Fund-raisers are a perfect way to get involved with your community while helping others. Worthy people and causes benefit from the efforts of individual organizers and businesses. In return, it is a positive experience to help those in need, and publicity can be garnered for the hard work put into creating a benefit. Raising money requires a lot of time and dedication. With a clear plan, careful organization and a strong belief in what you are doing, money will be raised, and goals can be met.
Decide on the cause you want to support. Clearly determine your goals and who will get the money you raise. If you want to raise money for multiple sclerosis, for example, find a place that conducts research, a family that needs help or an organization in your area that serves those with multiple sclerosis.
Talk to a local or national organization and explain that you want to have a fund-raiser. Having an established organization behind you will give more credit to your cause. The organization can also offer assistance, perhaps even a speaker or a letter than you can send to potential donors by regular mail or email.
Choose a style of fund-raiser. You can create an email campaign through a social network, a letter campaign or an event such as a luncheon, bake sale or car wash. Larger-scale events such as a charity auction, a run or a restaurant tasting may require an initial investment, as well as more planning time and the donation of goods and services.
Set a date for your event. Make sure it is far enough in advance to give you time to prepare. Make sure the event does not conflict with local or national holidays, school vacation times or your family calendar. You can also coordinate your fund-raising with specific times of the year. For example, raising money for breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October can help you raise more funds for your cause.
Find volunteers to help. Ask friends, specific organizations that will benefit from your efforts, members of local religious organizations, schools and people directly affected by your cause. Before you ask for help, have in mind how you will delegate work. Schedule periodic meetings to discuss the progress of those helping.
Establish a speaker or a person to honor for your benefit. Choose someone who already has a relationship to your cause or a person who can help others understand the urgency of your cause. Consider someone who can add glamour, such as a celebrity, to catch the attention of more people and possibly draw press to your event.
Create a budget. Keep your costs at a minimum so that your fund-raiser can make a profit. Estimate the cost of decorations, printing, mailings, refreshments, any gifts you want to give to donors and any other small expenses that may add up. Estimate the cost of expenses for each person attending and then determine a ticket price.
Ask for money and in-kind donations from business, both big and small, to help cover costs. Try to get donations for venue rental, programs, music, advertisements, silent or live auction goods and gift bags. Barter for donations in exchange for a listing in the program or a mention at the ceremony. Send each donor a letter of gratitude.
Book your venue. Look at restaurants, hotels, catering halls, after-hour department stores, local shops, schools, galleries, churches, town halls, hospital board rooms, university performance halls, the Lions Club and the American Legion. Ask for a nonprofit discount and book as far in advance as you can. If your event is outdoors, contact the local police station to find out special procedures you may need to follow, such as getting a crowd permit. Decide if you need security or insurance.
Design the invitations. Include the honoree's name as a prominent feature on the invite and list committee members. Describe the organization you are raising money for and include tax-deduction information.
Create a press release. This is a short description of your event and should list the speaker. Fax, mail or email this release to all local news outlets to try and get publicity. Many newspapers list upcoming events, and television news may want to send someone out to cover the story as it is happening. Make sure every news outlet has received the information.
Ellen Dean is a visual artist and painting teacher. She has been teaching and writing articles on art since 2001, and has been a professional artist since 1999, (ChadwickandSpector.com), after studying sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an NYFA Fellow and was nominated by the Sovereign Art Award/Sotheby's Hong Kong, two years in a row.