Asking a hundred (ideally several hundred) people in your life to pay for visits to the chiropractor is likely the last thing you can imagine putting on your plate right now.
But if your piggy bank is empty, this is what I’m suggesting.
What you really need is a friend or family member to take on the fundraiser administration. And if they follow this blueprint, they can manage it, even if they’re not very tech-savvy, in about 6 hours, all in.
Choose a platform for the fundraiser
I recommend Fundly, but they are all pretty much the same. They keep 4.9% and the credit card processing fee of 2.9% +30¢. There are some that claim to be free, but that just means that they pass the fee along to the donor. I think this is cleaner. People can still send you cash, check or paypal directly, and those gifts can be added manually to the total.
Identify some Thank You Gifts
Unless you have a particularly ardent group of friends or you happen to be a winsome child, I am not convinced that personal fundraising will work without some kind of thank you gifts.
So here’s where your creativity comes in. What talents and gifts lie within your network of acquaintance? Maybe your knitting club would knit socks for every donor. Maybe you have a caterer or restaurateur friend who would throw a party for your donors, with other friends who will play music, and save the socks for gifts over $250. If you can organize enough donated items or services, you could pair some kind of benefit event with a silent auction, keeping in mind that people usually pay up to (but not beyond) the face value of an item, and there’s a lot of work to be done planning an event and an auction simultaneously. That’s why I settled on a raffle (every donation earns a chance) with some valuable thank you gifts for the bigger donors (plus multiple chances in the raffle)
btw Fundly has a great list of fundraising ideas: check it out.
What else do you need?
Whatever type of fundraiser you choose, I recommend using Mailchimp or Emma or some other email service that will be free (at your size list), and you can drop some photos in and make the email pretty, while allowing your acquaintances to remove themselves from the list (if you just use your Gmail or Outlook, you will run into limits on how many recipients you can send to, and they won’t be able to opt-out).
So you’ll have the Fundly site, configured with some photos of you, some thank you gift levels, and a brief description of the situation. Plus a short cell-phone video uploaded to YouTube and posted on your Fundly site. It’s easier than it sounds. Plus you’ll likely want to use a web-based document like Google Docs to host your list of auction items or thank you gifts.
Case Study: a massage therapist
In my friend’s case, she’s a massage therapist and knows lots of healing arts practitioners. So we solicited that network for donated treatment sessions(two outbound emails, here is the first one) . We received multiple sessions from ten practitioners, so I had about 15 thank you gifts to work with. I assumed (pretty accurately) that there would be something like 15 gifts at or above $250, so I set the threshold there. Some people will decline the thank you gift or offer it back to you, btw.
Session donors were asked for a photo and description of what they do. All that went on a Google Doc (see it here). Nothing fancy, just something listing the who and what.
Create your List
I can’t tell you how widely to spread your appeal, but you’ll be surprised how many people, even of limited means, will want to support you. It’s likely to be squirm-inducing for you to make this ask (that’s another reason to recruit someone to help) but seeing the gifts come in is likely to be inspiring! I suggest making the list in Excel with first name and email, and then uploading that to Mailchimp. Then the outbound emails can be personalized with the recipient’s first name.
How many messages will I have to send?
Likely two messages to your potential thank you gift team.
Once you have that figured out, you can set up the Fundly, Mailchimp (and maybe a GoogleDoc). Figure one message to launch the campaign (here’s ours). Then one or two in the middle of your three or four week campaign (In retrospect, I recommend three weeks. Longer is hard to expect folks to sustain attention for. Shorter doesn’t allow people time to process the information or get their next paycheck…). Most of the donations will come at the beginning or end. So a flurry at the end: “Three days left” (In this one we included what looked like a video message. You can’t easily add a video to an email, but you can get a screenshot of the start of the video and link it to the Fundly page.)
Then you’ll send one reminding folks that “Today is the last day”, and then, once it’s over: “Thanks, everybody. We raised X and the raffle winner was Y“.
What about Facebook and other Social Platforms?
Oh yes, you should be posting to your Facebook at regular intervals.
That sounds like a LOT. Where do I start?
Remember, the first step is to identify a small group of resourceful allies you can convene in person to brainstorm what kind of fundraiser you could pull together, and to see if any (or several of them, together) would help you organize this.
If you’re going to try to have one big-ticket item to use in a raffle, (vacation house in our case), try to solicit that first.
Make some asks
The last essential piece is to identify and reach out to some potentially larger donors who could get the ball rolling. No one wants to be first, so prime the pump by making some asks (or having your allies ask). By phone, not by email. With Lorilee’s fundraiser, she came up with a list of nine folks. Keep in mind that the imagined difficulty of making such asks is just that, just an imaginary fear. Folks will say yes or that they need to think about it. I’ll let you in on the secret to big donor asks: Describe the situation, ask them if they would consider making a significant donation, and then stop talking.
And… I can help.
If you choose to work with me as your surgery success coach, I can help with the strategy and big donor asks, and give guidance to whomever you find to manage the rest.