Fundraising Publicity 101: or how to act like a PR Queen!

Fundraising Publicity 101

Your group is fundraising. You know what’s happening—and when. You know why too. So now it’s time to crank up the fundraising publicity. Here’s how.
Publicity is an essential part of marketing. It’s no use hiding your light under a bushel, as they say. You NEED to spread the word about what’s happening and build support.
Big events have big budgets and specialist staff to make them uber-successful. But you can do it without the $$$. You just need to know a few little tricks…

Appoint a publicist

Ideally a member of your school community or group with some experience in public relations, journalism or marketing is best for your fundraising publicity role; at least, someone whose passion for your cause/event is contagious, who loves to schmooze, who can absorb facts and deliver a clear message. Not a shrinking violet.  If you have more than one person who is keen, why not have a publicity team.


Identify the key channels for fundraising publicity

(and note, we’re talking FREE publicity, not bought with advertising).
10 places to spread the word:

1. Your school or group’s website homepage

With a link to full details elsewhere in the website

2. E-blasts

Email everyone and anyone you know with details of your event and ask them to pass the details on

3. Facebook

Facebook is particularly good for reaching Gen X/Gen Y audience who are conveniently now parents of children who like to go to fetes and other fundraising events .
Set up a Facebook page for the event and update it regularly.
Create a Facebook Event and share that event to other Facebook pages and groups – think The Fundraising Whisperer, your local community noticeboards/grapevines.
Create a facebook competition **NB The rules for facebook competitions are ever changing. Make sure whoever is creating the competition is all over the rules or you may find yourselves in hot water with FB**
Or try a facebook video to maximise reach. Our Lady of Mt Carmel Primary School do an excellent job promoting their fete with videos. Here’s one of our favourites.

4. Community newsletters

Ask other clubs, schools, churches and politicians in your locality to place details of your event in their newsletters.

5. Local community newspapers

We’re not talking the capital city dailies although if you have the right ‘hook’, go for it. The local community papers love a good ‘picture’ story so it can be as simple as a phone call to the editor with the details of your event. Have a few suggestions for a great picture, perhaps a few children dressed in theme. If you have mini fundraisers in the lead up to the event perhaps you could profile one of those – a crazy hair day etc.  A media release containing quotes from the head of the event committee and Principal (if relevant) would also be welcome.

6. Local radio stations’ community calendars (AM and FM)

Community radio stations —and the bigger stations too, if you have that ‘hook’

7. Online What’s On columns

Think your local area’s kids magazines – many of these have facebook pages that list upcoming events too! Your local member of parliament’s e-newsletters usually have a what’s on section.

We have put together a list of websites that accept free community event listings. Find it here.

8. Local television news

If your event included a world record attempt,  or there was some other newsworthy aspect to your event, then a call to your local news might be worth a shot.

9. Local Area Exposure

Don’t forget good old fashioned signs, whether they are corflute posters on a stake, positioned at high traffic areas around the local suburb or banners hung up at the entrance to your local shopping centre. In the digital age these may seem a bit old school but if they are eye catching and easy to read they are still a great way to raise awareness for your event.  The good old letterbox drop is also still a good way to get noticed. Team up with one of your sponsors to get great signs and colour printing or if you are after black and white on coloured paper – your local councillor’s office or member of parliament’s office are usually happy to print a ream or two of leaflets.

10. Local Business Partners

No doubt you’ve nurtured some great relationships with local businesses. If they’ve come on board to be a sponsor they’ll no doubt be happy to publicise that fact and place one of your posters in their window or at their reception.  It is even better though if you can get them to become an active spruiker.  No, I’m not talking about them being on a mic out the front of the vet practice.  I’m talking about giving them a stack of small flyers (like the ones from your letterbox drop) and asking them to give them to families with young children at their point of sale.  One of  the Fundraising Directory team had a bakery agree to do that for her school fete, not only did they hand out the flyers, they also asked for the key messages that the school wanted to get out about their fete so they could work it into conversation. They were amazing ambassadors for the event!

You’re ready to put your fundraising publicity into action, so before you start contacting The Project you need to remember these 3 tips:


1.Find your news hook or angle/s 

News stories need to grab interest. Think:
Ask yourself: Who else would be interested in this story?
It is hard to believe that a primary school fundraiser would be of interest to the nation but that was the case when this event was turned to record-breaking fundraising gold recently.  A federal politician posted a controversial tweet about the Craigburn Primary School and Do It In A Dress fundraiser. This was significant due to the politician’s involvement, the involvement of other high profile donors and the national vote taking place.
Ask yourself: While your event may be big news for your community would the rest of the state or the country care about it?  
If it is really only the neighbouring suburbs that might be interested then the local community paper is the right fit for you. 
Ask yourself:  Is anyone famous or influential involved in your event?
Unless the Prime Minister is in your dunk tank it is unlikely that this will be of national interest.
Ask yourself: Is the reason for your event likely to strike an emotion? Are you are raising money for a cause that resonates eg. Love your Sister?

2.Develop a communications plan 

Identify who’ll be contacted and when, what platform will be targeted, what the message or angle is.
Use our template to prepare a Media Release. Ensure it covers the essential who, what, where, when, why and how—plus the publicist’s contact details.

3.Stay timely

PR is about raising awareness, drawing a crowd; getting bums on seats. Allow at least a month’s notice for media and follow it up (You may need a few months’ lead-time for community service announcements).
We can get a bit caught up in planning the nuts and bolts of the event and forget that we need to attract people to the event to raise money.  With these tips, your fundraising publicity game will be strong!
Originally published 14 March, 2012

Originally published 4 October, 2017

You might also be interested in: