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Top Online Fundraising Tools

Top Online Fundraising Tools

Whether you are fundraising for a school or a community organization, using online fundraising tools will add a new dimension to your fundraisers. You can use the Internet to collect donations, sell popular products, or even hold an online auction.

Here are three simple reasons your group should be fundraising online: your members can reach their supporters across the US, you can easily keep track of your fundraising progress, and your circle of support is no longer confined to your local community.

  • So where do you start? Here are our top recommendations for online fundraising.

1.  Online Magazine Fundraising

With about 4 subscriptions per household in the US, magazines remain one of the top product fundraisers. With 700 magazines to choose from – including Sports Illustrated, Oprah, Newsweek, and Better Homes and Gardens – everyone can find something they want.

eFundraising lets you do a complete fundraiser online, with your group’s own online magazine store personalized with your photo, information about your group, and your goal.

2. Online Auctions

Most of us have ordered something on eBay at some point, or at least know someone who has. But did you know that you can put the power of online auctions to work for your organization? Online auctions can be run on their own or in combination with an event.

CMarket is a company specializing in online fundraising auctions. CMarket will help you plan, promote, and hold your online auction, with years of online auction fundraising experience to ensure your success. With CMarket’s customized services, one elementary school alone raised $99,981.

 

3. Online Donations

It’s easy to collect donations online, whether you have a website or not. Here are some of the top online donation tools:

GiveForward: This is a brand new site and is my favorite online donation site so far, because the focus is on building a community of people who want to give, and people who need funds, matching the interests of both. Any group or individual can set up a fundraising profile in a category such as Education, Entrepreneurship, Community, Non-Profits, or Friends & Family. Anyone who joins can browse different fundraising profiles and make donations as small as $1.

As for your fundraising profile, on GiveForward, you can add videos, photos, and more, to show who you are (or what your organization is all about) and why people should give to your cause. And all this is Free!

A similar site to check out is MicroGiving .

  • FirstGiving: If you are raising money for a registered non-profit (check Guidestar to know if your organization is registered), you can set up a fundraising page on FirstGiving and add special FirstGiving badges to your Facebook, Myspace or blog pages.
  • ChipIn: ChipIn allows any group or individual to set up an online fundraising page and get fundraising badges – a good option if you are raising money for an individual or other cause that can’t be found on Guidestar.
  • Fundable: Similar to Chipin, anybody can create a fundraising page on Fundable for any cause or personal fundraiser. The difference with Fundable is that you set a goal, and if your goal is not reached, everyone gets their money back. All or nothing!
  • Your Social Network: Fundraising through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools is an important element of your online fundraiser (and is some cases, IS the online fundraiser). Watch for upcoming articles exploring social media fundraising success stories.

4. Online Grants for Schools

A special mention has to go to one of our favorite projects, DonorsChoose.org. Teachers submit proposals for their classroom projects, explaining what they need to raise money for.

We love this site because anyone can support what they feel is a deserving school project, from desperately needed learning aids to simple things like a carpet so that students can be comfortable during group activities.

When supporters read your story, they can use the tools on DonorsChoose.org to set challenges and promote your idea to their contacts through tell-a-friend tools and blog badges.

The Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants

The Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants

Check out Sandy Rees’ Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, a round-up of interesting posts written by nonprofit bloggers.

She picks up some great articles in her Carnival.

My favorite article this week, “How Poor Service Destroys Your Reputation,” from Jeff Brooks. Your organization can be well known, and your brand strong, but your name can be mud to your donors. How can this happen?

Definitely worth reading …

 

Room to Read

Room to Read

Child reading  pile of books.
One day John Wood, Founder and CEO of Room to Read, was trekking through Nepal visiting some primary schools. He was moved by the warmth of the students and teachers, but could not believe the crushing poverty and lack of resources.

In one school he visited, the only two books available were a Danielle Steel novel and a Lonely Planet guidebook, left behing by travellers. One of the headmasters commented to him,”Perhaps someday you will come back with books”. He came back a year later with 8 donkeys and thousands of books. Over 400 children lined up to greet him. They were bearing flowers to welcome him and were so enthusiastic to be able to get a chance to get a book.

He then decided that he wanted to make a difference, and dedicate his life to encouraging literacy throughout the developing world. He quit his senior executive position with Microsoft and started Room to Read.

Room to Read’s mission is to ensure that every child receives the lifelong gift of education at an early stage. This gift helps empower all children involved and will ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through this opportunity, the cycle of poverty can be broken one child at a time.

Room to Read is helping build schools and libraries across the world. To date they have:

– impacted the lives of around 1.3 million children
– established over 3 870 libraries in the world
– constructed 287 schools
– donated over 1.4 million English language children’s books
– funded over 3 448 long term girls’ scholarships
– established 136 computer and language labs

What’s also impressive is this organization sources new content from local writers and illustrators and publishes local language children’s books.

To increase long term success, Room to Read enlists community involvement. Villages often raise a significant portion of expenses in the form of dedicated space, labor, materials and/or small amounts of cash. This helps build communities and maximizes participation and expertise in the programs. Local staff are hired who are familiar with the language and customs and understand the educational system and its needs.

Wow! What great accomplishments! However, there is still much more work to be done. With our help and the help of the Oprah Winfrey Show, the goal is to have 20 000 bilingual libraries by 2020. The organization is currently in Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos and South Africa. There are plans to expand to Zambia, Bangladesh and Latin America.

You can help change the world by donating today. Every dollar donated = 1 book being donated. $100 dollars = 100 books and an opportunity to help 100 million children in the world that are not enrolled in primary school. 

Thank you!

Laugh, Smile, Be Happy – It’s Good for You!

Laugh, Smile, Be Happy – It’s Good for You!

iStock_000027761013Medium
Research has shown the benefits of smiling and laughing range from strengthening the immune system to increasing one’s threshold for pain. So why not have a fundraiser that makes you smile?

 

Top Reasons to Smile

It makes us attractive: We are all naturally drawn to people who smile.

It changes our mood: Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

It’s contagious: When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier.

Smiling boosts your immune system: Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves, possibly because you are more relaxed. So, you can even help prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

Smiling lowers your blood pressure: When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure.

Smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin: Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

Smiling lifts the face and makes you look younger: The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making us appear younger. Instead of a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.

A Smiling Fundraiser
I received the Health Care-toons Calendar as a gift. This desk calendar has cartoons with daily wellness quests, each with an inspirational quote, joke, and cartoon designed to get people laughing, talking, and enjoying daily health practices.
It’s a great calendar to put on your desk to start your day off with a laugh and a smile! And why not use it to raise some funds too?

For one box (34 Health Care-toons Calendars), your cost is $170. You can sell the calendars for $10 each, earning $340. Your profit is $170!
For five boxes, you can earn $850 in profit! Just bring these to work, and you’ll see how many of your colleagues are going to want to purchase one to put on their desks!
Check out the daily Health Cartoon!

Smile 🙂

Sing for Your School Fundraiser!

Sing for Your School Fundraiser!

See how this teacher helps his school raise funds.

Well, all the kids are back to school and fundraising efforts are in full swing. Just how far will you go to raise funds for your children or students? This teacher showed great courage singing to raise funds. For those of you that sing as well as this teacher, would you sing to raise funds for your students or children? You’d be surprised at how many people would pay to hear you sing live in public. Congratulations Mr. Griggs, you just came up with another great and easy way to raise funds! Hopefully more teachers will follow.

Cheer Community Comes Together to Help Enterprise High School

Cheer Community Comes Together to Help Enterprise High School

High school cheerleaders
When Enterprise High School lost several students, including 2 cheerleaders, in a devastating tornado the cheer community came together to support eachother and help rebuild the school.

Imagine you are a high school student who headed off to school like any other day, and within hours, you found yourself scrambling to escape what became a pile of hazardous rubble thanks to a powerful F3 tornado ripping through your school and community.  Imagine losing friends and having no school left to go to.

In the wake of last week’s tragic events at Enterprise High School, where eight students lives were lost and many more were injured when the school’s roof collapsed, the members of the Spirit Industry Trade Association (SITA) are coming together to help rebuild and support the students and families who have been left without a school.

In response to the devastation left by an F3 tornado to the community of Enterprise, AL and Enterprise High School, the Spirit Industry Trade Association (SITA) has established a relief fund for Enterprise High School. More specifically, there are currently over 1,200 students without a school, many families without a roof over their heads, a grieving community for eight young lives that were lost, and a town that will be changed forever.  Two of the students killed were cheerleaders — Ryan Mohlar and A.J. Jackson.  Read the full release here.

Enterprise High School is very active in the cheerleading community, having hosted many national championships and being the home to many top cheerleaders and coaches, including Debbie Bracewell, Executive Director of the National Council for Spirit Safety and Education (NCSSE).  In the cheer community and beyond, we can all imagine the hardship caused by such a terrible natural disaster, and can all do our part.

You can make a difference to help the students and families of Enterprise rebuild.  To find out how you can help, please see the full release here: SITA-Enterprise High School Relief Fund Established

 

Green Fundraising with Funding Factory

Green Fundraising with Funding Factory

Mobile phones background. Pile of different modern smartphones.
Have you heard of groups that do fundraising by recycling old cell phones and ink cartridges? Here is how your school or organization can get started on this year-round green fundraiser.

Funding Factory has been working to help groups raise funds through recycling for over 10 years by providing an easy way to recycle printer cartridges and cell phones.

As the largest recycling fundraising program, Funding Factory has helped schools, universities, libraries, scout troops, churches, synagogues, libraries – pretty much every type of group – raise a total of over $20 million.

There are over 350 million printer cartridges and 35 million cell phones thrown away every year. What better way to raise funds than collecting something your supporters would have just thrown away?

Your group can prevent these items from contributing to waste and pollution, and contribute a measurable impact on the environment. Every laser printer cartridge your group collects will prevent a half gallon of oil from being wasted.

The program is simple:

1. Sign up for a free online account at FundingFactory.com

2. Promote your fundraiser by using the free resources section in your online Funding Factory account to download sample fundraising letters, emails, posters, radio announcements, and more.

3. Collect printer cartridges and cell phones from parents, community members, and especially local businesses.

4. Ship the items for free via UPS – Funding Factory even provides you with free, pre-labeled boxes!

When Funding Factory receives your shipment, you will get points for all eligible items. You can use your points to shop for over 9,000 items including playground systems, recreational equipment, technology, classroom aids and other equipment. Or, if your group doesn’t need any equipment, convert your points into cash, sent in a monthly check.

This recycling fundraiser is something your group can do year-round. This is the kind of fundraiser where the longer you run it, the more people will find out about it and get into the habit of dropping off their used items at your school or organization headquarters.

Working with local businesses will be the best way to big fundraising results with this program, since they will go through a lot of printer cartridges and cell phones on a regular basis.

Once you set up your free online fundraising account, be sure to check out the free resources, or call an account representative to tap into Funding Factory’s 10+ years of successful recycling fundraisers.

Get your group’s green fundraising efforts started by signing up for your free online account at Funding Factory >>

Sponsorship Requests: How to Approach Local Businesses

Sponsorship Requests: How to Approach Local Businesses

Parents scolding teenager
For many students, asking local businesses for fundraising support is a frightening proposition. However, most local businesses are eager to support schools in their community. Their financial obligation is usually minimal and they strengthen their community bond through their sponsorship, thereby generating greater future revenue. Most businesses are happy to contribute to school fundraising campaigns; they are simply waiting to be approached.

Whether students are seeking sponsorship or donations, they should keep these tips in mind for a smooth initial meeting with business owners.

Make an Appointment

Students who visit businesses unannounced are likely to be turned away without having the chance to promote their cause. If students call or email to request appointments, owners feel like their time is valued and students get the chance to briefly introduce themselves before approaching a busy proprietor. Local businesses owners are also more candid with students over the phone; if they are not interested in making a donation, there’s no reason for the student to visit the store. By making appointments with busy owners, students will have a better chance of earning their financial support.

Dress Professionally
Getting involved in a fundraising campaign is the perfect opportunity for students to learn the importance of a powerful first impression. Dressing in professional attire is important. It shows business owners that the students take their fundraising seriously and are willing to dress the part. Students shouldn’t worry about buying a brand new wardrobe. A nicely pressed shirt or blouse and clean dress shoes will go a long way.

Be Prepared
When students request financial support from businesses, they should always be prepared to answer any questions owners might have. If the information is difficult to remember, students can carry an informational card with them that they can also leave with the owner. Abbreviated information about the school group and fundraising goal should be printed on the card along with the fundraising chair’s contact number. Local businesses are more likely to donate money or services when they have a clear understanding of how the funds will be used.

Say Thank You
Students should end every business meeting with a firm handshake and a sincere “thank you.” Fundraising chairs can also invest in inexpensive thank you notes which students can send to local businesses after their meetings. Even if business owners decide not to contribute, a heartfelt note just might be enough to change their minds. Students also learn the valuable lesson of thanking people for the gift of their time.

 

Online Fundraising – Is It Safe for Schools?

Online Fundraising – Is It Safe for Schools?

Children standing outside school bus
Are you considering an online fundraiser for your school or class?  Concerned about safety?

Safety is of the utmost importance in school fundraising.  Parents, teachers and administrators have to be assured the choices they make will not only successfully raise funds, but are also in the best interests of student safety.

Online fundraising has had huge success with schools for many reasons:

• It’s cheap, and often free.
• It’s fast and easy.
• You never handle cash, order forms, deliveries or inventory.
• Parents can help out on their own time.
• There’s no need to organize everyone for a group meeting.

But is it safe?

Choosing Your Fundraiser

Each online fundraiser is different, so it’s important to fully explore the one you’re considering to determine if it is appropriate for your students.

Let’s take a look at the Online Magazine Fundraiser from eFundraising.  We often recommend this fundraiser at USAFundraising because of how quick, easy and successful it is.

That said, our favorite part of this fundraiser is the safety factor.  Here are the safety features that make this a good school fundraiser:

• The magazines are family-friendly.
• Teachers can login and see each student’s activity.
• The system allows outgoing emails to invite friends and family, but no incoming.  This removes concern that a child will receive questionable emails through the fundraiser.
• Information is secure.  Any information a child, parent or teacher enters never leaves the MagFundraising system.  It is never shared or rented.
• There are no ads.  Some “family-friendly” fundraisers allow ads on their website.  Companies don’t always control the content of these ads, so there’s no guarantee they’ll be appropriate for children’s eyes.

These are a few things to look for when selecting your online fundraiser.

Some online fundraisers ask users to enter their birthday, or require a parent’s email address for a child to register.  These are nice features to look for as well.  However, as there is no solid monitoring method, a child can easily enter false information without anyone knowing.

This is where you come in.

Communication is Key

As with any fundraiser, communication is key.  Parents must be made aware of the fundraiser.

Send letters home, speak to parents face-to-face or on the phone when possible, send letters by mail (since a letter in a child’s hands doesn’t always make it home), send emails and announce it in your school newsletter (if you have one).

In fact, email is where online fundraising really gets its charm.  Many programs, like the Online Magazine Fundraiser, have built-in email systems that let you quickly and easily send information to parents.  Since the program is online and available 24/7, busy parents can read their email any time of day, and easily monitor their child’s participation at a time that’s convenient for their family.  It’s a great way to keep parents informed, and encourage them to take an active role.

The Bottom Line

When choosing an online fundraiser, look for basic safety features like the ones discussed above.  These will give you a good foundation for a safe fundraiser.

The most important safety feature is you.  In the same way that you arrange for volunteers and chaperones at a candy bar sale, you need to arrange communication with parents to ensure safety is high on everyone’s list.

Online fundraising can be a huge boost to your school’s fundraising efforts.  And it’s certainly exciting for students who spend so much time online anyway.  Keeping safety in mind, online fundraising is sure to be a huge success for your school.

Are You Ready for Back to School Fundraising?

Are You Ready for Back to School Fundraising?

Female student running to school. shot in the class

A well planned fundraiser is a successful fundraiser.  Get prepared for the back to school fundraising season with these pre-planning tips.

I know what you’re thinking – “Back to school already?  But it’s only May!”  True, but now that this school year is winding down, it’s the perfect time to review your fundraising successes, and start thinking about next year’s game plan.

There are 3 simple things you can do right now that will make your back to school fundraising season much easier:

#1 – Review the Past Year

Go back to the start of the school year.  What was your original fundraising goal?  Did you reach it?  What steps did you take?  How many fundraisers did you run, at what time during the year, what kind of fundraisers were they, and which ones were most successful?

Now take that information and make a list of your fundraising strengths and weaknesses throughout the year.  Where did you excel, and what worked best?  Where could you use some improvement or extra help?

#2 – Estimate Next Year’s Goal

To estimate next year’s fundraising goal, consider your spending in the past year.  Can anything be cut back?  Is there anything you’d like to add next year?  Also consider your fundraising goal for the last school year.  Was it enough to cover all your spending?  Did you over or under estimate, or were you right on the money (No pun intended, of course!)?

Take all these factors into account, and you’ll be able to make an informed estimate of next year’s school fundraising goal.

#3 – Call a Professional

Did you know that you can call a fundraising company months before you’re planning your next fundraiser?  Now is the perfect time to do this!

Gather all your notes from #1 and #2 and call your fundraising company.  If you had any fundraisers in the past year that were unsuccessful, ask for their thoughts.  Maybe there’s a better program for your needs, or a better time of year to run that program.

Review your estimated fundraising goal for next year, and ask about programs that have worked in past for similar school groups with similar goals.

Finally, ask about early registration bonuses, or discounts on pre-ordered products, and be sure to have them send you their product catalog by mail.

A little pre-planning can go a long way.  Take these 3 simple steps, and when it comes time to plan your back to school fundraising calendar, you’ll already be ahead of the game.  If your school or school group has already planned next year’s calendar (Wow!  You’re really on top of things!), take these 3 steps anyway.  You just might find a better way of doing things, and still have plenty of time to implement your exciting new ideas!