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How To Fundraise for Your Passion Project

Raising money for a cause or organization you care about is a great way to make an impact. This guide offers information about how and when to fundraise, as well as how to market your fundraiser.
While passion projects can focus on raising public awareness about a cause, developing a skill or teaching others, they can also be about raising money! Raising money for a cause or organization you care about can be a great way to make an impact.

Fundraising can be a little intimidating at first. How can you effectively convince others to donate money to a cause that you care about? Why should the potential donor choose to donate to your cause over another?

Here are two important tips that we find will help you to fundraise effectively:

Keep in mind that people are more likely to donate if they know exactly what their money is going to be used for.

People want to feel as though their money is going to good use. Think about the most effective fundraisers you might have seen in the past…

TOMS shoes: Though TOMS has since shifted to a different charitable framework, the company used to operate a one-for-one model; donating one pair of shoes for every pair the company sold.

BOMBAS: Like TOMS, Bombas abides by a “One Purchased = One Donated” campaign, donating one pair of socks, underwear or t-shirts to the homeless for every pair purchased.

What do both of these campaigns have in common?

The consumer knows exactly how their money is making a difference in the world. Every time they don a pair of their TOMS shoes or BOMBAS socks, they can imagine their counterpart who received a free pair donning theirs.

Other companies do make charitable donations a little differently. For example, the clothing company Natori donates 1% of customers’ purchases to a cause of their choosing (out of a pre-selected list) at checkout. United by Blue pledges to remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product purchased.

Notice that donating one percent of profits is a little less transparent than donating one pair of shoes or socks like TOMS and BOMBAS, as the recipient’s use of the donation is not explicitly known to the donor at the time of the donation.

So, what does this mean for you?

It might not be possible for you to adopt a similar one-for-one strategy, and that is perfectly okay! As you come up with your fundraising plan, the most important thing is to give your potential donor a very clear idea of where their money is going.

Let’s move on to the second most important thing to keep in mind as you create your fundraiser.

People are more likely to donate if they get something in return, like an experience or product.

While some people might like the simple convenience of donating to a GoFundMe or other online campaign, others may find the opportunity to participate in an event or to purchase a product more appealing.

A product can be a material good. If you have a special artistic talent, like drawing, painting, printmaking or pot-making, you might consider selling your artwork and donating the profits to your cause. If you are specifically talented in the computer science domain, you might consider custom coding browser add-ons or specialized software.

Aside from selling a product and donating the profits, events are a great way to raise money. They also allow you to build community and raise awareness about your cause. Not only that, but organizing and hosting events will allow you to develop skills you will use throughout college and beyond. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about fundraising events:

Where should I host my fundraising event?

An event can be hosted through your school, religious institution, or other community organization. Hosting an event at school would make it easily accessible to your peers, teachers and the staff who work at your school, while hosting an event in a public space in your community, like a public library or YMCA, will open your event up to your community at large.

You can also choose to partner with a private organization, like a local shop, movie theater, ice skating rink, theater, or any other venue you can think of. This will require approaching the venue and asking if they would be willing to make it available for fundraising use, either for free or at a discounted rate. Since a lot of organizations aim to incorporate giving or charitable work into their annual programming, many will be happy to collaborate with you!

How do I choose which type of fundraising event to host?

As you determine what type of event you want to host, think about your specific niche. While your event can align with your cause, the two don’t necessarily have to be related. For example, while you may raise money to buy musical instruments by hosting a concert, you could also host a bowling tournament or field day.

Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as you plan your fundraiser. Think about other events you have enjoyed attending, and see if you can put your own spin on one of them! If you really enjoyed your homecoming dance, think about throwing a dance but creating your own theme. You can also rely on your own specific skills, talents or interests. For example, if you are a runner, you may organize a fun run, or if you are an avid reader, you might organize a read-a-thon.

Essentially, if there’s any activity you particularly like doing, you can most likely think of a way to ask people to join you and raise money along the way.

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Here are some other events you can think about hosting:

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Dance
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Run
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Sports tournament or game
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Field day
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Concert
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Barbeque
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Play
If you’re not able to host an event in-person, you can also consider hosting an online campaign! GoFundMe is a great platform for collecting donations.
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How to Write an Effective GoFundMe Campaign

If you do choose to host a fundraiser using GoFundMe or another online platform, you’ll want to write a brief, yet compelling fundraising page. Here are some pointers to help you get started:
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Be sure to clearly state who will be receiving the money you raise.
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Briefly write about why the cause is important: what is the problem at hand, and more importantly, why should your potential donors care to solve it?
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Explain how the money will be used. As mentioned above, the more specific you are, the better.
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Be sure to include a specific goal.
You can either circulate the GoFundMe page as a standalone fundraiser, or you can pair it with an online event.
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How to Host an Online Event

Many events can be held online! You may consider hosting a video game tournament online, or hosting a virtual concert. A virtual concert may take on a different format depending on your performers. It may be easiest to invite individual artists to perform, rather than a group performance. You can host your event via Zoom, or another video conferencing platform.

You can also consider fundraising through a whole host of other events. If your friends are budding filmmakers, you could host a film screening, or you could consider inviting a guest speaker or speakers to a virtual panel.

Another logistical detail you will want to take into consideration is what you will do with the money you raise. If you don’t accept the money directly, you might consider establishing an affiliate partnership or collaborating with a previously established organization and redirecting your donors towards an established charity. The main reason for establishing an affiliate partnership is to ensure that the money you raise is used in the most effective manner possible. For example, you might be passionate about Alzheimer’s research. Donating to an existing charity, like the Alzheimer’s Association, will ensure that the money you raise is put to good use. Another, and more technical reason to redirect donors to an established charity is for tax purposes. Without going into it in too much detail, individuals can greatly benefit from donating to an established charity, so partnering with one might allow you to raise more money. If you think you might be interested in establishing a non-profit yourself, you can check out our blog post on how to do so, here.

Best of luck as you work towards reaching your fundraising goals! We’re rooting for you!

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