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How to Set Up a Lecture or Meeting with SupportersOnce you have a loyal band of supporters to help you with your fund-raising efforts, you will need to meet with them regularly to discuss problems and...

How to Set Up a Lecture or Meeting with Supporters

Once you have a loyal band of supporters to help you with your fund-raising efforts, you will need to meet with them regularly to discuss problems and progress. Where and how you do this will depend to a great extent on how many people will be meeting together and what venue is available.

If you are working from an office, it might be simpler to have everyone meet there - if there is enough room. Or you may be able to borrow a presentation room from your company. You can also book a lecture room at hotels or centers designed for this, a community or church hall or have them in your own home if necessary. The latter is not ideal, especially if there is a large number of people, due to the possibility of your home being in a hard to find area, lack of parking space, and lack of room and facilities.

Once you've decided on a venue and let everyone know the place and time, there are several things to organize. If you are using a computer screen for presentation and the computer is provided, make sure that it is high enough for those in the back rows to see. It needs to be at least five foot high to make it above the seated height of most people.

Arrange the chairs with plenty of internal aisles. People never seem to sit in the middle of a row, and if anyone comes late or has to leave early they'll be climbing over the others. Don't cram the chairs or the rows together if there is plenty of room. Most people like their space.

If you need to use tables rather than a computer, try to arrange them in a U shape with the chairs around the outside edges. This will allow everyone to see the speaker and have table space too.

Have plenty of material for the supporters to take home. No one relies on memory these days. Record the minutes and send them to all by email within a few days. It's not too much to add an in-depth summary of the meeting and add it to the minutes - along with the time and place of the next meeting.

Make sure that you have access to a sound system and microphone to save vocal strain. Even if the room is small, once people start talking it will be hard to make yourself heard, at least at first. If you can't have a mike, have a bell or whistle - or at least tap a spoon against a glass - to herald that you are about to speak.

How to Encourage Annual Giving from Your Supporters

Once you have good supporters, it's a great deal easier to encourage them to give annually than start out all over again looking for new supporters. For a start, they are now familiar with your goals - even if you have to jog their memories a little from time to time - and they know what to expect. Your organization has obviously met with their approval once, so it's not hard to keep that ball rolling.

It's a good idea to keep your supporters informed about what you are doing throughout the year so that they won't forget you. Then when it's time for another donation, you can start off by thanking them for their patronage last year. All companies enjoy a bit of free publicity and if they can be seen to be doing good to the community they will be happy to keep it up, so it's important to make sure the community knows about their last donation.

You can do this at the time of the donation by publicly thanking them. This could be in the form of a letter to the editor of your local paper - then it won't cost you anything. Or it could be in the form of a comment in your advertising, wherever that appears; the paper, a website or other online presence, and your flyers and brochures.

You could even send them a fancy, certificate-style letter of thanks, commending them for their foresight and generosity to your cause. This won't cost much with modern technology to call on for designing and printout. Some people give gifts to the supporter who donates or raises the most money, but unless these are donated gifts, it will take away from the total of your fundraising. On the other hand, a box of gourmet chocolates or a nice bottle of wine may be a nice touch and doesn't cost all that much.

So, having done the groundwork, it won't be very hard to approach them again and ask for another donation. When a supporter is thanked sincerely and constantly informed and encouraged both verbally and with written material, it makes them feel benevolent and happy to donate again - especially when you are being sincere, rather than obviously flattering them for a reason.

Making sure your supporters know exactly how their money was spent is also important. They should be sent a copy of the annual report plus any other material relevant. Include graphics in your presentation wherever possible because busy people can read the heading and look at the pictures and know immediately what it is all about. This saves them time and so keeps them happy.

How to Plan a Fundraising Event

All events take a great deal of planning and the fundraiser is no exception. No matter whether you are organizing a raffle, a car wash, a cookie drive, a walkathon or a major event like a concert or dinner, organization is the key to make all run smoothly.

Start early; the bigger the event the more time you will need. Six months ahead is not too early to start organizing some events. If you are raising money for a well-known cause, get in touch with them, as they will have guidelines to help make your task easier. They may also have certain rules that you will be required to follow.

Decide on the type of fundraising you will do and whether you will need help. If you will, select your team and make sure all have tasks for which they are suited. The bigger the event, the more helpers you are likely to need. You'll need a committee and sub-committee for each facet such as marketing, advertising, catering, bookkeeping, etc. Meet frequently with your staff and volunteers so that you can check on their progress and sort out any problems.

Ask for donations from family, friends and businesses to cover your running costs and for the prizes if there are to be any. Create a budget and a timeline for when things must be done and see that everyone involved gets one. Book venues and caterers well in advance.

See if there are state rules and regulations of which you need to be aware. It won't help your cause to be associated with breaking the law, even if you were ignorant of it, which is not considered an excuse. Find out what insurance you need. You may need to pay tax so check with an accountant about the rules in your state. Always make sure all monies are accounted for.

Make sure that your event does not clash with any other popular event, and that it is seasonally appropriate. For instance, don't hold an outdoors concert in a season known for its storms or cold nights.

Have invitations printed and make sure there is plenty of publicity about the event well before it is to be held. Invite media representatives. Hire a photographer of your own to record the event; don't depend on photos from the media.

After the eventArticle Search, make sure you thank all concerned by letter - don't forget the volunteers as well as the sponsors. Include a brochure containing images of the event in each thank-you letter. Have one last meeting with the volunteers to see if you want to do it again next year and sort out any problems you had. You may find better ways of doing things.

More to come in Part 5...

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