When I’ve volunteered for charities before, especially when I am raising money – it has been striking how important it is to get the right support from the charity itself. With a small local charity you might get lucky (as I did) and have someone from the charity show up when you’re drumming up sponsorship or at the event itself, but when things get to a larger scale, it’s difficult to keep that level of support high, especially when the people giving that support may well be volunteers themselves.
Reflecting back on my own experience, I’d take away the following to anyone who’s thinking of planning or for that matter improving a fundraising event:
- Give your fundraisers as much practical support as you possibly can so that they can concentrate on what they’re doing and remain excited about making a difference. The things which might seem easy to you will be of immense help when scaled up across your volunteers – so yes, bring a collecting tin to the event for them, and give them online tools that guide them step-by-step through the essentials of good email and social communication – they might be able to do it themselves, but with support, the results will be significantly better.
- Help them stay organised with tools and step-by-step processes that ensure that they don’t get stuck in the detail – or get it wrong. And make sure that these work: if you’re asking them to collect addresses on a sponsorship form for Gift aid – make sure the box is big enough to write in!
- Give them examples of how other groups have organised things successfully so they can pick and choose what will work for them – or better still put them in touch with successful groups and volunteers through social networks and through your own digital tools.
- Make your story shine through so that your volunteers remember exactly why they are putting in their time and effort to make your fundraiser a success. Successful fundraising is all about that emotional connection. If a volunteer can build on the personal connection they have with donors by building an emotional connection to your cause, you’ll see the results as you’ll have new long term supporters who support the charity long after the event is over.
For an example of this done really well? Check out the Cancer Research UK “Relay for Life” website which brings together the cause, and tools and the practical help and guidance needed for both individual fundraisers and for the volunteer team that supports and co-ordinate them. Behind the scenes – the joined-up platform provided by Convio TeamRaiser means that the fundraising, volunteer management and reporting tasks are all completed online within the tool, giving a huge amount of practical help to those who are giving up their time to the charity. For me this really sets the standard in what I look for in terms of support and practical help in getting great results for the charity.