Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ideas That Work

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A recipe for success: a little bit of everything

I recently spoke with a board chair whose Center has undertaken a massive fundraising effort. At the end of the conversation I asked him if he had any fundraising advice for other Centers. His answer? Explore all the avenues.

Most likely the operating costs for your Center aren’t going to be covered by one donor or one event. That’s why I’ve put together a brief overview of some of the fundraising ideas we've covered on the blog. Check out the list below. Maybe there’s an avenue you haven’t explored yet.

  • Grants: Applying for a grant can be intimidating, but we’ve put together some materials to help streamline the process as much as possible. Download the GrantAID Kit here for templates, or check out some successful proposals we’ve done here. (Just be sure to register for the forum first if you want to download the proposals.) Keep in mind that the real key to seeing grants awarded to your Center is connections. If you don’t have a direct connection, at least contact the Foundation first. Read this article on the importance of making contact with foundations.

  • Major Gifts: As with grants, look among your supporters for connections to community members with major giving potential. Check out this post about how New Jersey supporter started the 5/10 Club for donors who have made operating gifts of $5,000 or $10,000. With a pledge of $10,000 or more, donors can be enrolled in the Builder's Council. For brochures and more information on the Builder's Council, Charitable Gift Annuities or Bequests, contact the Development Office.

  • Special Events: Staff members in Lexington have developed four major event kits to take you through the process of planning a special event kit. (Events include a walk, golf outing, gala and wine tasting, and kits can be downloaded here.) Of course, there are endless fundraising ideas. Check out this post on how one Center got parents involved in a yard sale. Choose events that fit your community. An event that worked for one Center may be not be worthwhile for another.

  • Sponsor A Child: People give to people. That's why Sponsor A Child is such an effective program. For $5,000, a donor can completely cover the cost of tutoring a child at the Center for one year. If $5,000 seems too high to ask some donors for, consider asking five donors for $1,000 each. Or start a Sponsor A Child club, outlined here, like the West Michigan Learning Center did. By accumulating donations until they reach the $5,000 needed to sponsor a child, the club helps donors feel like they're making a difference regardless of the amount they're able to give.
  • Connect: The Idea Hub Forum was designed for Center directors, board members and volunteers to provide feedback and connect with other supporters. If you’re feeling stuck, need inspiration or ideas, or simply want to be heard, register for the forum and start posting your thoughts.

  • Publicity: As we’ve seen from last week’s News You Can Use post, publicity is an important way to make your community aware and interested in the work your Center is doing. Have a special event coming up? What about a student or graduate who’s made some incredible strides? Contact your local television station, radio station or newspaper and let them get the word out for you!

  • Contests: We’re in the midst of our second Idea Hub contest, where you can win money for your Center simply by submitting an inspiring story. (Check out the complete details here.) If you're stuck, consider asking parents to put together a narrative on their child. Good luck!


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