Anyone can hold a successful fundraising event- ranging from formal black tie affair to a lemonade stand, provided that your heart is in the right place and you really want to help those in need. As a Miami personal injury lawyer, I have over 25 years of experience in asking juries for money on behalf of injured people and their families. I have learned to use my experience and apply my skills as a lawyer to help those in need around the world suffering from natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the Tsunami in Japan and recently Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as well as others by holding fundraisers and auctions.
Today, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of help in Puerto Rico, without food, water and power that need assistance. And I imagine that wherever you live from a major metropolitan city in a small hamlet- people need your help. Putting on a fundraiser can be fun, a great way to meet like-minded people and in the end- very rewarding for those involved and most importantly those that you help.
Every little bit helps- Many people are afraid that they cannot raise enough to make a difference. But I assure you that every penny that you raise that goes to someone in need will not only be appreciated but will make a difference.
STEP ONE: Find a Need
I suggest you find a need for a cause or group that is personal to you. Everyone knows someone who has been stricken by cancer or has been bullied or deprived an opportunity to succeed in life because of a situation beyond their control. I believe that it is important to have a personal connection to your cause- but not make the cause personal. One of the greatest dangers in fundraising is the perception that one may be profiting from the cause. This needs to be avoided at all costs. In other words, don’t benefit directly, or indirectly from any of the money your raise.
STEP TWO- Pick a Date
I am a “the sooner the better” kind of guy. If there is an urgent need, I like to make our events happen quickly. This often drives my team nuts as they are more planners and strategic and have to execute the grunt work in getting the event set up.
STEP THREE- Keep it Simple
Unless you are a professional event planner, don’t over complicate things with fancy invitations, elaborate gift baskets, and red carpets. Remember this is to raise funds to help an urgent need, not the Oscars.
STEP FOUR-Location Partners
There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, pizza places- even a barbershop that would be happy to co-host the event. It gives you a place to hold your fundraiser and them plenty of new exposure and establishes them as a socially conscious member of the community. If that doesn’t work speak to your local library, church or youth center- even a nursing home may have a rec room or clubhouse.
STEP FIVE- Keep it Tight
In Miami, where I live and practice personal injury law- people tend to be late. For example, if you say that the event starts at 5:00 pm and end at 8:00 pm it would be common for people to show up at 6:30 pm and expect to stay to 10:00 pm or later. I suggest that you have a specific time allotted for this- no more than 2 hours for people to come- make their contribution- and leave.
STEP SIX- Have a Draw
Our most successful fundraisers have been when those that come are getting something by giving something. In other words- why should they come out- when if they wanted to make a donation- to most charities or causes they could simply go online. So your fundraiser needs to be fun- have a theme, and a giveaway such as food or drink or both.
Most bars have happy hours anyway- so two for one drinks or half priced drinks can be an easy give away that won’t cost you or your hosting location anything. We recently held an event to raise fund for victims of hurricane Maria at a local restaurant- and we charged $25 for a glass of wine and all you could eat paella, paying a small portion back to the restaurant from the money we collected and the balance all went to the Red Cross.
Every fundraiser we have done has been promoted exclusively on social media. Using sites like Instagram, Facebook events, and Constant Contact to spread the word is a very efficient way to get the word out about your event quickly and for very little costs. Encourage your friends and family to share the event with others and to RSVP as it can give you some indication as to how many people to expect.
I hope this information will encourage you to go out and raise some funds. Choose your cause wisely and please share with us your results.