How to organize a fundraising event
Written by Jackie Ornelas
Relay for Life is a life changing experience. There are powerful connections made when you meet cancer survivors or when you identify with fellow caregivers. Heartfelt emotions surface when you remember all those we have lost to such a deadly disease. But, there is also a deep sense of empowerment that comes when, as a relayer, we take a stand and educate the community. We do whatever is in our hands to fight back against this disease. One of the most important ways to fight back is to raise funds for the fight against cancer.
Things to Consider
Organizing a fundraising event can seem a little intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. The key is in preparation. Whether your event is big or small, there are a few things to consider: how much investment will it require? How much return can you realistically expect? How many people are available to help you? Can any items/costs be offset with donations? How much time do you have to plan? What is your budget? Once you answer all these questions, you can begin setting goals and planning your event.
Preparing for your event
One of my favorite fundraising events is a Yard Sale or Garage Sale. This event does not require a large investment so it results in a greater percentage of profit. With this event, however, you will need to put in the required prep work to make sure that you have enough items to sell. The first step is to set a date—this way you give your team and donors a deadline for turning in items. Then have everyone on your team look through their closets, garage, attic, etc for any items that are in a good enough condition to sell. You should also ask your family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc, for donations. Remember, one person’s old junk could be another persons found treasure. Emphasize the deadline. As a team captain, you must be proactive. Sometimes, people are more than willing to make a donation….but, well it slips their mind, they cant find the time, etc. So, what are you to do? Offer to pick up their donation, meet them halfway, send reminder emails. Most importantly, explain the cause that you are working towards, share your passion! Once you have gathered all the items, at some point before the event date, have a group of people help you sift through everything. Make sure nothing is too dirty or too damaged to sell. Discuss possible prices of large “big ticket” items. Separate items into categories to make set-up easier on the day of the event.
With any event, there should be a big focus on marketing and publicizing your event. With a yard sale, for example, make sure you have chosen a location where you are allowed to have a yard sale—you don’t want to get fined or even warned. Is that area you selected a visible area with a lot of foot/auto traffic? Will passerbys see your yard sale? Once you have settled on a good location, move on to signage. With Yard Sales and Garage Sales, clear and visually attractive signage is a MUST. Be sure to post signs in the areas that surround your yard sale location. All signs should include: Date, Address, Arrows (pointing in the correct location). In the days leading up to your event, consider making a few flyers and ask local storeowners if you can put them up in their stores. Use social media: advertise on facebook (status, tags, etc) , send emails, ask your friends to help you spread the word. And finally, don’t forgo the good old fashioned word of mouth. Tell people about your event. Let them see and feel how committed you are to the cause. You may even inspire them to join relay! Don’t forget to notify the relay for life committee of your event so that they can put it on the Relay website and help you send an email blast to all the other relay teams. We like to support each other’s events.
Immediately before the event
Be sure to tie up all loose ends. Do you have bags available to bag stuff? Are your signs made and ready to go? Be sure to delegate tasks ahead of time so that everyone knows what they should be doing. If you will be handling money, do you have change available? Go to the bank, ask for $1 bills and quarters, dimes, etc. Buy any last minute materials, etc.
Day of Event
When the day of your event arrives…be happy and be energetic. Don’t Stress! If you planned well, things will go smoothly. Make sure the event looks clean, neat and presentable. This is important not only because you want to attract people but also because you are representing Relay for Life. Start your set up early and with enough time to beat the crowds. If you have relay gear, wear it. Have information and brochures about ACS and your relay event available to hand out. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Every relay event is always an opportunity to recruit. Make sure as many team members as possible attend the event. You will need help. Have one or two people in charge of the money. The rest should be out there, being friendly. If it is a warm day, you may even consider selling water, juices, soda, etc. At our event, we even had our youngest team member (10 years old) set up her candy booth. Big Seller!
Hopefully your event went well. As long as you have more funds than when you started, consider it a success! Be sure to clean up any area that you used—again, you are representin Relay for Life. Thank all of the people who helped you—including your team members. Take inventory and decide what to do with it. If you have a lot of items left over you may consider having another yard sale in the near future or you may consider donating to an organization like the Salvation Army. Tally up your profit and congratulate your team on a job well done!