It’s fun to dream about a mission trip, a cause to support, or way to help your organization. Fundraising, on the other hand, may seem more like work and less like a dream. For many, it can feel intimidating, unknown, and lonely. Keep reading and be challenged to change your mindset from fundraising to team building. Find practical tips, HOW TO advice, and simple fundraising ideas anyone can try.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
People LOVE to support a dream. They connect with your passion and excitement. We all want people to achieve their dreams. This is even more true when your dream is in some way making a difference.
If you’re going to assume, you may as well assume the best, right? So... Change your mindset to assume that people WANT to help you achieve something. Assume that people will want to be a part of what you’re doing, because what you’re doing matters. But, you may need to change your mindset around the WAY they will be a part of what you’re doing. It’s easy to get focused on the financial aspect of fundraising and expect everyone to be a part in that way. When you limit involvement to one aspect, you are only limiting yourself.
Expand your thinking from fundraising to TEAM BUILDING. Give everyone an opportunity to be a part of what you’re doing in the way that is best suited for them. Remember, they want to help. Find out how.
For your mission trip, cause, or organization to be successful, you need a team! Tell people what it is you are trying to accomplish. Your passion and energy come across when you tell them what the vision looks like in your head. If your dream was fully funded and fully realized what would it accomplish? Share that, and ask people how they might be a part. Offer opportunities beyond finances to be a part of what you’re doing. You may find that your fundraising efforts are even more powerful, because you have the passion, buy-in, and excitement of a team of people behind you. Here are a few ways to include people, and open up space on your team:
Encouragement / Prayer Support - Ask if anyone would be willing to pray for you and encourage you along the way. Send out weekly prayer points, and share your weekly highs and lows with this team as you work towards your fundraising goals.
Social Media Support - Ask if anyone would be willing to offer social media support. This person would help you out by posting, liking, sharing, or commenting on whatever you’re doing on social media to promote your fundraiser and goals.
Advocate - Ask if anyone might play the role of advocate for you. Maybe they can invite you to share your dream with their coffee group or book club. They might have personal or business relationships they’d be willing to connect you with to support your cause.
Volunteer - Ask if anyone would be willing to donate time to help you achieve the dream. They may not be able to contribute financially, but maybe they can help you organize a yard sale, carwash, or other fundraising event.
Financial Partner - Ask if anyone would be willing to partner with you financially. Maybe they can’t go where you are going, and maybe they don’t have the time to invest, but they could still be a part by partnering financially. It may be a one-time gift, or a monthly amount. Be sure to thank them and provide them with updates about what their finances are accomplishing. People want to see that they’ve made a good investment, so let them know how their funds are used. It’s important to be clear and transparent about what you do with donations.
As a side note, make it a point to support others as well. Change your mindset to a mindset of abundance. Others who are fundraising for their mission trip, cause, or organization are not your competition. The harvest is plentiful for all who want to make a difference (Matthew 9:37). Fundraising is difficult, and a little encouragement from you could provide the boost they need to make a difference!
Maybe you’ll find other ways to get people involved on your team. Be sure to share those in the comments below. No matter how you involve people, COMMUNICATION is key.
As with any relationship, communication is important. Learn to communicate well with your team. Be careful not to make every exchange about money. People respond to vision, not need. You may find short-term success presenting needs, but it may not be great to achieve long-term goals. If you constantly share only needs, people may begin to tune you out thinking that they can’t meet the need in the moment. Instead, share vision. Paint a picture for them of what it is you see in your mind if you were able to accomplish your goal. Tell them about all the ways your mission trip, your cause, or your organization is going to make an impact. Describe what you see, what you hear, and what it feels like once your fundraising makes the dream a reality. Then, invite them to join your team. Provide clear next steps of how to be a part. Share important dates or deadlines to create a sense of urgency.
Take time to celebrate. People like being a part of something successful. Set milestones along the way, and make them stand out. Send a handwritten note to new team members. Release a video thanking your supporters once you’ve reached the 25% mark. Host a gathering to celebrate 50%, and have friends post about the progress. All along the way, share updates and progress reports highlighting the “wins.” These “wins” are the stories and examples of how their partnership is making a difference. When your team feels like their partnership matters, it creates more buy-in!
Be intentional with your forms of communication and use them regularly. Communication that is sporadic, urgent, and unpredictable doesn’t create confidence. Be realistic about your communication goals and frequency. Maybe it’s once a month, or once per week, or maybe the frequency increases as deadlines approach. Find the form of communication that produces the best results for you. It may be face-to-face over coffee, it may be a newsletter, or social media, or a combination.
Don’t forget to listen. Questions don’t mean that someone doesn't support you. Assume that questions actually indicate interest. Use questions as an opportunity to share and bring clarity about your goals.
Speaking of communication, MailChimp is one great option to assist your communication. It can help you collect and organize the contact information of your supporters, send out newsletters, help with social media, and more. Check it out HERE.
You’re changing the way you think, you’re building a team, you’re communicating, and now you’re ready to try a fundraiser. Start early and give yourself time to try a few options until you find the one that connects best with your audience. The examples below are just a few ideas that have been successful for other people. Be sure to drop your own ideas in the comments below.
Coffee Invites - Share your vision with people face-to-face. Ask them to join your team. Use your team advocates to get in front of the right people.
Crowdfunding - Share your story in an online donation platform that makes social media sharing and crowdfunding easy. There are many options like GoFundMe. Be sure to read reviews, and understand the details like the availability of your funds, fees, policies, etc. Compare and contrast options to find the best fit for your needs.
Newsletters - A thoughtfully worded letter or newsletter can share vision, and provide an opportunity to contribute financially. Don’t say “no” for people in advance. Give them the chance to do that for themselves. You might be surprised to find the people you thought wouldn’t be interested are your biggest supporters. Send out newsletters to anyone you have contact information for. Be sure to provide specific next steps on how they can join your team. Make it easy to contribute by providing a stamped return envelope, a link to your donation site, or clear instructions on how to give.
Blogging, Media - Consider reaching out to friends who are bloggers. Maybe they can help tell your story in a compelling way and introduce you to a new audience. Or, start your own blog to share your journey with your audience.
Car Wash - The car wash is a classic. Be creative with your signage and make sure people know what they are supporting. Offering a car wash “for donation” rather than a set price gives an opportunity for anyone to contribute. You may get a few small donations, and you would have missed those otherwise. However, you may capture a few large donations as people give generous amounts because they connect with the reason behind the car wash! Use your team volunteers to help you pull it off.
Yard Sale - Use social media to ask your friends to consider donating any clothing, furniture, collectibles, or unwanted items to you for your yard sale. Offer to pick up anything they are ready to part with. Make sure that your yard sale has signage that highlights the WHY behind your yard sale. People tend to be more generous in their offers, and may even give more than the item is worth knowing that they are making a difference. Use your social media team to help you get the word out about collecting donations, and again when you set a date and location for the yard sale. Location is everything so if you aren't in a high-traffic area, ask a local business about their parking lot or, ask a friend, family member, or someone on your team about using their house.
Spirit Night - Many restaurants offer “spirit nights” and donate a portion of sales during a specific date and time to your organization or cause. It never hurts to ask! Remember, assume that people want to help. Find the perfect date and time, and then use your team to make the night a success by inviting people to eat out to support your cause.
Parents Night Out - Use your volunteer team and host a parent’s night out. Give parents the opportunity to drop off their kids for pizza and a movie in exchange for a donation to your cause. Parents can enjoy a date night, you can make connections and earn a little cash. It’s a win win.
Silent or Online Auction - Use your connections to collect donations from friends, family, and businesses. Be sure to give them a shoutout for their contributions. Organize the items into an event centered around a silent auction, or livestream an event online that allows people to submit offers. The donations collected from auctioning off items can be a great boost to your fundraiser.
LET US HELP
Individual T-Shirt Sales - There are many great options out there for fundraising. Having your supporters show off your cause creates awareness, conversations, and a fundraising opportunity. Ezra’s Clothing offers an online fundraising opportunity that frees you up from taking orders, remembering sizes, collecting money, and individually delivering merchandise. Through our online fundraiser, you’ll get a custom link to your merchandise, like “Love Speaks Every Language” Unisex T-Shirt or Airport Code Hats that can be customized for your mission trip or cause, or used as is. Your supporters anywhere in the world can order and pay online. We’ll ship the merchandise directly to your supporter, and you’ll get a check at the end of your fundraising period. Request more information HERE.
Online Store for your Organization - Maybe you’re looking for a more sustainable way to fundraise for your 501c3 church, non-profit, school, or community organization without having to dedicate time and energy to manage. Ezra’s Clothing works with organizations to create custom apparel product lines, and an online store experience just for you. We’ll host your collection on our site, process orders, and ship directly to your supporters. There is no work for you, no minimum orders, and no risk. A custom product line can help get the word out about your organization, and bring visibility to your cause. Best of all, a portion of sales from your custom items are donated to your organization. Check out some examples through the "Church + Non-Profit" Menu tab on our homepage. Get more details from our online store blog post HERE, or request more information about a custom online store HERE.
It is important to keep the end in mind. Remembering WHY you are fundraising gives you the energy to KEEP fundraising. Move forward by changing the way you think, building a team, communicating, and trying out new ideas.
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