Reality Changers students gathered together for photo

Fundraising Strategies: Tips & Ideas to Get Started

Football and baseball phenom Bo Jackson once said, “Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.”

You can channel this energy as you put fundraising strategies to work for your favorite cause. While it might feel like an uphill battle at first, reaching an ambitious fundraising goal is easier than you might think and provides valuable resources to nonprofit organizations like Reality Changers. If you’re hoping to raise money for a good cause, grab a few friends and put these ideas into action:

Get Your Friends and Family On Board

One of the easiest – and most overlooked – ways to fundraise is by simply talking about your cause with friends and family. Enthusiasm is contagious, and when the people you love hear your passion for your cause, they’ll be inspired to contribute themselves. Fundraising strategies don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful!

Start by making a list of everyone you know. Friends, family members, colleagues, workout buddies, and neighbors may all be interested in learning about your goals. Then consider how best to reach out to each person. Some respond best to in person conversations, while others may value a nice hand-written letter. However you decide to proceed, prioritize the personal connections you have with each of the people on your list. Make sure to let them know why the cause is important to you and how they can make a donation.

After sending your letters or chatting with people individually, don’t forget to follow up. People are busy and may forget about your request soon after you’ve made it. A gentle reminder nudge never hurt anyone! If you know someone who planned to contribute but hasn’t done so yet, don’t hesitate to follow up with a polite email or phone call.

Host a Bake Sale

There are few fundraising ideas as classic as the humble bake sale. That’s because they require very little start-up money to be successful. The basic premise is that you and your friends contribute homemade baked goods to be sold to supporters or the public at large. It’s a simple way to earn some cash, share your goals, and delight customers all at once.

There are a number of fundraising strategies to employ at a bake sale. For starters, try adding a musical cakewalk to your event – think musical chairs but with sweet treats on the line! You can sell cakewalk tickets for $1 each, or reward customers with a free ticket for every baked good they purchase. Silent auctions are another good option for bake sale fundraisers. Talk with local bakeries about your goals and see if they’d be willing to contribute to the event. Auctioning off a gorgeous cake from a favorite local bakery is a great way to entice people to participate.

Plan a Car Wash

Car wash fundraisers are proven money makers. They’re fun, inexpensive to organize, and provide a valuable service to drivers in your neighborhood. Almost everyone needs a car wash here and there – when motorists can cross a chore off their to-do list while supporting a good cause, everyone wins. Fundraising strategies like this one are sure to benefit your friends and neighbors!

Start by deciding where the event will take place. School parking lots, supermarkets, rec centers, and even your own driveway can be excellent options – just be sure to always get permission before making plans official. There are a million car wash fundraising tips to keep in mind, but location is perhaps the most important factor. Select a location with plenty of drive-by traffic and access to a water supply.

For best results, try combining your car wash with a bake sale event. While customers have their cars worked on, they can snack on cookies, cake, coffee, or other goodies. This simple fundraiser can net you surprising results, and it’s a fun way to spend a day.

Host a Dinner

Fundraising dinners are a great way to bring people together for a good cause. They don’t have to be fancy to be successful, either. Gather a small team of interested individuals – people who can help with marketing, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and generally running the event – and meet to establish goals. Send out invitations for formal dinners, or sell tickets for a more laid-back vibe.

Find a location for the event well in advance. You’ll want to find a spot with adequate seating, parking, bathrooms, and facilities for food preparation. A backyard barbecue, spaghetti dinner, or chili cookoff are all great options, but if you’re hoping to plan a more formal event, you may even want to partner with a restaurant for the dinner. Don’t be afraid to reach out to local businesses to help support your fundraising strategies.

Try Peer to Peer Fundraising on Social Media

Over the last few years, peer to peer fundraising strategies have transformed the way we give. Think about the last time you or a friend celebrated a birthday on social media. Odds are good that they used the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a cause they’re about which they are passionate. Rather than ask for gifts, people can now request contributions to their favorite organization. It’s never been easier to share your passion projects with the world, or to solicit donations in a way that feels both personal and polite.

As people donate, make extra effort to personally thank each individual for their contribution. An acknowledgment of their generosity may inspire others to donate. In fact, this is one fundraising tip that can apply to almost every strategy we’ve listed! By leading with gratitude, you inspire others to do the same.

Fundraising Tips to Keep in Mind

There’s no denying it: asking people for donations can be intimidating. Even when you’ve got a great cause to support, it can feel awkward to request contributions from the people in your life. At its core, fundraising is about connecting people with a cause about which you’re passionate. Oftentimes, your friends and family will give to a cause because it’s important to you!

Staying organized is another important fundraising tip to keep in mind as you plan. As donations begin rolling in, keep track of who donated, when, and how much they gave. These details can give you insight into what fundraising strategies are most successful, which to try again, and which to skip next time. Use whatever tracking tools you find most helpful. A simple spreadsheet can go a long way to keep you organized!

Fundraising is a great way to raise awareness and funding for your favorite cause. Try one of these strategies for yourself – you might be surprised at how big a difference you and your friends can make!

Reality Changers relies on donations to help prepare youth to become first-generation college graduates and agents of change in their communities. You can support this work by making a gift yourself or setting up your own fundraiser. For fundraising support, please reach out to Development Manager Sarah Verdusco Singh.

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