This is part of a series of posts on fundraising for SCTP and SPP teams.
Just seeing the words “soliciting donations” may make you cringe. For some people, it isn’t an easy thing to do. But asking for donations doesn’t have to mean standing on the corner with a cardboard sign. Just like soliciting sponsorships, there is a professional and effective way to ask for donations.
Many people who support the shooting sports designate a portion of their charitable donations for shooting-related organizations, and they would be receptive to helping your team if they knew how or even knew you needed their support. The very people who make an annual donation to the NRA, join conservation organizations, or make donations to other youth athletics programs are potential donors to your shooting team.
Here are some pointers to make the process less painful:
- Create a simple printed presentation with all the info potential donors need to know about your team, SCTP-SPP, and your fundraising campaign’s goals. This can be as simple as a one-page information sheet you’ve printed yourself or a little more elaborate, but don’t overdo it. Much of the information in it will be the same that you create for sponsorship proposals.
- Determine how the funds will be used. Will the money become part of the annual operating fund, be used as a donation to your team’s MidwayUSA Foundation endowment fund where it will be matched 1:1, or designated for a particular use, such as travel to the National Championship or new uniforms? Include this in your presentation.
- Treat this as a campaign with a beginning and an end. This will keep you from being in a perpetual state of asking for money, and having a deadline will create some urgency to get the job done. However, make it easy for people to donate any time of the year.
- You may wish to establish different levels of donations, as with sponsorships, but it might be a good idea to evaluate your prospects the first year to determine how to set these. Consider your own circumstances in making this decision. If you think most of your donations will come in very small amounts, it probably isn’t necessary.
- Publicize your fundraising campaign and your team’s activities. Contact the local newspaper, distribute a press release, and use social media. Is there a local chapter of Pheasants Forever, NWTF, NRA, or other shooting/hunting/conservation organization? Its members will almost certainly be interested in your team. Offer to do a presentation at a meeting. Ditto local civic organizations; keep the solicitation very low-key and make it mostly about awareness of your team.
- Before launching your campaign, create a list of prospects. Since businesses would usually fit into the sponsor category, for these purposes, we’re referring to individuals. Include people from your community whom you know to be shooters or hunters, supporters of youth programs, family friends who are interested in your activities, and others from your community. Assign those prospects to someone specific to contact. That way, good prospects won’t be overlooked, nor will several members of the team contact the same person.
- Add a donation button to your team’s website and social media pages so people can donate year-round, if they wish. You won’t have to process credit cards or have a sophisticated payment system on your website if you use Paypal. Anytime you produce printed materials, direct people to your website. Don’t have a website? Google “build a free website” to find many options.
- Consider using an online fundraising platform, especially if you are raising money for a specific purpose, such as travel to your state shoot or the National Championship. Google “online fundraising websites” for ideas.
- Make use of SCTP and SPP videos in your presentations. We have short videos that can help you tell the SCTP – SPP story. See our video channel.
- Be prepared to follow up. In addition to perfect record-keeping, plan to send follow-up acknowledgements for donations.
- Recognize your donors. Take every opportunity to thank your donors and recognize their generosity. Add a page on your website to recognize your donors by name. If you receive a major donation, you may even want to announce it publicly through a press release, with the donor’s permission.
- If you are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, get advice from your attorney or financial advisor on any fundraising requirements that might apply, such as different accounts for different purposes and record-keeping. Don’t risk your nonprofit status by overlooking these requirements. If yours is a school team, make sure to consult with school authorities to stay in compliance.
- Finally, keep in mind that these are suggestions to spark your imagination. Not everything will be right for your team, nor is this a comprehensive list of everything you should consider. But having a plan and following it does apply to every team. Consider your team’s circumstances and opportunities, and get to work.