Can shakes make fundraising efforts look more like begging

The school budgets passed in all of the towns covered by Parsippany Life and Neighbor News. That’s good news for teachers, school staffs and students.

With less money available for extracurricular activities after the previous election, schools had to cut back on their support of sports teams, bands and clubs. Students who wanted to continue participating in these programs and their parents were not always willing to accept the cuts. They turned to raising their own funds. Car washes, bake sales, clothing drives and other events sprang up as they found creative ways to get residents to support them while offering a service to those residents.

One fundraising idea that has become popular with many organizations is the “can shake.” You must have encountered that somewhere. Before the school budget cuts, you would most likely see it in action when volunteer fire departments need to raise money. Members, holding a collection can — or a boot, which is a clever idea — will walk up to cars stopped at traffic lights. There’s no pressure to donate. You’re in your car. You can roll down the window and hold out a dollar for them or keep the window up, look away and drive off.

It does raise funds but it looks more like begging than a fundraiser.

Now that school groups also have begun shaking their cans, several children or teens will stand right outside the exit of a supermarket and ask for your support of their cause. “Help the girls softball team,” for example, is all the explanation offered. They will be wearing a team shirt or jacket. The can will have the name of the school or team on it. So you give them a dollar. Otherwise you have to pretend that you neither saw nor heard them. They are right there, often one student on either side of you as you leave the store.

The next week when you return to the supermarket, a different team is asking for money. So you give them a dollar.

And the next week, another team. Do you just assume that each trip to the store is going to cost you an extra dollar or do you stop giving? Should you take the time to ask what the money will be used for: uniforms, equipment?

The “can shake” must be effective or it wouldn’t be such a popular method but we’d prefer to see students return to the fundraising efforts that offer their supporters something in return. That seems like learning to earn the dollar, not begging for it.


Fundraising: building relationships with local businesses (part two)

In the previous article are some suggestions on how to establish partnerships with local businesses. This is an important task, because these are great sources of support in terms of financial assistance, in-kind help, discounts and prizes. They can also play a significant role in helping your organization integrate into the community.

If you organization needs certain major contribution from a specific local business, then the best way to approach this is to write a proposal. Here are some tips on how to write a practical but attractive fundraising proposal:

  1. Briefly introduce your organization and what it does to benefit the community. Focus on the nature and significance of your initiatives and achievements in recent years.
  2. Clearly state what kind of contribution you are seeking from the local business. This can be a specific amount of financial assistance, a particular type of technology-oriented or knowledge-based help, discounts in purchasing goods and services from the local business, or donations of prizes to your forthcoming fundraising events (such as trivia nights).
  3. Explain the benefits such contribution will produce for your organization. What will your orgnaization achieve in general with the valuable support from this local business? And what specific tasks do you intend to complete, using the money or other kinds of assistance received from the business?
  4. Explain the benefits such contribution will produce for the local business. Start by mentioning how wonderful it is to be able to contribute to the community. Then specifically emphasize on the benefits your organization is able to offer this business in terms of profile.

In your proposal, you can include public relations materials such as pamphlets, newsletters and website links. Remember, being creative is crucial, as local businesses often receive lots of requests for assistance from all kinds of community organizations.

5 Tips to Solicit Fundraising Donations

You have found yourself in a scenario where you or your organization is holding a fundraiser to solicit donations so that your operations can be kept afloat or a special goal needs to be met. In this situation you will have to be creative and dedicated as to how you approach fundraising and that eventually translates into failure or success in the end. How about we use a sample such as soliciting monetary donations in your fundraiser. This asks potential donors to give either small or large sums of money to help you cause. Either way, the event has to be attractive and appear worthwhile to donors. Here are some tips to achieve an attractive and successful fundraiser.

-Be extremely organized as to what your fundraiser is aiming for and how you aim to achieve a specific goal. Share this information with potential donors as it familiarizes them better with your cause and how they can help, providing they agree that your cause is worthwhile.

-In the case of accepting money donations, figure out if you want to only accept set amounts or allow donors to choose what amount to give. Both scenarios have their advantages and disadvantages, some of which may be obvious.

-Consider hiring a professional fundraising service to run your event. Services can be had that are well organized by experts and possibly more successful than fundraisers held by those who are inexperienced in the field. You will need to decide whether or not you can factor in the cost of hiring a professional service will cut into your funds too much, or if even at a risk, it could result in a more successful fundraiser.

-Advertise as much as possible. Get the word out about your event to all of your contacts and ask them to pass along the word to theirs as well. Write up a press release designed to have reporters mention your event on the news and internet.

-Always be extremely courteous, understanding, and gratuitous with donors. Do not force them into them or make them uncomfortable in any way, and thank them for their time even if they decide against donating. Making a good impression is always going to work in your favor in the long run.

As you can see, there are several ways to approach fundraising. By following these tips you just may find that fundraising is fun, easy and the best bet in having your goals reached.

10 steps to collecting $1,000 in Donations

It may seem like you need to ask a gazillion people to donate to raise $1,000, but when you break it down, it really isn’t too bad.

  1. Personally contribute $50 to your fund.  You should lead the way!
  2. Ask two family members to each contribute $50.
  3. Ask 10 friends to each contribute $20.
  4. Ask five neighbors to each contribute $20.
  5. Ask five co-workers to each contribute $20.
  6. Ask 10 people from your faith-based organization to each contribute $10.
  7. Ask your boss for a company contribution of $50 (better yet, find out if your company will match what you raise!).
  8. Ask four businesses or companies that you deal with through work to contribute $50 per company.
  9. Ask four businesses you frequent to personally contribute $25 (this is an easy one — ask your barber/hair stylist, dry cleaner or restaurant where you eat lunch every day).
  10. You’re done!  Total Donations: $1,000!  Now remember to write personalized thank-you notes so that next time you ask for a donation, they remember the appreciation.

Asking for donations can always be daunting, but FastTrack Fundraising offers some easy and innovative ways to ask for donations.  You can check them out here:

10 Best Practices to Increase Email Response Rates for Fundraising


We asked an expert for his top 10 tips on the nuances of email marketing for nonprofits and ways to increase conversion rates. One simple change he made lifted response 66%. Nonprofit organizations have different relationships with their members than businesses do with their customers. Those differences need to carry over into their email programs.“Part of the whole overall fundraising program is realizing that your newsletter that’s keeping people aware of your activities is really fundraising. Nobody will consider it that, but it really is the cultivation side of a fundraising program, not just asking for money once a month,” says Jeff Herrity, Internet fundraising professional.

When your list is ready for an appeal — or a donation request — Herrity follows a long list of best practices he has developed over the years for clients, including Amnesty International and the American Red Cross.

Here are his top 10 tips for putting together an email fundraising campaign:

The Email Itself

-> Tip #1. Put your request in the subject line

Continue Reading…

How to Write a Successful Fundraising Letter

write a fundraising letterAre you involved with a charity or special cause that needs money? Are you willing to put pen to paper and write a letter that will generate those funds? If so, there are a couple of details you need to keep in mind. Continue Reading…