Planning a fundraiser can at first seem like a daunting endeavor, but with a thoughtful strategy and the right support it can be a very rewarding experience and a lot of fun. Members of the LE&RN New York Chapter have put together some steps that we hope you will find helpful.
Step 1: Determine the fundraiser’s purpose: A fundraiser can serve as a vehicle to achieve several goals. While raising money is typically the priority, the focus of fundraisers can also be to raise awareness and build relationships. Once you decide your purpose, then it is easy to set a target or a goal. If raising money is your top priority, have an idea of how much you would like to raise. If your top priority is to raise awareness, a monetary goal may not be as important. Finding ways to recruit new members or supporters within your community (including local businesses) should be the event’s focus.
Step 2: Identify your strategy: Once you have settled on a focus for your fundraiser, decide on a strategy. A fundraiser can be an event, an ongoing drive, or an action like The Ice Bucket Challenge. To decide the best approach, consider your hobbies, interests, and how much time you have. Time is a very important factor and one should give themselves at least 6 months of planning. If you are having trouble deciding what to do, check out our list of ideas here.
Step 3: Assemble a Planning Committee: We strongly suggest working with a partner or better yet a committee, if possible. Working with others helps to stay on track, pay attention to details and it’s more fun! The committee can be made up of your friends, family, members from LE&RN, and/or members of your community – anyone who is willing to help. You might also consider people with special skill sets – marketing, technology, public speaking, or event planning – to join your committee, as these are skills that will help make the event a success. In addition, to the planning committee, put together a group of dependable volunteers who can help on event day.
Step 4: Iron out the details: Details such as the date, time, location, number of attendees, marketing plan and budget are areas that need to be considered. Each topic is explored below in more detail. Keep in mind these details should be customized based on your strategy.
- Budget: Depending on the direction you take and scale of your event, there may be costs involved. Put together a budget. Finding local sponsors to cover costs such as location and prizes (if applicable) are a great way to reduce expenses and get community involvement. If you think it will be difficult to cover the expenses with the uncertainty of the proceeds, this is a good time to rethink your strategy. It is also an appropriate time to speak to LE&RN’s Outreach Director, Colleen McGuire, to discuss your plan. The office phone number is (516) 625-9675.
- Location: If you are attaining a location through a friend or in-kind donation be sure it is a rock-solid commitment. If people are honorable, they will not mind putting it in writing. If the fundraiser requires a location, you will want to reserve a place as soon as possible. Having a solid strategy will narrow down your options, thus making it easier to find a venue.
- Date and time: Many variables will impact the date and time selected. It is important to know your potential donors and attendees when making this decision. Consider: the lead-time needed, holidays, venue availability, your committee’s schedule, and the event deadline.
Marketing: Once your date, time, location and budget are in order, the next step is to work on a marketing and communication plan. Your plan should include some or all of the platforms described below.
- Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are powerful ways to advertise your event. Creating a special page and inviting people to like, post and repost will create traffic and interest. You can use tools like Buffer to help save time by automating posts about your event. You should also think about the frequency and content of each of your posts. While it is great to advertise your event, including facts about LE&RN or lymphedema and lymphatic diseases is good way to educate people while creating interest and buzz. Frequency and time of day are important variables to consider when using social media as people will lose interest if they see too many posts. Knowing when your audience is most likely to view these post is an obvious advantage.
- Website: A website is a great tool to keep people informed that might not have social media. It also gives a platform to tell your story and elaborate on the purpose of your event. If your event becomes a regular occurrence, having a website is a perfect place to refer people to the history, success, and testimonials. There are many “cut and paste” website platforms that make it easy to build a site without needing a technical background, ie - Square Space. When you contact Colleen at LE&RN, you will be able to discuss LE&RN setting up a fundraising page using our system. This will afford you the confidence that donations will be received by LE&RN and will allow supporters to connect to your fundraising page from our other events.
- Networking: Talking to as many people as you can about your event can lead to unexpected support. You never know who might work for a media outlet or an organization that wants to get involved.
- Materials: Written materials are useful to distribute to people, especially while soliciting help or sponsors. People may not have time to talk, but leaving them with persuasive materials with information about your social media or website can go a long way. The LE&RN logo may be used (as is, with no alterations) only with permission from LE&RN. By sending your completed flyer to LE&RN, we will be able to include it on your fundraising site once it is set up in our system.
- Good, old-fashioned press releases: The news media is still very helpful in advertising community events. Write several press releases (one when you first announce the event a few months out, another to update prizes that are coming in and a last one a few weeks before the event). In the release, list time, date and location; what the event is for; what the format of the event will be; ticket prices and what the prices include; and contact information and ticket purchasing information. Also, if the event is centered around a person with lymphedema or a lymphatic disease, tell that person’s story. This increases the chances that a newspaper or TV station will do a larger story. Send these releases to your daily and weekly community papers and any television news station in your area, through email or by regular mail. They’ll hopefully add them to their events calendars immediately and then plan some coverage.
Step 5. Day of logistics: It’s a good idea to do a practice run a day or two before the event to iron out any logistical issues. Also, have a meeting with your committee, volunteers and sponsors to make sure everyone has what they need for their role. On event day, consider Square for processing credit card information from any mobile device or iPad for any last minute donations.
Having a clear strategy for your event is the key to making a fundraiser manageable and fun. Taking the time to go through all the steps above can save you time in the long run. Your LE&RN Chapter committee and Colleen at LERN@lymphaticnetwork.org are here to help as well so don’t forget to contact us! Happy planning!