It is the business of helping others with the use of funds donated by kind and generous individuals interested in furthering a cause they believe in.
Non-Profit or Tax-Exempt Status
If you have not already taken this step, or if your organization does not already have this status, it is vital that you do so as soon as possible. Obtaining non-profit status will allow your organization to secure many valuable tax benefits.
You have several options in regard to obtaining this special status for fundraising purposes.
- You can go directly to the IRS and begin the procedure yourself.
- You can hire an attorney who specializes in obtaining non-profit status to accomplish this task for you, or
- You can peruse the many Internet sites that walk you through the process or take care of the paperwork for you.
Define Your Mission
Making Your Case Statement : A case statement is a clear and decisive document that explains your organization's initiative in writing. If you have written a clear mission statement it will be much easier to create this more exacting document. There are two types of case statement, Internal and External.
External Case Statement
This is the document that you will ultimately be showing to potential donors. It will be a description of your organization that you may leave with others so that they can learn more.
Internal Case Statement
This document is used in-house as a reference tool. It includes everything in your external case statement plus other information about your organization such as services it will provide, any special features it possesses, worthy achievements and future plans. Your organization's internal case statement will be the basis for all supporting documents that will spring forth from it, such as: telephone scripts, emails, letters, brochures, newsletters and press releases. You should spend considerable time perfecting this document and adding to it as your organization evolves. If you feel that writing is not your forte, hire a professional to use your mission statement to create one for you.
Setting Your Group Apart
- Don't be afraid to ask family and friends to assist, hey, what are friends for?
- Don't hem people in, take what they can offer. You may have a relative or friend who cannot devote many hours to your cause, but they might be willing to create a flyer or brochure for you during their lunch break.
- Take out an ad in the local paper or post one in a grocery store, (or other high traffic area), calling for like-minded volunteers.
- Build your expanded team from your nucleus. If you have a small group together ask them to call upon their friends and families to help.
- For larger fundraising efforts it may be necessary to pay specialized individuals to assist. Be sure to narrow down those things that absolutely can't be accomplished by the volunteers already on your team.
- Keep the "work" atmosphere fun. High morale is key in keeping your unpaid helpers happy.
- Thank those who do agree to volunteer often and lavishly; let them know that their help is greatly appreciated.
- Celebrate milestones and accomplishments with a pizza party or some other small gesture of festivity, (perhaps even donated by a local business!).
Organizing Your Team
No one wants to devote several hours of their week standing around wondering what the heck is going on! Before you even begin planning your fundraising campaign, you must have a meeting with your group. Be sure to have your mission and case statement ready and provide copies for all involved. The first meeting should have a clear directive--who will be doing what. It is up to you to have a precise list put together before hand of what will be needed to accomplish your fundraising goals. Get input from your team on who is qualified to do certain jobs. If several people are qualified you may be able to split the work between them or create a "mini-team" of two or three. Don't be discouraged if you end up with jobs on your list that no one seems qualified for; these may be the things you will need to hire that expert for, or get out there and rustle up another volunteer with that specific skill set.
Some other points to help keep your team organized:
- Be forthcoming; do not "selectively" provide information to your team.
- Keep everyone involved.
- Welcome ideas and suggestions.
- Audio record meetings, or, at the very least, assign one person to act as "secretary" and write down decisions made during meetings.
- Set up a regular meeting schedule to ensure that everyone stays current on progress and goals.
- Train new incoming volunteers well. Take the time to get them up-to-date on what has transpired so far and introduce them to the rest of the team.
- Be sure to handle personality conflicts between team members promptly and with care to avoid hurt feelings, or worse, the loss of a helpful volunteer!
- Gently let your volunteers know if they are off track or confused about their particular job.
- A sense of humor goes a long way; don't be too stringent with your "rules."
Facilities, Equipment and Technology
Once you have a meeting place designated and secured, be sure to provide your volunteers with provisions that they will need to accomplish their tasks. The most obvious and simple are notepads and pens, refreshments, and use of bathroom facilities. However, depending on how involved the fundraising campaign or group is you may also want to consider some of the following:
- Access to telephones with multiple lines
- Computers with Internet access and printers
- Copy and fax machines
- Basic office supplies, such as: file folders, paper clips, pens, paper, staplers, printer ink, postage, envelopes and the like
- Software such as Microsoft Office, MS Publisher or Adobe Acrobat
Make a list of the equipment and technology items you think you will need. This list may become more extensive as your development plan (Lesson Two) becomes more defined. As a basic reference use the list above. Browse your local Office Supply store and Internet supply stores to get the best prices on larger items.