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”...without proper planning and goal-setting,
your fundraiser won’t have the results
you’re looking for.”

CHAPTER 3

Stages of the Fundraiser

So you’re set on having a fundraiser, eh? Before you jump in headfirst, check out the steps we’ve mapped out for you. If you take time to consider and work on each one, the fundraising process will go a lot smoother. We know it’s tempting to just pick a fundraiser and “start,” but without proper planning and goal-setting, your fundraiser won’t have the results you’re looking for.

You can’t go off to battle without a little training first, right? OK, so maybe this isn’t quite as serious as a battle... but we take fundraising pretty seriously, so we’re going to give you the need-to-knows.

Step 1: Selection

Before you can move forward with anything else, you have to choose what type of fundraiser you’re going to take part in. In Chapter 8. Answer the questions in the chart to guide you to the perfect fundraising option.

Throughout the selection process, always be considering your group, their talents and skills, and the group’s mission. The fundraiser you choose needs to align with those things in order to be successful. A group of leaders can make the selection decision, or you can bring a few options in front of the whole group and vote. Either way, make sure the selection isn’t made on a whim. Take time to think about what fundraiser will work best for your group and provide the most success. If your group has been doing the same fundraiser for several years without much success, it’s time for a change.

Step 2: Goal-Setting and Planning

The fundraiser is chosen! Things are about to get really exciting... but you still have to set goals first. We know, we know, goal-setting is annoying and takes time that you don’t have. But you just gotta do it.

Obviously, your main goal is to have a successful fundraiser – but what does success mean for your group? Without clearly defined goals, your group members will be less motivated and you won’t have any way to measure your results in the end.

Set long-term goals and short-term goals that seem more attainable. This will help make the process less overwhelming. Create a timeline for your goals as well. You could focus on selling (each group member needs to sell this much _____ by this date, _____.) or outreach (each group member needs to pitch to _____ people by this date, _____.) It might be helpful to write these goals down and map them out on a calendar or timeline to post on the wall at your group’s meeting place as a reminder.

Along with goals, create KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This is a just a fancy way of saying, “Have a way to measure your progress.” For number-related goals, like the ones listed above, KPIs are easy. Members can count the money they’re raised or the people they’ve contacted up to that specific date to show their progress.

Your group might have goals that aren’t so cut-and-dry. Let’s say you want to raise awareness of your group and their cause throughout the fundraising process. How do you go about measuring that?

That’s where KPIs come in. In order to see if you’ve made progress toward raising awareness, you could create the KPI of increased followers and engagement on social media. You could also compare your current fundraiser to one you may have done in the past to see if more people got involved. There’s also the option of sending out a survey to the community and asking them questions about your group or organization. These potential KPIs are ways to measure your progress toward the goal of raising awareness – something that didn’t seem measurable before.

For every goal, you should be coming up with KPIs to be checked frequently throughout the fundraising process. KPIs will help you stay on track to reach your goals.

Next comes planning. This is also a great time to choose a fundraising leader, which you can learn more about in Chapter 4.

Alongside your goal timeline, make a fundraising timeline, including all the steps you’ll need to take before, during and after the fundraiser and when those need to be completed to help keep you on track. Create a budget to cover start-up expenses if you have any.

If your group is large enough and your fundraiser calls for it, break into teams or groups to be in charge of certain areas within the fundraiser. You may have a few members that are great promoters, some that want to handle the budget and finances, and some that would like to run the event. If you have enough members, let them use their strengths in small groups.

Step 3: Promotion

Promote to the people that will be most likely to buy your product or attend your event.

Even after goal-setting and planning, there’s one more step before you can actually start your fundraiser. And it’s a very important step, so don’t try to skip it! Without promotion, your fundraiser will struggle to pick up traction. That doesn’t mean you have to use every promotion tool that exists. Pick the ones that will work for your audience in your community. Promote to the people that will be most likely to buy your product or attend your event.

Some options include advertising with a local newspaper, radio station, or TV station, sending press releases to local media outlets, creating posters, handing out flyers, putting a notice in a city newsletter, sharing content on your social media platforms, sending out mail or email marketing to past customers, promoting your fundraiser on your website, hosting a mini-event to generate excitement for the fundraiser, and announcing the fundraiser at local events.

Using a few of these methods of promotion will greatly increase the success of your fundraiser. Plan to use them two to three weeks before a traditional sales fundraiser and four to five weeks before an event fundraiser. This will give your community some time to generate word-of-mouth about your fundraiser.

You can learn even more about promoting your fundraiser and get some helpful tips in Chapter 10.

Step 4: Execution

Let the games begin! If you’ve taken care of steps 1-3, then it’s time to let your group loose to fundraise their little hearts out or host your big event. We know, it’s scary to let them out of the nest, but if you’ve planned well and talked about your goals, your group members should be on the same page and ready to execute a successful fundraiser.

Your leader should be checking up on group members periodically to make sure they’re staying on their timeline and reaching their goals by monitoring KPIs. Regular group meetings are a great time to check in, but the group leader should also do this outside of meetings. That way, if anyone has questions or concerns, they can be answered right away, and if anyone is getting way off course, they can be redirected before too much time has passed.

Remember that promotion can take place throughout the fundraising process as well. Don’t just throw those tactics to the wayside once the fundraiser is underway. Promotion should still be taking place; it just takes a secondary role to fundraising.

Step 5: Ordering

At this time, your fundraiser isn’t over, but the community outreach component has come to an end. Gather your troops and see what they’ve come up with. For most traditional fundraisers, your group members will have order forms that people have filled out to purchase products. Your group now has to work with your supplier to order these products for your customers. Some fundraising programs offer several ordering options. At Rada Cutlery, groups can submit orders by phone, mail, fax, and web. Find out what options your fundraising program offers and pick the one that’s most convenient for you.

Submitting your orders is big step in the fundraising process. It’s important to get it right and it’s a big milestone for your fundraiser. Once orders are submitted, you’re almost done!

Step 6: Distribution

You’ve received your product orders and now it’s time to distribute them to your customers. Plan a time when group members can meet to pick up products and deliver them. If products are too large or your group cannot handle distribution on its own, let customers know when and where they can pick up their products. If transactions didn’t take place at the time of ordering, make sure group members take care of this during the distribution process.

Step 7: Summary of Profits, Notes for Next Time

Have a party for your group and reward your top fundraisers with awards or gifts.

You did it! Your fundraiser is complete, but the process doesn’t end just yet. This is the really fun part: checking out your profits and rewarding your group! Add up your profits and share this number with the rest of the group. Have a meeting to go over how things went and whether or not your goals were met. Focus on the positive, but be sure to cover what could have gone better and how your group can improve for next time. Have someone take notes on these things so you have them present when you begin your next fundraiser.

Take this time to collect any contact information group members may have gotten from their customers. Emails and addresses can be used to promote future fundraisers to past customers.

This info is also important for sharing your gratitude. Send thank-you notes to these customers and anyone else that helped out with your fundraiser, like store owners that let you set up on their property. Make sure the whole group is involved in the thank-you note writing. It will get done quicker and be more meaningful.

Have a party for your group and reward your top fundraisers with awards or gifts. It may take a little of your fundraising profits to do this, but it’s totally worth it. If your group members feel appreciated for their hard work, they’ll be willing to do it again. These awards can also be incentives at the beginning of the fundraising process.

Chapter 3 Wrap-up

Seven easy steps. That’s not so bad, right? Here’s a review of the stages of fundraising, with a little nugget of info for each.

Selection

  • What talents does your group have? What are they passionate about? Pick a fundraiser that suits your group for the mos success and fun.

Goal-Setting and Planning

  • Set clear long-term and short-term goals as well as KPIs to make sure your group is staying on task.
  • Use a timeline in your planning process.
  • Break into teams for large fundraising endeavors.

Promotion

  • Promote with advertisements, press releases, posters, flyers city newsletters, social media, direct mail/email marketing mini-events and announcement.

Execution

  • Check on those KPIs regularly.
  • Keep promoting throughout the fundraiser.

Ordering

  • Find out what options your fundraising program offers for ordering products and pick the one that’s most convenient for you.

Distribution

  • Distribute products to your customers as soon as possible as a courtesy to them.
  • Make sure all funds are collected at this time.

Summary of Profits, Notes for Next Time

  • Share profit outcome with the whole group.
  • Debrief and discuss what could have gone better, improvements for next time.
  • Collect customer contact info from members to use for direct mail/email marketing for next time.
  • Send thank-you notes to customers and everyone involved.
  • Celebrate your success with a party and award your top fundraiser.

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