5 Tips for Making Fundraising a Fun Family Sport

I’m about halfway through a fundraising season for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program, where athletes can fundraise through various races in their area. I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon (although, with two small kids, I’ll use the term “training” loosely).

It’s summer, and regardless where you live, there’s a range of good causes and walk, runs, swims and any other type of challenge you can think of that can not only be fun for the entire family, but also a great way to give back to the community.

Some things I’ve learned about fundraising

I worked in nonprofit for a number of years specifically in events and fundraising. Although it can seem difficult to fundraise, especially in tough economic times, I can absolutely promise you that it’s not. Here are five basics of what I’ve learned:

1. A person can’t say yes if you don’t ask them.

Regardless of your comfort level with fundraising, this is key. Don’t like doing asks in person? Call. Email. Send a message in a bottle. But folks aren’t going to come out of the woodwork unless you ask.

Afraid to email to ask for money? Think about how many times a day you hit “delete” on messages. You’re NOT going to offend someone by asking.

2. Most events make it pretty darn easy to fundraise over email.

A lot of the larger organizations automatically provide you with a basic “personal webpage” that you can choose to personalize – or not – and where you can send out emails to have folks donate directly by credit card. You can’t get any easier than that.

3. Don’t forget the power of a good old-fashioned letter.

People like mail. If you have friends and family not too keen on web campaigns or donating by credit card, send them a letter. Tell them why they’re fundraising. And make it easy for them to respond – The most money I ever raised in a year involved sending letters that included a self-addressed stamped envelope. An investment? Sure. But it paid off. And I didn’t send the letters to everyone – Just those who would be more likely to respond to that campaign versus online.

4. You have a broader audience to ask than you think.

Do you have businesses that you utilize regularly? Ask ‘em. Your hair stylist. Dentist. Butcher. Doctor.

You’ll be surprised at where you donations come from, and you have the opportunity to learn more about these folks at the same time. It’s been almost 28 years since my mom passed away from cancer – Her oncologist still donates to my campaigns.

Fundraising for the ACS, I’ve been amazed by how closely a lot of people around me have been impacted by cancer. And you know what? They appreciate both the opportunity to talk about it and the chance to do something to make a difference.

5. Always carry materials and don’t be afraid to be a walking billboard.

Got an event shirt? Wear it. I’ve lost track of the number of times that people have started up conversations with me on the street or in stores about either American Cancer Society or Autism Speaks shirts. So yes, you may get a donation if you have some information with you. Or, better yet, that person may want to get involved with the organization or event for which you are fundraising.

Whether you’re looking for a 5K walk or a way to fundraise during the Ironman, get out there and take advantage of some great events this summer. Your kids will learn some valuable lessons and you’ll have fun at the same time.

Not sure where to start? Check out this post discussing organizations with which the IBCers are actively involved.

How does your family give back? What lessons are you teaching your kids?

*This post was originally posted on It Builds Character.

Tracy May is editor and contributor at It Builds Character...and other parenting cliches, a group blog about parenting survival.

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