7 Tips to Successfully Spearhead Your First Fundraiser

One minute, you’re at a PTO meeting, the next, you’re volunteering to lead the group’s fall fundraiser. It happened so suddenly, you’re not sure whether you’re excited or overwhelmed.

No matter how you feel about the project ahead of you, Knickerbockers has your back. Our experience helping group organizers like you makes us perfectly equipped to help get you through this. Though it may seem scary now, it’s an experience you’ll walk out of feeling more inspired.


Don’t worry - we’ve gathered seven tips to help you get the fundraising ball rolling!

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1. Set Profit Goals and a Firm Timeline

Are you a great planner? Get excited! You’ll be able to channel that organizational magic into the most essential stage of your fundraising journey: setting your fundraising goal. How much money do you need to raise? How much would you ideally like to raise?

Afraid you weren’t graced with superior organizing abilities? That’s OK - check out these SMART method guidelines, which will help you set clear, attainable goals in an easy and measurable way.

Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to develop a reliable timeline. You’d be surprised how quickly the day of the event will sneak up on you. A schedule will provide a useful visual guide to keep you on track. Knickerbockers will definitely help you stay on top of your event as it draws near, but the more deadlines you set for yourself, the smoother the overall execution will be. When scheduling, don’t forget to factor in any other grassroots marketing efforts, like social media or email.

2. Ask for Help

Like they say, many hands make light work! Don’t be afraid to delegate. Reach out to others in your group or organization; chances are, you aren’t alone in wanting to bolster your cause. If you’re raising money for your church, there’s an entire congregation of people you can call on, or if you’re with a school organization, empower students and parents to get involved.

Once you’ve secured volunteers, assess their skills and personalities. Then, divvy out the work according to their strengths. Some people possess an excellent eye for detail and might manage the logistical side of things well, while some more outgoing people may be better suited for communication upkeep.

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3. Keep Your Volunteers Happy

Do you know what the key to your fundraiser’s success is? Big hint: it’s your volunteers! They’re your best resource because they’re engaged in every part of the process and have a stake in the success of the fundraiser. Ask them for help, troubleshoot with them, and listen to their ideas.

As the fundraiser’s main organizer, it’s your job to keep everyone on track and in the loop. Choose your preferred channel to stay in contact with your volunteers and be consistent about checking in. Depending on how much organizing and time is involved, plan one or several in-person meetings to unite your volunteers and make sure that everyone is aligned to the goals you set at the start. There’s nothing like miscommunication to create unexpected issues and lower morale. By maintaining a steady flow of communication, you and your volunteers will have more energy and motivation to secure donors.



4. Promote in a Friendly Manner

You’ve probably heard this before and chances are you’ll hear it again: people don’t like feeling that they’re being sold to. So, what exactly is the solution when you have a cause to promote and certificates to sell? There are multiple ways to effectively inform people about your cause and why they should care. The key is to listen and to keep the tone light, friendly, and informative.


How can you make these interactions feel authentic? Find out where your potential contributors spend their time. Reach out to your local radio and news stations, community clubs, and sporting events. If it’s a church fundraiser you’re putting on, consider gathering after a service for doughnuts and coffee, or if you represent a school, consider after-school events where you can talk with parents. Don’t feel pressure to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes a simple conversation with the person bagging your groceries could lead to certificate sales. Remember, the key to successfully promoting your fundraiser is to engage people in an real way.



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5. Embrace Social Media

While it isn’t necessary to promote your fundraiser on every social media channel under the sun, especially if you are planning a small-scale event, we do recommend using at least one platform. As a rule, if your target group hangs out on a specific channel, like Facebook, then that’s where you want to be. If using Facebook, create a Facebook nonprofit event. Here you can upload your event flyer, post pictures of volunteers, respond to event inquiries, and more. If you’re fundraising on a smaller scale, don’t be afraid to create an event through your personal Facebook page and invite friends and family.


6. Reach Out to Leads

Here’s a piece that often goes missing in the fundraising puzzle: staying in contact with potential contributors. Forgetting to follow up could be the difference between you meeting your quota or falling short. You might dazzle the pants off 20 people and persuade them to purchase certificates, but if only five of those people show up at your portrait fundraiser, you won’t meet your mark.


It’s crucial that you and your volunteers establish a plan for following up with people who express interest. Emails, whether sent all at once or individually, are probably the easiest way to reach out. This requires access to contact information, which will be important to collect and store when you make that initial connection. Keep in mind, if you’re planning the event far in advance, there’s a good chance people will forget about it altogether. Reminding people will save you a headache later on.  

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7. Follow Up with Buyers After the Event

Many people fail to follow up with their buyers once the fundraiser has ended. Take down the contact information of your buyers on the day of the event if you haven’t already done so and keep it secure. Following up can be as simple as sending out a thank you note via email or snail mail. It shows your participants you appreciate them, while also keeping your organization in their mind. When you decide to throw your next fundraiser you’ll have an entire list of contacts ready to go!



These 7 tips are just a few of the ways you can ensure your fundraiser is a success. If you have any questions, never be afraid to reach out to us - we’d be happy to answer any questions and help get your first fundraiser up and running!