Th e E s s e


in Fundrais tials of


22 lessons for A+ fundraising
Editorial Chapter 1: Lesson 1: Lesson 2: Lesson 3: Chapter 2: Lesson 4: Getting started Goal setting the SMART way Appoint a fundraising coordinator Use your Fundraising Handover Manual Setting your fundraising calendar It pays to go for a mix of fundraisers A place for tradition: Should you repeat the same fundraiser? When to hold your fund-raiser? Keep fundraising drives short and snappy Choosing your fundraiser and supplier How quickly do you need to meet your financial goal? Are you looking at an ‘event’ or a sales program? Fundraising drives offer popular profitable possibilities What about online fundraising programs? Consider your market If you’re selling, who forms your sales team? Raffles – there are legal obligations and then a prize How to choose a supplier A good fundraising supplier will not only answer your questions – but want to know more about you too Questions you need to ask Questions you should be asked Ask for a reference or two Keep it simple 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 14 14 14 15 19 20 22 26 26 27 27 28 28 28

Lesson 5: Chapter 3:

Lesson 6:

Lesson 7: Lesson 8:

Lesson 9:


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Chapter 4: Lesson 10: Lesson 11: Lesson 12: Lesson 13: Lesson 14:

Fundraising drive essentials The lead up Educate people about why this fundraiser is needed – and how they play a part Databases are invaluable Launching your fundraiser Fundraisers need a launch Spread the word and get it heard Incentivise! Maintaining momentum Driving it home! To stick with the deadline or not? The fundraiser’s not finished ‘til the handover manual’s done! Handling orders and shipments Before dispatch Share the outcome with your community Update your Fundraising Handover Manual Volunteers Know who’s got what to offer Avoid fundraising fatigue Boosting parent support Create a volunteer sign-up board Keep those lines of communication open Feeling valued goes a long way Building a partnership from the broader community Don’t put grants in the too-hard basket

30 30 30 31 31 31 34 35 36 36 36 38 38 38 39 40 42 42 43 43 43 46 47 49 49

Chapter 5:

Lesson 15: Lesson 16: Chapter 6: Lesson 17: Lesson 18: Lesson 19: Lesson 20: Lesson 21: Chapter 7: Lesson 22:

Mandy Stevens 1300 653 305



1300 653 305

Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd ABN 98 118 909 069 takes no responsibility for materials in this publication or claims made by p: 1300 653 305 advertisers, or errors or omissions. f: 1300 769 823 Readers should not act on any representations made in this book without independent verification.

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book



The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

rial d i to E
In the beginning there was a need, and someone said “We’ll raise some money and fix that!”. So a few folk got together and barbequed some sausages outside a hardware store for weekends on end; found themselves up to their elbows in chocolate icing and coconut as lamington orders came in, and sold box upon box of chocolate frogs … and they thought it was good. Funds were raised and the need was met. But the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, more needs arose. The same people found themselves doing the same things, working hard to raise money, asking the same people for their support … and soon it was not so good. They wondered why people turned and walked the other way when they approached. They became lonely and felt unwanted; and they quit … and then there were two needs… What a sad and sorry story: what a pity they hadn’t read ‘The Essentials of Fundraising: 22 lessons to A+ fundraising.’ I have been involved with fundraising for my children’s kindy and school for five years. That has coincided with the phenomenal growth of the Fundraising Directory, Australia’s leading resource on fundraising. The focus of this e-book is on fundraising drives however the basic principles will translate to any fundraiser you choose. Follow these tips and you will be making those much-needed dollars for your project – and it will be good!

Direct Digital PS: Throughout this ebook, I refer a lot to ‘schools’. I don’t mean to be exclusive. These tips will apply to all forms of community based organisations with a common goal
This ebook was inspired by and is dedicated with love to the memory of Helen Creswick.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


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Getting started
So your school or kindy or sports group wants to raise some money. First question: why? The answer is not ‘because we should’. It is not ‘because we want to help the school/kindy/sports group’. You need a firm goal!

Lesson 1:

Goal setting the SMART way
well-defined and clear in terms of progress towards the goal all key stakeholders agree to the goal and have a stake in it don’t be too ambitious a time frame is built in.

Think:  Specific –  Measurable –  Agreed –  Realistic –  Timely – Now that’s SMART!

Applying the SMART principles, you’ll see that ‘we want to contribute towards the school’s new science building’ is too broad. ‘We want to outfit the canteen in the new science building’ is better but not quite there. These are great goals:  ‘All funds raised from the club’s Trivia Night will be used to send players to the interstate meet during the Easter holidays.’  ‘We want to raise $5000 by 30 June to install shade sails in the playground.’ Such specific outcomes mean you can get actual quotes for what’s needed and set real financial goals.

Knowing absolutely how much money is needed and how it will be spent provides motivation and focus for helpers and supporters. We’ll talk more about these important people soon.

Financial success does not equate with the percentage of gross sales a fundraising supplier provides. There’s much more to it. Chapter 3: ‘Choosing a fundraiser and supplier’ explains.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Getting started
Lesson 2: Appoint a fundraising coordinator.
Behind every successful fundraising drive sits a well-organised designated fundraising coordinator. Most committees have a president, secretary and treasurer. A fundraising coordinator is as central to the committee as these three positions. This person is not just well-organised but a great communicator and imaginative too. But don’t make the mistake of thinking the fundraising coordinator is responsible for all the hard work. She’s commander-in-chief, breaking down a big job into smaller tasks that others can handle. Consider also having a volunteer coordinator to take the job of ‘manning’ the moneymakers off the shoulders of the fundraising coordinator.

Lesson 3:

Use your Fundraising Handover Manual.

What? Your committee doesn’t have one! Stop reinventing the wheel. This is your next MUST DO. Companies recognise the cost of losing ‘intellectual property’ when staff move on. So why is the knowledge gained from volunteers on a P&C committee or a music support group or soccer squad any less valuable? It’s not! If you haven’t got a Fundraising Handover Manual, set one up now. It doesn’t need to be complicated. This binder holds records of past activities, contacts of helpers and suppliers, and outcomes. It will also include a report that rates the fundraiser itself and the suppliers used. At a glance you can see what worked, what didn’t and why. A Fundraising Handover Manual will save you stress, anxiety and time. Keep an eye out in 2010 as The Fundraising Directory publishes the definitive Fundraising Handover Manual. To receive further updates, subscribe to our free e-newsletter by clicking here.

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Setting your fundraising calendar
You now have a goal. You know how much money you need to meet that goal. Great fundraising takes planning. You need to organise your calendar at least six months in advance. Better still; make commitments at your Annual General Meeting for the year ahead. If your school publishes a calendar of events, make sure your fundraising events are on it.

Find out what’s happening in your locality before committing to dates. Are there likely to be important clashes? “It’s really important to know what others are doing too. Our daughter’s Open Day always coincides with the local boys’ school walkathon – and we’re not the only parents with children at both schools. Trying to support both means we’re frazzled and clockwatching on a Sunday and the kids are being rushed from one place to another. No one really enjoys their event.” Sandra, parent, Brisbane

Lesson 4:

It pays to go for a mix of fundraisers.

A big bang or multiple fundraisers? From my experience, one fundraiser a term works well – that’s four opportunities throughout the year to raise money. Your fundraising calendar might look like this:  product drive  spell-a-thon  Mother’s Day or Father’s Day stall  family day or fete In this way you have a mix of direct sales, a children’s activity, a community builder and a fundraiser piggybacking on a popular calendar event. Your Fundraising Report Card will tell you what has worked in the past. You’ll also see if a golden oldie has become a little tired and needs either some revitalisation or a rest.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Setting your fundraising calendar
WARNING: Do not get too ambitious – or greedy. Too many fundraisers will turn your supporters right off.

Keep clear of school holidays. Families need time off! The last thing they want to think about is fundraising.

A place for tradition: Should you repeat the same fundraiser?
Two old sayings come to mind: “variety is the spice of life” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s often easier for a committee to run the same schedule of fundraisers over and over again. There’s a place for tradition - but that’s not in fundraising! If you’re serious about fundraising for your group, put sentimentality and tradition aside and look at the bottom line. If the fundraiser still achieves results, by all means continue with it, but consider giving it a facelift. If support has dwindled and there’s a noticeable loss of interest and enthusiasm even among your core supporters, you’ve already left it too late and it’s definitely time to spice up life. Don’t wait to hear “Oh no not that again!” The only way to grow your range of ‘tried and tested’ fundraisers is to try and test them! Each year, make certain you have at least one new product drive or event in your fundraising mix.

When to hold your fund-raiser?
Take a lesson from retailers and think about calendar events. Can you cash in on a fundraising drive leading up to Easter? Is there are way of tying Mother’s Day or Father’s Day into your fundraiser? Harness the Christmas spirit with end-of-year festivities.

One Brisbane state primary school’s P&C hold a fete as its main fundraiser on the Saturday immediately before Mothers’ Day. Quality craft items, cakes, bunches of flowers and home-cooked casseroles – perfect presents for mums – are available for sale. The P&C makes about $80 000 profit annually. Bonus: the clean-up is the next day and a dads’ only event! The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Setting your fundraising calendar
Lesson 5: Keep fundraising drives short and snappy.
Think election campaign. Fundraising campaigns that drag on can lose focus and become ho-hum. Don’t let that happen to yours! I recommend short and sweet – two to three weeks is ideal for a fundraising drive. Events on the other hand need a date claimer well in advance. Then there’s no excuse for not having reserved the date. There’s more detail on this in Chapter 3, Choosing your fundraiser and supplier.

Become a fan of the fundraising directory on facebook and win!

Monthly Prize Draw:

Win a Rose Bloom from or follow the link from our website
The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


er 3 apt Ch
Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
First you need to decide on the type of fundraiser that will work best for you. Consider: how quickly you need to meet your financial goal   whether you want an event or a sales program  when to fundraise  your market – who you can target to support your cause  if you’re selling, who forms your sales team. Then it’s time to look for a supplier.

How quickly do you need to meet your financial goal?
Is there an urgent need? Do you need to raise $2 000 to help send some team members to an elite sports camp in a few weeks? Your best fundraising bet may be a direct sales program. You order a product and sell it immediately. Having a longer lead time - and a bigger goal - extends your fundraising options.

Are you looking at an ‘event’ or a sales program?
When you think ‘fundraising event’, it’s easy to limit yourself to fetes. Organising one of those is a whole book in itself (and yes, you’ve guessed it, we’ve written it!)! A fete requires lots of planning, an army of volunteers and is a lot of hard work over a long period. You will find some great practical tips in my directory, Australia’s annual guide to fetes and festivals But many other event-based activities get overlooked. Some involve children directly. Think a-thons: walk-a-thons, spell-a-thons; skip-a-thons, swim-a-thons. Some create social and fundraising opportunities for adults. Think shopping tours, trivia nights or casino nights. Family events like disco nights or Christmas carols lend themselves to direct sales such as glow sticks. Then there are sales programs, otherwise known as fundraising drives: direct sales, orders taken or online. Let’s explore these further.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
Lesson 6: Fundraising drives offer popular profitable possibilities.
Fundraising drives are proven, popular ways to raise funds quickly. Your choice of product to sell will be the hardest decision! The Fundraising Directory lists suppliers who specialise in fundraising campaigns using:  artwork, stationery and labels  books, cd-roms, DVDs and movies  bulbs, plants and herbs  chocolates and lollies  clothing and jewellery  custom-labelled beverages  food and fruit  homewares  personal care products  photography  toys and educational.

Money’s tight. Focus your fundraising on products that your supporters will need to buy anyway, like books, toys, sunscreen, batteries – and make sure that what is offered is quality. “I have found day-to-day purchases turned into fundraisers don’t burn a hole in the budget. They simply require a change in where the ‘spend’ happens.” Marisa, parent, Newcastle Consider whether you want direct sales or an orders-taken program.

Order-taken programs
The big advantage here is you only order what you’ve sold. That means there’s no risk to your profit.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


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Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
But you do need some lead time to run a fundraising drive like this and there’s more administration too: distributing brochures and order forms; getting orders in; distributing the goods. Some fundraising suppliers streamline the administration, providing the fundraising coordinator with a computer program that will tally up orders and work out profits. That saves hours!

Direct sales
The big advantage is you have the stock to sell. If it moves like a rocket, you’ll be raking in the money. Be realistic in setting your sales goal. Does your Fundraising Handover Manual hold some clue of what you’ll need? It will next time. Do you have the capacity to pay upfront for the quantity you need? What if your sales don’t meet expectations and you’ve a garage full of unsold cartons? Avoid this by knowing your fundraising company’s return policy before you commit! Many fundraising companies will accept unsold returns but they are well within their rights not to accept cartons that have been opened or damaged.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Choosing your fundraiser and supplier

The sweet fundraising debate – getting the balance right Chocolates and lollies will always sell but you may come up against some vocal opposition, encouraging obesity, yadda yadda yadda. I’m all for healthy active lifestyles and having a diet that incorporates a little of a lot: nutritionists call that balance. Balance is healthy. So here are my tips for finding balance - and fundraising success - selling chocolates and lollies: 1. Give parents the opportunity to opt-out up front. Send a note home to all families about the fundraiser and ask them to let you know if they do not wish to participate. Respect conscientious objectors and suggest instead a donation of, say, $20 as their contribution. 2. Encourage parents to take a box (or two or three) to their workplace. That removes the temptation from the playground and opens up the wallets of those outside the school community. 3. Direct at least some of the money raised towards an activity-based investment. 4. Alternate the chocolate drive with an activity-based fundraiser such as a walkathon. 5. Use the fundraising effort to educate children about ‘sometimes’ foods.

What about online fundraising programs?
My focus in this ‘how to’ is on drives that have a beginning, middle and end. Online programs are emerging fundraisers with the potential to save time and money but they tend to be ongoing – and they don’t ‘just happen’. Typically your group signs up to a supplier. Family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues can buy products from that supplier online whenever they want (there tends not to be a cut-off date). The ‘trick’ is that supporters need to remember to nominate your group as the beneficiary so that the commission goes where it belongs.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
Convenience is an obvious advantage. The ‘cut’ can be a real bonus. For example, every dollar spent on products from the Toys and More catalogue earns credits for the school, centre or group to update their resources. But the risk with this form of fundraising is that it can be a ‘sitter’. It’s not IN YOUR FACE like other drives; yet it needs to be to bring in orders. A catalogue sent home is not going to generate sales for you without you pushing, prodding and promoting, reminding your supporters why they need to buy something this way. Be prepared to ramp up your promotional and motivational strategies to really maximise your earnings.

Consider your market
Not all fundraisers work for all situations or groups. Is the product affordable? Peg your price at what your community can afford. Think beyond your immediate group. How can you get your neighbours, relatives and colleagues to dig into their pockets? What interests them? Think values too. For example, I’ve found that custom-labelled wine goes down a treat at kindys and childcare centres. Youngsters’ artwork is used for the labels. If you’re the parent of the chosen Picasso, you’ll automatically want to buy bottles for grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, neighbours - and possibly put the wine down for the artist’s own 18th! Tiny tots are unlikely to be aware of - let alone influenced by - this fundraising. Teenagers could be: that’s why high schools are particularly careful about promoting wine sales. Sporting groups and high schools find success with custom-labelled spring water bottles.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
If you’re selling, who forms your sales team?
“United we stand, divided we … fail”. Okay, apologies to Aesop for the take on his saying but I did say everyone needs to have a stake in reaching the fundraising goal. That comes into play now, when thinking of who’s going to sell your way to fundraising success. You cannot expect a few to do this. It needs a whole of club/school community commitment. Read more about volunteers in Chapter 6.

Become a fan of the fundraising directory on facebook and win!

Monthly Prize Draw:

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The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
I’m often asked about involving children. My short answer: whenever possible, go for it!

Involving children in fundraising Children are not being exploited when they’re involved in fundraising. They learn a few realities about life. For example, children learn that things don’t ‘just appear’ in their classroom or Cub den. Just like they have to save up pocket money for the latest gizmo, the cool new playground didn’t just materialise. Being a part of the sales team, children learn about community spirit. Their involvement can be a great boost to their self-confidence too. A word of caution though… Times have changed and there is no way I advocate children selling or seeking sponsorship door-to-door without parental supervision. By all means have a roster of children selling raffle tickets in the local mall – but have a number of parents there to keep an eye on them. Likewise escort your child around the neighbourhood and hover just behind him as he knocks on the door. “Out of the mouths of babes…” Children’s views are fresh and honest. Why not ask for their ideas about a fundraiser, such as what prize would work as an incentive for taking part. One school I know did this and discovered that a high bounce ball was motivating all the kids one year, and it turned out to be the least expensive incentive prize – a win-win! But it may well ‘suck’ the next year.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book



The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
Lesson 7: Raffles – there are legal obligations and then a prize.
Australians love a little gamble. Our nation grinds to halt to watch the Melbourne Cup every year. It stands to reason that most groups consider a raffle as a fund-raiser. When I was growing up, it was fine to buy a raffle book from your local newsagency, sell the tickets and draw a lucky stub out of a hat.

There’s more to running a raffle now.
Every state and territory has different requirements. For example, in Victoria you need a permit from the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation if your total prize pool is more than $5000. In Queensland, a permit is needed only if the total prize value exceeds $20000; in New South Wales, it’s $25000. If a permit is needed, you will need to factor in that cost – and a window of time for the approval (up to 45 days in Victoria). Then there’s the task of securing a prize worthy of a lottery. It needs to be something really desirable. Ideally you want it donated, otherwise the cost will have to be covered by your sales, before you see profit. Think about how many tickets you will need to sell to cover such an outlay. Chapter 7 provides some advice on sponsors.

Australian Fundraising charges a fee for doing all the hard work. It looks after the legal aspects, organises great holiday prizes – accommodation in quality motels around Australia; prints personalised tickets and presents the tickets in sellable bundles. You only buy as many as you are confident you can sell (the value of the prize reflects sales).

How to choose a supplier
Once you’ve decided on the type of fundraiser, you need to choose the right company to support your campaign. Review your Fundraising Handover Manual. Who was used last time and what was the result? (Oops, don’t have one? Start now so next year’s committee learns from your experience.) Do some homework. Look through the Fundraising Directory, view the websites of


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
potential suppliers, and create a short list. Using the ‘Information Request’ system built into the Fundraising Directory website makes this task easy. Now it’s time to ask your questions.

Lesson 8: A good fundraising supplier will not only answer your questions – but want to know more about you too.
Questions you need to ask 1. How long has the company been in business? 2. How many years of experience does the company representative have in fundraising? 3. What is the percentage profit of sales?

Percentage does not necessarily translate into profit. If one company offers you 50% of gross sales and another offers you 40%, ask why. It could be that the ‘40%’ company offers useful ‘extras’ that could boost sales and save time e.g. kick-offs, incentives, timely delivery of merchandise, customised packaging for individual. Perhaps the quality is so superior that an increased sales volume will net your group more money. Don’t take the percentage of sales at face value.

4. Is the product high-quality? Quality products equal quality revenue returns. 5. Does the supplier provide services that will help save volunteers’ time such as

checklists, promotional posters, tally sheets, collection envelopes, pre-sorting? 6. Is there a prize incentive program? Is so, who pays for it? 7. Are products paid for in advance or upon delivery? Will they work with you on a fair payment option? 8. What is the returns policy if you over-order? When talking to the company rep, consider her communication style. You want to work with someone who listens to your needs. The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Choosing your fundraiser and supplier
Questions you should be asked
The questions shouldn’t be one-way either. Fundraising companies you want to work with will ask questions about your group. The company rep will want to know: 1. your group’s financial goal 2. your fundraising timeline 3. the number of potential participants and their ages 4. any historical information (e.g. past fundraisers, participation levels, successes and failures). If the company rep doesn’t ask, he’s not really interested.

Ask for a reference or two
Take the time to talk to another group who has used a supplier. Were their expectations met? Did the company delivery its promise? Yes, this process takes time but if it pays off – you raise the money you need and it could be the beginning of a beautiful on-going partnership.

Lesson 9:

Keep it simple.

Your fundraising coordinator and support team are volunteers. Their time is precious too. They do have a life other than raising money for this committee’s venture. The paperwork that’s involved in a fundraising drive can be overwhelming. Look for a supplier who makes it as straightforward as possible. Many suppliers will provide checklists, order forms, tally sheets - all the administrative paperwork that’s needed to support your fundraising drive. Some suppliers even provide a computer program that looks after the time-consuming calculations of orders and prize tallies. That can save hours!


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

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Fundraising drive essentials
Life has a beginning, a middle and an end; a fundraising drive is no different. You cannot afford to scrimp on any stage.

The lead up Lesson 10: Educate people about why this fundraiser is needed – and how they play a part

“Having a box of chocolates just turn up, expecting to be sold, without any communication, made me very cross. It was like I had no option. The fact that my child was at a private school added insult to injury.” Georgia, parent, Melbourne This is a lesson in what not to do! I’ve already outlined my strategy for selling chocolates and lollies (page 19). In failing to communicate an upcoming fund-raiser at all, Georgia’s school committee really got her off-side. They could kiss her support good-bye.

You need to be on the parents’ radar.
We’re all busy. There’s a lot going on. Sometimes we need to be reminded what day of the week it is! Securing your fundraiser in the school calendar is good but that doesn’t mean it will be remembered. Pre-publicity is vital. The lead-up is the time to really whip up support. It will work best if you can demonstrate what is in it for them (or more specifically their little darling). If your school or club has a website, use it to post a ‘Coming Soon’ notice. Think of it like an advertisement. You’re out to convince a buying population to invest in your product. Make a connection between the donation and the goal. The more visual, the better. There’s no such thing as too many posters: you want them on every classroom door, at every school entrance, in the office, at the canteen, in the library, even in the adults’ toilets. If you’re fundraising for an activity-based group such as ballet or soccer, with lots of comings and goings, you need to have someone handing out flyers announcing this ‘up-coming fundraiser’ at every single training session a week or two before launch day.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Fundraising drive essentials
Lesson 11: Databases are invaluable.
Privacy laws mean schools and clubs cannot pass on family’s details without their permission. Some clubs and schools have even stopped providing a class/team contacts list for fear of breaching these laws. Unless you are a real social networker, you may not have a lot of contacts. From here on, work to build up your contact database for your committee. Include a ‘Request for contact details’ form in your team sign-up papers or the school enrolment pack. Why is it important? Perhaps it’s the kids I know but from experience, notices sent home have a habit of going astray – more so as a child gets older! Having a contact database means you can send out group emails, including prepublicity for your upcoming fundraiser. Include details of when the fundraiser kicks off -- and when money and orders or responses are due in.

Launching your fundraiser
Georgia’s school sent home a box of chocolates to be sold. No heralding, no fanfare. One unhappy parent.

Lesson 12: Fundraisers need a launch.
At my school, fundraisers have a real kick-off. I get up on the stage in front of the whole school and talk it up. I talk about why we’re fundraising. I talk about how the product can be sold. I talk about the incentives that are given to those who participate – and those who really get involved (see Lesson 14). There’s music; there’s excitement. The kids don’t forget to show their mums and dads the newsletter when they go home.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Fundraising drive essentials
Now if I can create that much of a stir, imagine if you had a celebrity on board! This is where knowing who your parents are and what skills they have comes in handy. If you’ve a football hero of a dad or a famous writer mum in your group, ask them to be part of the launch. How do you launch a fundraiser when your club has training sessions at different times or places? It is tricky but not impossible. Perhaps time the launch announcement with a big game – and announce it to the assembled crowd. Use your database to get the message out to everyone that it’s GAME ON! Your fundraising launch needs to be backed up with publicity. That’s the next lesson.

Lesson 13:

Spread the word and get it heard

Fundraising is not a shrinking violet activity. To be successful, your activity needs to be OUT THERE, IN THE LIMELIGHT. It wants to be talked about. Your school or club newsletter is a great place to start. So too is your website. Lesson 10 taught you the importance of pre-publicity. Now it’s game time! Your information kits or order forms go home on launch day.

A sea of papers flood in to our home, all needing attention; all, invariably, white coloured. A bright colour will give your fundraising flyer immediate stand-out qualities. Rosemary, parent, Melbourne If your fundraiser has a quirky angle to it – or a stand-out goal – you might even secure some publicity in your local newspaper. Contact the chief of staff about three weeks beforehand (if it’s a weekly newspaper). Your community radio station is likely to give you some airtime too.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Fundraising drive essentials

TIPS for writing a media release 

Create a catchy headline - a play on words to grab attention works. Write your media release like an inverted pyramid: the most important information is at the top; at least at the bottom. Your first sentence is less than 30 words and will explain ‘who, what, when, where and how’. Type your media release. Use organisation letterhead. Include a contact name and daytime telephone number for more information.

Lesson 14:


Sometimes it takes more than a good cause to win support. Call it motivation. Call it a prize. Call it a bribe. Incentivising your fundraising reaps rewards. That’s why professional fundraisers use them. Incentives do not have to be big. They do not have to be expensive. In fact, better that they’re not! You don’t want the prizes for participation eating up your profits. Be creative: I would love to win an assigned parking space in the school grounds at pick-up time for a week – and that would cost nothing! Consider the different incentive options:  Group contribution – You could offer an iceblock for every child whose whole class returns order forms for a fundraising drive.  Individual participation – A sticker or a pencil giveaway awarded to all volunteers who achieve the minimum level of participation (e.g. school students who take the information home and return signed paperwork from parents on time).  Tiered prize program – The greater the sales value, the higher the prize value.  Rewarding families who provide outstanding support – A family dinner, shopping vouchers, or family-oriented prize are valued incentives. Lots of fundraising suppliers provides a prize program. Ask your supplier what’s offered – and at what cost.

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Fundraising drive essentials

Some fundraising suppliers offer BIG prizes for choosing them. For example, your group may go into the draw to win a family holiday because your group (a) used Supplier X and (b) reached a certain sales target. This prize could be raffled at another fundraiser - without costing you a cent!

Maintaining momentum
Every fundraising drive has a beginning, middle and an end. If you’ve kept your fundraiser short and sharp, the middle point is a week or three after launch date. It’s time for an update on assembly. It’s time for a reminder in the newsletter. It’s time to sing the praises of the class that’s done particularly well. It’s time to stir up a little rivalry. Consider a visual gimmick as a way of showing progress.

Driving it home!
You’ve heard it: “Oh I meant to get the order form in on time”. Avoid disappointment – most notably your committee’s at having lost sales! Days before the cut-off date, ram home the message to act now. Use your posters, flyers, appearances on assembly and email reminders.

To stick with the deadline or not?
You absolutely must have an end date. Otherwise your fundraiser goes from sizzle to fizzle. However a little leniency – or understanding – may earn you some serious late orders.

Yes you need to have a deadline. But human nature – and being busy – means we often don’t get to things when we mean to. Extend the deadline a few days – at most a week. You’re likely to get a flood of later orders in, and that’s money in the bank. Rosemary, parent, Melbourne


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


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The fundraiser’s not finished ‘til the handover manual’s done!
Congratulations: it’s a wrap! Your orders are in. There’s still work to do though…

Handling orders and shipments  

Finalising orders is not a one-person job. It’s best to work in pairs – the more sales, the more pairs. Make sure all order forms are legible and filled out completely. Keep copies of all returned forms before sending them to the fundraising supplier.

Pay particular attention to the expiry date on credit cards. Too often, a supporter fills out the order form without thinking whether the card will still be good to use at the end of the fundraising drive!

Before despatch
1. Work in pairs again - one calls the order, one checks the product. 2. Double check the products for damaged or missing merchandise before sending
them home. 3. Work in a clear, clean space that’s secure - in case you need to lock up uncollected goods. 4. Arrange collection times that are convenient to your supporters.

Do you have a phone number on the credit card slip? That way the supplier can follow up any ‘problem’ payments such as incorrect numbers or expired cards without you having to make what could be an ‘awkward’ call.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

The fundraiser’s not finished ‘til the handover manual’s done!
Lesson 15: Share the outcome with your community.
Too often, a fundraiser just fades away. People want to know what happened! Share the result with all who took part - committee members, volunteers, and supporters. Place a notice in your newsletter and/or website. For example: ‘We reached our goal of raising $3000 from our spell-a-thon. We are on track to raising $25000 this year, enabling us to put an electronic whiteboard on each floor in our school.’

Our school has a policy of not fundraising for our own benefit. The Victorian bushfires were close to us – most of the school community knew someone affected – and we held a Penguin book drive for another, small public, school that had been burnt down. Administratively it was easy. Catalogues went home and parents sent their orders in. They knew the product – and they were moved by the tragedy. Penguin offers a percentage of sales – in money or books. Parents saw that they were not only buying for their own children but for others, so there was a double benefit. We took the book option and were able to drop off $3000 worth of books to the other school. I worked with the library captains in every class and involved the students in selecting books. As a follow-up, I put a notice in the newsletter thanking ‘everyone’ without naming names and created personalised thank-you cards that were attached to every order. In this way, everyone’s support was acknowledged without breaching anyone’s privacy. Marissa, fundraising coordinator, Ivanhoe, Victoria

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


The fundraiser’s not finished ‘til the handover manual’s done!

Lesson 16:

Update your Fundraising Handover Manual.

Reflect on your efforts. What worked? What didn’t? Would you do this again? Would you use the supplier again? While it’s fresh in your mind, complete a Report Card and file it in the Fundraising Handover Manual.

Become a fan of the fundraising directory on facebook and win!

Monthly Prize Draw:

Win a Rose Bloom from or follow the link from our website
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The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


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Attracting and keeping volunteers
Whether they’re supervising children selling raffle tickets in a shopping mall, or spreading the word of the fundraiser in their workplace, taking in orders or counting money, you cannot fundraise without volunteers! I’m often asked ‘why is it always the same people?’ Good question. It’s rarely because these volunteers have nothing better to do with their time. From my experience, they’re often very busy people who just happen to be amazingly generous souls. They’re involved: they go to meetings and functions; hence making they are known and accessible. But if you rely on the same people every time, you run the risk of them one day saying “Enough! No! Ask someone else!” The following lessons will help you get the most from your volunteers.

Lesson 17:

Know who’s got what to offer.

Schools, sports clubs, and community groups: they all have annual admissions. It might be a sign-on day or enrolment day. This is your chance to meet and greet potential new volunteers. Mingle and chat. While you’re chatting, mention the committee’s work in broad terms – particularly goals. Ensure that your group has a flyer in the sign-on/enrolment kit, explaining what you do. Include a form seeking parent/carer details. How to contact them: do they prefer email or phone (during work hours or evenings)? Do they have particular interests, skills or connections? If they’re forthcoming, you’ll know that John S has a minivan and can make deliveries, Barbara C is a bookkeeper and that a former Olympic swimmer has a child at your school/club. Keep this information in your database. It will come in handy.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Attracting and keeping volunteers
Lesson 18:
Heard that? Then your group is at risk of fundraising fatigue. In your group’s enthusiasm, you’ve burnt the proverbial candle at both ends. Your supporters are feeling assaulted by never-ending ‘asks’ – you may need to go back to Lesson 4 – and so are your volunteers. Adopt the motto: “do a few, and do them well”. Focus your efforts on a fundraising program that makes the most money with the least time commitment from volunteers. Remember: one fundraiser per term or a couple of a year – done really well – uses less energy and effort and won’t burden anyone.

Avoid fundraising fatigue.

“Not another fundraiser!”

Lesson 19:

Boosting parent support.

Why do so many parents seem indifferent when it comes to fundraising? Why don’t they get involved? Perhaps their experience of volunteering has resulted in harried worn-out disenchantment. Dispel that image – yes, let’s make it a myth here and now! – once and for all by practising the art of ‘chunking’ the responsibilities into manageable tasks. Think microjobs.

Create a volunteer sign-up board
The sign-up board can be a chalk board or a whiteboard – somewhere central where parents (or other prospective volunteers) regularly congregate. On it, post the fundraisers, projects and events happening throughout the year that need help. Below each fundraiser, provide details of how a volunteer can help. Include timelines where possible. Now leave space underneath for sign-ups – name, phone number and email. This upfront and open approach dismisses any fear of being ‘caught out’ by unexpected activity and allows potential helpers to factor their volunteering time into their lives. It also encourages ‘last minute’ offers. The Essentials of Fundraising e-book



The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


Attracting and keeping volunteers
Your fundraising coordinator (or volunteer coordinator) can transcribe the offers of help into a spreadsheet and see at a glance who is supposed to be where and when. Shortfalls will be obvious. While the volunteer sign-up board should be in a public place, don’t assume everyone will see it. Use your newsletter and email database to point it out. If there’s a critical gap, send out a ‘please help us!’

Lesson 20:

Keep those lines of communication open.

A successful fundraising initiative rests on the volunteers behind the project. The better connected and informed the volunteers are, the better it is for your fundraising in the long-term. In the past, committees have relied on face-to-face meetings and telephone calls to keep volunteers up-to-date. Nowadays, more of us appreciate accessing information when we want it. Online and mobile phone technology makes that easy. Almost everyone has an email address. Use group emails to keep in touch and share information or documents. It will save you hours on the phone!

Protect your volunteers’ privacy: use the Blind Copy field when sending an email to lots of people. The social networking web site Facebook is a free service that you can use to keep in touch with your fundraising volunteers. You can share ideas via messages posted on the ‘wall’. You can also ‘grow’ your volunteer base by adding new members.


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Attracting and keeping volunteers
Lesson 21: Feeling valued goes a long way.
We all want to feel appreciated. Unfortunately amid the activity of finalising a fundraiser – reconciling the money, signing off the paperwork, presenting the proceeds to the beneficiary – some committees overlook a very simple thing: thanking volunteers. It’s a little thing but it means a lot. It could be the difference between someone serving on the committee for another year - helping out - or not!

During your fundraising efforts, allocate a ‘volunteer of the week’ car space in the school or clubhouse car park. Reward a different helper each week. When the fundraiser is over, I know you will place a note in the newsletter thanking all who helped and supported (won’t you!); but that’s not enough. Nor is a generic ‘thanks everyone’ at the next meeting. Something personal is called for:   

A handwritten note or card from the committee president is a nice gesture (emails are not personal enough!). Throw a party - e.g. a backyard BBQ - inviting all who helped. This creates a sense of community and is fun. Make the volunteers the focus on the evening with a thank-you speech. Reward truly hard-working volunteers - the ones you couldn’t have succeeded without - by presenting a gift or prize, and make it public such as at a school assembly or sporting club awards night. Create a sense of occasion!

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book


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Building a partnership from the broader community
Local businesses are, overall, a good source of support for community organisations. They can provide financial assistance, in-kind help, vouchers and prizes. But you won’t be the only one seeking their support – so know how to ask and what to offer in return.

Your local councillor and State parliamentarian can be useful supporters too, particularly providing in-kind support such as photocopying flyers. Just like the butcher, such help warrants acknowledgement.
1. Introduce yourself when you do not want anything from them. Simply say that

you have been given the job of fundraising for your group and you just wanted to get out and introduce yourself to local businesses.

2. Collect contact details – name, phone number and email address. You now have a

direct line of contact.

3. Keep your business contacts informed about what’s going on in your group. A

regular email update costs nothing.

4. When it’s time to ask for something, offer something in return. 

Profile a business ‘supporter’ in your newsletter Urge your community to ‘support those who support us’ with a list of businesses and their websites or phone numbers


The Essentials of Fundraising e-book

Building a partnership from the broader community

When it’s a big ‘ask’… like a major raffle prize Set out a proposal in writing.  Establish clearly what you are asking for.  Detail how your group will benefit – how this support will be used to achieve your specific goal.  Are there benefits to the wider community as well from your goal? If so, include that to strengthen your case.  Benefits to [the business supporter]. Feel-good is one thing but tangible benefits are better. For example, ‘Your business will be highlighted as a supporter of our school in our weekly newsletter, read by 400 local families’.  Offer to link their business to your website etc.
5. Always thank your business supporters. A certificate of thanks, designed on your

home PC, is appreciated. Share the outcome of your efforts with your business supporters – easy, if they’re already on your group news email. Let them know you look forward to working with them in the future.

Lesson 22: Don’t put grants in the too-hard basket.
Could your fundraising project actually qualify for some form of government or philanthropic grant? Your local councillor, state or federal parliamentarian should be able to tell you what’s available from their government sphere. Finding trust funds for specific causes will need some Internet surfing - but could uncover a real gem. You may find that grants will cover a capital cost - but not the ongoing maintenance (giving you a different fundraising focus).

The Essentials of Fundraising e-book