Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Your first Fundraising for Free event! Part I

I am many months in between posts with no excuses.

Because of that, I am going to skip some basic information I wanted to share (I'll share it another time) and move forward with an idea. Your first Fundraising for Free event!

The idea is called Dining Out Days. Some call it Dining Out For Life, Dine On Us, Dine For Us, or a multitude of other names, yet the basic idea is the same: invite friends and supporters to dine in at a specific restaurant on a date coordinated with that restaurant, with the restaurant donating 15 - 25% of sales for the day.

Why on earth would a restaurant just donate that much to your group or cause?

The answer is simple: you will fill their restaurant on a day that it is typically not filled. The goal here is to make the event so successful that the restaurant makes more money than they regularly would AFTER they make the donation to you of a portion of their sales from the day of the event.

It works, it really does.

And it doesn't have to cost your group or cause a penny!

A Dining Out Day benefits your cause and the local economy. It's a great way to not only build a relationship with a local business, but to get your cause in front of people who may not know about you. Here's a quick "to-do"list:

1. Think of your favorite restaurant. One where they know your name and maybe know a bit about your group or cause. Approach the owner about this idea, telling them that you would love a day where they are normally slow and you make the promise that they will be busy. Every restaurant is different, but usually a Monday or Tuesday could work.

2. Once you find a place, agree on a percentage of sales that the restaurant will donate and whether or not that includes all sales or food only. This number is not only important to you but also important to your donors who will want to know what the percentage is.

3. Pick a date. If the restaurant serves more than one meal (breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner) decide up front which meals will be part of the fundraiser. Ask for all of the meals that they normally serve.

4. Get their logo and put the date on your website as soon as possible, with a link to their website.

5. This part is not necessarily free, and it really helps in getting your supporters out. Print a postcard that you can mail to your list and hand out to everyone you know. Remember, you want to FILL the restaurant. You want to blow the owner's mind!

6. Send an email blast.

7. Work with your volunteer coordinator to make sure you have people representing your agency or cause the entire time at the restaurant. Two per shift would be great. This is an awesome opportunity for board, honorary board, and staff to get involved. Make sure you ask people who are outgoing as they will greet guests as well as drop off an "ask" envelope at each table once guests are settled in at their table.

8. Depending where you live (size of city) you may want to do a press release. Some reporters love to write about non-profits collaborating with local businesses.

9. Post an event on Facebook and invite everyone. Post on Twitter. If you have the capability, make a YouTUbe video and post it. Again, you want to FILL the restaurant.

10. Be at the event as much as possible. Great past donors and past supporters. Have conversations with every table. Speak with guests as they are waiting.

I think this is enough for Part I. More to come about Dining Out Days and I promise it won't take months! Meanwhile, seriously consider a Dining Out Day for your group or cause.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Can you fundraise for free?

This is my first official blog and I am stoked to be part of this world. Of course I'm not sure if anyone will even read this, yet will be thrilled if someone does, and actually is able to raise money for their passion, without having to spend money.

I work as the Director of Development for a small HIV/AIDS agency in Boulder, CO. Our budget is under $1 million. I am always chatting with my staff about ways we can fundraise with little or no cost. Many will read this and immediately think "well, I have wanted to do the same thing with no luck". My experience is one that includes raising money without having to spend money. Not always. Of course if you do direct mail that will cost you. If you have an annual gala event, you will most likely spend money.

In the bigger picture of spending I began looking at all agency expenditures that related to development. If you are like me and come from grassroots fundraising, please know that fund-raising and development are one in the same. I don't say this to sound pious or even arrogant, but say it as to this day I am asked what I develop when I tell people that I am the Director of Development.

So here we go!

Working for a small non-profit I am always trying to increase our donor list and decrease the amount of lapsed donors. A lapsed donor is one that gave a couple of times or more, yet in the last year or so has not given. Different agencies probably have different amounts of time that put a donor in the lapsed category. For me, if a donor gave up until 2008 and did not give in 2009, they are a lapsed donor.

A great idea to make a little money, add donors, and work at decreasing lapsed donors is to have a Dining Out Night. Most likely you have been to one of these: a non-profit you support invites you to dine at a local restaurant and a portion of your meal ticket goes directly to the non-profit.

Can I really do this for free?

Tune in next time!

Thank you so much for reading this. I look forward to getting to know many new people as I commence my journey into the world of blogging.