Help! I don’t know where to start.
Raising money is an important part of any expedition, but for many it is also intimidating. The most common question we hear from those starting their fundraising is ‘how do I start?’ Quite often people just dive in at the deep end, and while we love your enthusiasm, this is often what creates problems down the line. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to help ensure that your efforts are a success.
• Develop more than one idea – Often you or your group will have more than one good idea between you. If you think you can handle a couple of projects, choose two or three favourite ideas and plan how each would work. Otherwise, agree on a single project and you can return to your other ideas later. Projects don’t have to be grand in scale, they can be as simple as a social media push for donations and sponsorship, or as grand in scale as a week-long event.
• Have a plan – You’ve got an idea of how you or your group are going to raise money for your expedition, great! Now you need to take that idea and break it down into all its separate components.
• Is anyone fundraising in a similar way? – You don’t want to be in competition with your fellow fundraisers. If someone has had the same idea then you might be better off using one of your alternates, or you could join forces!
• Is there any up-front cost? – If your chosen method is going to cost money to run, you need to be sure that you’re going to at least get that money back. The last thing you want to do is lose money fundraising.
• Do you know any experts? – If you know anyone who knows a lot about raising money for a cause, or has done some in the past, these people are a great resource. See if you can corner them and ask a few questions about how best to execute on your idea. Family and close friends are often a great place to start.
• Break down your process – When will you start? How many people will you need to run it? Is it safe? How much are you aiming to make? These are all important questions to have answers to before you begin.
Important Fundraising Questions
• Who is in charge?
• Is help required to run it?
• Do you have the necessary skills/knowledge?
• Is it safe?
• Where is it being held?
• Is any special equipment needed?
• When is it taking place?
• What are the financial risks?
• What is the expected cost/income/profit?
• Do you need insurance/public liability insurance?
• Discuss your plans – Once you’re confident you have the answers to all the questions above, take your plan to your group leader or a trusted advisor for input. Often they will see something that you haven’t that will make your efforts more successful. Be realistic and don’t feel disappointed if they suggest changes. If a project is not well planned it could end up wasting your time and costing you money!
• Get started! – You should now be well prepared, and you can reap the rewards.
• Evaluate your success – When you’re finished fundraising, take an unbiased look at how it ran and whether there are any ways it could have been improved. You can then take what you’ve learned and apply it to future fundraising projects.
Some advice for running an event
• Set up early/in good time.
• Make sure everything is clean.
• Look presentable.
• Store all money raised in a safe and secure location.
• Act in a courteous manner.
• Leave your phones behind – stay in the moment!
• Be polite and talk about your expedition.
• Always clean away properly at the end of the event to ensure no mess is left behind.
Quick tips for successful fundraising
Have a support network – While raising money for your expedition it is likely that there will be a time when you struggle. You might miss a fundraising target, or have to cancel an event. In those situations it’s important to have a support network in place to help out and keep you confident. Your group leader should always be there to support you, but friends and family are also a great base on which to build a supportive team. Do everything you can to get them involved and raise enthusiasm.
Promote yourself – For larger events this can make the difference between success and failure. Make sure to spread the word around your school or university so that there’s some buzz around the event when the time comes. You can do all the preparation in the world, but if nobody knows to come to your event then you risk disappointment.
Think about your timing – Different fundraising activities are more likely to succeed at different times of the year. If you’re making a calendar for example, those are best sold in December. If your event is quite large in scale, make sure you’re not competing with major events that may draw your target audience away. Keep in mind that you can also use major events to your advantage. If you know a specific audience is going to be in one place at a certain time, come up with a fundraising effort that takes advantage of that.
Contact businesses – Businesses both large and small are often willing to help out with fundraising in some way. They may be able to promote your expedition to their clients, donate products for a raffle, or make a one-off donation. If you do approach a business, make sure that no one else has already spoken to them.
Challenge yourself – We love to see people taking on a challenge in the name of a good cause. If you’ve got a particular talent, or a personal target, see if you can raise some money with it. Physical feats such as a long distance run or sponsored swim to raise money often perform well, and can also generate good publicity in local publications.
Easyfundraising.co.uk – This is a fantastic way to raise funds for your expedition. Easyfundraising.org.uk helps schools and colleges to raise money when their supporters shop online. It works in a similar way to other loyalty shopping sites, but instead of earning points, you raise a donation for your nominated cause instead. The service is totally free and lots of students have had success raising money with it.
You can shop with over 2,000 well-known stores and each will donate up to 15% of what you spend. For example, John Lewis will donate 1%, Amazon 1.5%, and The Body Shop 6% – and it won’t cost you anything! There are also lots of voucher codes and special discounts so you can save money while helping your cause.
This all sounds imposing, but the purpose of this guide is to help you get the complicated stuff out of the way. Once that’s done you can focus on the fun bits of fundraising! There’s a special joy in knowing that you’ve funded your adventure yourself and with the help of this guide you will get to feel that joy sooner rather than later!
Many thanks to Mat Stapleton whose efforts for his own students formed the foundation of this guide.