Fundraising for AFSP is more than just raising money. It’s an opportunity to create a community that is smart about mental health.
The money you raise are critical to preventing suicide, and in the process of fundraising you will bring mental health and suicide out of the darkness in your community.
The key to fundraising: asking for donations.
That's it. Some people shy away from asking for money, but once you start, you’ll be surprised by how many people want to support a good cause. But it doesn’t happen right away: it can take as many as six reminders before someone donates. People are busy, they may not get your request at the right time, they may forget. People like being a part of a good cause, but to reach your goal you’ll need to be persistent.
Get started today:
List Your Potential Donors
The first important step in a successful fundraising effort is to make your list of donors. Any contact you have throughout the day could be a potential donation. Next to each name, select the amount you will ask for and the method you will use to ask for it.
How to Ask
There are several ways to fundraise for the community walks. You will probably try a combination of all of these or come up with ideas of your own, because each donor may need a different approach.
- Email and Your DonorDrive Fundraising Webpage
Email is another great way to reach a large group of people quickly and easily. If you know a group of your donors who are internet savvy, email may be the best way to reach them. Sending out fundraising emails is made easy through your personal fundraising webpage. In DonorDrive, you can personalize your fundraising page with your reason for walking and a photo where donors can make an online contribution. You can also send out emails that include the direct link to your fundraising page to potential donors to make donating online as easy as possible.
- The Face-to-Face Ask
This is the approach you'll want to take when you're asking for a large amount. If you're approaching a potential big donor, take them to lunch or arrange a meeting one on one. Tell them in person what you're doing and how much it means to you. Ask for your big donation, then wait and be silent. Give the moment the seriousness it deserves. Then let them answer. A second face-to-face approach is the casual conversation. Talk to your dentist or your hair stylist. Most of them are not doing what you are doing and they will never know unless you tell them. Don't hesitate to talk to complete strangers when you are on an airplane or waiting in line at the grocery store.
- Fundraising Letter
Consider sending a fundraising letter to everyone in your address book. Many people are enormously successful with a fundraising letter campaign. It tends to result in a smaller donation than a face-to-face ask, but if you have a large number of people to ask, or most of them are out-of-town, a letter can be the way to go. When you sit down to write your fundraising letter, remember to personalize it as much as you can. Address each donor by name, and start out conversationally, as if it were any other friendly letter. Then talk about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explain this event, and mention your personal reasons for participating. Don't make the letter too long, but just long enough to inspire them. You want your enthusiasm to be contagious. You can also include an offline donation form and return envelope to make donating as easy as possible.
- The "Friend-of-a-Friend" Approach
You can expand your circle of donors even beyond that initial list of names. Every time someone agrees to make a donation, ask them if they will take an extra donation form and pass it on to someone else. Or ask them to forward your email to a friend. This way you can reach people you don't even know! Ask your spouse to take donation forms to the office, ask your mother to take forms to church or ask your best friend to give donation forms to their relatives. It's a great way to spread word-of-mouth, and to multiply your donations.
- Phone Calls
A phone call is somewhere between a fundraising letter and the face-to-face approach. For some people on your donor list, it may feel unnatural to send them a letter. But maybe you just can't get together in person. Pick up the phone, and just start talking. Talk about the event and ask for a donation. Similar to a face-to-face ask, be sure to leave a moment of silence afterward to let the other person consider their gift and answer you.
Follow Up and Give Thanks
Make sure that you follow-up with everyone that has not donated. Often times, people might be intending to donate and just need a gentle reminder. Let them know that every dollar counts in the fight to prevent suicide and there is still time to donate. Send them a note to keep them updated on your progress as you fundraise.
Once you have received a donation from someone, let them know that their contribution -- whatever the amount -- is important to you and that you appreciate it. Send them a thank you note or invite them to the walk. After the event, you may want to send out a newsletter or email with some photos and an additional "thank you" for your donors' support.