Fundraising was the topic of the S.A.I.L. program in Sykes’s Student Union last Thursday. An important part of any club or organization, fundraising is a necessary aspect many on-campus leaders have to establish to get support for their organization. The program highlighted the most important steps one must take while coming up with creative and effective fundraising.
First, research must be done: find out what other people are doing. This an important step in finding out what works and what does not. Talking to other groups and exchanging ideas leads to more efficiency in creating your own fundraising. Also, this is to make sure you know what other groups are currently doing. According to Natalie Shaak, the grad student presenting the topic, it’s okay if there is more than one group doing a car wash or a bake sale, but some things, like with selling pizza, you will not have much success if every other group is also selling pizza. More ideas can be found online. Sites such as www.fund-raising.com can help give ideas.
Once you decide on your fundraiser, it is important to pick a location. On campus, the student union is a very effective location. Other places could be in the academic quad or in the residence halls. Wal-Mart and grocery stores were suggested for off-campus ideas. Car washes are a good idea, but when picking a location, consider the costs, like whether you can use the location’s water for free.
It is also helpful to look into the talents of your group. Shaak said, “Anything can be a fundraiser. Whether you cook, bake, or sew, you have a fundraiser.” Find out what members of your group are good at or what they are interested in. It is also important to ask members what their availability is to make sure you will be able to have the event.
Consider price. No one will buy your product if you ask for too much (even if it is for a good cause). Then again, your efforts will be wasted if you do not break even. Shaak gave the example of her sorority planning expensive fundraisers and then barely breaking even. Sometimes a “Donations accepted” philosophy is helpful in that the bigger donations equal out the modest ones.
Look into the credibility of your idea or your company. Some people have been burnt by sleazy company execs on campus. You do not want your organization’s reputation to suffer. If you work with a campus fundraising company, see if other groups on campus recommend them or if there were more issues then they realized. Also, check the legality of your ideas. Do not serve alcohol and then invite people under 21. Find out if there are specific rules on campus about fundraising, such as finding out if you are allowed to chalk sidewalks before you cover half the campus.
Finally, remember fundraising is very individualized. It may take some trial and error to find out exactly what is best for your club or organization. Make sure if you are doing something with sports to go through the athletic department; you can get ideas along with permission. Sometimes getting businesses and corporate sponsors involved can interfere with the school’s own fundraising, so it is always good to get permission. Remember not to disregard parents; sometimes they are your biggest supporters. Good luck with your own group’s next fundraising event!