Taking part in a charity event? Here are the best ways to get donations.
It’s that time of year again. All the spring marathon runners are thoroughly immersed in training plans and fundraising activities. You can’t scroll through your Facebook feed without seeing numerous requests from people to sponsor them, or sweaty selfies from their training sessions.
The best ways to fundraise is a topic really close to my heart, as I’m in this boat myself right now. I will be running the London Marathon this April, dressed as a crazy cat lady for my favourite animal charity, Blue Cross.
So if you’re looking for inspiration, then know that the ideas I present to you here are ones I’m using myself. I’m in the trenches with you!
As entrepreneurs we have some really useful skills for fundraising, so let’s start here…
Make use of your business skills
You’ve got skills, right? Whether you’re a copywriter, an ecommerce wizard, or a fitness coach, you have something of value to exchange for donations.
Some of my Blue Cross teammates have been offering their individual skills up for donations; all sorts, from dog grooming to sports massage. Personally, I’ve taught some blog writing classes online. I’m also running a finish time sweepstake, where the prize is a day working with me on your marketing funnels.
I use TicketTailor.com to sell the tickets, as they don’t charge seller fees, and I teach my charity classes via Zoom. While Zoom carries a small cost, I already use it so there was no extra cost to me.
Even if you don’t fancy trading your business skills for donations, you can still use your talents to make excellent marketing material for your campaign.
One of the first things I did was take some footage of my cats, A.K.A. “my training team”, just on my iPhone. I uploaded these clips to my desktop and used my editing software to make a fun video to promote my JustGiving page. This is both on my YouTube channel, and embedded on the charity page of my website.
I have added a blurb with a picture of myself in my London Marathon costume, and of course the JustGiving link, to my email footer. I’ve done this for both my business email accounts, and for the template I use when I email my list every week. It’s worth grabbing every opportunity to share your link.
I’ve also used my social media skills to sell home-made catnip toys. Before I set up my current business, my very first foray into the world of business was with an Etsy store. It’s been refreshing to get out my sewing kit and do something crafty again. I’ve been posting pictures of my happy feline customers on Instagram, with the hashtag #InstagramPawty – and it’s been really fun.
As entrepreneurs, we can easily get pulled into the long work days and forget about our other interests. I must say, crafting catnip toys has helped me de-stress in the evenings – a surprise bonus!
Tell a great story
This is Marketing 101. We all know the power of a great story. When you are writing the copy for your fundraising page, treat it as you would any other sales page.
Opening with something engaging is key. I like to open my sales copy with a question to pull my reader in. On my Blue Cross fundraising page I’ve opened with the question, “Did you ever have a furry best friend?”
At this point, if the reader has ever had a pet, I’m bringing emotion into the equation, which is always a good thing to do. Then I tell my story; I talk about my furry best friends, and then why I care about this charity.
In the last paragraph, just like in good sales copy, I round things up with a compelling call to action.
When you share your fundraising page in emails and social media, remember to write compelling copy there too. Don’t just drop the link and expect people to click out of the goodness of their hearts. Remember that people are busy, so you have to pique their curiosity.
Recruit some helpers
Fundraising today, in a noisy and overcrowded marketplace, is hard work. Spread the load by finding a few kind people who also care about your cause and will help you out.
Don’t be afraid to approach people and just ask, as long as it’s a reasonable request. My local coffee shop, Coffee in the Wood, is on the high street of an area heavily populated with pet owners. Knowing that they are dog-friendly and like to support charities, I asked them to host my catnip toys and a donations tin.
The money this is raising continues to be a huge help – and to think if I hadn’t just asked….
Be strategic with your social media
My last tip for you is to use social media strategically. As I said before, everyone is asking for donations at this time of year. So when the marketplace is crowded, what do you do? You make yourself stand out.
I recently visited my local branch of Blue Cross for one of their open days. With the activity going on in the background, I went live on Facebook to tell my personal story about why I chose Blue Cross as my charity.
Some of my other posts have been videos or pictures of a significant point in my training. Yes, I’ve done sweaty gym selfies too. People want to see you working for it; the struggle is an important part of the story.
So where does strategy come in? This is about planning your posts, rather than just posting when you feel like it, and then boring people. Your friends and followers don’t need to see every workout. Show them the best bits, tell your story every time you post, always with a clear call to action, and post at a time your friends are usually online.
Remember that this is essentially marketing. So keep the message clear and compelling, bring in emotion with your use of story telling, and be strategic.
Sarah Brandis is a social media and content marketing consultant, mentor, trainer and author helping solo entrepreneurs launch their businesses through her Inner Sanctum program. Support Sarah's Blue Cross for Pets fundraising campaign to help pets in need here.