Who Is On Board?
Following your heartfelt pitch to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Miami, you received applause from the members of your nonprofit organization. You then gathered to discuss a fundraising drive to be launched within the next several weeks. The enthusiasm generated a flurry of excellent ideas, and ultimately you agreed to run a community golf tournament, since the activity of choice among many of your neighbors is golf.
Studies show that participation in a fundraising project drops by nearly 50 percent in the first two to three weeks. Most often, people realize they cannot devote the necessary time and effort. In other cases, individuals lose their initial enthusiasm for the cause.
However, within the next few weeks, the number of volunteers began to diminish. Who was really on board? Who was ready to pitch in and get involved in handling the workload that comes with staging a successful fundraiser?
Gathering human resources is only part of your equation. Actually seeing the results of their efforts is another. At some point, the old saying, “Put up or shut up” comes clearly into focus as you question the dedication of those people whom you initially thought would be involved. Emphasize to volunteers that you appreciate any time they can give to help the fundraising effort. Match tasks to the specific time parameters of your members. Not everyone has to put in the same amount of effort; every little bit helps.
Concepts such as fun, togetherness, teamwork, team spirit, and “a good cause” need to be emphasized to rally your troops. Incentives can be used to lure volunteers, but these can open a can of worms unless the parameters are very clearly predetermined. You need to spell out what needs to be done to receive such an incentive. The incentive should help convince someone to work a little harder, but should not be so big it overshadows the real reasons for getting involved. Remember, the best incentive for volunteering to be part of a fundraiser should be the special feeling of satisfaction one gets from doing such a job. However, prizes and verbal or written recognition are right up there on the list.
Unless you are hiring a paid fundraiser, it is very hard to ensure that anyone will stick it out. Therefore, it is in your best interest to evaluate the skills, characteristics, and level of commitment of everyone who has pledged their time, and get your list of tasks together quickly.
As you begin planning a gala, expand your fundraising potential by inviting people within your circle of contacts, or the contacts of the person being honored, onto the gala committee. Let them know about the goals of committee members, including financial support and ticket sales. Also, mention how many planning meetings they will need to attend.
In fact, you should already have a list of what needs to be done from your time spent researching the fundraising possibilities. Asking people to take on specific tasks in accordance with their interests and skills is a far more effective means of getting the help you need than posting a general call for help.