Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fundraising Success

A guest blog post from the team at WePay, an AFLV Associate Member.

Fundraising can be a difficult animal to tame. Unless you have pockets filled with gold and/or an extremely generous conscience, chances are you probably rarely donate to fundraising causes. And nobody blames you- anytime you're trying to separate people from their hard-earned money you are faced with an uphill battle, but here are a few suggestions that I found helpful in fundraising for my fraternity:

1. Start a committee
- One of the reasons fundraising efforts flop is a lack of perseverance and accountability. As I said, fundraising is tough, so after people get turned down a few times, they often lose interest and eventually stop making the effort. By creating a committee of members you trust, you have a group that is motivated to help, and more importantly, made answerable for the progress of your fundraising campaign. A short forewarning- the committee is only as effective as the members who make it up, so choose wisely (you may even want to head up the committee if necessary).

2. Make it into an event
- If you can offer something in return for donations, you’re much more likely to score. An easy way to do this is to invite all the donors over for a campaign dinner; it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, just something more appealing than a blatant solicitation for a check. Its also a good way to prove to would-be donors that your house is taking its fundraising efforts seriously. My house is a great example. We always run a fundraising campaign around our National Fraternity's anniversary. My sophomore year we actually invited alumni to the house for a "Founders' Day Dinner." Everyone was excited to come back to the house, see what progress/changes had taken place, and reconnect with other alumni. We reaped the benefits of such an event, as we hit it out of the park with donations. The very next year we got caught up with our social calendar and hurried to send out a pamphlet highlighting our house's accomplishments while also soliciting donations. While the pamphlet might have looked nice, let's just say things didn’t go so well that go-round.

3. Send invites early- This should be a no-brainer, but it is often forgotten (as in my chapter’s case). Not only does this ensure your potential donors know about the event early, but it also gives you a chance to showcase the chapter by explaining the current state of the house and why it needs donations. In our case we focused on a few alumni who recently landed prestigious jobs and the GPAs of some of our most academically-inclined members. As difficult as it is to collect donations, you want to give your donors as much time as possible to plan accordingly.

4. Reach out to your young alumni and chapter advisory board
- If you had to choose between donating to a stranger who shows up at your door and one of your friends, you’d probably take your friend without question. The same goes for your donors; if you the alumni personally knows somebody in the house, they are more inclined to donate, and not only that, they probably have some other alumni friends who they’ll tell about the fundraising effort. Recent alumni and those who are involved on your chapter advisory board are a great start, as they can utilize their own personal networks to help the chapter reach its fundraising goals.

Fundraising is unquestionably frustrating, but if you plan ahead and take the right approach, you’re much more likely to walk away with fruit to show for your labor. Make it fun and worthwhile for your alumni and make sure your chapter is strategic in its efforts and you’ll be on your way to running a successful fundraising campaign.

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