One of the most heart-wrenching things in the world to witness is the emotional or physical pain of a child. Seeing a child in need can motivate you into action, but before you decide to rush headlong into a fund-raising effort, you need to be aware of the steps required for such an undertaking.
Consider first and foremost the wishes of the family. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of accepting donations for the care of a child, and the child may not want to become a cause that people discuss. Even if you disagree, you cannot force the issue. The family’s needs and the child’s right to privacy trump any desire on your part to help with a fund-raiser.
If the family agrees to a fund-raiser, discuss their participation. Some families may be open to interviews with newspapers or television reporters and using photographs of the child on fliers and advertising, but others may not. You must allow the family to guide how much information will be made public.
Decide what you will be raising the funds for. Being specific can help you focus your efforts, because you will know when you have reached your goal. If, for example, your fund-raising is for a child facing an illness, your focus can be treatment expenses.
Discuss various fund-raising options, such as a car wash in a drugstore parking lot or a benefit concert at a bar, and check with your city's solicitor or municipal clerk to ensure that you can hold an event. Most cities have no problems with this and may even offer to help, but there may be restrictions on the type of event you can sponsor.
Organize a group of volunteers who are not only committed to raising money, but also available.
Name your group and open a bank account to hold the funds. The account should reflect who the money is for. For example, if you are raising funds for Mary Carter, the account could be called “Friends of Mary Carter,” “The Mary Carter Support Network” or “Hope for Mary Carter.”
Decide on the events and plan accordingly. You are limited only by your imagination and the number of people you have to help. You can just one fund-raiser or several over a period of time, perhaps one large event such as a carnival or band benefit and several smaller ones, such as spaghetti dinners and car washes.
Set up other ways to get donations. You can sell T-shirts or bumper stickers, run a contest or set up online donation pages.
Promote, advertise and solicit donations. Use every possible avenue to get the word out, as long as it falls within any restrictions the family has requested. This can include one-on-one solicitations, postings on social networking sites, press releases, fliers, posters, blogs and ads in newspapers.
Keep accurate records and have more than one person oversee the finances. You must be able to account for not only every penny donated, but also how the money is spent.
Thank your donors for every gift, no matter how large or small. In the whirlwind of fund-raising, it can be very easy to overlook this step, but it is crucial that you do not.
To avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, address how individual volunteer expenditures will be handled upfront. Be sure that your volunteers know whether any money they spend in relation to your fund-raising effort will be reimbursed from the monies raised or considered a donation.
Never commingle money raised by fund-raising with the family or child’s personal bank account.
Think small, not in terms of the ultimate amount you will raise, but in the amount you ask for. “Five dollars to make Mary Carter smile” will hook more people into opening their wallets.
No matter what kind of event you have, always seek donations in kind for services you would otherwise pay for. For example, if you plan to have a dinner dance, seek out catering services willing to donate food, a band that would offer their time and a hall or other facility open to donating their venue.
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