All we have is each other. Fundraising as a means to Pay it Forward.
My TOP 11 TIPS for fundraising.
By Nancy Dutra
Is helping others selfish?
I suppose it can be. After all, you can certainly benefit emotionally and socially from helping others. You can even benefit financially by getting a tax receipt for a donation. But assisting your fellow human is a basic duty. After all, what do we have if not each other?
In May 2021, my family was experiencing a personal tragedy. My husband was in the hospital for what would ultimately be a three-month period due to a serious illness related to COVID-19. My children were sad and confused. I was emotionally and physically drained from trying to keep up my family’s spirits. To say that I was overwhelmed with feelings of sorrow and responsibility would be an understatement.
I was alone. Except I wasn’t.
In my hour of darkness, many kind neighbours checked in on me and dropped off meals for my family. Some of these kind-hearted folks were already friends, but not all. While I still felt alone, I had a community of people rally around my family.
I imagine they felt helpless knowing there was nothing they could do to cure my husband and bring him home. Yet they found a tangible way to be of service. Often, there is something we can do to help even if it feels like our efforts bear little to no consequence. The charitable actions of my neighbours touched me deeply and inspired me to pay it forward. I will never forget their kindness.
Around this time, I was also despairing for another reason—the discoveries of hundreds—now thousands—of Indigenous bodies buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of Canada’s shameful Residential Schools. I began reading, listening, and learning in earnest. What much of the country regarded as a discovery of bodies was actually confirmation of what Indigenous peoples have always known about what happened to their friends, families, and ancestors. I was aghast. What could I do? My role could only be to learn and support Indigenous Peoples and try to take steps towards Reconciliation.
I wanted, however, something concrete to focus on in the present moment. I decided to walk in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (now renamed the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon) and raise money for Anishnawbe Health Foundation. I committed to raising $5000.00, a number that was both realistic and a challenge for me. In the end, I surpassed my fundraising goal. The donations, however, didn’t just come my way. I had to work diligently and consistently to raise these funds. If I can do it, I know you can too.
Here are my Top 11 fundraising tips:
- Liaise with the charity. The staff at Anishnawbe Health Foundation were of great assistance to me by providing valuable resources and encouragement.
- Commit to raising a minimum amount. Pick a challenging amount that is within or just beyond your reach. This way you shouldn’t be too overwhelmed, yet you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
- Go on the record. Make an announcement and post it on your social networks. Email your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours, and ask them for help. Pick up the phone to call someone or send a text message.
- Share your reason for fundraising. What is motivating you? Make an emotional appeal to your donors. Take into consideration that inviting others to support you in your efforts is a potential gift to them. Tell people you need their support in order to meet your goal. They get to both assist you and a charitable organization.
- Establish credibility. How? By signing up to the official fundraising website and by making regular updates about your fundraising progress. Be transparent. Make sure to spell names correctly and to include accurate information. For instance, I made sure to let my potential donors know that Anishnawbe Health Foundation was an Indigenous-led organization. This was especially important given the context of my motivation for raising funds.
- Engage regularly in your fundraising efforts but do be careful to avoid burnout. I took breaks as needed; however, I took at least one small action every single day towards my fundraising efforts. Often, this action was to email one person per day.
- Give people an out. Now, some professional fundraisers may disagree with me but remember, this is your personal social network we’re talking about and not an anonymous list of potential donors. Make it palatable for people to donate any amount of their choosing. One of my constant refrains was that no contribution amount was too small. Do recognize that financial donations may not be possible for some people. Provide other options or ways for them to help such as asking them to share your fundraising initiative with their networks.
- Ask your employer to donate. You might be surprised by how many organizations want to make donations to a charity and yet are overwhelmed with the abundance of choices. Remind your employer that they can get a tax receipt for their donation.
- Show your gratitude. Thank people individually for their support. Send an email to thank them so they can read it at their leisure. If it’s someone close to you and it’s appropriate, call and thank them. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were grateful to be given an opportunity to contribute.
- Accept that a small percentage of people will be annoyed by your pleas for funds. But, if you ask politely, it’s not your fault. Their negative feelings are on them!
- Don’t give up. I almost did. I was exhausted from everything else going on in my life, but I thought of my Indigenous friends, and I realized I didn’t want to let them down. I hunkered down and did everything I could to cold email people I hadn’t yet asked for support, and to follow up with those who hadn’t responded to my initial email. My efforts paid off.
Raising funds gave me direction and purpose in a time of personal and social overwhelm. It allowed me to feel connected to and supported by others and facilitated my efforts to help Anishnawbe Health Foundation. So much work remains to be done towards Reconciliation and yet every single productive step forward helps. Do what you can, when you can, and aim to be a part of the solution.
Sign up today for the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon and make Anishnawbe Health Foundation your charity of choice. You can create your own team, join our team or donate & share the charity challenge with family and friends. If you have any questions, please contact Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-657-0379 x 232.