Tips for Fundraising in a Small Community

Fundraising can be difficult, especially in a small community. Those raising money as well as those who contribute often view fundraisers as the unpleasant task of “asking for money.” It’s also inevitable that the same people are asked to contribute every time a fundraiser is necessary. Unfortunately, when it comes to student travel, fundraising is often a necessity. These things may make it difficult, but it’s not impossible to host a successful fundraiser for your school trip. It could be that your fundraising efforts simply need a refreshing boost. To make your next fundraiser the success you’re looking for, remember to make it SMART: Specific, Memorable, Accessible, Relevant, and Trendy.
Make it Specific.
A mistake that many schools make is hosting a fundraiser that is too general. They have a bake sale or they just ask for general donations. Instead, do what you can to narrow your focus. Think about the Girl Scouts. They do cookies better than anyone. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s never bought (and enjoyed) a box of thin mints. They’re successful because they specialized in one thing and made it excellent. As a school, you can apply this to your fundraiser in multiple ways. You could pick one thing to do or sell in which you could really excel. You could also be specific in how you ask for donations. Instead of just asking for a general contribution, ask for $12 to send 12 students to Washington, D.C. Or ask for $5 from 500 people. When you find your specific niche, it will contribute towards all of the other attributes of a smart fundraiser.
Make it Memorable.
There are many ways to make your fundraiser memorable. Keeping your fundraiser specific will be helpful, but don’t just stop there. Memorable fundraisers may be fun, quirky, or even a little bit crazy. Capitalize on a local celebrity – (all small communities have them). Do something out of the ordinary. Create some sort of incentive for giving. It could be a window decal for their car, a key chain, a reusable cup, or even something totally funky like a team snuggie or autographed silly portraits of your school’s superintendent. All of these things make your fundraiser memorable to the people involved.
Make it Accessible.
When hosting a fundraiser for student travel, you want to include everyone and you want to make it easy for them to donate. In a small community, people like to pull together over causes. Avoid doing anything that some people can’t afford or that won’t be appealing to the majority of your community. You can also make it accessible by making it easy for people to give. Many people are moving away from the use of cash and checks so consider ways to make credit cards an option. Consider utilizing the internet. Some people have had success hosting online auctions or using crowd-funding websites. Making your fundraiser as accessible as possible can significantly contribute to the success of your fundraiser.
Make it Relevant.
Know your audience. Do something that will be constructive and beneficial to those who are involved. In small communities, there are always opportunities to fill in gaps. Is there an eyesore in town that is in need of a big clean up? Ask community members to donate to students who volunteer their time and labor. Does your small community lack weekend entertainment? Host an evening of food and enjoyment as students entertain guests. Think about your community and what they would consider worthwhile.
Make it Trendy.
In a small community, it’s easier to create trends. You want your fundraiser to be trendy because that means everyone is getting involved and making financial contributions – not just because it’s a worthy cause, but because they are excited to be included! If you’ve done the legwork to make your fundraiser specific, memorable, accessible, and relevant, then you’ll be right on track to creating a trend. Initiate some marketing and news of your fundraiser will spread like wildfire. Marketing takes some effort but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Make the most of social media by purchasing inexpensive ads on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t underestimate the value in foot traffic. Set up at sporting events or at the busiest shop/corner in town. Finally, polish your message. People love to feel like they are contributing to something worthwhile, so it’s important to effectively communicate what their contribution will accomplish. Marketing insures people know about your fundraiser. If your fundraiser is specific, memorable, accessible, and relevant, then once they know about it, they’ll buy in. And poof! You have a trend.
Don’t try to do this alone. I recommend sitting down with your student travel group for a collaborative brainstorming session. Start by creating some quantifiable goals for your fundraiser. Once you have these goals in mind, work on brainstorming ideas. At first, don’t eliminate any ideas, just get as many out there as possible. Once you have a good list of ideas, start evaluating how SMART they are. After you’ve narrowed down your list to just a few SMART ideas, you can really put in some effort to make them successful. As long as you think SMART, you’ll be on your way to a successful school trip fundraiser in no time.