Developing a successful fundraising strategy allows student organizations to cover operating expenses, complete projects and programs, and create a small reserve or cushion for the future. Many student organizations find that the success of their fundraising may be attributed to six general principles:
Think positively — As you plan for the year, think big; dream a little. Ask yourself, "If money were not an issue, what would the group do?". Use your imagination. It is generally easier to scale down your organization’s plans than to scale up in mid-year; you can begin to assess the feasibility of these goals in light of resources. A dose of realism is necessary at this stage in your thinking, but be positive.
Establish financial goals — If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know if you’ve arrived. Organizations must establish an annual budget. The development of a budget should follow, not precede, the establishment of your organization’s positive, but realistic, goals for the year. (Making the group’s plan fit the budget rather than making the budget fit the plan is a common error characteristic of stifled organizations.) Once a budget of proposed expenses is developed, it must be reviewed against existing resources. The specified dollar figure beyond existing resources that will be required to operate and complete the group’s program for the year becomes the group’s fundraising target. If this target is large, don’t panic; it is time to be both creative and realistic.
Develop creative fundraising alternatives — Once you have established a financial target, identify all potential sources of funds and develop creative ways to tap these sources. Successful organizations utilize multiple approaches to fundraising.
Establish a fundraising plan —Fundraising is like any other group project; it cannot happen successfully if left to chance. Successful fundraising requires careful planning. Answer the basic planning questions — Who? What? When? Where? and Why? As you creatively explore approaches to fundraising, it is important to balance the costs to the organization (required outlay of time and of human, material and existing financial resources) with the risks involved in fundraising (potential liability and the possible loss of resources or good will). If the risks are greater than what the group wishes to assume, it is time to go back and revise the organization’s overall goals for the year to reflect a reduced financial base. Remember, think positively and creatively. Once a financial plan is developed, write it down.
Follow university procedures — Many fundraising activities require prior university approval, particularly for sales and solicitation activity. Some activities are restricted or prohibited under the university policy or state law. You should be familiar with both the approval procedure and limitations before you undertake a fundraising activity.
Evaluate fundraising activities — In order to determine your level of success, maximize learning opportunities and advise future leaders of the organization, it is necessary to evaluate your fundraising activities. This evaluation should go beyond a simple comparison of the dollar goal with the amount raised. It should include a qualitative analysis and conclude with recommendations for future fundraising activities.
PLANNING A FUNDRAISER
REASONS FOR FUNDRAISING
Enable your organization to accomplish its goals.
ESTABLISH AN ORGANIZATION BUDGET
How can you set a goal for your fundraiser without knowing how much money you need?
Make as much money as possible, as quickly, easily, and inexpensively as possible, without losing sight of the original purpose of the organization.
GETTING YOUR FUNDRAISER ORGANIZED
- Start early — 6 to 8 weeks in advance.
- Select a chairperson for the fundraiser.
- Hold a brainstorming session. Involve all organization members in decision making
- Set goals for the fundraiser.
- Decide what type of fundraiser to do.
REMEMBER TO CONSIDER THESE POINTS
- Skills and interests of organization members.
- Enthusiasm of members and time commitments.
- Cost of producing the fundraiser/profit margin.
- Be sure to follow all state and local laws and university procedures.
- Involve all organization members in planning.
- Volunteers are very important.
COMMUNICATE CLEARLY TO MOTIVATE GROUP MEMBERS
- Is there fun in your FUNdraiser?
- Did the volunteers help choose the activity?
- Does the fundraiser suit your organization?
- Is it well timed?
- What are the personal benefits? People support what they help to create.
EVALUATE YOUR FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES
- Go through the receipts, deposit money immediately, and pay any bills accrued.
- Send thank-you notes to people who helped.
- Examine what went well and what needs improvement.
- Make successful fundraisers traditional.
OTHER BENEFITS OF FUNDRAISING
- Development of a stronger, more cohesive organization, united by a clear sense of purpose and good fun.
- Fundraising provides a means for developing leadership skills.
- Increased PR for your organization.
- Help your organization to achieve its goals and gain a sense of accomplishment.