With the start of the school year, your alumni chapter may start to think about – or may start to roll out – your fundraising events for the upcoming year. Fundraising can include a year-round cycle of plan, communicate and execute as you work towards your goal. In this week’s post, I’ll give you a set of Do’s and Don’ts to consider as you raise money for your chapter or university.
- Have a plan and a goal. Identify how much you want to raise and then a plan for how you’re going to get there.
- Appoint a separate treasurer to manage the club’s funds and to ensure that money is directed correctly to your fundraising goal.
- Have a dedicated fundraising committee if you want to raise large amounts for scholarships
- Have a way to donate directly to your chapter’s fund and include a link to your donation page on your website and social media
- Have a chapter policy about how funds will be used and ensure that volunteers understand that policy
- Use money raised from donations for other purposes like chapter operations or swag. This can give your alumni the wrong impression and deter donors from contributing in the future.
- Blend your fundraising money with your operational funds. Have separate accounts or have the University hold money in a trust account on your chapter’s behalf
- Use Facebook or PayPal or other online vendors to collect your funds if at all possible. They take a cut of the proceeds which will dip into your fundraising goals. If a third party vendor is your only option for accepting funds, ask your donors to consider an extra 2-3% donation to cover the transaction fee.
- Consider the “usual” fundraising methods – dinners, speakers, golf outings, etc. – when planning your fundraising. These methods are good when you have medium to large fundraising goals.
- Find unique ways to raise money – raffles, auctions, games, t-shirts – that allow your alumni to donate without making a direct cash donation. These methods are great for when your goals are smaller.
- Try affiliate marketing (like ShareASale) or working with a local business like a restaurant who will contribute a portion of proceeds from your alumni’s patronage to your goal. Some chain restaurants may have programs that will donate a portion of your game watch food and beverage dollars to you. Check out Buffalo Wild Wings’ Home Team Advantage program.
- Build a little bit extra into event registration fees when you can to go towards your fundraising goal. An extra buck or two can always help the cause!
- Forget to include a note in your event descriptions that lets people know if a portion of the proceeds will go towards your fundraising goal.
Sample text to include with your fundraising description:
A portion of the proceeds from the night’s event will go towards our Scholarship Fund. The Alumni Chapter has been able to provide over $120,000 in scholarships, over the years to more than 75 area students because of events like this.
- Use all your communication channels to get the word out about your fundraising – email, social media, push notifications, website. Keep the notes positive and informative. Let people know where they can find more details about your fundraising goals and activities.
- Provide fundraising progress updates to your alumni.
- Just ask or beg for a cash donation. Provide a narrative that explains who will benefit and what the chapter will do. Personal stories of the people or groups who’ve received funds from your chapter before will help your alumni understand how their contributions make a difference.
- Remind donors to check with their employers to see if they will match their donations
- Provide donors with a receipt for their records even if it’s a reminder to take a screenshot. Most alumni chapters are non-profit and donations can be tax deductible. Check with your university coordinator if you are unsure.
- Get to know your regular donors. Good relationships can open up other opportunities such as their participation on your board or connections to other local alumni who may be able to help your chapter
- Customize your contacts with potential donors. Know their names, their class years, and other important info. Fundraising is all about the personal touch.
- Forget to say thank you!
- Cold call. If you have regular donors, a letter or call letting them know about your annual goal is probably enough; however, if they’ve never donated, it’s best to get an introduction through another alum who can help you make the connection.
- Get discouraged if you get a “no.” Most universities or college affinity groups reach out to alumni for their fundraising efforts and those alumni will be your local alumni. They may have already given or may be interested in directing their funds to a particular school or group or maybe to no one at all! Just thank them and don’t take it personally.