Given the global financial crisis, fund raising has become more difficult than ever before. So when it comes to raising money for your nonprofit organization’s big ideas, think outside of the box, says Samuel T. Jackson, founder of the Economic Empowerment Initiative (EEI), an organization that provides financial literacy training, leadership, and business development skills to youth and young adults in underserved communities. EEI’s free seminar topics include: budgeting, credit cards and debt, saving and investing, understanding student loans, understanding insurance, how to buy a car, homeownership, understanding taxes, entrepreneurship 101, philanthropy, and understanding employee benefits.
Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project–where Pepsi will give away $20 million in 2010 to fund people, businesses, and nonprofits with big ideas that will positively impact the community–EEI has been able to expand its seminars. Now it can include more college and high school campuses and host national events to help more youth and their families achieve financial literacy. Jackson shared with the Nonprofit Insider these four tips to planning a successful fundraiser.
1) Start planning early. Nonprofits should begin planning fundraising events six to 12 months in advance to allow adequate time to build the necessary alliances, secure venues and sponsors, and develop an event theme that will result in a blockbuster event. Nonprofits should also explore partners that will consider donating space and food in-kind or on an “at cost” basis. Don’t spend most of your organization’s dollars on food, venues, entertainment and décor (flowers, lighting, audio/video equipment, staging, etc.). The more items you can get donated or at a reduced cost, the more dollars you can allot for actual programs.
2) Form a planning committee. It’s important to assemble a strong and capable team of volunteers to help execute your fundraiser. Be sure to assign clear tasks or create subcommittees (e.g., sponsorships, ticket sales, décor, program) to ensure that all the details are accounted for. Identify people in your network who are actively involved in the community with their company, sorority, fraternity, school, or other nonprofit organization, who can help you raise funds or enlist volunteers for your event.
3) Develop a list of potential sponsors/donors. You don’t have to start from scratch when reaching out to potential donors. Approach companies, small businesses, and individuals that are familiar with your organization. Start with board members and members of the planning committee to get a strong group of supporters. Also, develop fundraising ideas that appeal to stakeholders, board members, and other supporters to help rally support behind your event.
4) Showcase the work of your organization. Highlight and celebrate the clients, partners, staff and sponsors that have collaborated to help the organization make an impact. Honoring the people who make the work possible helps make the case for why more dollars are needed for programs. Testimonials by program participants are also very important. They help sponsors and supporters really see their money at work and know that their donation is making a huge difference.
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