Article written by: Nicole Street

5/23/17

Fundraising 101: Tips from a not so professional fundraising runner

If you had asked me a year ago if I would run another marathon, let ago raise money while getting ready to train for a marathon, I would have told you that you were a crazy person. Then January rolled around and I not only decided to raise money in support of Team for Kids, but I also decided I would be running the 2017 New York City Marathon with my best friend.

Why be a fundraiser? 

- To support a cause you strongly believe in

-To help bring awareness to an issue that people may not think about on a daily basis

- To give meaning to your miles! Running is such an individual sport, it's so incredibly empowering to have a "reason" to lace up and run.

Ok, so you want to raise money for a charity and run a race. Now what?

The first step is to think about why you're fundraising. Find a cause that you strongly believe in and think about why you feel it's important. Then find out how to get involved in said charity.

Set a fundraising goal and pick a goal race. A lot of times, the goal is determined by the charity. For example, Team for Kids sets fundraising goals for the marathon distance at $2620. A lot of people choose to make the goal bigger than required, and I think that's a wonderful idea if you have a great way to spread the word!

Make a plan. This is arguably the most nerve-wracking part of the fundraising process because you're literally at $0 raised and the task seems daunting. But think about who you want to ask and create your message (i.e. why you're fundraising, who you're fundraising for, and your goal race).

Ask, Ask, Ask. Set out and start asking all of those people you listed out. I've used mainly email and social media, but also good old fashioned snail mail. Ask as many people as you can think of!

Don't be afraid of "no". In reaching out to people, you're bound to have someone say, "thanks but no thanks". It's hard to hear "no" and not take it personally, particularly from a close friend or family member. But it will happen and I've learned that it's important to not let "no" impact the rest of your fundraising efforts.

Follow up. For me, this is the hardest part. I don't like to be a pest but the saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" exists for a reason. People have busy lives and just because they aren't donating doesn't meant they don't want to...just that maybe it's slipped their mind. Worst case scenario? They say, "thanks but no thanks".

Get creative. Once you've exhausted all of your friends and family with social media posts and emails and mailings it's time to get creative. I've only been fundraising for a couple of months so I am by no means the end all be all of fundraising tips. But the one thing I do know: people like to have something to show for their donation. Think of fun ways to engage people and they will be much more interested in your cause!

Just a couple of good tips:

- T-shirt sales (via Bonfire, etc)

- Fundraising gifts (something homemade or personalized)

- Charity auction (I'm doing one of these on my blog sometime soon so stay tuned!)

- Restaurant night

-Wine tasting party

-Trunk sale with a local vendor

Branch outside of your comfort zone. Like I mentioned above, I will be having a charity auction on my blog in the coming weeks. And boy, that was SCARY to get started. Emailing shops and people and companies to ask for donations is quite intimidating. But I think it's important to make your cause known and do those scary things to help raise awareness and support for whatever you strongly believe in!

Always remember why you're fundraising. It's easy to lose sight of the end goal during fundraising. It's a time consuming and sometimes stressful endeavor and I've found myself frustrating about progress, etc more times than I'd like to admit. Write down your goal/who you're fundraising for/why you chose to support your charity. And remind yourself of that reason every time you feel down and out about progress.

Make it part of your life. If you're having people donate, you need to walk the walk. Donate to yourself, donate to others, and keep fundraising at the forefront of your mind.

I've learned that it takes A LOT to be successful at fundraising. It's more work than I possibly could have imagined. But, to be honest, that is NOT a bad thing because it just reaffirms the WHY of fundraising.

You can follow my training and fundraising journey on my blog!