Raising Money, Not the Roof

So you want to throw a fundraiser for a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Maybe you have seen those super cute bingo venmo cards on your Instagram stories or the Go Fund Me links in those same Instagram stories or a Venmo link in your favorite influencer’s bio. Where in the world do you start? Which is the best way to tug at the heartstrings of the general public so they graciously open their wallets and donate to your oh-so-important cause? 

Well not to fear. I recently organized our first fundraiser through Her Campus USFCA for a local Bay Area organization that I greatly admire. Here are some things I learned: 

 

1. Research, Research, Research

If you want to raise money for a cause, do not start looking up organizations. Look at the cause first. How does it affect you, your friends, your community? Pretend you have a million dollars and brainstorm ways to effectively combat the problem. Look for long term solutions, not quick fixes. Additionally, consider causes that are already relevant to conversations happening on campus.

For example, my fundraiser wanted to acknowledge Black History Month as well as support those in need during the pandemic. I began looking at ways the Black community was continuously at a disadvantage throughout the pandemic. Racial inequalities ranged from a lack of access to COVID-19 tests to higher death rates in the Black community to a proportionately lower rate of vaccinations. Black communities and communities of color are at clear healthcare disadvantages and this pandemic only highlighted and worsened this disparity. 

2. Choose Your Cause

Now that you have a general idea of the cause and how you want to help solve this problem, you can start looking at organizations that align with your goals. I also made some criteria for my organizations. I wanted an organization led by members of the Black community that directly benefited the Black community. Since our chapter is based in San Francisco, it also had to be local. After much deliberation, I decided on the Rafiki Coalition.

I will admit, I was not totally objective. I had previously done some research on the Rafiki Coalition in September for the University's Rec Sports Instagram page and when looking at organizations, it was the first one that came to mind. 

The Rafiki Coalition is a San Francisco-based organization that works to eliminate health inequity and disparities in Black and marginalized communities by providing health and wellness services. These range from meditation and mindfulness workshops to health screenings, medical clinics, and mental health support groups. 

3. Procuring Payments

There is a reason you always see BINGO Venmo cards on your Instagram stories. They are simple yet super customizable for your cause. Canva offers some very cute BINGO card templates that you can customize to any of your organization's needs. 

I suggest designating one Venmo account to keep track of all your funds. This makes it so much easier to donate your contributions at the end of the fundraiser. 

4. Get the Word Out

Let me tell you right now: I did not do this enough. Our Her Campus chapter is pretty small with a modest following. I work for the Rec Sports Department at the University of San Francisco, so this made it easy to reach out to their social media director. Not so much for other organizations though. 

Looking back, I would have loved to reach out to our student newspaper, the Panhellenic organizations, and even the various honors organizations at the University. For our April fundraiser (stay tuned for all the details), I am putting on my big girl pants to email as many organizations as possible. Any publicity is good publicity. 

5. Have Fun!

It’s a fundraiser, not an anxiety raiser. Stop biting your fingernails. Don’t be constantly checking your phone. Everything will work out in the end. 

Remember our small following I mentioned earlier? Two of our girls came in clutch and were able to completely fill up their bingo cards. We were able to raise over $150 towards health and wellness initiatives in San Francisco. It’s not how many followers you have but who you have that makes a difference. And at the end of the day, if your followers don’t care about your organization as much as you do, it’s ok. We all have different interests. 

I hope these tips help you with your very first fundraiser. While it is intimidating to ask people for money, holding an online fundraiser takes some pressure off talking to people face-to-face. Good luck and have fun!