passersby to donate to your cause, the more money you'll be likely to raise. Make it easy for potential donors to make a contribution. If you have a website set up to collect donations, ensure that it is easy to navigate. If you've set up an account at the local bank, make sure the instructions for making a deposit are clear.

Low minimums for donations are more likely to make people feel like they can afford it.

6. Thank each of your donors. Each person that donates should receive a message from you or your organization, thanking them for their contribution and outlining what the money will be used for. Make the donor feel good about the money that they contributed. Thanking your donor also makes it easier to get in contact again when you run another fundraiser.

For large organizations, its expected that a thank-you message be sent out within 48 hours of the donation.

For personal fundraisers, you should be working to thank people as soon as they make their donation, and again after the fundraiser is complete.

Tags: How To, Donations, Charity