The vast majority of TU chapters and councils raise the bulk of their revenue at in-person events – often banquets – where individual members buy raffle tickets or bid on donated live and silent auction items and the net proceeds go to the bottom line of the chapter’s operations.
That model has served us well as an organization and continues to be an important part of a diversified revenue stream. Click here for fundraising banquet resources.
However, only a small portion of members and supporters ever attend a local banquet or fundraising event and are never given the opportunity to financially support your important local work. A fundraising appeal – whether as a print mailing or online donation opportunity – is one way to give everyone a chance to invest in your work, even if they can’t invest the time in attending an event.
When considering running a special fundraising appeal for your chapter or council, it is important to think about the following aspects:
- Have Something Exciting to Support
An appeal for donations is best conducted when your local efforts can be clearly celebrated and are worthy of support, or if you have a specific opportunity to tackle an important project or grow a powerful program. Sharing an annual report or document highlighting past accomplishments in conjunction with a fundraising appeal is an effective strategy – people like to support local efforts when they can see that their donations are making a difference. If you can;t point to past accomplishments, and don’t have a specific and identified need for the funds, your donors may wonder where their money is going and be less likely to give.
- Make Giving Quick and Easy
An appeal, sent out by email or by print mail, is best when you offer potential donors clear and easy ways to contribute. Calls to action such as “go to www.chaptertu.org to donate” or “mail a check to PO Box 123” – and ideally offering both options – are important and should be very visible in your appeal. Using a trusted online donation collection platform – many chapters use PayPal, though there are lots of different options – is essential and you should always take care to follow TU’s Policy on Securely Processing Credit Card Transactions to protect your chapter or council and your donors.
- Thank Before You Bank
Before the checks are cashed, or immediately after an online gift is made, have a donor acknowledgement letter ready to go. The IRS requires that all donations over $250 receive a tax acknowledgement letter, but best practice is to make sure that everyone who gives – whether they give $10 or $1,000 – receives a heartfelt thank you. Personally signing and mailing donor thank you letters is always a great idea – and provides a chance to begin building a long-term relationship with your donor.
For more tips, tactics and ideas on running a successful fundraising appeal, never hesitate to reach out to your Volunteer Operations Staff for guidance, support or feedback.