Getting your Fundraising Ideas ‘Over the Line’

 Fundraising Committee – Politics!

Those of us involved in a fundraising committee often experience a ‘certain amount of politics’ in the process.

Grassroots fundraising is almost always run by a committee of volunteers.  The more the merrier, of course, but that also means more people you need to bring on board with your ideas.

The decision-making process in volunteer committees is usually fairly long.  A fundraising suggestion may be floated at one meeting, discussed the following month, and – if you’re lucky – approved the month after.

The more volunteers you have, the more diverse the opinions will be, and the more animated the debate will be.  A bit of this is very healthy, but too much can be debilitating.

It could be argued that decisions made by committee reflect the most cautious view in the room.  It only takes one loud opposing voice to squash an idea before it takes flight.

An example of this very issue was within my own committee around 6 years ago when we first proposed to raffle a car as a big drawcard to our school fete.  It was almost unheard of for a State school to run a raffle like that at the time. The gamble was that as soon as you sold the first ticket, you were obliged to proceed with the purchase of the car even if you did not sell enough tickets to cover the cost.  There were those on the committee that felt it was too great a risk.

There were those of us, on the other hand, that were very passionate that we could make it work.  In the end, the dissenting voices were prepared to concede to the passionate team behind the idea, but wanted their opposition noted in case it didn’t work out.

This story had a happy ending – We made over $20,000 profit and the two car raffles we have run since then have made even more each time.  Those of us who had advocated so hard for it worked tirelessly to make it successful because we wouldn’t have been able to show our faces if it had failed!

Here are some tips for dealing these sorts of issues:

  1. Be realistic. Not every story is going to have a happy ending.  If there is opposition, acknowledge it and give it the consideration it is due.  Be prepared to abandon it if it becomes clear that your idea won’t be approved.  You need some level of support around you in order to succeed.
  2. Anticipate the critics.  If there are some obvious concerns, come up with a solution for them before they are even raised.  For example, your dance school wants to run a chocolate drive, but you know that there are a couple of families who would not like to participate.  Send a letter out before hand giving families the option to instead donate the equivalent of the profit on a box of chocolate, or simply to opt-out altogether.  A very reasonable and fair solution.
  3. Put together a plan.  The more organised you are when you present your idea, the more credible it is and the more support it will receive.  Something that ‘feels’ like a good idea will receive less support than a plan that has structure and substance.
  4. Be passionate.  Quire often, the difference between an average fundraiser and a brilliant fundraiser is a single passionate ‘champion’ who gets behind an idea and drives it forward.
  5. Be patient.  If not this time, then maybe next time.  This will give you some more space to research and gather support for when your plan finally gets off the ground.

Happy Fundraising!

Mandy Weidmann @ Fundraising Directory: Australia’s #1 fundraising resource for schools, clubs and community groups.

Originally published 14 January, 2014

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