Raising money for a new building is not as simple as raising money to meet a smaller goal, such as sending the school band on a trip. A substantial amount of money is required to construct a new building or other structure. Bake sales and car washes may help raise a little money, but in reality, you will need large contributions to cover the expense of any building project, even a relatively small one.
Raise at least one-third of your monetary goal from 10 to 15 donors, a second third from an additional 75 to 100 donors, and the final third from the rest, says Tony Poderis, a fundraising expert.
Educate your community. Whether you need the support of your entire town or just your church, you must first educate them as to why you need this new building. Create a presentation and offer it at the local library, local farmers' markets and fairs and festivals your town and county holds. Go to local government meetings and use the public forum time to spread the word. Write up a letter to the editor of your local paper and send a press release to media outlets. You might be able to get an interview about the need for your project.
Involve your community in the project. No matter what the building project is, get the organization's community behind it. You never know who in your community has the connections and network behind them to get some of your sunds raised. Others may not have a large network from whom to get support for your project, but may be energetic enough to get young people involved and put on smaller fundraisers that will help make up the difference in your balance sheet.
Align your building project with the goals or mission of your organization. Jim Sheppard, CEO of Generis, a financial stewardship company that helps churches with fundraising, says, "Church people know when things don't line up. You can't have never said the word 'recreation' in your church, and then propose an $8 million rec center at your church. In today's environment, people are going to be very discriminating with where they spend their money. You're in competition with other ministries who are soliciting funds. Whoever makes the best case wins donor dollars."
Create a unique event. This could be high-dollar dinner with silent auction, a themed casino night, a formal ball or a town square dance. Events that are new to the community and fun for all are a great way to appeal to your target donor, get smaller donors involved, create interest from the media and give your organization the potential for an annual fundraising event, whether or not you have a building project in the works.
Network online and off. Look to the Internet and social media to solicit donations. You might find that people who are alumni of your organization are still interested and willing to help out. Further, if your organization is raising funds for a building for a certain issue, such as to benefit autistic children you may be able to appeal to a larger network of people interested in that issue.
Ask for in-kind contributions. Perhaps a company would like to help but can't offer a lot in the way of cash. However, if they can offer you a service or labor, landscaping or plumbing for example, then you might actually be able to get that labor done for much less than you would normally have to pay. Perhaps you'll even get it for free.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.