Fall may seem like a ways off, but when it comes to fundraising, it’s never too early to start the planning process. Finding ways to be proactive about your fundraising efforts is the best way to set your organization up for future success.
So where do you begin? Consider these nine tips to help you get a jump-start on fall fundraising.
Review The Previous Year’s Finances And Operational Needs
Before you start planning your fundraiser, take some time to review your current financial situation and the funds that were raised and spent in the previous year. Has anything changed over the last year from previous years? Are there new financial needs coming up in the next fiscal year that you need to take into account?
Also, consider the operational needs of your organization. Do you have all the people and resources you need to run a successful fundraiser in the fall? Are there certain operating needs that aren’t currently being met? If so, are there are other areas from which you can shift funds in order to improve operations?
Determine your organization’s specific needs ahead of time so you can develop a fundraising strategy that promotes the vision of your organization and helps you meet your operational goals.
Establish A Plan
Decide what you want to achieve as a result of a fall fundraising campaign, and talk to your team about how you can best accomplish those objectives. If you can establish your budget at this point, it’s a good time to do it. You don’t need to be ready to allocate specific dollars, but at least have an understanding of what will be needed and what you can reasonably expect to have.
This is also the time to determine who you are trying to reach and how to best reach them. Consider what may need to happen before your campaign launch. Would direct mail be useful to encourage participation? Are there other pre-sale opportunities that can be utilized? When will you need to start recruiting or training volunteers?
Establishing a plan early on gives you a clear road map for what needs to be done and when.
Rally Your Team
Who will be part of the fundraising efforts? If your organization has paid staff, are there enough employees to support the campaign and continue operations, or will you need to recruit volunteers? Consider these questions now, so you can ensure you have your dream team in place well in advance of the actual fundraiser.
Appoint a leader who will be responsible for the overall planning and rollout of the campaign, and make sure they have the resources and manpower now and as the fundraising campaign progresses.
Consider Outsourcing Your Design
Having eye-catching and professional printed designs is critical to the success of your fundraiser. If you do not have a dedicated graphic designer on your team, it may be worth investing in the services of an experienced professional who can make your marketing materials, order forms, flyers, and signs look polished, consistent, and bold.
Though you may have someone on your team who claims to have the skills to throw a design together, there’s a good chance the end-result will be underwhelming and amateurish. A professional graphic design service can ensure you display your fundraiser in the best possible light.
Review Or Compile A Mailing List
Direct mail can be a very valuable tool for raising awareness and excitement about your fundraiser. It’s wise to start reviewing and/or compiling your mailing list early, so you can start sending out teasers over the summer.
If you have a mailing list of donors from previous fundraisers, start there. Review the list to ensure the information is up to date and that the donors on the list would be qualified leads. If you’re starting from scratch, start compiling a list of potential donors as soon as you can. Ask your team to share the addresses of their friends and family members. Collect contact information from people at events you participate in. You can even utilize a school directory or the phone book to find people in your local area who may be interested in supporting your cause.
Consider What You’ll Sell
There are many options when it comes to fundraising items, but what items work best for organizations similar to yours? Fundraising discount cards continue to increase in popularity for several reasons. The most important reason is that they work.
These cards offer attractive promotional discounts at your donors’ favorite businesses. They are also cost-effective and simple fundraising items to manage. There are multiple options in regards to fundraising cards and the types of merchants that are included, depending on your desired price point and the level of involvement you’d like to have in curating the list of merchants. You can go the DIY approach or opt for a “Done-For-You” package. You can also consider one-time-use merchant tickets or coupons.
After you have put in the extra time and effort to plan ahead for a successful fall fundraiser, don’t forget that communication is key. Establish a plan to communicate regularly with your team, whether via text, email, or in-person meetings.
Remaining in contact with key people on your team will ensure your fundraiser continues to progress as planned and will enable you to tackle any issues that may arise long before your fundraiser commences. Your communications don’t need to be lengthy or include a lot of details. Stick to the essentials, stay in touch about your team’s progress, and you will find your fundraiser is completely organized when fall rolls around.
Fundraising is often the backbone of nonprofit and school organizations. If you’re relying on a fall fundraiser to support your organization’s goals this year, get started planning today. With a strong, well thought-out plan in place early on, you can rest easy knowing your fundraiser is primed for success.