Almost all student groups will have to fundraise at one time or another during the year. Unless your activities council is particularly generous or you have a wealthy benefactor, fundraising is a necessary part of a team’s success. However, asking money of your teammates via dues or money of outside people via fundraising events is a tricky business that needs to be conducted fairly and tactfully.
Your allocated budget will determine, in large part, your fundraising requirements. Once you’ve received your budget, calculate your expected expenses. Figure out the number of events that you’re going to hold that require money. Contact the necessary vendors for transportation, activities, housing, etc. to get estimates of cost. The categories of costs you’ll incur will likely fall into the following buckets:
Trips and Events
Transportation and housing
Registration and other fees
Decorations and other necessary props
If the amount that you need to run your team successfully exceeds the amount you’ve budgeted, the difference is the amount you need to fund-raise.
You should plan to split your fund-raising efforts into two parts: team dues and member requirements for fund-raising. If possible, your primary fundraising should be through team dues paid at the beginning of the year. This ensures that you’ll have all the necessary funds before you need them. In an optimal world, your calculation would be as follows:
$$$ amount you need/# of members = $$$ dues/member
For example. The team needs $1,000. You have 25 members. Each member pays $40 in dues.
There is a reason that you should try as best as you can to collect dues at the beginning of the year. First, excitement is highest at the beginning of the year. Therefore, you will get the largest amount of compliance. Second, if a member chooses to leave your organization after participating in events, they’ve received the benefits of your group without contributing the necessary financial capital. At this point, you’ve suffered a loss without much leverage to recoup that loss.
That being said, the financial situation of your members may prohibit you from charging a certain level of dues. Therefore, you’ll want to consider how many hours or how much money each individual needs to raise to assist the team.
NOTE: Especially with money, there needs to be an equitable investment by each member of the team. There are generally four approaches you can take to this requirement.
Flat dues charged per member and other fund-raising requirements.
General fund-raising requirements and no dues charged to members.
Flat dues charged per member and no fund-raising requirements.
Opt-out feature where members can either pay dues or accept fund-raising requirements.
NOTE: Be cognizant of the fact that your members will likely come from a variety of financial backgrounds. I am firmly of the belief that no one should be excluded from a group due to their financial situation. It can also be embarrassing for an individual to reveal their financial situation. You may have members leave rather than discuss this sensitive issue with you. It’s one of the reasons I prefer option 4 in the previous note. It allows people to participate without forcing anyone to reveal information they’d rather withhold. That being said, you will need to be vigilant and conduct the proper follow-up to ensure that people are actually fulfilling their fund-raising requirements.
Your fund-raising efforts will be split into two categories: one-off events/initiatives and ongoing relationships. One-off events are your bake sales, your trips to take tests at the psychology department, your online crowd funding initiatives, etc. These events should be advertised in your team and should be attended by groups of members if possible. You want to ensure both accountability and ability to track your participants.
If your fund-raising initiative requires your members to interact with people of the public, the first thing you want to do is to ensure that everyone asking for money on your team is knowledgeable about the organization and can articulate its goals in a 30 second pitch. You want to anticipate what questions will be asked and you’ll want to include as much information as you can into the pitch. It’s also important to have other materials available if the potential donor wants more information. It’s vital that everyone is knowledgeable both of the organization and the process for donations.
Assuming that the interactions during your one-off events center around temporary relationships with the people you’re interacting with, you’ll want to pursue aggressive sales tactics. This involves a streamlined payment process. Focus on the power of reciprocity. People are more likely to give your group money if you give them something first. Pass out pens; take high quality pictures; give away food. Then give the team’s pitch, ask for a donation, and send the person on their way. These high speed, high intensity interactions will allow you to acquire funds quickly and efficiently.
NOTE: Your fund-raising initiatives should be as low cost as possible. The more it costs to hold your fund-raiser the more money you’ll have to get in return to make it profitable. It’s a good idea to survey your members to see if they have any marketable skills you can take advantage of. Perhaps you have a photographer who can take high quality photographs? Perhaps you have a performer who can entertain a crowd? By making use of the skills you already have in your organization, you can maximize the potential for fund-raising and minimize the costs.
On the other hand, having on-going funding relationships is more difficult, but tends to be both more lucrative and more reliable in the long-run. When you’re seeking to build a long-term relationship with a donor, you’ll want to soften your tactics. First, you’ll need to identify potential donors. While it’s possible to get a donor by cold-calling individuals who might be interested in your group, the best way to secure a consistent donor is through your personal and team member connections. A great donor needs to have two qualities: they should be wealthy and they should be generous. Start by identifying parties that have a vested interest in your organization. Alumni and the parents of current members are good places to start. From there, branch out. Try to see if a corporation or other organization might be interested in your group. See if you can give them something in return for their support.
Long-term relationships need to be a value-add for both parties. Therefore, you need to identify something that you can give to your donor that would be of value to them. Perhaps you could list their name is your team’s newsletter or post an ad on your website. Perhaps you could convince a member to call his or her parents more often than they currently do. Take the time to listen to your donors, ask them whats important to the, and contribute to their lives so they contribute to your group.
Questions to Consider
How will you hold members who aren’t upholding their fund-raisng requirements accountable?
Are you trying to hold too many events and initiatives?
What investments might pay off in the long run? Is there certain equipment like microphones, table cloths, etc that you might be able to use for multiple fund-raising initiatives?