I have been fundraising ever since I can remember.
At a very young age, I was the top cookie seller in my Girl Scout Troop two years in a row and participated in Relay for Life. The highlight of my personal fundraising career was in 2015, the 20th anniversary of my father’s passing, where I completed 20 endurance events across the country and raised over $155,000 with Team Rooster for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (pictured below). So far, in 2019, I have raised over $2,000 in 24-hours by pledging to jump in the snow in my swimsuit (brrrr) and over $1,000 by offering an “after” photo of my 8-inch hair donation on social media for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I tell you all of this not to brag about my fundraising, but to show that I live and breathe fundraising every day and have for a long time. I love P2P fundraising. If I could, I would make everything a fundraiser in my life. I recently asked my boyfriend what I do in my spare time besides fundraising and he shrugged and said “not much”. Y’all, this is truly my passion. Over the years, I have figured out what works best for my personal fundraising. My thought is, if I can help someone else make fundraising easier (and more fun) to make a greater impact for good, then I’m in. With the right game plan, I believe anyone can find success fundraising for causes they are passionate about.
Every time I fundraise I follow the same type of plan:
- Pick a cause I am passionate about and sign up. I fundraise a lot of money in memory of my dad for two reasons: 1. I would do anything to help others not live through the pain my family experienced during my dad’s battle and 2. I feel like my fundraising helps my dad’s legacy stay alive and his stories told.
- Personalize my page and take the time to tell my story. People connect with you and not necessarily the cause you care about. Tell them why this is important to you because at the end of the day your friends and family care about you.
- Make the first donation. DO NOT SEND YOUR LINK OUT WITH $0. I repeat, do not send out your fundraising link with no donations. Show you are invested and make the first donation. I bet many of your friends and family will match whatever you donate.
- Mass blast and ask for donations. Start with email and social media posts. Ask anyone and everyone. (Yes, I am that annoying friend that is always asking for money…)
- Individually reach out to make 1:1 connections with your network as a followup to your mass blast donation asks.
- Choose an activity to focus on the FUN in fundraising. Fundraising activities give my network a reason to engage (i.e. what’s in it for them? why is this interesting for them?). Some activities I’ve added to my fundraising efforts are going live on Facebook while riding my bike, selling Super Bowl squares, and jumping in the snow in my swimsuit.
- Share updates. Updates create a sense of urgency and excitement for donors to help you accomplish your fundraising goal. Share small fundraising goals like “we are only $X away from $X goal” or “my goal is to raise $X this week”. When you break your goals into bite-size chunks your donors feel like they are making a bigger impact.
- Say thanks publicly. Showing gratitude lets your donors know you noticed their donation and are thankful. It makes them feel good about doing good and increases retention for your next fundraiser. I always tag my donors on Facebook in a thank you message and share my link (in the comments). It’s not uncommon for my thank you posts to receive more donations then my regular posts.
What do all of the above P2P steps have in common?
Connection. I am connected to the mission of the organization I fundraise for and set a clear goal. I tell my story to connect with my donors. I personally reach out to donors for each campaign to deepen that connection. I make a personal investment – personal donation and even sacrifice on my end – all of the miles for endurance events, jumping in the snow, and who knows what’s next to help connect my donors to my story, my goal, and the causes I care about. Without a real, personal touch, there is no connection. And when there is no connection, there is no real reason my network would or should choose to donate to my fundraiser instead of another.
The impact of 1:1 not one to many outreach
When you communicate 1:1 it does several things:
- Makes it harder to say no. It is so much easier to not respond to a mass blast email than a personal email. The 1:1 message is personalized just for that reader.
- Finds a way for every individual to participate. You don’t ever have to take “no” for an answer – can you donate? No, okay, want to buy a Super Bowl square? No, okay, can you share my fundraising page on your social media? Can you donate items to my garage sale? Can you volunteer a few hours at my fundraising event?
- Gives individuals an opportunity to join you. When I created Team Rooster I invited people to join the team and run/cycle/tri, fundraise, and donate. I was able to move “no’s” to “yes’s”. Want to do an endurance event with me? Oh, you would never run a marathon? No problem, how about joining a relay team instead? This helps individuals find the best way for them to get involved. I even got my 67-year-old stepdad to run the first leg of our family relay team.
- Shows your passion and excitement. When your passion and excitement comes through, so do the donations.
- Inspires others to get involved or take action. Great experiences with your P2P fundraisers can inspire others to start their own or join yours. Your friends and family see the fun you are having and think, “I could do something like that!”.
I recently received a $100 donation from someone I had been a little nervous to personally reach out to. With a big fundraising goal and the end of my campaign nearing, I made the decision to reach out to him personally. Not only was he excited to hear from me, but he made a donation. Turns out he hadn’t really seen any of my social media posts and had made a mental note to make a donation earlier in the year after receiving a mass blast email, but forgot all about it. He was more than happy to support me and couldn’t wait for the video of me jumping in the snow. This helped remind me again that the worst thing that can really happen when you fundraise is someone tells you “no” or doesn’t respond at all. But, the best things that can happen… I would say that list is pretty awesome and the risk is well worth the reward.