Monday 10 Mar, 2014

How to Create a Successful Fundraising Plan

International travel is the experience of a lifetime, and fundraising is one way to help as many students as possible see the world. If you’re a group leader, organizing fundraising activities for your students not only helps them earn money to offset the cost of their tour, but it also gives them a great opportunity to get to know each other before they depart.

If you haven’t fundraised before, it can seem a bit overwhelming. However, with a little preparation, you can create a fun and effective plan. After one—or several—successful fundraisers, your students will feel incredible satisfaction knowing that they played a vital role in making their tour a reality. To get you started, here are 10 of our best tips for creating your own fundraising plan. 

1. Clearly identify your goals  

Work backwards when coming up with a fundraising plan. Figure out how much money your group will need, and how many days you have left before your final payments are due. Then, divide the total costs by the number of days, weeks or months before your group is departing. Doing so will help you determine how much you need and will help your students stay on target with the goals they set for themselves.

2. Start planning early

The earlier you create a plan, the more time you and your group will have to fundraise and prepare. Encourage your group to start fundraising as soon as possible and it will be much more realistic to meet your goals and deadlines.

Fundraising_Flickr via Andreanna Moya Photography

3. Be realistic about your time

Be sure the fundraising goals you and your group set are realistic for everyone involved. Decide how much time you and your students are able to commit to planning and activities (keep in mind that you’ll also have to work on trip details and logistics). To stay organized, consider sharing these duties: have one person manage the fundraising activities while another handles the logistics.

4. Research fundraising ideas

Encourage your students to research fundraising activities they would be interested in taking part in. If there are other staff members at your school who have taken an EF tour, ask them if they have any suggestions for what works and what doesn’t. Check out our post coming out next month that compiles some of the best and most successful fundraisers from our Group Leaders. Come up with a few ideas before your first parent meeting so you can brainstorm with them as well as gauge interest.

5. Aim for success

After you have an idea about which fundraising activities you and your students might like to do, discuss which will be the most successful. Consider things like: which will help you reach your goal the fastest? Which are the most fun for you and your group? Which activities are the most practical in your community? Will your students fundraise individually or as a group?

Then, determine how much money you want to raise. Decide how much time you and your group want to dedicate to each fundraiser and whether or not your group is willing to contribute their own money to make these activities a reality, if needed. Be sure to set realistic goals of how much money each student should be able to earn. It’s also a great idea to create a fundraising contract to make sure everyone is on the same page. Use this contract template to get you started:  

6. Set Expectations

Meet with your students and their parents to set realistic expectations about the level of commitment required for these fundraisers (both time and/or money) and how much money you anticipate being able to raise.

7. Create a buzz

Share your fundraiser activities with local media. Let your local newspaper, TV or radio station know where you and your group will be and when. You can also use social media and emails to spread the word about your plans. If you or your students have a blog, post it there. It’s important to do this so your community knows what they are supporting. After your tour, send a group picture to the media outlet that covered your story with a thank-you letter to the community for their support. Have your students share their experiences, photos and videos with their friends, families and neighbours so they can see the incredible impact educational travel can have.

Fundraising_newspapers via NS Newsflash

8. Decide how you will distribute the funds

Create a plan for how the money raised will be distributed amongst your students before you begin any fundraising. Some group leaders recommend using fundraising credits based on how involved the students are. For example, students will earn credits based on how long they worked at a fundraising event. If they help set up, they get one credit. If they work the event and then stay to clean up, that’s another two credits. Divide the total proceeds by the number of credits and multiply it by how many credits each student earned.

9. Decide how to keep track of the funds

Whether you set up a separate bank account or have the school manage the funds, make sure you are carefully tracking the money. Keep a spreadsheet to record how much each student has earned. Consider sharing how you are tracking the money with another staff member or adult who is not a parent of one of the student travellers.

10. Communicate!

After you have created your plan and started fundraising, it’s important to keep everyone in the loop. It will be much easier for everyone to stay on track if they know how successful they’ve been so far. The easiest way to stay in touch is to create a Facebook group so you, your students and their parents are up to date and can participate in discussions about upcoming events or changes.

Fundraising_phone via Wickerfurniture

Stay tuned for our next post on tried-and-true fundraising activities from other EF group leaders!


Money (Feature image): Flickr photo via duckiemonster
Calendar: Flickr photo via Andreanna Moya Photography
Newspapers: Flickr photo via NS Newsflash

Vintage Phone: Flickr photo via Wickerfurniture