A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Fundraiser

April 25, 2011
by Cindy Changyit Levin, Development Associate

Many of you know me as your RESULTS fundraising team member assisting you with event accounting, brainstorming, and speakers. Yet I’m also the fundraising coordinator for my own local Chicago-Evanston RESULTS group. I’m a RESULTS partner putting herself out there, making personal invitations, and crossing fingers for a good turnout.In this regard, I’m just like you.

Even for me, making personal phone calls and looking people in the eye when I invite them can be time-consuming and can sometimes pull me out of my comfort zone. However, it’s well worth the effort! Sometimes, the effort turns up surprising things I never would have anticipated. For example, the following are some gems that popped up when I invited people outside of my usual circle to come to our April house concert fundraiser: 

1. A big check: Every day, I stand by a particular mom as we wait at preschool pickup. I’d sent her email invitations to the fundraiser, as I had for the other moms, and she never responded.  Yet when I invited her in person, she said, “Oh! I saw your e-mail. I’m sorry I can’t come, but how can I donate?” I happily gave her a donor envelope (with city, event date, and contact name already filled out). Later on the playground, she presented me with a $100 check. I was so surprised and yet again reminded that donors are all around us, just waiting to be asked!

2. A letter-writing event: I invited the owner of a salon to the fundraiser, but I didn’t really know her. I had heard from a friend that the salon owner wanted help with poverty causes but didn’t know what to do. When I spoke of our letter-writing events, the salon owner immediately told me she could never write because of her English skills. But she offered up her salon for a RESULTS event, kicking in free nail polish treatments when people turn in letters.  In 15 minutes, we hammered out a plan for an event in June to generate letters to for our Lobby Day in D.C.  (And, of course, we’ll ask for donations, too!)

3. Future fundraising events: As I continued my inviting for the concert-fundraiser, I invited another preschool mom that I’ve seen daily for years but with whom I had rarely spoken. She was thrilled that I invited her because she’d been meaning to speak to me. She wants to throw fun charity events in her house because it has a great entertaining space, but she wasn’t sure how to go about it. We immediately went there for a lunch and by the time the kids were done playing, we had planned two possible events!

What are my take-aways from these stories? First, remember that donors are all around you. Next, think creatively about how people can help. Some people have money, some have businesses, some have time, and some have houses. There’s room for everyone to contribute in the fight against poverty! It is also key to keep holding events regularly. When you and the RESULTS name become known in the community, people will feel more comfortable giving. Finally, always pre-label your donor envelopes with your city, the date, and your event coordinator’s name so you can give them to people who can’t attend but want to contribute. This allows donations mailed from home to be credited to your event, and it helps our organization properly account for all contributions.

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