1. Set a target
You’ll be amazed at how much you can raise once you get started, so why not be a bit ambitious. Think of a sum that you would feel really proud to have raised, then aim for it. Having a target will spur you on and also give you a great deal of satisfaction when you reach it. It is also useful for getting the last 20 percent of funds in, as you can ask the last few sponsors to help you reach your target by being that bit more generous.
2. Identify your supporters
The obvious candidates are friends and family, but if you think about all the people you have contact with, you’ll find that you can create quite an impressive list of potential sponsors.
Some people like to do this using a mind-map and some people hate mind-maps! However you organise the information, you should list all the people you meet in the normal course of events during the month (or longer). Your list may include:
- Parents of your (children’s) friends
- Fellow dog walkers (if you have one)
- Members of clubs or groups
- Local shop managers
- Local pub and restaurant managers
Remember you are trying to make something brilliant happen by supporting a charity, the majority of people will be delighted to help you, impressed by your generosity in organising and doing your fundraising activity.
Try to put a name to all of the different people in each category of your list. Cross off the few people whom you know you can’t ask. Now think about the best way to inspire and ask the people on your list.
3. Inspire people to sponsor you and ask, ask, ask…
Get fired up about the cause you’re supporting, your enthusiasm will be infectious. Ask your charity or cause for examples of what your sponsorship target could achieve, but don’t imply to sponsors that the money is restricted to any particular project unless you have already agreed this with the cause.
Prepare a short statement about why you are fundraising that captures the imagination, and expresses your enthusiasm for the cause. Make it personal, make it funny. Don’t forget to ask for sponsorship. Something short and sweet along the lines of:
“I’m aiming to raise £550 for NAME OF CHARITY/CAUSE. They could run an Indian village clinic, saving lives all year round, with just £550. I think they do amazing work.
Which is just as well, as I can only run one mile without collapsing so far; I need all the inspiration I can get! It would be great if you would sponsor me by [tell people what you want them to do; online sponsorship or paper form].”
If you are using a paper sponsorship form, ask people if they would like to give their sponsorship donation up-front, this will save you a lot of chasing later on.
If someone has said they will sponsor you but hasn’t got round to it, use a progress update to remind them that there is still time:
“I’ve been practicing and training and I’m nearly ready. I think I’m actually going to complete the NAME OF FUNDRIASING ACTIVITY. So while the bets are still on, can I persuade you to sponsor me to finish? [tell people what you want them to do; online sponsorship or paper form]”
“I’ve raised almost half my target of £XX, but there’s only x months to go. CHARITY NAME do such amazing work in India, [you can add more here about the cause]. I’d really like to give them all the support I can, please will you sponsor me to complete the NAME OF FUNDRAISING ACTIVITY.”
Your e-news letter
Consider sending a short e-mail news letter to potential supporters. Maybe once a month, with a progress report and some inspirational information about the charity or cause you are supporting. Include details of your online giving page.
4. Make it easy to give
You can use paper sponsorship forms and online sponsorship forms.
Your cause may already provide paper sponsorship forms that they prefer you to use, otherwise you will find one that you can edit here. Carry it with you everywhere so you can take every opportunity to ask. If you create your own form you must not use any logos, trademarked material or photographs belonging to the charity, or anyone else, without their permission.
If you are using a sponsorship form from this website and it carries a logo, then you can assume you have permission to use the form without contacting the charity, but only as long as you use the form exactly as it appears on this website, with text added by you in the appropriate areas only. That said, the charity will be very pleased to hear from you and may be able to provide useful support with your fundraising activity, so why not call them?
Online donations pages enable you to ask lots of people to support you by e-mail and text message. An online donation page enables your friends and family to sponsor you by making a secure payment with their credit or debit card over the internet. It also makes the administration easier for you.
There are a number of different companies that enable you to build your own on-line donation page and some charities even have their own facility. They all offer different ways to tell people:
- about what you are doing
- why you are doing it and the cause you are supporting
- the funds you have already raised
Some even send an automated ‘thank you’ for you when a donation is made.
It is a good idea to check if your charity has their own facility first, because third-party providers will charge a commission for providing the page and processing the donations. But if your charity doesn’t have their own page, it is still a good idea to set on up as most third-party providers will manage the Gift Aid process for your charity and you are likely to attract more donations through the online page than by just using a paper form. You can find a list of on-line donation websites in the how2fundraise.org directory of suppliers.
5. Maximise your sponsorship donations
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!
Set a precedent
If the first donation to appear on your paper and online sponsorship forms is around £2, then most people will follow suit, giving a few pounds more or a few pence less. But if your first donation is around £10 the people who follow will be inclined to give a bigger sum. Identify a few people from your list who are likely to be good lead sponsors and ask them first.
This principle doesn’t work infinitely, if your first sponsor gives £50 people will see this as exceptional and set their own rate without reference to the earlier donation. But if you get the first few donations right you can increase your overall fundraising income by up to 5 percent without any extra effort.
Ask your company if they will match fund your efforts. Some companies have established match funding schemes, but even if yours hasn’t done it before there is no harm in asking. Your employer is probably motivated to support charitable activity for the same reasons as you, but it may help them to justify their generosity if you provide them with some information about the company benefits associated with your fundraising, you can find some information here. Your company will also be interested to hear about any local publicity you hope to generate. If they are match funding you, remember to give them the credit for doing so in any interviews or press releases you produce, it will encourage them to do it again for others. Try to provide them with copies of articles that mention their support.
Make sure that your sponsorship forms include a Gift Aid declaration; it will dramatically increase the funds you raise. If your sponsors Gift Aid their donation, your charity will receive an additional 28p for every £1 they give from HMRC. To qualify for Gift Aid, the amount your sponsors pay in income tax or capital gains tax must at least equal the amount that the charity will reclaim on the donation. Check with your cause that they are registered for Gift Aid.
Donations from people connected to you (including your immediate family) do not qualify for Gift Aid and they should not tick the Gift Aid box. This is because a ‘benefit’ test is applied by HMRC. Depending upon circumstances, HMRC may consider the opportunity you have been given to run in the event as a benefit or payment. Because of this benefit your personal donation, and any donation made by someone connected to you, is not seen by HMRC as a donation, they classify it as a payment for a benefit. You can see full details of who is considered to be a connected person on the HMRC site.
6. You don’t have to rely on sponsorship
There are literally hundreds of ways for you to fundraise. Some require a lot of time, others take a few minutes. You’ll find lots of ideas on the how2fundraise.org website. If you are pressed for time, start with some of the quick and ‘easy money’ ideas listed on the site. You can do everything from baking cakes to sell at work to running an auction, the only limits are your time and imagination.
Fundraising activities such as car-washes, pub quizzes and race-nights open up a whole new donor audience to you. And people who have already sponsored you will probably be happy to pay out more money for a clean car or a fun night out, so you can go back to your list of supporters again.
7. Get your local and specialist press interested
Local newspapers are always interested in stories about local people. Writing a press release or letter to the editor is not difficult to do, but remember to tell people how they can support you in each article, giving the web-page address for your online giving page is the safest option. Press coverage can help with your fundraising by:
- reminding people you have asked for sponsorship, but haven’t yet given
- encouraging new people to support you
- promoting other fundraising activities you have organised
- encouraging your employer to match fund your sponsorship
It’s not just local press who are interested; there may be a specialist magazine, relevant to your chosen fundraising activity, who needs to fill column inches. Try writing an inspirational letter to the editor, you may well attract sponsors from more far flung places.
If you have set a very audacious fundraising target your local media may be keen to track your progress over the year and you should consider having a simple publicity plan.
You should work out how you are going to let everyone know you have completed the fundraising activity:
- text message
- letter to the editor
- phone call
- balloons on the front door? (blue for a boy, pink for a girl, red for a successfully completed activity)
8. Generate unexpected support
Friends of friends
Why not ask friends to forward an e-mail containing details of your online donation page to their friends. Ask them to write a personal endorsement of your heroic efforts, encouraging their friends to support you.
You company’s suppliers
Another group of people who may be willing to sponsor you, with the support of your employer, are the suppliers to the business you work for. A number of people have successfully fundraised thousands of pounds by persuading their employer to contact all their suppliers asking for a donation.
This can be done either by telephone, e-mail or letter. But you should get permission from your employer to do this, and for the best results the request should come from the Chief Executive or the Purchasing Manager. Once you have their consent, draft letters for them so that all they have to do is sign the bottom of the page, it needs to be so easy for them to do they can’t avoid it!
Local shops, doctor’s and dentists’ surgeries, the office watering hole, staff room
Think about places where people have to wait, or are likely to stop and chat. Ask if they will display a poster featuring your run and keep a sponsorship form somewhere handy so that local people can support you. The poster should emphasise that you are a local fundraiser so that people have a sense of connection with what you are doing. You can get a poster template here. Include any press coverage in your display as this will give more status to your fundraising activity.
Ideally you want people to donate their sponsorship money there and then, so ask your charity if they can supply a collection tin and discuss security issues with them. Put a note on your poster indicating this is what you would like people to do and tell them how they will know you have completed your fundraising (you may have a website they can visit).
9. Get help
How about making your life a whole lot easier by finding a fundraising buddy. Fundraising buddies are people who go out and get sponsorship with you. They may be a friend, family or kind colleague. In the best buddy relationships, you get to enjoy training and your buddy gets the prestige of having raised a large sum of money.
Remember, not everyone wants to give up all their evenings for months of training, but most of us would like to help a worthy cause. So seeking out a buddy is actually quite a logical idea.
Think about everyone you know who is socially gregarious and good at persuading people to do things then ask them to help you. Another advantage of having a buddy is that you double the list of people you can approach as you can give your buddy the contact details of all your friends and hopefully they will approach all of their friends too.
If you find a buddy, cherish them. Remember to thank them for their efforts on a regular basis and make sure you acknowledge their support on the day.
You will also need to sort out how the money will be collected and how it will be banked with them prior to starting the fundraising.
If your fundraising target is truly eye-watering, you’re going to tell the world about it and you intend to do something newsworthy, you might ask your employer for a few days of paid secondment, as well as match funding. Be really clear about how you will use those days and how they will benefit both in terms of your skills development, loyalty and press coverage. You know your employer best, if there is no professional risk to you then ask, they have the option to say yes or no.
You’ll probably want to spread the days out so that you can use them to organise fundraising activities such as quiz nights or auctions.
10. Have a plan
You’ve probably got a plan for your fundraising activity, you know what you need to book, how you need to train etc., and you need one for your fundraising too.
Consider the items on the list above. Write yourself a to-do list as well as a list of the people you are going to ask. Set out when you will do things in your diary. Divide the people you want to approach into groups so that the task doesn’t feel overwhelming. Remember to ask your lead sponsors first. Include windows for ‘initial ask’ and ‘follow-up ask’. Allow plenty of lead in time for any fundraising activities.
You may be exhausted after the actual fundraising activity itself, but you will need to secure outstanding donations as soon as possible, so plan some time for chasing them up. Finally, don’t forget to plan how you will thank people, letting them know you have been successful both in completing the activity and hitting your target.
Hopefully your plan will show you that fundraising is really quite easy to do and that step by step you’ll reach your target without difficulty. Which is more than we can say for the fundraising activity itself – be it a sky-dive, marathon or abseil!
Finally - handling money
You need a good system for handling the money you receive.
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