October Skillshare_Grassroots Fundraising 

Trainers Network_10.7.2015

Facilitators: Sonia Silbert, Jess Solomon, Elizabeth Falcon, and Rebecca Lemos-Otero


1. Intro
2. Why grassroots fundraising?
3. Break out Groups
  -Prospect list
  -Writing an appeal
  -Components of a fundraising campaign
  -ED office hours
4. Closing

Background Information

Diverse City Fund – Gives funds to people who are leading projects in DC for social change. They give projects to organizations that aren’t necessarily a 501-c3 and that are POC-led. The training is about supporting grassroots fundraising. Most of the work grassroots groups would like to do isn’t funded by traditional foundations and organization. In order to activate our bases, there are different strategies for engaging such groups.
Jess began with a socio-metrics activity. The room was broken into three areas: 1) individuals that do fundraising as a job; 2) individuals that fundraise as part of their volunteer job; and 3) individuals who haven’t fundraised ever.
People shared what they do in groups. Then the group came back into the bigger group and different quotes from INCITE’s book on The Revolution Will Not Be Funded were shared across the room.

General Presentation

I. Why is it important to do grassroots fundraising?

Sonia gave a presentation on the type of work WPC engages in and the importance of fundraising. 

Sonia led an organizer/fundraising activity. She read a few statements and asked the room to raise their hands if they identified the role as an organizer/fundraiser. 

- This kind of work we do because we believe our cause is just and we want other people to be involved. [Organizing or Fundraising?]
- What kind of work allows your committee to reach out to and educate a broad-base of individuals? [Organizing or Fundraising?]
- This kind of work can bring more people into my group. [Organizing or Fundraising?]
- Everyone in my group should consider themselves an [organizer or fundraiser?]

The importance of grassroots fundraising includes:
- Accountability from the org to the individual donors instead of a corporate foundation
- Lack of dependence on one huge donor. This allows for more sustainability for the organization given the loss of one donor won’t result in loss of everything.
- Most government and corporation funding is restrictive. Government organizations want to quantify outcomes and impact. Its difficult to quantify movement building.
- Individual donors are more likely to be involved in the work and support the organization/organize.
- Foundations are more willing to fund direct services rather than organizing projects that address the core structures. There is less funding for leadership and training opportunities.
- Membership Model – If you are trying to get the community involved, then having a membership-based mode l that includes directly impacted individuals, then they can support the organizing.
- Accountability and Receiving Gifts policy – an organization doesn’t have to accept all donations. The Peace Center has a gift policy where the group doesn’t take funds from federal government agencies. In addition, accepting money from a group doesn’t always mean one will do what they want. However, receiving funding from an individual does mean the organization is in a relationship with the individual.
- Fear of asking for money and fundraising

Individual Feelings Regarding Giving Money

- Sonia asked how do most people feel after they have given money, and most individuals responded in the group with people feel helpful, hopeful, and feel connected. It’s important to give other people the opportunity to feel that way too.

-Case study of City Blossoms – a local organization.

-City Blossoms engages in community gardening for kids in the city and has grown bigger and bigger. 

Their organization looked at traditional structures for organization, which engages in a very top-down structure. The bigger the organization grows, the more complications arise regarding management and leadership structures.

Some key questions for organizations to consider include:

1) What are our ethics when it comes to raising funds? Every org has a different structure for raising funds. People within an organization will continue to change, but what is the core of the organization?
2) What are the revenue streams for the organization? It is important for an organization to depend upon multiple organizations and people.
3) They’ve found it helpful to have an earned income aspect to the work (e.g., consulting)
4) The branding is vital for fundraising and establishing a relationship with individual donors through engaging and fun means. “Our relationship money plays out in how we ask for money.”

City Blossoms made intentional decisions about not relying too much on grants – grassroots fundraising takes a lot of work so it needs to be an active decision with time devoted to it.

Demystify notions of Who Gives Regarding Fundraising
- Endowments (7%)
- Corporations (6%)
- Foundations (14%)
- Individuals (73%)

Dead people give more than corporations!

- 35% of people who made 30,000 or less a year gave money to orgs
- 30% of donations in entire year happen after December 1st

Smaller Groups
1. Planning End of Year Fundraising
-Engage with donors now.
To do: update donors, make a meeting
-Prepare your infrastructure.
To do: website donation page, database, thank you note and gifts
Door to door
Phone call
Letters – events
Emails – giving Tuesday
Social media
In person
Text to give
-Last minute emails
-What would a donor think?
- Engage with them now. Donors aren’t ATMs! You should be engaging with your members/donors all year long – they should know about and care about your work before you ask.

- To do: reach out to people now w/o an ask. Who can you have coffee with? Shoot an email to? Should you send out an update on your work to your whole list? 

- Prepare your infrastructure

- To do: update website, post to social media worlds, have an easy way to give online and by check, make sure donation page is updated too. Prep thank you note – make sure all previous gifts have been thanked. Do you have a database/way to track donors?
- Plan your campaign
- Goals – then come up with the strategies to get there.
- Think through message. What do you want to amplify? Political message, accomplishment, ongoing campaign, etc.

- Have this message be consistent through end of year campaign
- What visuals will you use? Emotional responses lead to giving
- To Do: collect and/or take photos now.


- What makes sense to achieve your goal given your base?
- Multi-channels
- Combine mail with social media – do a post after your members receive a mailing
- Show up at events
- The more interactions and reminders about your message/visual, the better.
- What are ways you’ve been asked or seen asks at the end of the year?
- Last minute emails
- Painful but effective
- Online, 30% of all gives are after Dec 1. 10% of all gifts are the last 3 days of the year.
- Keep them succinct, with direct ask, powerful with images.
- Assess from a donor’s point of view before you start.
- Did they hear from you without an ask? See something cool you did? Get appreciated for their past support getting you to where you are?
- Plan how you’ll thank them.

Appeal Letters

- Essentially you are reaching out to your network of individuals and have consistently reached out to them. Are you looking to bring people in? A letter is a great opportunity to give money.
o Practice the ideal of an appeal letter
o Resource: NetworkforGood.com
o Make an ask in the appeal. Provide a story, example, statistic, and ways individuals can get involved. EG: Your support would mean this radio station can reach out and get X amount of money and what that would look like.
o Stories overs Statistics – Tell a story about how individual benefited from the program or organization.
o Make sure your ASK is direct example. Can you make an end-of-the year gift and maybe its 20 dollars or Maybe it’s a whole lot of options. It’s a call of action.
o Detail about the possibilities. Their events are connected to Arts and Social justice. They are shifting the hearts and minds of people.
o You give details about the money and lay it out how the funds will be used in the organization.
o Make a year-end gift of X dollars
o After they give a donation, thank them for reading. Then you provide contact information.
o Make sure you have links online and its easy for them to get to.
o Make sure the link works
o You don’t want to make it hard for people to fundraise or donate.
o If you would like to help, then share this with 5 friends who share the same values. That is a direct ASK. This way, you can get others to support you.
o Those 5 people might be the ones that give the money (appeal letter)
o If you have a compelling image and this is something that furthers your story, then use it.
o Number 2 – Is this a single story, then link the single story to the larger statistics. It has to be connected to the data.
o Make that gift and have a hyperlink for the donation section.
o A lot of this is about cultivating relationships, and make an ask at that celebration
o Maybe you can send a SAVE THE DATE and in March/April send out reminders for the end of the year fundraising
o Don’t go more than 300-500 words in your appeal. Write something you want to read
o Have a team that reviews the appeal.
o Write compelling Subject Lines (you can be risky/certain subject line to certain people)/definitely as compelling as possible. You can test it separately
o Use Pay Pal to receive donations and it is easy and its credible