Fundraising Can Be Hard

Fundraising is a little like pulling teeth. Unless you are selling Girl Scout Cookies. But even then, we can all only eat so many Thin Mints.

When I was a kid, I was good at fundraising. I would find empty snail shells and stuff them with my neighbors’ flowers. Then I would knock on their doors and ask them to buy my arrangements. I am still considering being a florist. I made bank.

(Actually, in retrospect, maybe this wasn’t fundraising but pure entrepreneurship)

It’s not so easy to fundraise as a grown-up. Yesterday I was fundraising (well, more so food-raising) at one of our food drives for our local organization, L2F. We go to grocery stores that support us, standing outside (in the cold) collecting the food bought for us while passing out brochures. These brochures are very legit and pretty explanatory about what L2F is and what they do: This food goes to kids at your local schools, through the schools, and the needs are real (determined by school staff). So please buy a thing of applesauce, mac+cheese, juice boxes, or etc… and drop it off when you leave the store. Thanks. (Don’t worry, this is only my paraphrase).

For me to respond to fundraising, I must believe in the cause, know that it is legit, and it has to be easy. I feel like we do a good job communicating all three of those. And we even make it personal- these are kids in your own neighborhoods and schools.

Yes, its incredible that the community steps up and provides for this program to continue, donating a lot of food. But, it also amazes me so many respond with their automatic “no,” doing everything possible to not make eye contact, how some will push away, and many will leave the $1 can of soup untouched next to the cash register in their grocery store (yes, the store actually is asking you to donate too!).


Fundraising 101 = Know You Can’t Force Generosity

Its one thing if they are trying to strategically give, which I fully understand and encourage. But generally it seems that being wise with finances isn’t what causes people to turn away. You can’t externally force generosity; generosity is a matter of the heart.

And as such, fundraising is difficult.

When the only thing you are trying to sell is the moral belief that we should help people who live on the other side of the world–fundraising becomes is even more tough and touchy.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying. Although it is unexciting, giving to good established charities and organizations is one the best ways we can help the extremely poor. Its generally not part of our budgets to give to the frustrating black hole of life-or-death need experienced far away. But if someone can give to help alleviate extreme poverty, it is us.

Why? If you make more than $43K a year, you one of the top 12% richest people. In less than a minute this Keeping Up With the Joneses Tool will show you how rich you are compared to the rest of the world (or enter any random amounts; I tried seven different income levels). Or look at this post about Poor vs. Rich Nations.

All to say, there is a demand (the need) and there are those who can supply (like those who live in America). And the demand is actually shrinking- extreme poverty and many of its effects are well on the road to being eradicated. We use fundraising as one of the main ways to bridge between the supply and demand. Fundraising, in essence, is creating awareness of a cause (through marketing) and gives people a path to buy into the cause.


These are the Average Advocates Five Tips for fundraising success:

  1. Be loud.
  2. Be legit.
  3. Be easy.
  4. Be sincerely passionate.
  5. Be constantly consistent.


Okay, I don’t know if these really work. But, the more people hear about what you are doing, the greater giving base you create (#1).

Then know the facts about your cause and share how people can make a difference in a way that it is secure and safe to give (#2).

Make it as simple and quick as possible for people to give (#3).

Always be evaluating whether your motive is sincere and if so, freely let your passion radiate (#4).

Being consistently and constantly available with a consistent and constantly streaming message will be the key to assisting your passion to spread (#5).

So take this theory and run with it. We can adjust it as we go!


Fundraising is Worth it!

Check out this post on Crowdrise, a cool organization which empower us to fundraise. In the meantime, feel free to look at my current fundraising page for the project I am about to embark on this week- Action: Little Black Dress.

Although stuffing snail shells with weeds might not be a effective way to fundraise these days, don’t despair. After all, we received almost $2000 in food donations with weekend! We only have to provide an easy, legit opportunity- loudly, sincerely, passionately, consistently and constantly for those who are generous.


2017 Update: After five more years of fundraising experience, I can say, these tips aren’t just theory! I’ve been using them for years and have raised over $30,000 for various causes.