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So You Want to Raise Money for Your Favorite Charity

How to raise money to support your race, crowdfunding campaign, school drive, etc.

In my other career, I work in fundraising.  I have held all sorts of positions raising from an Annual Fund caller during College to running entire campaigns and major gift fundraising.  While all these principles are different, they have the same basic desire: to raise money for a cause.

I am always asked “how can I raise more money?” by friends, fellow bloggers, coffee shop patrons, you name it.  Everybody is in the business of fundraising for something. It may be the kickstarter campaign you have launched for your new start-up business or it could be that you are fundraising for a specific charity race. Or maybe you just really want to help your daughter raise money to fund costumes for her school play.  The reasons for fundraising are varied, but the skill-set remains the same….

Here are FIVE WAYS you can improve your fundraising:

1. Set Realistic Goals

In professional fundraising, numbers don’t just come out of thin air (no matter how you may think your college just “made up” that lofty Annual Fund goal).  Careful research, time, and planning go in to each and every goal. Before you decide to fundraise for a charity or set your kickstarter amount, take a moment and do some research.


  • Who you know that you can comfortably ask and what their capacity would be to give
  • Who you know that MAY be willing to give a participatory gift
  • Ways you plan to realistically raise more money and reach outside your circle 
  • How much do you expect to bring in per month (or other date) of your time table

Goal setting seems tedious, but is mandatory! If a number is assigned to you from a charity (such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), make sure you have the people in your network to support you before saying YES! If you are setting your own goal, make sure you pick something that is a reach but reasonable and that you know you can succeed at.

* Note most people think $ will just come from thin air and that is just not the case. The majority of gifts will come from people that you ALREADY know and do not have to discover to sell the idea to. Make sure you have an accurate gauge of the people in your circles and WHOM you plan to ask for donations from before picking a number.  If you are fundraising for equipment, a theater, or something else PHYSICAL–make sure you can back up all the numbers and explain how you reached that goal.  Your donors want to know WHY you ask for the amount you do and WHERE the money is going to go.

2.  Get your elevator pitch down.

You need to know ALL the ins and outs of your campaign. Why are you doing it? Where is the money going? How is this something that you are passionate about? What do you want from the other person? Make it clear. Know the ins and outs before you ever approach another person.

3. Don’t waste money on events

Events don’t raise money. Sorry, but it’s true.

If you throw events, know that they will NOT rake in the dough. They tend to be expensive. You will be lucky to make ANY money.

If you throw events, use them to MEET new people or CULTIVATE new people who will maybe donate to you.  (Ever heard the term “Friendraiser?”) And, if you have extra money to spend, events can be a great way to say THANK YOU to donors who have already given.

BUT WAIT you say. I have a bar that says they will give me xyz percentage of sales if I host a fundraiser there? Well, that still won’t raise you money. People will buy drinks thinking they are helping you. In reality, they would give you more money if you just directly asked them for it instead of forcing them to buy something.Also, maybe the bar would be willing to donate to you directly–or another company you haven’t thought about. True giving is just that–giving. It is not a percentage of sales. It is the desire to truly help someone out and consciously giving money to feel good.  You want your donors to FEEL GOOD helping you and consciously understand WHY they are helping you.

Also, your time is valuable. Use it where it counts–meeting people and asking them for money. Events require a lot of man hours that you could use somewhere else. Work smarter, not harder. 🙂

4. In-person asks are ALWAYS the best ways to raise money

Find who you want to ask. Arrange to meet them for coffee, lunch, drink, etc. ASK them for what you want them to donate. Be direct and specific. Be open to dialogue. But be sure to ASK for what you want and have clear follow-up steps.

If you cannot meet in person, can you SKYPE or use the phone to talk one-on-one about their gifts? People ALWAYS give more money in person and when you personally ask.

Just posting on facebook and twitter is NOT enough to reach most goals. You have to get out there and ask for what you want directly. It is scary, but the results prove that direct asks WORK.

5. Believe in yourself and refuse to give up!!

You will hear NO more than you will hear YES. You may get smaller donations from people that you thought would give big. It’s okay. It happens.

Get used to the nos. Just remember to KEEP ON GOING.

Believe in yourself, know that you can do it, know that your cause is worth it, and never stop asking. The more you ask, eventually someone will say YES!

Questions? How can I help you more? What do you need to know? Ask me and I will do my best to help you out!!