Fundraising….. big enough word to raise the pulse rate. Where do you start? I set up a justgiving site and emailed it to my friends. Not a great response so I needed to do something more. Raleigh had some great suggestions but as I am now 40 and not even half as fit as I was in my 20’s triathlons and military challenges were going to kill me before I had even begun. Apart from that my friends laughed when I even suggested it.
So what do you do? Look at what you do best. I’m not an athlete, I’m an organiser who can do a fair bit on a pc. So what can I organise? I asked my friends what kind of event they would come to and narrowed it to a quiz night or bingo. My preference was for the quiz night and that’s where the fun started. Through trial and error I have found that the first thing to confirm is the venue. I found a pub that were more than happy for me to have the night in their main bar which meant that I didn’t have to pay hire fees for a room and I could invite their customers also. Set the date. A Thursday night just after everyone’s payday was perfect and the pub were happy also as it is a relatively slow night for them.
Luckily I live near the new Westfield so I spent the day walking from shop to shop begging people for raffle donations. I had made up some flyers with the expedition details on them leaving a space to show where their logo would go should they be kind enough to offer a donation. The yeses came from the most unlikely places. Marks & Spencer were fantastic as they have a policy to support local charities. Raleigh may be international but I’m a local and my event was local. The restaurants were great with vouchers for meals and some of my friends worked for companies who donated raffle prizes.
Ok, now it was all getting scary, best find some questions to ask these people. The internet is a wonderful tool and I found a website that gives you the questions for free and handy advice on how to run the night.
I found that my friends are more than willing to help rather than just give me £10. I made up a poster advertising the event and emailed it to everyone I knew. I made up small versions which I carried in my bag to give to people I hardly knew. I took posters to the local library, police station (for their crew room not the cells) and the fire station. They didn’t turn up but you never know. Most of my good friends brought people with them to make up the teams and some even brought 2 teams with them.
So the day finally dawned and checked things off that needed to be done. I had printed answer sheets, written the questions, bought raffle tickets, checked with the venue, emailed everyone for the third time to make sure they knew it was happening, what could I have forgotten. As I had run through this process at least 5 times a day it was unlikely I was going to forget. But yes, I forgot to pick up the hamper from Marks & Spencer – doh!!! Luckily a friend came to the rescue at the last minute and brought it with them.
The only thing left to do was to wait for everyone to arrive as there was no going back now. One quick drink as they arrived to stop my hands from shaking and before I knew it it was all over. The night went something like this:
We started half an hour late, due to technical issues with the microphone. The kitchen could not cope with the amount of food ordered all at one time that the bar staff almost walked out. The questions were a little rushed as I was conscious of the weather report and potential for snow that night. Everyone had a great time. When you organize something you see the things that are not as you would want them rather than how people see them. I had found questions that had people kicking themselves for not knowing or getting wrong. They had a few drinks, a giggle with friends and supported a friend.
The night raised £405 pounds with the winning team getting £100 in cash so I banked £305 to my just giving site and a few donations for people who forgot to pay on the night came in afterwards.
I can pass on a few tips for you:
1. Ask people but be prepared for them to say no. If you don’t ask they can’t say yes. If they do say no just smile and thank them for their time. You will be surprised at how many people say yes when you smile at them.
2. If someone says that they cannot make a decision, politely ask them for the contact details of the person who can and then leave.
3. People are so more likely to help when you do something first.
4. Do what you are good at. If you don’t think it will make money ask your friends how you think you can spin it to make money. Again if you involve them they are more likely to help.
5. Advertise, promote and generally annoy people. They may come just to shut you up. Never miss an opportunity to promote your event.
6. Use the charity. When you say you are helping someone else people’s faces change.
7. Your friends will forgive your little mistakes and probably won't even notice.
8. Don’t forget to thank everyone, again and again and again.
9. Remember your sponsors and donors, put their logos on everything, say thank you to them on the night (they might be there). Send them thank you letters after the event to tell them how much was raised. You may need them again.
10. Set up a webmail account purely for your fundraising. This stops emails getting lost with your other emails. You can use this for any fundraising stuff and then you can shut it down once you have finished. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org