Top Factor of a Successful Youth Fundraiser

Are you passionate about your fundraising? If you work with youth, are they passionate about raising money? If you are like most people, fundraising is far from fun or exciting!

A clear vision is the only way you can come close to bringing fun and excitement into fundraising!

“Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising, 1992

Do you have a clear and focused vision for your fundraising efforts? Your group may have a mission, as most groups do. It is usually around building character, leadership, or citizens through a variety of activities. These are so important and these goals are being met, but do you or your youth members know what these values look like? And if they cannot paint a clear picture of what they look like, how can we expect them to be passionate about them?

Here’s some examples:

  1. “We need money to run our organization, so we are going to sell candy bars.”
  2. “We are going to New York City in April. We are going to sing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We will be there for 4 days and we will also visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the UN. We will be working with a Broadway production group to learn some songs then attend a show on Broadway. We need to pay for this trip and we are going to hold have 5 car washes with tickets to sell.”

Can you visualize success of the fundraiser in the 2nd example? Success is their epic choir trip to New York City. Do you think the members will be motivated to sell car was tickets, if they know it is helping get them on their trip?

Vision, is giving a clear, exciting picture of what success is and building passion around that success.

So how do you define Vision? There are 3 steps to defining your Vision:

  1. WHY – Why are you fundraising.
  2. WHO – Define your interested parties.
  3. WHAT – Decide on the method.

WHY do you need to fund-raise? Is it to pay for the 200 patches that are awarded each year? Or is it to fund a summer sailing trip? Can you arrange your finances for the fundraiser to go directly to some exciting effort? Any of these are wonderful efforts and add to the overall experience of the program, but make sure it is crystal clear of what this money is going towards.

If it’s for patches, explain to everyone you are buying 200 of them at $3 a piece. If it’s for a trip, get enough details to explain why it is going to be epic and wonderful.

WHO is involved in this fundraising?

  • Leaders and Parents are usually motivated by the fact that every dollar they raise is a dollar they do not have to pull out of their pocket. But also, do they all know that the patches are $3 each and the unit needs 200 per year?
  • Youth are excited by fun and amazing experiences. Paint the picture for your youth members of what success is. Have an older member tell about their trip to New York or camping in the Rocky Mountains to paint the picture of your plans. Or have consider the awards they have received, then tell about the most exciting one they earned and point to the patch, that the unit bought for them.
  • Customers are different, therefore you must explain the vision at the time of sale. When the customer gives you money, they want to know what are you going to do with this money? We need to say, “Thank you so much, this will help pay for our group to sail around the US Virgin Islands!” not just “Thank you for supporting our group.”

WHAT are you going to do? There are all kinds of fundraisers out there. I have sold everything from a $1 candy bar to a $100 smoked brisket. There are boosterthons and magazine sales. You have to see what is the best one for your organization. What will your customers pay for? Do they want a service, a product, or just want to give you money? Do you have the customer base to support $100 brisket? Do your customers want online and credit card availability, or do they do most things in cash and checks?

All of these things need to be factored in, but the most important is Vision.

  • Vision of how you are going to use your money.
  • Vision of how to explain it to all interested parties.
  • Vision of what you are doing.

“We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers, and your money—in this work to which God has called us.” Henri Nouwen