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Cultivate A "Grass-Roots" Fundraising
Campaign For Your Organization

by Tony Poderis


Many non-profit organizations serve individuals who pay very little or who are unable to pay anything in the way of fees for the services they receive. They generally are in no position to give even the smallest donation to their organizations' annual fund. In all instances those client - user groups are grateful for the good being done for them and their families. They quite often ask if they can do anything within their power and means to show appreciation to their service organizations since they have no money to give to them. Leaders of those non-profits want to know how best they can respond when at the times the people whom they serve say, "I know you need money and I want to help. Is there anything I can do?"

I have found many such individuals were able to solicit small donations from their immediate family members, other relatives, friends, co-workers, and from other sources personal to them. They responded well to plans presented to them by their organizations' development officers and trustees. Perhaps your organization can do the same by employing a model of such a program I have used a number of times with success.

However, you should present the idea only when your clients or users of your programs and services enthusiastically volunteer their support. And, most important, you must be absolutely certain there is not even the slightest misperception that the quality and frequency of the services they receive from your organization are at all influenced whether or not they engage in fund-raising activities.

Some Non-Profit Organizations Have Successfully Adapted This Type Of Campaign

  • Individuals enrolled in a community arts center's programs and classes.
  • Vegetable gardeners in an inner-city food producing program.
  • Individuals learning job skills in a worker training program.
  • Mothers of fatherless boys in a Big Brothers program. (Good for Big Sisters, too!)
  • Parents of children in a daycare center.
  • Parents of physically and mentally challenged children served by a therapeutic (horseback) riding center. (Can be adapted in many other social service agencies.)
  • Parents and other family members staying (and former residents) in a Ronald McDonald House (or other such hospitality organization) while their children were being treated in area hospitals.

Is Such A Campaign Right For Your Organization?

Consider that a campaign of this type:

  • encourages the solicitors to identify their own prospects, employing the classic, and most effective, "people giving to people" concept;
  • could be the only way for your organization to develop support from individuals;
  • should not interfere with nor take the place of other more productive and larger-giver solicitation efforts;
  • can be inspiring and appreciated by other larger funding sources such as corporations and foundations;
  • will surely provide new donors - advocates capable of making larger gifts and providing leadership;
  • requires special attention to the process which will seek renewal of such gifts for the following campaign since the contributions were basically given in deference to the person asking for the money, and not necessarily to the "cause."

The Proposal For The Campaign

(Organization): Annual Fund Campaign
New Initiative For The Solicitation Of Individuals' Contributions

"FRIENDS OF (ORGANIZATION)"

Premises

  • Annual operating campaigns must have significant support from individuals. In most successful Annual Fund Campaigns, they represent up to 80% of the total contributions a non-profit organization receives.
  • By far, individuals are in the best position to make unrestricted gifts in the amounts only they need to approve, and they can do so in whatever time-frame they wish.
  • (Organization) must develop an Individual support base to augment what limited funds are available from corporations and foundations.
  • (Organizations) constituencies are generally not in position to provide funds themselves.
  • (Organizations) constituencies and volunteers, for the most part, could have every-day associations with individuals who could provide modest contributions if asked by them to support (Organization).

Initiatives

  • Develop a "Friends Of (Organization)" campaign which would involve as many of (Organization's) constituencies as possible in order to obtain as many gifts as possible from the broad community.
  • Produce the Campaign with cost-effectiveness and efficient management as absolute requirements.

Plan

  • Recruit a leadership group to assume positions of Chairs, Vice-Chairs, etc., for the purpose of recruiting a large committee of solicitors, and to actively participate in the management and monitoring of that group.
  • Recruit as many clients - users and other volunteers as possible who would be willing to personally participate in the solicitation process.
  • Produce materials for the volunteers' orientation and prospects' solicitations.
  • Obtain a challenge grant which will be used in the "Friends" Campaign to seek dollar-for-dollar matching.

Fund-Raising Potential

  • Example: 50 Solicitors Who Obtain 10 Gifts Of $25 each Can Raise a total of $12,500.
  • With a challenge grant used to compel matching contributions, the potential, in any case, can be doubled.

Organizing The Campaign

Use this model to produce a "Friends" campaign for your organization. Perhaps you can issue a "call for volunteers" depending on the number of bolstering indications that your clients - users of your organization's services desire "to do something more" for your organization.

From every 10 volunteers, you should recruit one individual to be that group's "Captain," who in turn report to the "Friends" Chairperson or Co-Chairperson. This will allow for control and accountability. Then you will be in position to provide the necessary and simple solicitation resources --- as follows:

Instructions For The Volunteer Solicitor

To: Our "Friends Of (Organization)" Volunteer

From: _____________________________, Chairperson

Thank you for volunteering to solicit contributions to support and to help make possible the outstanding and quality programs and services you know so well as provided by (Organization). Many people from our area benefit significantly from (organizationĖs) programs and services. Your special fund-raising efforts will be greatly appreciated by everyone associated with this outstanding program.

You have been given 12 "Friends" campaign flyers. Please work to personally present a flyer to each of your personally chosen prospects. The flyer explains the campaign, and requests that the contribution be presented to you. Contact the office for additional flyers at any time.

We ask that you seek $25 contributions from people close to you: immediate family, other relatives, friends, co-workers, associates, vendors, doctors, suppliers of other services, etc. Have them make their checks payable to (Organization). Please attempt to obtain checks, rather than cash. When you have raised contributions from 10 (or more, if you wish) sources, you may mail the checks and this completed donor information form to the (Organization) office, or you are welcome to deliver the packet in person. We request that you complete your solicitations by (Date).

    Donor------------- Address------------- Telephone------------- Amount
    1)_____________________________________________ $ _____
    2)_____________________________________________ $ _____
    3)_____________________________________________ $ _____
    4)_____________________________________________ $ _____
    5)_____________________________________________ $ _____
    6) (etc., to twelve total spaces......)

    Total Contributions Enclosed: $ _________
    Volunteer's Name: ___________________________________
    Address: ___________________________________________
    Telephone: _______________

    Please Return This Form And Contributions To: (Organization)
    (Print contact person, phone number, and organization's address here)

Solicitation Leaflet Or Flyer To Be Presented To Each Prospect By The Volunteers

BE A "FRIEND OF ORGANIZATION"
("Organization" Logo, photo, or drawing positioned here)

HERE IS AN IMPORTANT WAY FOR YOU TO HELP SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE THE QUALITY AND ENRICHING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES PROVIDED BY (ORGANIZATION) TO THE COMMUNITY.

FOR YOUR GIFT, YOU WILL RECEIVE CERTAIN PREMIUMS AND BENEFITS DESIGNED TO WELCOME YOU TO THE (ORGANIZATION) FAMILY.

WHEN YOU MAKE A CONTRIBUTION OF $25 TO (ORGANIZATION), YOU WILL RECEIVE: (Contribution is fully tax-deductible according to IRS rules.)

Suggestion --- The premiums or benefits should be developed with economy in mind and procedures for their distribution which would be cost-effective. They are only meant to be tokens of appreciation and not expensive rewards.

  • ____________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________

PLEASE MAKE YOUR CHECK PAYABLE TO: (ORGANIZATION). GIVE IT TO OUR VOLUNTEER, WHO WILL FORWARD YOUR WELCOME AND APPRECIATED GIFT TO THE (ORGANIZATION) OFFICES.

UPON RECEIPT OF YOUR "FRIENDS OF (ORGANIZATION)" GIFT, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR SUPPORT ACKNOWLEDGED BY MAIL. THE PREMIUMS AND BENEFITS WILL BE PROCESSED AND PRESENTED TO YOU AS APPLICABLE AND AVAILABLE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR GENEROUS AND THOUGHTFUL SUPPORT OF (ORGANIZATION). WHATEVER AMOUNT YOU GIVE WILL BE WELCOME AND APPRECIATED.

The (Organization) "Friends" Campaign Leadership: ( Print name(s)

Summary

This model plan will only work when your organization's clients - users of your programs and services volunteer to help raise money --- and when there is not the slightest perception that their volunteer effort will be related to the frequency or quality of any of the services they receive.

As you do when considering any fund-raising endeavor, your leadership and colleagues will determine if the campaign is right for your organization.

If you develop such a campaign, good luck to you, and may your "grass-roots" fund-raising campaign go deep!

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About the Author:

The author, Tony Poderis, is a Non-Profit Fund-Raising Development Professional, Author, and Consultant.

Tony was for 20 years to 1993 Director of Development for The Cleveland Orchestra and its Summer home, Blossom Music Center. He was responsible for ClevelandĖs largest annual institutional fund-raising campaign. Since 1993, Tony has been a fund-raising consultant serving all non-profit institutionsĖ needs to develop and to maximize their potential to raise Annual, Endowment, Capital, and Sponsorship & Underwriting funds. He is a Senior Consultant with Resource Development Network, a highly respected, widely recommended, full service fund-raising firm.

Tony's experiences have won him a wide audience, and at many hundreds of seminars and workshops in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico over the course of his 30 years in fund-raising, he has addressed every facet of raising contributed income for social service, medical, educational, religious, and cultural institutions. He is a fund-raising Speaker/Specialist consultant to the United States Information Agency and the Mexican Government.

Tony is the author of a 115 page book on fund-raising published by FundAmerica Press titled It's a Great Day to Fund-Raise! In this publication, now in its second printing, he has condensed his nearly three decades of fund-raising experience to provide a concise step-by-step guide to help all volunteers and professionals be as successful as possible as they carry out their fund-raising responsibilities for their respective non-profit organizations.

Visit Tony's web site, http://raise-funds.com for more great fundraising information, to purchase his book, or to check out the many seminars and workshops he holds throughout the country.



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