Fundraising is a lot of things, some of which are obvious, some of which aren’t.. some even seem like they’re obvious but are actually very easy to lose sight of.
Not only are projects carried out for a wide range of purposes, but they’re also, of course, carried out by a wide range of people. Often, the only thing that unites these individuals is that they’ve never done anything remotely like it before.
Over the last two years I’ve guided people through this, and while I started as clueless as the next guy, there are now some things I’ve noticed are always true and I think they bear remembering:
Whether you’re fundraising for a powerchair, cutting-edge treatments or the capital to launch a new product, it’s hard. It’s exhausting, emotional and takes far longer than anyone wants. What’s more is that, most of the time, no one wants to be doing it in the first place: very few people (and those who do deserve all the credit in the world) wake up in the morning and fancy a relaxing day of cash generation.
We do it because we need to do it.
The point to take away is that no matter how low the lows, keep that good end in mind.
For all the doom and gloom of the lows, as all the Race for Life adverts splashed across the TV tell us, there are most definitely highs. These highs don’t just come after you’ve finished a race, though. They’re everywhere and will be different in every project. They’re the cake at a bake sale, the sunshine at a charity picnic… I even once heard of fancy dress yoga. For the boring people like me, they’re even the satisfaction of sending off a particularly well formed grant application.
Sickeningly clichéd as it sounds, for all your focus on the good of the destination, don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
I often get asked how long fundraising for a powerchair might take. People sometimes struggle to believe that the answer to that question really is anything from a month to a year or maybe even more. The truth is, with any major project, there are just so many variables: where in the country is it happening, is it for an individual or an organisation, how big is the organisation, how old is the person. The list just goes on and on.
So, while obviously you should take inspiration, don’t judge yourself too harshly against other projects. Everyone and everything is different.
For me personally, fundraising projects tend to arise when a family has a new addition and that new addition happens to have been born with some trait that limits their mobility. In other words, most of the time, it is purely the gods of chance which means it is these families that have the admin of a major fundraising project on their shoulders rather than others. The unfair forces of the universe don’t stop there, though: It will tip it down on the day of your big fundraiser, you’ll apply to a major charity the day after they commit their final bit of funding for the year and your car will definitely break down on the way to an important meeting.
It’s important to know, though, that for every stroke of bad luck they’ll be some good news round the corner. And, if nothing else, think of how much misfortune you’ll have gotten out of your system by the time the project’s over!
This is perhaps the most important point of them all, and the most talked about. There’s not too much I can add here other than by saying, even as someone who’s only linked through work to the beneficiaries of my small fundraising efforts, it is, without a shadow of a doubt one of the best bits of my job.
I’m jealous of the people in our organisation who get more of it and feel bad for those who have less of it.
As you start, no matter how far in the distance the end may seem, remember the moment of triumph does come eventually. Whether you want to celebrate with champagne or just a deep breath out, you should take the time to be proud of what you’ve done.
After all, the world is a better place because you’ve done it.