pennyMay 23rd is National Lucky Penny Day.  We are sure you have heard the phrase “see a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.”  Well, that is the theme of National Lucky Penny Day!  Common activities include walking and looking for pennies, and researching the history of the Penny.  Fundraising has a lot to do with luck –speaking to the right people at the right time –but there is a good deal of strategy involved, as well.  Here are some things to think about when you are fundraising for your group, event, or start up business.

A great source of funding is securing a sponsor or an investor.  Ask for money –it seems so simple.  The important things to remember when asking someone to fund your mission are to be knowledgeable, flexible, and creative.  Know your goals and be confident in them.  You need to sound like you are operating a well-oiled machine and instill confidence in whoever you are pitching to.  Your pitch needs to be creative and engaging but not harsh.  You should of course be tough and determined, but be adaptable and respectful too.  You want to show them you value their time, but you want to show them you value your own time as well.

It’s important to be ready for any questions, but you do not need to come up with an answer for everything –be realistic.  According to consultant Paul Graham, one question you do not have to answer is “how much money are you trying to raise?”  You do not need to have a fixed number.  You should tell them there are different options depending on how much they are willing to give or different routes the venture could take depending on how much money you obtain.  The message should be, “we will succeed no matter what, but we will do it faster or better if we have more money.”

In fundraising it is important to keep learning what works and what does not.  In working with sponsors or investors, get over rejection quickly, learn from it, and go in again stronger.  With other projects, take note of things that seem to be a better fit for your donors and your company.  Keep the ideas flowing.  It’s important not to put all your trust into one funding project, but there is a point at which you can have too many.  You need to be in complete control of your funding plans, and not being able to contribute a significant amount of time to them will cause them to fail.

For the smaller groups, there are many exciting fundraisers you can do through a simple Google search which will produce infinite results and ideas.  It is great to try things that are unique –the car wash and the bake sale do not promote excitement like they used to.  Creating funny fundraisers will encourage people to invest in your group or mission just because they trust you are innovative and organized.  Some of my favorite new ideas I found within a moment of my search were “capturing” an individual who has to raise “bail” to be released, or planting plastic flamingo’s in a company’s or a family’s yard with a note saying you will remove them for a fee, and put them in another yard of their choosing.  The possibilities are endless.

It is important to make appropriate sacrifices when you are fundraising.  You are expecting others to give up their funds to you, so it is fitting that you will give some things up, as well.  Do not hesitate to put a little of yourself into your own project or group –be willing to give up your cup of Starbucks for a while and put that money to your mission.  Or be willing to put your time into a rent-me-as-your worker fundraiser.  Do what you can to connect yourself to your goal.  In doing this, you are building trust with others and inspiring them to contribute.  Donors are essentially giving to YOU.

Hopefully you had a little luck this Penny Day and picked up a few.  But for the rest of your funding needs, consider what options are out there, and remember the tips we shared.


Posted by Casey Anderson, Career Services Assistant