9 October 2016

Recruiting New Fundraisers

Term four is the time of year that we are wrapping up our current fundraising events, setting our sites on the New Years’ events and the toughest job of all… recruiting new committee members. How many times have you been sitting in a meeting at preschool, a sports club or work and the question is asked, “Who would like to take the reins next year?” It is at this time that those attending the meeting will start doodling on scapes of paper, looking at their phones or picking non-existent lint off their T-shirts in an attempt to avoid eye contact.

I recently came across a wonderful article on the Fundraising Mums website entitled How to Get the Hard Core Non Helper Involved by Shannon Meyerkort. The title says it all, but I thought I would touch on the points that I found particularity useful and add some thoughts of my own.

Shannon mentions that volunteers’ roles should be well defined and major fundraisers should be made easy with clear guidelines, as people are more likely to sign up when they know what is expected of them. I couldn’t agree more. If a committee secretary is a vital role, then a list of the skills needed and the number of hours per week/month that are required will make the job seem less daunting. Is it a role that can be shared? Working with someone often makes the task more enjoyable and less time consuming. There is no need to redesign the wheel every year. If a carnival is something you run annually or biannually, a reference folder for each task that summarises what was done, the contacts that were used, what was successful or unsuccessful, will make it easy for volunteers to duplicate events in years to come.

Limiting the number of fundraisers each year is wonderful advice. As parents we are constantly bombarded with emails and notices and it gets a little overwhelming. I tend to prioritise and as a result, smaller events tend to get pushed to the bottom of the list, whereas big events often become a highlight that we look forward to each year and are more likely to participate in. It is a good idea to reassess the number and quality of fundraisers each year. If for example you are sending home 3 or 4 different types of raffles each year, you may wish to condense all your efforts and resources into one and make it really special. If Trivia Nights and Carnivals are both really successful big events, you could possibly split them up into alternating years.One key fundraiser per term is a great alternative and you’ll require a smaller number of volunteers.

Trying something new is often a risk, but if you pull it off it can be the most rewarding event. As Shannon rightly points out, “maybe parents are bored with baking cakes or letting kids buy other families second hand toys”. Shannon’s site and The Fundraising Directory are just two great resources for new ideas. It goes without saying that my favourite idea would be publishing a book of short stories. New ideas will motivate new committee participants.

As a final point I would like to add that the best fundraisers are ones where children, families and staff benefit from both the funds raised and the event itself. Obviously, literacy and books are my passion, but events like Jump Rope for Heart that encourage exercise, healthy food fundraisers or even a simple Read-Athon to get kids reading more (I always seem to bring it back to books) really help promote a physically and mentally active, healthy lifestyle. I have found that worthwhile fundraisers tend to inspire greater participation.