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Eight Traits of Effective Youth
Fundraising Programs:

by Jim & Connie Walters

Editor's Note: This is the fifth of an eight part monthly series. Although it's focus is on youth fund-raising programs, these traits are universal enough for all fund-raisers to make note of. For more information about the authors and their expertise please see the end of the article.

Part 5: The best events are promoted simultaneously
through a variety of media.

When promoting fund-raising events, booster clubs and youth groups tend to fall into a rut of doing it exactly the same way they have always done it. The problem with this is that over the years the same promotions, that were once fresh and exciting, become dull and stale. Mass communication people say that anytime a familiar announcement can be broadcast in an unfamiliar (or unexpected) way, that announcement becomes more effective.

Nearly all fund-raising events need two kinds of promotions. First the event needs to be advertised as "upcoming," to build familiarity with it and to warm up the buyers. Then, after they have heard about it and processed it (and perhaps put it on their day-timer), someone needs to approach them to "close the sale."

Even products that your youth take out and sell "door to door" are easier to sell if first the community paper has run a story on the youth group that is selling "first aid kits" or whatever. Think about the Girl Scouts and their cookies. The majority of the people who buy those cookies at their front door are already "warmed up" to the idea because they've known for years that every spring, the Girl Scouts will be coming with their cookies.

What are the best warm-up methods? The answer is, as many as you can come up with that utilize different media. For example, first we announce the event at the booster meeting. Then it is mentioned in the school paper, and posters go up in the hall. It's posted on the group's website, and perhaps a bulk email goes out to everyone with an email address (which is now about 30% of American households). Some churches are starting to do weekly e-mail updates to those households (why not, email goes quickly and doesn't cost anything for paper or postage). Drama is a great way to do warm-up. A short comedic skit at a meeting is better than a dry announcement anytime.

Some people need more warming-up than others. Sociologists say some people will respond to an advertisement the first time they see it; others have to see two or even three times; and a few will not respond until they have been exposed to the idea more than five times. The sociologists can draw a bell curve that will reveal a few "innovators," more "early adapters," lots of "middle adapters," and fewer numbers of "laggards" and "resisters." (That's why if you ever buy an ad in the paper, make sure it runs at least three times, in order to catch those "middle adapters.")

Now we are down to "the close." Make sure you present the opportunity to the buyer with all the facts at hand: the exact cost, who to make the check payable to, and why they need to buy it now. The best salesmen know that the simplest "closing" technique is to ask for the sale in plain language. Train your sellers to be patient, optimistic, and bold, all at the same time.

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About the Author:

Jim Walters serves in a local church ministry in Denver, Colorado. Along with his wife Connie, who has led fund-raisers for both church, elementary school, and high school groups, they formed Booster Solutions to help others find profitable answers to their fundraising problems.

Together they have written "Top Ten Youth Fundraisers", a 16 page handbook that details their plans for 10 great fundraising ideas. Each plan in the manual is fresh, tested and profitable. They work well for both school and church groups. This is not a rehash of coupon books, subscriptions or car washes.

Every plan includes: 1) an overview of the project as successfully completed. 2) a "key thought" ensuring your success. 3) step-by-step outline with options and thoughts on variations.

To order send a check for $7 (includes tax and shipping) to:

Jim Walters
11431 W. Lake Drive
Littleton CO 80127

For more information contact Jim at

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