Events fundraising is hard work. In one of the fundraising departments, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, I had a conversation with a new starter from another team who had been under the impression that once we signed someone up to an event, the money started coming in and we didn’t really do much until event day. Just as all of us might not understand the intricacies of specialist areas we have not been involved with. They were really interested to hear about the quite strict application process we went through before awarding someone a place. And the myriad of other steps we went through to try and guide people to fundraising success, some of whom might only have a vague interest in our charity.
Every step of the process from recruitment, retention to remittance and beyond is considered to ensure we are supporting a team of people to reach their, and our, goals. There will always be some people who we recruit to our charity’s team in good faith but don’t hit target. Personal circumstances could affect how much time someone can dedicate to raising money, and as hard as it is to say, there will be a few who, no matter what we do, don’t raise the money and become uncontactable. However, there are steps we can take to make sure that our teams are set for fundraising glory.
- Be clear about the need throughout – as with all fundraising, make the need for money clear from the start in all recruitment materials. Raising money by taking part in an event is a way to help address that need.
- Ask participants to complete an application form – include a section where they outline how they plan to raise the minimum sponsorship requirement. Explain that decisions to award places will be based on this as well as other factors and advise people to take the time to complete that section thoroughly.
- Call applicants and discuss their fundraising plans – if you have large numbers of places in events with lower sponsorship targets this won’t be feasible for all, but for higher value places this is a key step.
- Trust your judgement and don’t be afraid to say no – if you are not confident from someone’s application and talking to them that they will be able to meet your sponsorship target, do not award them a place.
- Ask them to sign a pledge – once you have awarded someone a place on your team, as them to sign a pledge stating that they understand it is based on them raising a minimum amount. Include what that money could achieve. It’s not a legal document but it’s another way of emphasising to people the importance of their fundraising.
- Personalised fundraising plans – support your participants to draw up and deliver their own fundraising plans for higher fundraising targets. Provide them with a template including activities, when they plan to do them, who they will be approaching and how much they are aiming to raise from each element. This will help to focus the supporter and give you something to base your conversations about fundraising around. Monitor their progress so if they aren’t doing what they have said or their activities haven’t been as successful as they hoped, you can step in at an early stage with extra ideas and motivation.
- Continue to talk to them about why the money they raise is needed and what it will achieve – sometimes people forget this when there is lots of event information we need to share. We need to motivate our participants to continue fundraising when they’re tired from work and from training. We need to inspire them to continue asking people for support, to continue organising a sweepstake, quiz night or cake sale to help them reach their target. We need to engage them emotionally in what the result of all their hard work will be.
- Share examples of how other fundraisers have exceeded target – show supporters that other people, just like them, have done what they are trying to do. And the many and varied ways that others have raised money before them.
- Say thank you and show appreciation – not just at the end but throughout the journey from sign up to event. When someone has hit the halfway mark, show the supporter that you’ve noticed and encourage them to the next milestone.
- Provide clear deadlines of when you want people to have sent in their fundraising so they know what is expected of them. As part of your communications plan you will be in contact with them leading up to the deadline, including how much they have left to raise to target. For those who have not hit target, you will have your own process in place for following up on this as is required by the Codes of Fundraising Practice. More formal communications from more senior people can sometimes spur people on to make up the difference themselves.
We will always be learning and refining how we ensure we recruit the best team and support them to raise the most to enable us to deliver our charitable aims. And for those people who do not raise money and don’t seem to want to respond to your phone calls or emails, it is your decision about whether you want them as part of your team again.