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Congratulations! You’ve just been elected Fundraising Vice President of your favorite non profit organization. Now, everyone is counting on you to generate funds for the group’s operation or cause. No need to panic. There are just a few basic concepts to learn which will help make fundraising easy.

Select a Committee. Recruit individuals who are willing to work. It’s nice to be able to think of ideas: it’s even nicer when the creators roll up their sleeves and help execute them. A committee allows for the “two-heads-are-better-than-one” formula to kick in, and also lets you delegate responsibilities for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Assess Your Needs. Determine how much money needs to be raised. Is there a specific yearly goal? Does the organization have to make a quota that is set by the national office? Or, is the aim simply to bring in as much money as is physically possible? Once these questions are answered, you can focus on strategies and tactics for achieving these numbers.

Divide the Goal into Smaller Parts. It’s much less daunting to consider the amount needed by month or by quarter, than to look at the annual goal. And, each time you reach your smaller goal, chart it to show how much closer you are to the larger one. Once divided, specific projects can be married to dollar expectations.

Make a List of Ideas. Get your committee together and brainstorm. Try a spaghetti dinner, a pancake dinner or a bag lunch. Organize a silent auction, publish an ad book, or hold a craft fair. Many retail stores will hold a special benefit day, where purchases generate a percentage of profit for your organization. Have members of your group submit recipes and then sell your cookbook. There are rummage sales, garage sales, bake sales, plant sales, candy sales…the list goes on. In addition to program ideas, be sure to identify your target market for each project. If you’re selling baby bibs, you may have more luck with young parents and grandparents than with teenagers.

Conduct a Feasibility Study. Be sure that the fundraisers will be profitable by measuring costs and time involved. Look into the logistics and be careful with time frames. Can a formal dinner dance be planned in two weeks’ time? A successful one—probably not. If you’re selling gift baskets, do you have enough volunteers to assemble and deliver them?

Obtain Donations. Approach local businesses or organization members for donations of goods, services or cash. Have committee members participate in a letter writing campaign to solicit corporations for their offerings. When you receive an item, be sure to send the company a thank-you note. Post or include a list of businesses that generously contributed to the success of your fundraiser, and encourage people to patronize them.

Divide and Conquer. Organize task forces to handle each aspect of the fundraiser. If planning a dinner dance and silent auction, choose people to be responsible for decorations, food, invitations, music, and managing the auction. Each sub-committee will be able to focus on their specific tasks, and will have more ownership of that part of the program. Because of this, you will more likely feel that things are under control.

Tie Up Loose Ends. Count the money taken in and calculate your profit. Be sure to have the Treasurer record this, and also prepare a detailed report for future use. Include the name of the program, the costs involved, the amount of money it generated, the contributors, and the names of the committee members. It is always easier to plan a program the second time if you can refer to last year’s notes.

O.K. Take a deep breath and dig in. Just follow these guidelines and see how easy not-for-profit fundraising can be. You’ll do such a good job, that next year they’ll nominate you for President!