After we had our plan in place for the Student Consultancy Program, we quickly realized that we needed a way to finance our program. We needed to raise money to cover the costs of instructional materials, a final reception after the students’ final presentation, and prizes and gifts to the students and judges for their participation in the program. Based on our individual networks, we decided that social media and crowdfunding was the best way for us to fundraise.
Over the course of 10 weeks, the Student Consultancy Program raised 150% of our fundraising target. In an age where crowdfunding is on the rise and the list of initiatives to support keeps getting longer, how did we manage to make our cause stand out? Below are eight steps that drove our fundraising success. With a generous budget and growing momentum, our SCP team is ready to execute a fantastic program for 20 students at KIPP KING!
1. Believe in Your Cause.
Reaching out and raising money for SCP was easy for our team because we are invested in the program and deeply care about the students we serve. We want to see big impact and know that a fully funded budget will allow us to make that happen. We kicked off our campaign by engaging our respective online networks on Facebook and Linkedin. Later we reached out to family, friends, colleagues, and Education Pioneers.
Whenever we talked about the program with our friends and colleagues, we continuously emphasized that the program would provide the critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills that would help our students succeed in college and in life. The passion and enthusiasm we had for our program was apparent and contagious to the individuals with whom we talked.
2. Prioritize Funding Strategies.
Our team first created a program budget that included all the expenses that we would incur from the program and final reception. This process informed our initial funding goals.
From our budget and goals, we developed a multi-pronged fundraising strategy that involved both partnerships and grassroots efforts. We prioritized our grassroots efforts and using social media since we believed this would provide us with the majority of our funding. To ensure that our goals would be met, we also planned a happy hour fundraising event.
3. Inspire Your Peers.
If someone else believes in what you are doing, you are halfway there. Make your cause attractive by sharing your views about why the cause matters and approach funders with a solid plan. If they buy into your mission and are confident in your ability to execute, they are more inspired to contribute.
After $140 in cash donations from a birthday fundraiser, our SCP team set up a GoGetFunding.com page. We quickly received a generous donation from an unexpected supporter. This enabled us to reach our initial fundraising goal and assured us that our work was truly resonating with our peers.
4. Challenge Your Funding & Program Goals.
Mid-campaign we decided to raise the bar on our fundraising goal and added program enhancements such as job shadowing and networking events for our students. A generous grant from Education Pioneers prompted this shift in our initial plan. With their support, we feel encouraged that there may be potential to grow the program in the future.
5. Make the Idea Spread Like Wildfire.
Ask for help! After building some initial momentum, we shared our idea with colleagues and friends to create a movement. We empowered them to help identify other prospective funders, partner organizations and companies that might host our students during job shadowing opportunities.
6. Make It Fun.
Put the FUN in FUNDRAISER! We learned that Tonic in Russian Hill offered guest bartending fundraisers and decided to host a happy hour! We circulated the event on Eventbrite and Facebook. Our team may have had more fun making drinks than our guests did socializing. In three hours we surpassed our $300 goal two-and-a-half times, thanks to friends, colleagues and the March Madness community that donated its tips to “the kids!”
7. Engage Donors with the Program.
In our planning phase, we solicited advice from Education Pioneers Analyst Fellows and local staff to help brainstorm financial strategies for the program. Engaging them in this initial conversation immediately generated interest (and future donations) within the group. As funding started to roll in, we extended invitations to every donor to the final presentation, thus offering them an opportunity to see their contributions come to life.
8. Express Gratitude.
After each donation we sent a personal thank you to the donor. We also listed each donor on our online fundraising website in an effort to further thank them for their efforts. It’s important to recognize generosity, particularly among friends, colleagues, and family.
To learn more about the Analyst Fellows’ Student Consultancy Program, please visit http://www.studentconsultancyprogram.org/.
By Stephanie Nguyen, 2012 Analyst Fellow