If you are part of an institution like a school or a childcare center, go find out if there is already any money that you might use. Be creative. Budgets hold dollars for all kinds of things. As well as money that has already been marked for curriculum or classroom supplies and training, if you are working with parents or other community members, ask about money for community engagement, for events, for professional development. The larger your institution, the greater your chance of finding a fund or line item on the budget that might help cover some of the costs of AMAZE materials and training.
However, if you know that kind of money isn’t available, then how do you raise $2,500?
Create a Goal
Before you start asking anyone for money, sit down by yourself or with the people you are partnering with and create a plan. Get clear on exactly how much you want to raise. If the cost of the curriculum and training is $2,000, then is that the only cost you have? Do you want to pull together a group of people for the training and do you want to feed them during the training? Add money for food. Keep this document open while you are planning how you will raise the money. There might be costs associated with some of your ideas. You are hoping to raise enough money to include the COST of raising that money. Next, get clear on how people can donate. Who are checks written out to and where do they send them? Is there a way to pay online? What about cash?
There are two different ways to raise the money you need to meet your goal. One way is to find people who would be interested in giving you money because they care about what you are trying to do and want to support you or support the children you work with. The other way is to create a fun experience that people will pay money to enjoy but then direct the money they pay to your project. You might choose to do a mix of these things or only one. Each is described below.
Fundraising Specifically for Your Project
Who do you know?
Who do you know who might be willing to make a donation for this work? Things broadly: parents, teachers, other educators, community leaders, your best friend in high school, your great aunt? Make a list of people that you know and include people you don’t know but who you think can be asked. Even if you are not sure that you are the right person to ask a particular person for money, still write their name down.
Faith-based organizations, chamber of commerce, local foundations, local businesses
In addition to people, think about organizations or businesses in your local community who sometimes give to charities. In particular, local businesses have a stake in their local community, both the health of their communities and their reputation within that community. Think about who seems to care about issues of equity. Think about who has a diverse customer base and who might want to show support and leadership for their multiple communities. Write them down even if you don’t know anyone over there or if you aren’t sure. You can find out what you need to know later.
Create a plan
Look at the people and the organizations you have written down. What do you think is the best way to ask them for money? Is it by sending a letter? Calling them on the phone? Inviting a small group of people to come to a house party (more on that below) where you can then give them information and ask them for their support? If you are talking about organizations like Chambers of Commerce, find out from their website or a coordinator how they prefer to be asked. Gather this information and then create your plan. You want to think of your plan in terms of timeline (when will you do these things), responsibility (who is going to be writing the letters, making the ask, or organizing the party?), and a goal. A goal means the amount of money you would like to raise from this person or organization. If you have never asked for money, you might have no idea what your goal should be. That’s ok. What you are trying to figure out is if you have enough ways of asking to get the money you are trying to raise. You will want to create a goal that is higher than what you need, just in case people say no.
Getting clear about why you want this money
It might sound silly. I mean, after all, you are fundraising. But you want to spend some time really thinking about why you want this money. Your personal story and feelings are actually more important than the data you put together. Data (like how many children will be impacted, what those children struggle with or what should be celebrated, what kind of impact this will have) is very useful and is the filling on your conversation, but it’s usually what people use to get more information after you have touched their hearts or made a connection with them. What is most important is to be able to say why, for you personally, this matters. To be able to say that you are doing this much work because of how you care. You don’t want to brow beat someone. You just want to tell the truth and to be as vulnerable and straight forward as you can. It isn’t that hard to do this with AMAZE work. After all, the bottom line is that you are looking to connect with someone who also has or loves children and who wants all children to be safe, celebrated and visible to their communities. Not a hard sell.
Directly asking someone for money
This is truly pretty simple. Once you have the story clear, then you want to tell your story and have a conversation. It is good to be clear at the beginning of your conversation that you are going to ask them for money. Don’t pretend that you are just having a cup of coffee. If you are nervous and have never done this, tell them that. Tell them that you don’t know how to do this but this matters enough to you that you are doing something difficult. Draw them out and ask them questions. Once a connection has been made, you can ask them in any way you want. You can ask them if they would be willing to give a donation, you can ask for a certain amount, you can tell them how much you are trying to raise and see if they can help you, you can ask in any way. Once you ask, just stop. Don’t say anything else. Even if it is quiet and you are uncomfortable, just be quiet and wait. They might be thinking. Give them the respect of letting them respond to your question on their own timeline.
If they say yes, thank them. Make sure you get the details about HOW they are going to make that donation before you leave.
If they say no, thank them. If they seem interested, you might ask them if they have ideas of other people who might give. If they just don’t seem interested in what you are doing, thank them and end things as ready. If you have told them ahead of time what this conversation is about and they came to your meeting or stayed on the phone to hear more, then this kind of “no” is not likely to happen. You might get a “not right now” kind of answer. Then you can ask them when, or you can ask them if it would be easier to give in small chunks, or if there is some other way they might want to help.
Organize a house party: There are LOTS of resources online. A few are pasted below and you can just google “how to organize a fundraising house party” and you will find even more. If you want to do a house party, contact AMAZE. We can send you some materials about the work that you can share with your guests.
Do an online fundraiser: Just as with house parties, there are hundreds of how to articles online. A few of them are listed below. If you are raising dollars where you are asking people to give because they believe in the work, then it might be useful to use AMAZE photos or to link to some of our videos to generate excitement. Get in touch with us so that we can help you. There are so many online fundraising platforms that you don’t need to create your own website anymore. Generally people create a website if the fundraising ask is part of a longer project that you want to keep your people connected to. With online fundraising, success comes from constant reminding and marketing. The shelf life of a single posting on any social media site is very short. You want to keep getting in front of people – and have others repost – to ensure that your friends see it. In the meantime, here are a few links:
And go ahead and google, “How to do online fundraising” for hundreds of other sites.
Fundraising without Centering Your Project
These options are about creating fun experiences as the central point rather than sharing information about your project. While some of the steps are the same – finding out who you know, creating a plan and creating a goal (get more info in the previous section)– there are some things you won’t do. This is not about asking individuals or businesses or organizations for money. This is more about creating experiences, being silly, or providing some kind of service that would be of interest to people in order to raise dollars from them.
Organize a house party: What is different about this kind of house party is that it’s organized to be fun (50s dress up and music party or back yard BBQ extravaganza) or around a particular interest (home brewing and beer through the ages OR Star Wars movie-thon) and people put money in a bowl or give a certain amount in order to participate. You would certainly tell people where the money is going but the focus is less deeply about the work itself and more about the experience people want to have.
Get older school kids to raise money for younger kids or get younger kids to raise money for older kids: Have a car wash, a bake sale, a yard cleaning day.. get the kids involved.
Organize a mini-basketball or soccer or other sports tournament, or a scrabble or chess tournament, something of interest to your community and again, pay to play.
There are so many things to do that help raise dollars while having fun. Some of the biggest things – don’t be afraid to be goofy! Have a sock hop, sell canned goods in the Fall, have a zombie party! Whatever you do, have fun with it. The ideas are endless.
Depending on where you live, you might not be able to hold a raffle without getting a license by the state due to gambling laws. And even if it is legal in your state, there might be rules on what you can do. While raffles can be restricted, contests are not.
The range of things you can do are as broad as your creativity allows. Let us know how and if we can help with any AMAZE materials or information.
In the end, fundraising to bring AMAZE materials to your community, school or childcare center is also a way to test the waters. The very process of creating a goal and then talking to people about the work you want to do is, well, half the work. You are going to find out how much interest and understanding there is in your community, who your support network is and who is truly not interested. This is going to help as you think about how you want to tie your children’s experiences to their families and communities. The things you learn in raising dollars are an important part of understanding the changes you want to see happen. Again, call AMAZE if you want help in thinking through any of this and, along the way, good luck!