Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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Low Impact Fundraising

by Deane Brengle

So, just what is low impact fundraising?

A little story first which will meander its way to answering the question above.

I'm reaching the age where I'm becoming more aware of the impact of everything I do. For instance, I've taken up a new sport called geocaching. I won't go into all the techno babble of how it works but instead tell you it gets me outdoors and into nature quite a bit which is just what I need.

But I've also noticed that while I benefit from tromping around out in the wilds, Mother Nature takes a hit when I do. Tender plants get trampled, new trails get created, and sand dunes get eroded.

Now don't worry, I'm not going all tree hugger on you! But I am becoming more careful in how I impact nature when I pursue my new sport.

Just as I am becoming more careful when I think about recommending that you add more fundraisers to your existing fundraising plan. I'm worried about the impact those new fundraisers will have on you and your membership.

Which is why I'm recommending you add low impact fundraisers.

A low impact fundraiser is one or more of the following:

  • A fundraiser that doesn't burden you or your members.
  • A fundraiser that asks that you change very little from what you are already doing.
  • A fundraiser that replaces items you already buy with ones that fundraise for your group.
  • A fundraiser that doesn't cost any extra money.
  • A fundraiser that doesn't give you cheap, inferior, or unwanted items or services.
  • A fundraiser that doesn't take a lot of time or effort.
  • A fundraiser that won't burn out you or your members on fundraising.
  • A fundraiser that makes your donor feel good.

Over the next several weeks I'm going to introduce you to several low impact fundraisers. I'll show you how they work, what the benefits are, and how to present them to your group.

Each of these fundraisers will give a boost to your organizations bottom line without hardly any effort and is easy on your members. These fundraisers won't fund your whole budget but will be a steady, growing part of the way you raise money.

These are the low impact fundraisers we will be looking at in depth:

  • PayPal
  • Recycling
  • CafePress
  • Magazines
  • Auctions
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery Stores

The beauty of the low impact fundraiser is this:

  1. They are truly low pressure fundraisers. If a member chooses not to participate they don't have regrets. No hard feeling for having to say no. No fundraising burnout. They won't even feel like it's a fundraiser.

  2. They increase giving. Your member who participates in one or more of your new fundraisers will perceive this as an additional way to contribute to your shared cause. A way for them to increase their ownership in your organization. A way for them to, fairly painlessly, feel good about themselves. They won't even feel like it's a fundraiser.

Promoting Your New Low Impact Fundraisers

Before we look at these fundraisers I have to cover one important question. How are you going to reach your membership with these new low impact fundraisers?

In order for these new fundraisers to work effectively they have to be communicated to your membership. To be truly low maintenance, the low impact fundraiser relies on your existing communications with your members to present their message. Communications like a newsletter, email, and your nonprofits website. Each of these will be home to virtually free "advertisements" for your new fundraisers. These "ads" will pull your members to participate in the new fundraisers.

  • Your Website

    Your nonprofits website is crucial in promoting and implementing your new fundraisers. It will be the portal used to draw your membership in and educated and sell the fundraiser to them. It will also be the method of fulfilling many of these low impact fundraisers.

    If you don't have one it's time for you to come into the 21st century. Bravo to those of you that do have them. It will make integrating these fundraisers easier.

    Ilona Bray, author of the book "Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That Work," has written an excellent article about how to communicate through your website with your members. "Using Your Nonprofit’s Website to Help Fundraise" will give you the basics of what to look for in website design to be effective.

  • Your Emails

    Of course you are gathering your members email addresses aren't you. Every chance you get- please collect and update your members email addresses as well as those of potential donors. Guest books, raffle ticket stubs, online forms, and in short- anywhere you can gather them.

    Michael C. Gilbert surveyed nonprofits and found these 5 practices most common in the "The Email Savvy Organization":

    • Collects email addresses on their web site, often on the front page.
    • Publishes one or more email newsletters to its stakeholders.
    • Can survey its stakeholders online and capture that information.
    • Can raise money through email.
    • Has an email strategy.

    The Senior Tech Center has a very helpful article, Using E-mail to Raise Funds.

    Email is going to be important part of your fundraising "advertising" campaign.

  • Your Newsletter

    Whether by print or email (or both hopefully) communicating with your membership with a monthly newsletter is another vital way to communicate your new low impact fundraisers to them.

    Jayne Cravens writes over at Tech Soup a great article, "What Should Go in Your Newsletter".

Those are the ways you will start communicating your new fundraising messages to your membership. Take a look at your existing efforts with your website, email, and newsletter. See what needs working on to better get your new message across.

Next we will look at using PayPal as a low impact fundraiser.


About the Author:

Deane Brengle is the editor of several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.

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