4 Scenarios Free Agent Fundraisers May Face

Photo by Jem Yoshioka

When you shoot for the moon, you reach beyond the stars. If you’re a free agent activist and fundraiser, you might be ready to aim but find yourself a little lost, potentially overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Specifically, you might find yourself in one of the following four scenarios:

I don’t know what cause to support but I want to do something.

This may be you and first, let us say you are well on your way! Fundraising, whether online or off, takes a strong and determined will. It takes perseverance and a lot of cheerleading . . . by you. There are a number of causes that welcome your support. Whether you want to donate to one cause or multiple causes, you can often search online giving platforms for causes that trigger your interest. Here are some sites to get you started:

Click through the sites and on different fundraising drives. See the great variety of causes and the different ways people are fundraising. Can’t find something you like? Think about what you’re passionate about: kids, sports, animals, and search online for nonprofits and charities that work in those specific content areas. These two sites are also great resources to help you get started:

  • Network for Good: with a database of 1.2 million organizations, Network for Good lets you look up information about different nonprofits and charities; it also has the ability to donate through their platform. It lets you give gift cards for good, placing your donation on the gift card and letting the recipient choose which cause the money supports.
  • GuideStar: with a database that includes over 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations, it’s one of the most complete sources of information about U.S. charities and nonprofit organizations there is.

Bottom line: Learn from others, ask questions and seek more information to find the right cause for you.

I know the cause I want to fundraise for, but they don’t offer a way for donors to give online.

Also been there. More good news? Just because the organization itself doesn’t offer a way to donate online through it’s own Web site, doesn’t mean you can’t help them raise money online. Sometimes, that nonprofit can still be found on third party sites. For example, when I went to raise support or a small nonprofit whose worked was based in Guatemala and they didn’t have the most advanced Web site. However, they were still in Crowdrise’s database! Some platforms, such as Mightycause, lets you submit the nonprofit to get added to its database even if you can’t find it.

Bottom Line: Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

I want to help fundraise and support a cause, but the cause isn’t yet an official nonprofit.

Been there! The good news? You can still use online communications and networks to fundraise for your cause. One way to do this is by using ChipIn. ChipIn lets you raise money for anything using PayPal as a third-party service. If you are in the midst of getting your paperwork together, you can create a Web page and share the link via email and social media with supporters to donate.

Bottom Line: Sometimes, you have to be a little creative in finding the right fundraising solution.

I’ve always done fundraising but not online. I want to take what I do offline and take it to the Web!

Excellent! Because you’ve already done fundraising offline, you already have a supportive network that can help you expand your efforts. If you already have a contact list of all those who have volunteered, donated or supported your causes, create an electronic copy. And, since you’ll be going online, try and gather email addresses, Twitter handles, blog IDs, and Facebook URLs. Here’s a quick check-list to get you well on your way to taking your fundraising work to the next level:

  • Have an email sign-up. At your offline fundraising events, have an email sign-up list where people can opt-in to receive your email updates.
  • Check out MailChimp. You can have a free email newsletter (if your list is under 2,000 subscribers) that you can send out monthly or as you go. MailChimp offers easy-to-use design templates that you can customize to fit your own preferences.
  • Create a Facebook group. This is a low-effort way to keep people informed and involved in the cause. You can add people to the group and send updates on how things progress. You can ask people for their feedback and support beyond just donating. (More on that next week!)
  • Take baby steps. There are a lot of choices and information online. Remind yourself that Rome wasn’t conquered in a day.

Bottom Line: The Web represents an opportunity and a challenge. Take it in fearlessly!

Have you found yourself in one of the above scenarios? What advice can you offer to fellow free agent fundraisers?