18 December 2015

The Fun In Fundraising

Location: Ye Olde Cock Inn, Didsbury, Manchester

In order to go to Ghana, I first had to fundraise £800 for my charity, International Service - which I smashed at £820! Fundraising can often be seen as quite an obstacle, and there were many times I found myself stressing out and wanting to give it all in - you often just feel like you're begging for money and generally just annoying everyone. However, it can also be turned into something amazing - my instagram below shows me and my friend Alex having loads of fun at my Christmas Pub Party fundraiser! If you are required to fundraise for an overseas project, or you're wanting to get some donations for a cause you really care about, read on for my tips on how to smash your fundraising target!

A photo posted by yasmin rebecca (@sweetsevenfive) on

Get Organised
The first thing to do is buy a notebook and write down as many ideas as you have that could get you donations. Work out your time frame, and prioritize your ideas around that - for example in order for me to do a bucket collection in Manchester City Center, I had to apply for a permit and book an available date and there were not many to choose from! If this, a supermarket bag pack, or something similar is what you'd like to do, make it the first thing you organise to ensure you get a slot!

Get Social...
Whatever platforms you're involved in the most, people are following and people are reading, so use that to your advantage. For Twitter, I tried to include my text code for donations which is really good to set up, because someone you don't know that well could just see it on their timeline and think "I'll donate a £1". You can also hashtag things like #JustGiving and #Volunteer to create potentially a bigger audience. Keep your Just Giving page in your instagram bio and maybe even put a few words in there about what you're doing. Use Facebook to reach out to family and friends - you can write more about your cause on your status', and post updates on how much you've raised.

Don't Underestimate the Power of Cake!
As soon as you start to plan fundraising, one of the first ideas to spring to mind, with an eye roll, is "bake sale", but don't knock it. Bake sales can be held in so many different places: your work, a church, a local community center before or after a class, or if you can get people round to yours you can hold a Saturday tea and cake afternoon. The first time I did a bake sale I priced everything exactly, but I learnt this year that by just asking people to give what they think is right, you get a lot more donations!

Be Passionate
You're giving up your time to fundraise, and putting the effort in to get your message out there - so make sure you sound like you mean it. One of the mistakes I've made when fundraising was not always explaining myself properly. I knew loads about what I was raising money for, but other people didn't. Last year I held a food drive, and some people I didn't know came along to donate. Our wires got a bit crossed as they thought the food and money was going to homeless people, but the aim of my campaign was to help families who cannot afford to feed their children and rely on food banks. It turned out they didn't even know this was an issue, so I had to start from the beginning and explain. 

Posters, powerpoints, a detailed speech, leaflets, blog posts, and talking to individuals rather than just summarizing to a large group about your cause can really make a difference and get your message across to people a lot better.

Make An Impact
Holding a large event can be a bit intimidating, but if you can find a space to get your friends and family, and possibly even the public together, it will definitely be worth it. Community centers can be used for free and you can put on parties, tea and coffee mornings, fashion shows and exhibitions - all events that can be done on a budget and are welcome to anyone. As my deadline was in the run up to Christmas, I found a nice pub center to my friends, family, boyfriend and his friends and family. I told everyone not to worry about dressing up but to come in novelty Christmas gear and sparkles, and the pub was free asking for only a deposit for the use of their function room. We had Christmas songs playing, and it was a really relaxed environment where both family and friends could chat, drink, and talk to me about my charity work. If you think about the details, you can turn something like a few pints down the pub into a great fundraising event: the night earned £145!

Keep Up With Current Events
Find out what's in the worldwide calendar and see if you can plan events around the important dates. For example, when it was International Volunteers Day I used the hashtag to promote information about my placement and share my Just Giving page. If you're fundraising around Easter you could organise a charity Easter egg hunt or if you're fundraising in Summer you could organise a car wash, picnic or even a Hawaiian Luau! People love to buy into the holidays, so pull everyone away from the fake commercialization and encourage them to do something worthwhile!

Shout Your Deadline!
So this was a key mistake that I made at the beginning of my fundraising for Ghana. I focused so much on telling people that my placement began in January 2016 that they assumed they had until then to donate. My actual fundraising deadline was December 18th 2015, so of course in the final weeks I had to really reiterate like, "no, you have until next week to donate - not January!" It's really important to emphasise this, and also show people your progress so it looks like a journey. For example if you're at £90, someone might just think let's get them to their first milestone  of £100 and donate a tenner. Boom.

Be Proud.
If people have spoke to you about what you're raising money for and why and don't want to donate, then allow it, not everyone will see things the way that you do even on matters of charity. On the other hand though, don't let anyone make you feel bad for asking for donations. In order to change our world for the better we have things like charities in place, and in this world nothing comes for free. I have stood in the street on a cold Friday in Manchester, asking strangers for donations in the pouring rain - I gave up my time for that, I'm not gonna feel guilty or act like I didn't work hard to do that. Second of all, if people don't agree with you, don't let it drag you down. I've ran campaigns and had ignorant or misguided comments made because they didn't want to listen to the information I had - but that's absolutely fine as long as you know what you're doing is right and that you did your best. 
Whatever amount you raise, remember you earned that and you're helping to make the world a better place! 

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