Aura’s House Fund Raising Tips and Tricks
Hi there. This page/post is a work in progress so if you have your own tips or tricks to add, please leave them in the comments.
When I first started trying to raise $4500 for my sponsored child Aura’s new brick home back in 2004, it was a daunting task. I didn’t know how to raise money and worse yet, I didn’t (and still don’t) like asking people for money. What to do? Well, I tried to read up on the subject and did some homework before rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. Sure enough, in just four short months I had raised $5700- enough to not only buy a home for Aura, but $500 for furniture and $700 for desks for her village’s school! After that first project funded, my new friend whom I met through the site, Anastasia Yecke and myself started fund raising for another family. -And so it went until we reached the present moment. The site is still running and we’ve raised over $73,000 for hundreds of needy children in developing countries. Not bad for someone who doesn’t like to fund raise! 🙂
Anyway, here are some of my tips and tricks in no particular order. I hope they will be helpful to anyone raising funds for their children both on our site or elsewhere.
OK. Here we go:
Do Your Homework
Research research research! There’s a lot of material online and offline that can help you with your fund raising goal. I used Cross Cultural Solutions Fund Raising Guide (PDF) and found it VERY helpful. I also listed more resources and tips at the Aura’s House How You Can Help page. Knowledge is power, so the more you learn, the more effective you will be.
DO Ask Your Friends, Family, Coworkers, Acquaintances to Donate to Your Project
The more people you ask, the better your chances of raising funds. Don’t be shy. Most people are glad to help with a small (and sometimes large!) gift. Be open to accepting donations online as well as cash donations directly to you that you can eventually turn in as an online payment or check. I personally recommend a PERSONALIZED email campaign. (More on that in a moment…) Also, consider making a donation jar out of an old milk jug and putting it on your desk at work or in the trusted care of a secretary in your workplace’s common area. Make sure the jug is labeled well with your cause and all the information.
But Don’t Ask All the Time
Some people in your life might begin to fear running into you if they think you are always going to be asking them for money for one cause or another. I personally don’t ask friends and family for help with projects more than once a year at the most. When I DO ask (after that initial first House Project, that is…) I ask around the holidays when people are more likely to be in a giving mood.
Personalize Your Emails
It’s so much easier to continue walking down the street when you see someone calling for help and there is already a crowd of people standing around. “Surely someone in the crowd will help.” you think to yourself as you catch your bus. However, if you hear the same person calling, “Help me, _____(your name here)!!” You are MUCH more likely to not only stop in your tracks but give the help that is needed. This same logic applies to creating an email campaign asking people you know to donate to your cause. I recommend creating your main message with your goal, why the situation is dire, and how your recipient can be the hero and save the day by making a small gift. This will be the bulk of your message. Save this and then add the personal touches to the beginning and end of your email. Yes, I know this takes more time, but trust me… you will get more donations this way and that’s the goal after all.
Take The Time To Write Your Request Well
There’s apparently an entire art form to wording your message in such a way as to inspire others to give to your worthy cause. I can post more on this later, but in a nutshell:
- Keep it short and to the point. No rambling on for 5 pages.
- Outline why the situation is dire as close to the beginning as possible. If you can personalize the story with an example of one child or family who is affected, that would be best.
- Outline the amount you are raising, who the money is going to, why that entity is trustworthy, and how this money will help end the dire situation. If there’s a tax deduction available mention it. On Aura’s House, I always mention that 100% of funds raised go towards our projects, which they do. People like to know these things.
- If possible, express how the recipient can be the hero of the story and help end the dire situation with a small gift.
Read here for some more tips as well as sample letters. The internet abounds with advice for writing donation letters so research research research!
Send Your Email on a Thursday around 2PM if Possible
I know. This one is strange. I don’t remember where I read this, but I came across something while doing my homework years ago that said that fund raising emails are most effective on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons around 1-2PM. The logic was that on Mondays and Fridays people are preoccupied with recovering from/preparing for the weekend. If you email someone in the morning, they are less likely to respond because they are getting settled in at work. Studies had shown that Tuesday-Thursday was the best time to ask for donations (with Thursdays being the most successful) at around 2PM. This is apparently because people have returned from lunch and are experiencing a little down time before getting back into their work full swing. Take this or leave it, but I gave this a try and I DID notice more positive results when I sent an email on a Thursday afternoon versus other times.
If You Can, Ask Around the Holidays
I’ve noticed that donations are at their highest from November -January. They tend to be at their lowest in the summer and in particular, August. People are more in the giving spirit around the holidays and many will make donations just before the end of the year to get a tax deduction. In the summer people are more preoccupied with vacations, weddings, and preparing to return to school so donations tend to be less frequent.
DO Thank Your Donors and Keep Them Updated
If you are using Aura’s House to raise funds for your sponsored child, then we do this for you in the form of our Donors List, updates to the blog, updates to our Facebook and Twitter Pages, and through our Mailing List. Children International also automatically sends a confirmation/thank you email and a tax deduction receipt in the mail if the donor provided a mailing address. However, it’s always nice if you personally can send a thank you email to friends and family as well.
Support Others With Their Fund Raising Projects
If your cousin or your Mom’s best friend is running a race to help end Breast Cancer or some other worthy cause, by all means, give a small gift. People will remember that you helped them and may (or may not) some day help with your cause. In any case, it’s always good to give even a little something to causes that you and your family/friends care about.
Consider Doing a Matching Challenge or Raffling off a Gift to Increase Donations
If you can afford to do so, considering doubling donations up to a certain amount. People like to make gifts when they know it will have a larger impact. Don’t forget that many companies and work places offer matching donations for charitable causes.
Also, if you accidentally got two iPods for the Holidays, consider raffling one off as a gift to your donors. Perhaps you can make it so that all donations over $10 gets them one entry. Once your goal has been reached, you can do a random selection and award your prize.
Use the Power of the Internet
Again, much could be written about this. In a nutshell, you can spread the word to others beyond your circle of family and friends by linking to your fund raising page and participating in online groups and forums where others share your interest in helping others. There are many many resources including the usual social networking sites, your own personal blog, chat rooms, Craigslist Volunteers section, forums, etc. Don’t become a spammer though and don’t always ask for money. Consider also sharing interesting resources and becoming a good community member for its own sake. You can always add the link to your fund raising page as your signature.
Well, that’s enough for now. I’ve only scratched the surface. Please add your own tips and tricks as well as links to other resources via comments if you’d like.
Kristen and the Aura’s House Team