Two years ago I was selected to become a Project Trust volunteer. Meaning two things: 1 ~ I was about to have the best year of my life, and 2 ~ I had a whopping £6200 to fundraise in 8 months.
Before we start I would like to just say how worth all that effort was, and that’s how you’re going to raise that amount of money. Effort.
So that’s why you’re reading this… you want to know HOW. I think one of the most important things was having an achievable goal in mind. I am going to do a step by step guide to show you exactly what I did.
Step 1: Have a plan
I started my fundraising in November after my selection course and I had until June to complete it. Once you have a timescale you can split the sum into months. So in my case I had roughly £800 a month to raise. This still a little terrifying but easier to cope with. Chunk by chunk, that’s how we are going to succeed.
Then you need to look at a calendar and find the major events in the year:
Halloween, Christmas, New Year, Valentines Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.
These are in everyone’s calendars but there will be more specific to you. Does your country have a national day? Does your school have specific celebrations? Do you celebrate Chinese New Year?
These dates will be key when it comes to organising events.
Step 2: Who is going to give?
I’ll start you off…
Immediate family, distant family, neighbours, your local church, friends, your school, charitable trusts, businesses, people you don’t even know.
Step 3: HOW and WHY
So now you have thought of a date, you know who will be available. Now you need to know exactly HOW you are going to make money and WHY these people are going to part with their money.
You must persuade them that they want to give to you. Most people will give to you simply because they know you, but in order to get the most you can from each person you must spend time explaining where the money is going and how it is going to benefit you.
Endless times when I was fundraising people would ‘pop a little extra in the pot’ because ‘what you are doing is incredible’ or ‘I know how much you are putting into this’.
THIS IS SO WORTH IT. Please please listen to me when I tell you how much easier this makes your life. A few days of research and letter writing saved me months of time and effort.
I was given over £2500 from Charitable Trust. Yes I know. Wow.
I am afraid I can’t tell you what Charitable Trusts gave to me, and it may not help anyway as each one has a set criteria you must fit into. But I will tell you where to find them:
- The Directory of Grant Making Trusts – a HUGE book you can find in public libraries or for quite cheaply on eBay.
- If you are Scottish: scottishgrantmakers.org
- If you are from the UK: http://trustfunding.org.uk/search.aspx
- Your local Rotary Clubs, Round Tables, Church and even School
- Ask around – other people fundraising, people you know who are involved with charity work. You’d be surprised who people know.
This website may also help you to find trusts and write letters.
I wrote over 50 letters and received only 20 responses. But each and every trust was incredibly generous to me. I would recommend calling up/emailing trusts which you don’t hear from within 4/5 months to ask if they received the letter – I got £100 simply by doing this.
Now this is very important: write proper letters; formal; informative and to the point;the right length (I’d recommend 1 side of A4); addressed correctly; and with correct grammar. If you are so lucky as to receive a donation then you must write a thank you letter.
Specifically, how did I do it?
End of training
- Made a year plan
- Set up Facebook fundraising page
- Researched trusts and wrote to around 50
- Set up Virgin Giving page
Positives: 1/3 money raised, haven’t asked any friends/family for money
Negatives: very time consuming
Money raised in stage 1: £2660 (throughout the year, but this is the total from trusts)
- Mince Pies and Christmas Cakes!
For the mince pies I made leaflets at the start of December and dropped them around the neighbourhood.
Positives: raised awareness in the community, fun
Negatives: money required to buy ingredients
Christmas Eve turned out to be an incredible time to busk! My incredibly generous brother played the pipes for an hour to raise money for me – best brother ever.
Money raised in stage 2: £261 + £85
Total so far: £3006
- 2nd-hand Clothes Sale at school
This was a good way to target my friends and schoolmates. I asked all of my friends to bring in any old clothes they had and sent emails around the school. I received heaps of clothing items. I then price tagged each item and set up on a free afternoon in school.
Positives: zero costs, involved my friends, new target group, fun
Negatives: time consuming, not a huge amount raised.
Money raised in stage 3: £156
Total so far: £3162
- Masquerade Ball and Raffle
This was incredible for publicity of what I was doing and many people who couldn’t make it made donations on my Virgin Giving page.
Planning a ball isn’t simple. Trust me. I had to plan this well in advance to fix a date, location, band, food, and sell tickets.
I am not going to go into huge depth right now about how I did this but I will tell you the basic outline. If you are super curious or are thinking of organising one yourself, feel free to comment below or email me for help.
I invited people to take a table, so that they were in charge of inviting 8-10 people themselves. I had 100 people in total, ages 16+. I rented a nearby hall, caterers and band. I also decorated the hall myself. After all costs I aimed to make £15 a head, and with 100 guests it was worthwhile.
I also held a raffle at this and asked for prizes from local businesses. To name a few who contributed: Lush, Oliver Bonas, Tiso, Pizza Express. I also managed to get cinema tickets, ice skating tickets and clothing vouchers. It is best to go in person to these places as they are much more likely to give to you.
I would suggest asking those who want to make a donation but cannot make it to your event to contribute to the raffle.
Positives: a large sum raised, such a fun evening, was able to hold a raffle
Negatives: this took a lot of prior planning and commitment
Money raised in stage 4: £1109 + £701
Total so far: £4972
- Krispy Kremes
During the exam period at school I sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This is such an easy way to make money as they have a fantastic fundraising program.
Positives: so simple, everyone wants one, minimum effort
Negatives: you want to eat them all yourself
Money raised in stage 5: £61
Total so far: £5033
- Ladies Lunch at home (twice)
- Church Tea Party
I invited some of my mum’s friends around for a fundraising lunch where I cooked a delicious meal for them and told them about what I was doing. I then asked for donations at the end. I did this on two occasions.
Positives: good to round up people you have missed, good food, fun
Negatives: not a huge amount raised
For the Church Tea Party I got together with the minister at my Church and organised an afternoon tea for the Churchgoers and locals.
Positives: a different bunch of people (elderly can be very generous), its a tea party…
Money raised in stage 6: £160 + £186
Total so far: £5379
- Local Triathlon
Everyone should do a sponsored event, and I highly recommend saving it until last so that you can tell people how much you have to go. This is also the only event in which people are not benefitting first hand so you really are just asking for their money at this stage.
I decided to make my own local triathlon which involved cycling, climbing a Munro (a very big hill for those non-Scots), and a canoe.
The way that this succeeded was by posting weekly/daily updates on my Facebook fundraising page to keep reminding people what I was doing and how close I was.
Positives: a good way to end, you can ask a large range of people
Negatives: you are simply asking for money
Money raised in stage 7: £821
You must must must be sure to thank each and every person who contributes towards your fundraising. This is SO important.
Stay committed. It can be really tough to run out of ideas and motivation half way through, but keep going and you will succeed.
Use your talents: are you a great Musician? My project partner made the majority of her money from playing the guitar and singing.
If you are doing Project Trust like I am then be sure to go to the meet ups as it can be really helpful to chat to past/present volunteers for ideas.
Other event ideas:
There are tonnes of ideas on the internet but here are a few to help out:
- car-boot sale
- own clothes day at school
- Halloween party
- carnival day with face painting and games
- get a job – waitressing is one of the easiest at a young age
Thank you for sticking with me throughout this very long post. I really hope it helps any of you out there who are fundraising. It is such a good skill to have and can actually be very enjoyable. It is also so worth it when you are finished.