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”If it’s something you don’t know much about, assign a promotion leadership position to someone in your group that is excited about it.”

CHAPTER 10

Promoting Your Fundraiser

Ah, promotion. You know it’s important, but unless you graduated with a degree in marketing, you’re probably not all that interested in spending much time on it.

But you need to. If it’s something you don’t know much about, assign a promotion leadership position to someone in your group that is excited about it. Look for someone creative, organized and outgoing. Depending on the size of your group and your fundraiser, you may want a whole team working solely on promotion.

Don’t try to take on every option we list; there is such a thing as having TOO many messages flying around out there.

In the long run, promoting your fundraiser is going to get you more supporters or more attendees at your event. It’s going to get people excited and it’s going to spread your group’s overall message and goal. It could also result in more people in the community joining your group. Once people understand your cause and see how passionate you are about it, they’ll want to be a part of that.

The benefits are endless and will likely continue after your fundraiser is over. Plus, some of this stuff is really fun! So don’t try to take on every option we list; there is such a thing as having TOO many messages flying around out there. We’ll give you the skinny on how to promote for your fundraiser, when to get started, what options there are, and how to keep your message cohesive.

Focus on Your Audience

Some forms of promotion will reach the whole community, like posters and flyers, but others are going to target certain groups of people. Think about who would attend your event or buy your products. What kind of people are they? Sometimes it helps to develop a persona for your fundraiser. Lists the traits of the person you envision participating in your fundraiser and give them a name. It sounds silly, but it will help you in the decision-making process as you continue your promotion.

Let’s say you named your persona Deb, and she’s an older mother, new grandmother and she’s active in the community. She’ll likely respond to more traditional promotion in the local news outlets. Unless being Internet-savvy is one of her traits, you probably don’t need to spend much time on email marketing, website building or social media to reach Deb. Think about your audience as you pick which promotion methods to pursue.

Promotion Timeline

Plan to implement your promotion methods 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 get some word-of-mouth going about your fundraiser.

Be sure to schedule multiple promotion methods leading up to the fundraiser or event. Don’t have one big wave of promotion and then retreat into the shadows until the fundraiser begins. There should also be some promotion happening throughout the fundraiser too.

Have your promotion leader create a timeline for each promotion method you choose to use. This can also include goals for the promotion team, like increasing Facebook “likes” to a certain number by a certain date. This will help keep the promotion leader and team on task and focused.

Promotion Methods

Press release

Send a release to your local newspaper, radio and TV station. They could end up covering your fundraiser as part of the news or ask you for an interview beforehand.

Advertising

You could also pay for some ad space in your local newspaper or on the local radio or TV station.

Posters/flyers

Hang these around town and leave on car windshields and door steps.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Remember that older generations are more likely to use Facebook. Twitter and Instagram are more important for reaching younger people. Post about what you’re working on, successes and struggles, and make sure to include visuals. If you use Twitter, you can live-tweet throughout the actual fundraiser or event. Post to each platform you use at least once a day, preferably more. Be transparent and respond to your followers.

Email promotion

Send an email to past customers or attendees to let them know you’re fundraising again.

Direct mail piece

Send a postcard to past customers to let them know the basics of your fundraiser and how they can get involved again.

City newsletter

Write an article about what your group is working on for your city newsletter.

Promotion on own website

Post about your fundraiser on your website or blog, include photos of your group working on the fundraiser, and update the top banner of your website to feature a photo of your group fundraising or info about the fundraiser. This will keep your website fresh and help raise awareness of your fundraiser.

Mini-event

Host an event in a busy, public place to generate excitement for your fundraiser. Hand out desserts with labels that explains your fundraiser on them. Have a sidewalk chalk drawing competition and create murals that show your group’s message and the basics of your fundraiser.

Flash mob

Coordinate a group dance (that looks spontaneous) in a public place to grab people’s attention. At the end, have a group member announce why you’re dancing and how others can help by participating in your fundraiser.

Announce fundraiser at local events

Ask announcers at local sporting events if you can have the mic at halftime for a few minutes. Announce your fundraiser at your local school’s events and explain how it benefits the community.

Keep Your Message Consistent

As you’re working on several different promotional materials at once, it’s easy for things to get disjointed. Of course, your basic information will always be the same, but if your materials don’t look cohesive, they won’t be seen as one consistent message. If you’re creating posters and flyers, keep the type font and design colors consistent. Incorporate these things into your advertising, social media, website, email marketing and direct mail pieces as well.

Your message should also align with the feel of your fundraiser too. If you’re hosting a serious fundraiser, your promotional materials should match that feeling. If you are working on a fun, upbeat event, the voice in your promotional materials should be easy-going, and mini-events or flash mobs may be the best way to reach your audience and generate excitement.

Build Community

Promotion is all about building community. Not in the construction, brick-and-mortar way. Building community basically means making friends and building trust. How do you do that? Well, if your promotion seems in-your-face, pushy, and a little like a sneaky car salesman pitch, then you’re not likely to build a lot of trust.

Share your group’s message because it’s something you believe in and truly think other people in your community should know and care about.

Also, your promotion shouldn’t always be about you and your group. This seems contradictory, but hear us out. Just like you learned in kindergarten, you need to be nice if you expect others to reciprocate the favor. Mention other groups in your announcements. Take time to recognize their fundraisers and needs. Participate in their fundraisers. That’s how you make friends and create a positive image in your community.

It’s not that we think you don’t know this stuff already, but it’s easy to get caught up in the promotion process and come off as pushy and desperate. Share your group’s message because it’s something you believe in and truly think other people in your community should know and care about. You don’t want to come off as money hungry. Yes, money helps you reach your goals, but your group should be giving back to the community with the work they do with those funds. Make sure the community knows that, and they’ll be willing to help.

Chapter 10 Wrap-up

If you’ve soaked in all that promotion info like a little sponge, you’re well on your way to a successful fundraiser. If you’re on information overload, no worries – here’s the gist:

  • Focus on your audience – Pick promotion methods that will reach your audience where they’re at.
  • Make a promotion timeline and goals – Plan to implement your promotion methods two to three weeks before a traditional sales fundraiser and four to five weeks before an event fundraiser.
  • Pick a few of these methods of promotion (but don’t try to do them all!) – Press releases, advertising, posters/flyers, social media, email promotion, direct mail pieces, city newsletter articles, promotion on own website, mini-events, flash mobs, announce fundraiser at local events.
  • Keep your message consistent – Use the same fonts/colors/feel for each promotional material you create. Make sure these things reflect the mood of your fundraiser.
  • Build community – Don’t be pushy with your promotion, give back to other fundraisers and don’t always talk about yourself and what you’re doing. That’s how you make friends, build trust and get community support.

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