How to: Fundraise Successfully

What are your group’s fundraising goals?

Before you begin, take a moment to think about what you would like your chapter to be like this time next year. With your leadership team, discuss what plans you have in mind for the upcoming year. With your plans in mind, create a timeline of events, and begin to outline a budget that will support events. Without setting goals and outlining strategies to meet those goals, the everyday task of fundraising will have no direction. Once you have a goal in mind – and a strategy that will get you there – you can begin raising funds!

There are three key forms of fundraising on campus:

University Sponsorship, Event Sponsorship, and Student Sponsorship

University Sponsorship

University Sponsorship aids campus groups by establishing a base of reliable funding, giving you an annual foothold for yearly activities.

Step 1: Set realistic fundraising goals.

When planning ideas, consider these questions:

  • How much money is needed to fund your project as well as pay for general operating expenses?
  • How much of your income is reliable? (What can you really count on?)
  • How much of your income is unreliable? (What might be, “here today, gone tomorrow”?) 

And Most Importantly

  • Where do you have opportunities to raise funds from?

Remember, at the end of the day, what funds you don’t receive from your university you have to raise yourself – so be savvy!

Step 2: Creating a budget.

As a student organization, you may be granted an opportunity to receive funding from the university itself. Often times this will be determined by your student government or through your school’s student activity office. Take the time to become familiar with the process and those who will determine each semester’s distributions. Prepare a budget ahead of time which you will be able to explain and defend.

Budget Basics

  1. Pre-Plan Events – Have an idea of which events you would like to implement and create a timeline. (Check your calendars for UN holidays, school-wide events, etc.).
  2. Estimate Costs – Now that you have your timeline flushed out, think about what supplies you may need (tables, handouts, etc.) and funds that need to be covered (registration fees, etc.). Start taking a tally!
  3. Craft an Explanation – Oftentimes your group will have to argue why your funding should be approved, so make sure that you have an explanation as to why it’s necessary and how it will positively affect the entire student body (and the reputation of the university as a whole).

Event Sponsorship

Event Sponsorship allows you to utilize existing networking opportunities as a means to help other groups get their name out in exchange for assistance – either monetarily or by helping provide goods or services.

Step 1: Understand the Relationship.

The secret to any good event is to always draw a crowd –bigger is always better. Larger audiences not only draw attention to your cause, but also make your event more marketable to outside funders. When planning an event, always ask yourself, “what do we have to offer others?”  If the answer is, “a crowd of college students,” then you’re going to have a tough time.  Think about what resources or services you can offer in order to draw in investors – and remember; be creative!

Step 2: Picking a Package.

All good businesses have one thing in common – options.  Before reaching out to your community, be sure to work within your team, establishing different sponsorship packages and documenting them professionally. Think about what resources you can tap into, connections you may share, and what will entice potential sponsors to help fund your event.

Best Practices

  • Know your event: who are you inviting, how many people are you expecting, what is your purpose?
  • What resources do you have: what infrastructure do you have, how do you plan to advertise? 

And Most Importantly

  • How can you make sponsors team players rather than bankrollers?

Helpful Hints

  • Tiered packages offer potential sponsors more freedom to make comfortable commitments.
  • Encourage your team to be flexible and work to fit the needs of both parties.
  • Look to offer different demographics different options – a university department may have different needs than a local business.

And Remember…

They’ll come for the crowd, but they’ll stay for your partnership.

Step 3: Sealing the Deal.

Once you have all the prep work completed, you will have done 90% of the work to secure a sponsor.  The only remaining hurdle is meeting with your potential donors. Professionalism and preparation will be your keys to success, so whether you’re crafting an email, or meeting with a potential sponsor hold these traits paramount.

  • Use existing connections, such as your academic advisor, to reach out to university-wide leaders.
  • Examine events from groups that host philanthropic events such as fraternities and sororities, knowing who they partner with will show you what local businesses are the most generous.
  • You may not always receive an offer for monetary compensation – but rather goods or services. Remember that these too are invaluable, and that anything you don’t have to pay for is money all its own.

Individual Sponsorship

Individual Sponsorships rely upon donations from with your community, though these are more common day to day, they can sometimes be difficult to attain. Nevertheless, with proper planning it can be a dynamic branch of your fundraising platform.

Step 1: Know what works, and what doesn’t.

Not every fundraising effort will be a big success. Events such as bake sales and car washes may be old reliables for some; however, for others it may be more costly and time-consuming than profitable. That said; get to know your community, your campus’s social cycle, and overall needs in order to plan something creative and unforgettable.

Step 2: Man-Power.

Once you set a plan in motion, make sure that your group is well informed and organized. If the event lasts for the whole day, assign shifts collaboratively and have one of your board members confirm. Try to set up in high-traffic areas during busy times, keep your volunteers enthusiastic and outgoing – it’s hard to raise anything if you don’t dive in with both feet.

Step 3: Be Creative!

Remember to be as unique as possible, while also making it fun for your group. Here are examples of successful fundraisers that we’ve seen work:

  • Late Night Pizza Sales
  • Raffles
  • Movie Showings
  • Dinner Donations
  • Kickball Tourneys
  • Singing Valentines