How Do You Feel About Fundraising?

I’m offering a guest post today from my sister Molly. She works for Event 360, which helps organizations use events to create a better world. One of its biggest events is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, which has raised nearly $600 million in the fight to end breast cancer. She just wrote a great post about her experience helping my daughter raise money for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart program (that’s her in the photo, jumping away), and I think there’s so much here for parents to think about.

I’ve written before about how I’m the go-to fundraiser in my family. Previously, I was helping my cousin raise money for juvenile diabetes. But today I’m writing about how I helped my 6-year old niece, Julia, raise money for heart disease.

I received an email from my sister stating, “Julia’s learning about children with heart disease and wants to do her part to help. She’ll be participating in Jump Rope for Heart. In addition to raising money for the American Heart Association, your donation will help Julia’s school win free physical education equipment. And the class that raises the most gets to have lunch and recess with the gym teachers–another big incentive for Julia! Thanks for any amount you donate.”

I went directly to Julia’s fundraising page only to discover that her fundraising goal was set to $200. Not only was it entirely too low for my liking, but she had almost reached her goal. As a result, I didn’t really feel compelled to donate.

Here’s what happened next:

Me: Please increase her goal to $500 and then I’ll make my donation :)
Sister: How about $300? I don’t plan to hit up many people! I figure we have a lifetime of these asks ahead of us.
Me: $500
Sister: Yes ma’am.
Me: Donation made.

I can’t stress enough the importance of setting a challenging goal and updating it as you get closer to hitting it to ensure people will still feel compelled to donate. Within one day, and with the help of Facebook status updates from her three aunts, Julia’s fundraising went through the roof and she had met her fundraising goal. Within two days, Julia raised $615 and became the top fundraiser in her 1st grade classroom.

If you’re looking to engage children in fundraising, here are some tips you’ll want to consider:

  1. Make the message as simple and relatable as you can. Julia understood that it was as basic as asking people for money, spending some time jump roping and she’d be helping people she’d never meet.
  2. When engaging children, use video as much as possible to show them who they’re helping and why. Julia remembered the name of the girl in the video – Britney – and could even describe how her heart sounded (with a “whoosh”). More than that, she understood that what she heard wasn’t normal or the way your heart is supposed to sound. The video helped her connect and stay connected to Britney.
  3. Connect the activity to the cause. In the video they played at school to engage Julia and her classmates, they witnessed Britney getting better and even being able to jump rope. Julia was really impressed that Britney could now jump rope and learned that jumping rope would make her own heart strong too.
  4. Incentives work for all sorts of people as my friend Jill Stewart recently shared and this couldn’t be truer for children. Even better, when you’re dealing with tiny humans, they don’t need anything that costs money. The thought of winning lunch with her teachers was enough to keep Julia focused on the task at hand! And then, Julia was rewarded for all her hard work when she learned that the teachers changed their mind and instead of just inviting the top class, they decided to also invite a few other big fundraisers. She was psyched to get an invitation from her gym teachers to join them for lunch for being the top fundraiser in her class! These kinds of things cost nothing and go a very long way with children.
  5. Take any opportunity you have to remind children that we all share in the responsibility to help people who aren’t as fortunate or as healthy as we are.

The bottom line is that there’s no age requirement when it comes to fundraising. In fact, the top fundraiser in Julia’s school was in kindergarten! Regardless of your age, there are important and valuable lifelong lessons that fundraising can teach you. Why not start early?

I’m curious: Have you helped your child with fundraisers? How did it go? Which causes are dear to your family, and why?

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