by Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Services
I just planned our family’s summer trip to the beautiful coast of Oregon. It’s an especially exciting trip for us as our oldest son, Jacob, is biking across the country on a Bike and Build trip (bike thousands of miles and stop along the way to build sustainable housing!) and we will meet him at the finish at Cannon Beach. As the resident fundraiser in our household, I was recruited to help Jacob with his fundraising efforts for his trip. This was fun for me…I was “off the clock” from my day job but applying my “on the job” skills to benefit my son and his philanthropic adventure. To go on the trip, each rider needed to raise $4,500. So, we sat down and planned his fundraising strategy one Sunday afternoon. I was reminded of the fact that we communicate in so many different ways with friends and potential donors. Some are older and really like getting a letter in the mail. Others prefer email and don’t want to clutter up their mailbox…”just send the link and make it easy for me to give.” Keeping this in mind, our plan had several approaches and our first strategy was to send a letter by mail to very close friends and family that we thought had a good probability of supporting Jacob’s effort (aunts, uncles, god parents, grandparents…you get the picture!). These letters were very personalized and also included hand written notes. We had great success with our first letter writing campaign so that when we geared up for the second wave, we had news to share about how much we had already raised. The second appeal was also successful and went to a broader audience…friends of ours and Jacob’s, parents of Jacob’s friends and some of our neighbors. Some were sent a letter, others, an email. As a result of both of these appeals, Jacob had nearly reached his goal. This is when his dad and sister got in on the action. They posted Jacob’s bike page on Facebook and asked friends to help Jacob reach his goal. In just over a six weeks, Jacob raised the money he needed for the trip…he actually exceeded the goal by several hundred dollars! We were proud of his efforts and it was exciting to see the outpouring of support from our friends and family for Jacob’s wonderful cause.
While going through this process, I was again reminded that to be successful in fundraising, we need to have a road map…a plan and a clear strategy that helps us reach our goals. What is your fundraising plan for the new fiscal year? What goals have you set for yourself and your team to stretch yourselves and maybe think outside the box? Do you have a plan for expanding major gifts? What about planned giving? Is this the year to fully launch something new or refresh or change up something that needs a little boost? While I’m at Cannon Beach for that week this summer, I won’t think much about my fundraising plans. I’ll be busy catching fish, wading in rivers and walking on the beautiful beaches of Oregon. But, when I return, I will be ready and refreshed to tweak, enhance and polish my plan for FY 2017.