Fundraising Co-ordinator Miranda Ellis gives 8 top tips to help you boost your sponsored fundraising
Sponsored events for charity are everywhere, whether it’s running a race, climbing a mountain, jumping from a plane, sleeping out for a night. Whatever the event, it’s a fun way to raise money for charity whilst at the same time challenging yourself to do something that tests your wits, bravery or endurance.
Before becoming a professional fundraiser, I personally raised over £55,000 for a charity that is very close to my heart. Much of the money raised came from sponsored events. Through my experience I have learnt what works and what doesn’t where sponsorship is concerned. Here are my top tips for maximising your fundraising.
It is much harder to raise funds for a cause you’re not passionate about, so if you are only motivated by the personal challenge but don’t feel any real connection to the cause, you would do better to find a cause you care about first, then find a way to do what you want to do to raise money for that cause. For lots of ‘experience’ events (like parachute jumps and overseas trekking) there is usually a minimum fundraising target you have to meet to fulfil your obligation to the charity. I’ve known a lot of people who have struggled to meet the minimum funding target because they are not really passionate about the cause. If you really do, genuinely care about the cause, great! You’re already halfway there. The next thing to do is to communicate your passion to others. It’s contagious!
Most people these days set up a digital fundraising page to collect sponsorship money for their event. If you’re doing this, ensure your page is unique and personal to you. You will be asking friends and family to sponsor you, and they will do it first and foremost because they want to support you, and also because they want to back the cause you care so passionately about.
For best results you should:
- Include a photograph of yourself
- Ensure your name appears in the title page
- Edit the text on the page to make it personal to you.
- Personalise the automated thank you email
Heading: Lucy’s Skydive for Cancer Trust
Text: Friends and family all know I am terrified of heights. The last thing I would ever dare to do is to jump out of an aeroplane. So why on earth am I doing this? Well, you probably also know, my beloved Auntie Mary sadly died last year after a short battle with cancer. I’m going to be brave and do a tandem skydive to honour her memory. I need your help to raise £1,000 for Cancer Trust.
Thank you email Thank you so much for your donation to Cancer Trust on my fundraising page. It means the world to me that you have sponsored my skydive. Keep an eye on my page for updates. I’m still nervous, but knowing that you’ve supported me makes a massive difference. Love from Lucy.
See how that’s so much more powerful than the standard text?
As the saying goes, if you reach for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. Your target should aim high. Not unrealistic, but high. Think about how many people you know who could spare a tenner, multiply it out, then add a bit on. You’ll be surprised by people’s generosity.
Always be prepared to sponsor yourself. Go on, be the first person to make a donation to your page, and make it a big one. This is a way of showing people you really care about the cause, not just about the challenge. It’s leading by example and it gets results. I would never ask someone else to do something I was not prepared to do myself. In fact, one time, I said I was going to personally donate 10% of my target of £1,000 and that I would do it in instalments, each time the fund passed certain milestones. Within 2 weeks I had well over £1,000.
ASK, ASK, AND ASK SOME MORE!
The number one reason why people don’t give to charity is because they were not asked.
It is not enough to set up a brilliant fundraising page then sit back and wait for the money to come rolling in. You have to ask people to sponsor you. Social media makes this so incredibly easy these days because people can click the link that takes them directly to your page, no need for searching. The thing about social media is, you never know what else is going on for the person when they see it. They might happen to catch a glimpse when they are just off to do the school run and not have time to sponsor you there and then. By the time they think of it again, the moment has passed and they can’t find the original post. It gets forgotten.
That’s why it’s not enough to ask once. You need to ask, ask again and keep on asking until you have reached your target. (And in fact there’s no need to stop there, you can increase your target if you reach it quickly!)
But, I hear you say, people will get fed up with me asking all the time! The first rule of fundraising is, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get!’ Remember your passion? Use it! Don’t just say, ‘please sponsor me’, explain why you care passionately about the cause. The people who really care about you will not mind you doing this one bit. Go ahead, ask. People will respond more positively than you think.
You might want to collect sponsorship offline with a sponsorship form. Keep a form with you at all times and be sure to talk to people about what you’re doing. Then produce your form and ask them if they’d like to sponsor you. If they say no, not now, you can always offer to send them a link to your digital page for later if they’d like. If people do give you money ‘offline’, remember to update your offline total on your page, and arrange to pay this money to the charity separately. (Ask the charity how they want you to do this.)
THANK, THANK AND THANK SOME MORE!
If the number one reason why people don’t give to charity is because they were not asked, the number two reason why they don’t give is because the last time they did, nobody thanked them.
Thank your supporters. Doing so makes them feel appreciated. We’ve already talked about personalising the automated thank you sent by the fundraising page. You can also personally thank people, either face to face next time you see them, by posting to their social media pages or via text, phone, email, post etc. Sometimes I post an update on my social media page, publicly thanking friends for sponsoring me and tagging them in the post.
On the subject of updates, as well as posting updates on social media, your digital fundraising page is likely to have an update posting facility. This works a bit like a short blog. Try telling people about your fundraising milestones as you reach them and using that as an opportunity to thank the people who have contributed, as well as encouraging others to give. If you’re training or preparing for your event in any way, you could post an update on how it’s going. For example, Lucy might say, ‘I got my information pack about my skydive today. It all suddenly feels a lot more real and I’m not gonna lie, I’m more than a little bit nervous! Then I looked at my fundraising page and saw that thanks to all of you I’m now only £140 away from reaching my target. That’s simply amazing, and gives me the courage to go on. Thank you all, this means such a lot to me xxx’.
APPLY A LITTLE PSYCHOLOGY
Human nature is such that we often make decisions based on what we think the social ‘norm’ is. So, if we go to a fundraising page and see that the last 5 people to donate have all given £10, we will also feel obliged to give £10, even if we originally only intended to give a fiver. Equally, if we think we’d like to give £20, but everyone else has given £5, we will probably also give £5. It’s not necessarily true of every individual, but in many instances we are influenced in ways like these without even realising it.
What does this mean for your fundraising page? Keep an eye on it. If you have a run of donations of £20, then someone posts up a donation of £5, notice what happens after that. I’m willing to bet, the next few donations will drop to £15 or less. If this is happening, get someone you know to pop on another donation of £20 or more. Then watch the next few donations come in at a higher level again. I’ve done this myself and it’s uncanny. It really does work!
Remember, you’re not restricted to raising the funds through sponsorship alone. Why not supplement it with another activity? There are lots of ways you can raise a little extra cash to boost your funds, including a bake sale, a coffee morning, a sweepstake, name the bear, guess how many sweets in a jar, a yard sale… the possibilities are endless!