How to Host a Successful Fundraiser

Fundraising may sound fun in theory (it has the word fun in it, after all), but it can be hard work organizing a fundraiser, let alone having much success with it. Gone are the days when you could set up a lemonade stand in your neighborhood and your cute face was enough to get people to stop and buy a cup of lemonade, no matter how terrible it probably tasted. As an adult, you’ll have to get a little more creative with your fundraising approach if you want to make a significant contribution to whatever cause you’re supporting.

As long as you go about it the right way, fundraising need not be tedious or difficult. Follow these tips to put the fun back in fundraising!

1.Know your audience

First and foremost, before doing anything else, you should have a sense of purpose. If you know your purpose, then you will be able to evaluate which audience your fundraiser would be best suited for and invite those people to your event. For instance, if you’re holding a sports event, you will most likely target a younger crowd, whereas a yard sale may be more appealing to families or an older crowd.

2. Set a SMART goal

You should have a set goal of how much money you want to raise and structure your fundraiser with that amount in mind. Your goals should follow the SMART acronym, meaning they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

3. Implement a communications plan

If you’re spearheading this fundraiser yourself, you will have to be a good communicator to pull it off. In the words of Caryn Stein, Vice President of Communications and Content for Network for Good, “Promote the heck out of your event.” You need to establish an effective communications plan and cover all your bases. Market your event using various mediums, such as your website, social media, email, and flyers/print ads. Enlist corporate sponsors and your friends and family to promote the fundraiser as well from their websites and social media accounts.

4. Have a budget

The worst thing that could happen with your fundraiser is that you end up with a deficit rather than earning money for the cause you’re supporting. So, to ensure that you bring in more than you spend, set a budget and make a list of all your expenses for the event. Keep your fundraising goal in mind as you set your budget and leave a little wiggle room for any unforeseen costs.

5. Recruit family and friends

Your family and friends are one of your biggest assets! It can be intimidating approaching strangers for money, so start with your family and friends. Once you’ve established the theme of your event, appeal to the people closest to you for their support, whether that’s donating items for your sale or sponsoring your sports event.

6. Play to your talents and strengths

Have a bizarre or unique talent? You could play that up and work that into your fundraiser. For instance, if you’re a great hula-hooper or can hold you breath for an exceptionally long amount of time, have people donate a set amount of money when you reach certain time milestones. Or, if you’re a skilled hiker or cyclist, set a goal for yourself and have sponsors donate money to your cause when you reach your goal.

7. Make it fun

The whole point of this post is that fundraisers can (and should) be fun, but if you think outside the box for your fundraising event, it has the potential to be even more fun. Instead of the traditional yard sale or food drive, have a cook-off, a dance marathon, or an organized sports game and donate the proceeds from the event to your cause. You could make it festive with decorations, party favors, and costumes.

8. Don’t forget to say thank you

Lastly, after all is said and done and your fundraiser was hopefully a huge hit, don’t forget to thank all of your donors and volunteers. Make it personal by taking the time to write handwritten thank you notes. If you make them feel appreciated, they’ll be more likely to participate in your next fundraising event.