When I began my internship at The Borgen Project, I was admittedly intimidated, especially with regards to the required fundraising goal. Although I had had experience with fundraising during high school, I had never single-handedly maintained a fundraiser. I was nervous but also determined to prove my worth to the members of The Borgen Project.
Currently, on week nine of my internship, I am proud to say that I have raised $1,207.06. To do this, I wrote letters to family and friends, I spoke and visited with local restaurants and I opened a booth twice at my community’s weekly market.
My success has made me feel like a fundraising fairy. I am one of 180 Borgen Project interns across the United States. Of these 180 interns, there are only three who have raised over $1000. I am satisfied to say that I am one of them.
After speaking for our monthly conference, I learned that fundraising is a rickety and shaky boat during a storm for many interns. Interns attempt to sail forward with their goal but are often anchored to the spot, deterred by unknown conditions and direction.
To these interns: I promise that you can succeed. Below is a list of helpful fundraising tips that have made a difference for me. Hopefully, they will benefit you during your fundraising endeavors.
1. Be courageous.
Do not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Although writing letters to family and friends can be simple and successful, it should not be the only method of fundraising. Try writing letters to places you visit often in your community or to companies who have a history of donating to charities and nonprofits.
2. Be persuasive and understand emotions.
When writing your letters, consider how your audience will react and understand. For example, consider: “The population of people in poverty is large.” Now consider: “The number of people suffering from hunger is larger than the population of the United States, Europe and Canada combined.” The latter offers more depth and perspective; the statement is more tangible because it offers size, location and familiarity to your readers. When I wrote letters to restaurants, I focused on hungry families and food waste, two aspects that are sure to connect with restaurant owners and cooks. Remember to be specific with what you write and remember to make it relatable to your readers. Ultimately, you need to prove to them why they should care about global poverty.
3. Be sensible.
Do not forget to draw on the connections you have with others, especially because they may have connections and advice that can further your fundraising success. For example, I asked a friend about our community farmers’ market and she provided me with the information I needed to obtain a booth. Had I not sought her advice, I would have neglected a great fundraising opportunity! It is also helpful to have friends who are willing to participate in any events that you organize.
4. Be tenacious.
I know that fundraising can seem like soliciting, but if you approach each situation carefully, you will appear to be dedicated rather than annoying. Personally, I follow a three-time rule. This means I will make a phone call to my donor, a personal visit to my donor (if this is possible) and a follow-up or thank-you phone call to my donor. It is important to wait a few days between each of these. In my experience, this three-time rule proved that I am committed to my cause and encouraged donations.
5. Be respectful and grateful.
When it comes to fundraising, it is important to remember that potential donors have other expenses and daily tasks. If you plan to visit a business or organization, be aware that they have other duties to perform. In this situation, leave your contact information and check back in a few days. Even if someone is unable to donate, be sure to say thank you. This highlights both your character and that of The Borgen Project. Remember to show your appreciation with thank-you letters or phone calls.
My fundraising quest has been a valuable learning experience. I was able to educate both others and myself about important world issues; I spread awareness about The Borgen Project and made powerful allies for the fight against global poverty. Knowing that my intensive efforts will benefit those in need and contribute to changing the face of poverty is rewarding.
I hope that my five simple tips will assist others with fundraising. Fellow interns: our fundraising experience does not need to feel like a sinking ship. If you are positive, determined and creative, you can breeze past $500 and sail on into the distance.
– Kelsey Parrotte
Photo: The Fund Raiser