1. Keep the Doors Open
Developing an approach to fundraising starts with knowing what funds you need to raise to accomplish certain tasks. To start, it is essential that your organization determine what it needs to carry out its basic functions on a day-to-day basis. If you have a staff or office space, you’ll need to know to the cent what it costs to open your doors every day.
2. Set Up Project Funds
Once you have enough in the tank to keep your organization going, it’s time to reach out for the funds to start carrying out the tasks your organization was created to do. Many donors would prefer to donate toward a specific goal than offer up blank checks for vague ideas. Show potential donors exactly what you plan to do with their money. Do your homework. Know what you need before you ask for it, and always have a way of showing your audience where you stand on a certain project. A consistently updated website and social media campaign can be the perfect venues for keeping the whole team up to speed.
3. Make a Wish List
What would your organization do with a $10,000 donation? How about a $1 million donation? Even if it seems premature, you should have a wish list written down somewhere that spells out exactly what your organization would do should an angel investor come along. Opportunity doesn’t always knock, but if it decides to, make sure it can find the door. If a donor is prepared to invest heavily in your cause, and you don’t have a plan for the donation in advance, it is unlikely you will ever get a chance to cash that check.
4. The Merchandise Question
Eventually, someone will suggest that your organization start selling buttons or stickers or T-shirts. Then someone else will counter that selling anything hurts the credibility of your entire cause. The correct answer to this debate is often determined by the type of organization you are supporting. For instance, if you are a pro-choice advocacy group, merchandising might be a bad idea. However, if you are pushing for the legalization of marijuana, there may be a sizeable market for your merchandise. If your organization supports a political candidate, you’ll want to raise enough funds to give your merchandise away. Consider your options carefully here. There is no one-size-fits-all response.
5. Price Points
Both political and issue-specific organizations can benefit from having multiple price points for donors or customers (for merchandise). Perhaps your organization has membership levels. Maybe you have special merchandise that can’t be bought but is reserved only for top donors. Or maybe you have special tables at your benefit reserved for the high rollers. Whatever your approach, always leave a door open for more donations, and always have a private room for your best donors. They are footing the bill. Your job is to make them feel like VIPs.
6. Take a Penny
Microdonations can be a huge factor when taken in large volumes. In your efforts to raise funds, be careful not to set the bar too high and price out your smaller donors. Set minimum levels for your donations if necessary, but allow for a wide range of donations, even if they are so small that you only break even. Every donation, no matter how small, is a stake in the outcome of your efforts. The more people with something at stake, the more support behind your cause. Every good pilot knows that sometimes you have to trade altitude for air speed.
Whatever the aims of your organization or political committee, and regardless of whether you are accepting $5 donations or $5,000 donations, keeping the books straight is not only essential, it’s the law. Raise the Money is designed to shoulder the load of reporting requirements, payment processing and documentation, allowing you to focus on the broad strokes while we handle the details. Learn more about the ways Raise the Money can help your organization on our website.