Some people enjoy fundraising, perhaps one of your volunteers. It may become important for a formalized advocacy group to raise money for its work. It doesn’t mean you must raise money, or are required to. Many local groups operate through and by members donating services, time and materials.
The costs of copies, travel to events, posters, displays, or tabling supplies shouldn’t fall only on a few people. If you decide to raise money, the work of it shouldn’t fall on one, or the same individual(s) always. Always be on the lookout for volunteers who enjoy fundraising.
Think about the ‘causes’ you’ve donated to, and what circumstances enabled the opportunity to give. Make a list with your fundraising committee, or make it the subject of a meeting. Even if it's a committee of one, make a list of what inspired each of you to give financial support. Discuss and make lists of the events, mailings or appeals that created an opportunity for charitable giving. You may be surprised there are more experiences and ideas than you’ll read about here.
First, we’ll go over some practical matters. Fundraising means some bookkeeping. Your group should appoint at least two people who will be responsible for accounting of income and expenditures -- and at least one responsible for and able to do tax preparation if you formally organize. Even if you won't be required to file formal papers with the IRS, you will want to be accountable to your local membership.
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If you don’t formalize, you shouldn’t fundraise as a nonprofit unless under the auspices of a non-profit, and money collected is given to the non-profit entity after the fundraiser. For instance, local people have organized fundraisers and sent the proceeds to the November Coalition for disbursement for the local group's expenses through the year. Other fundraisers have been to support general expenses, like the publication of the Razor Wire to prisoners and for organizing events nationwide.
If your group does educational tabling, don’t forget that a donation jar on the table will prompt people automatically to give.
Here's a few other considerations and ideas for fundraising
Remember that situations sometimes create an opportunity to ask for financial help from those people with considerable extra income. Perhaps your community has seen a rise in drug arrests that seem suspect. If local people have heightened interest, and income to match it, they may support work that requires a project budget to accomplish goals. Established charitable groups might collaborate and serve as fiscal agent, if your group isn’t formalized. If your group chooses this method, be sure to have solid agreements about expectations on both ends, and ask for financial transparency before entering into any agreements or collaborations that include money. Our office can
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Sometimes an individual will ask your informal group if there is a way to donate. If you have don’t have a formal structure to be able to accept tax deductible gifts and services, be sure to tell them that the November Coalition Foundation is able to receive tax deductible charitable donations that will support your work locally. Prospective donors can call our office to make arrangements.
Sales of T-shirts and other products can raise money, but inventories and start-up can be costly. Selling merchandise also leads to tax reporting responsibilities, and unless someone(s) carefully account for inventory, it’s unlikely you’ll raise money. Our office can make small bulk sales to local groups, and giving it an honest try can be worth the effort. Remember though, there are less expensive ways to get a slogan, campaign or website publicized.
If your team consider products, first think about low cost ones like buttons, bumperstickers, postcards, etc. If your group can be responsible for low-cost items, and succeed in goals set out, even if modest ones, then consider expanding your inventory to costlier items. Who knows, you might have enough profit you’ll be able to grow your inventory. Just don’t forget that fundraising for program expenses is your goal! You don’t want to mind a store, and volunteers rarely have storage room to share.
Oh, and don’t forget about the
familiar car wash, bake sale (above), raffles and the
usual. They are usual for a reason -- they work! Remember,
a variety of activities involves different people, and can
be lots of fun. Invite a friend not usually involved to
join in. People who won’t attend a planning meeting, watch
a video series, or go to a demonstration, just might pitch
in to work on car wash or bake sale.
November Coalition offers other nonprofits and their volunteers, Soap for Change. Read all about it.
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