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From a small town girl: Lessons learned in the world of pledge based events

June 12, 2015


I have been fortunate enough to experience fundraising from many different worlds – starting from a suburban city of 800,000, to a small, close knit community of 60,000, then to the enormously diverse metropolis of Toronto at 2.6 Million.


As a fundraiser, having different experiences makes you better, smarter and more diverse. Teaches you to be quick on your feet and not be afraid to try new things.  Makes you aware that one thing may work here… but not there. 


However, I learned no matter where you go, the population or the cause, there are 5 things that can predict the success of your pledge based fundraising event… and here they are:


1. Recruit Early.  The more time the participant has to fundraise, the more donors they have.  So get that fundraising website up and running at least 5-6 months early. [and make sure you know how to use it – that is super critical!]

2. Committee.  Conversations on committee is endless.  We all know what our dream committee is. But to make and keep that committee, you have to be committed.  Find the people.  Engage them, know their strengths, weaknesses and why they are there. For pledge events make it fun and competitive.  Your committee should be amongst your top fundraisers.


3. Pick up the phone! You know, that ancient thing that you talk into… the more personable and reachable you are, the better connection and relationship you have with your fundraisers.  Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone [or answer it] – and here are some examples when to do it…

  • Thanks for registering! Have you set up your fundraising page yet… need any help? Be personable – be   yourself – chat about your fundraising, what works, what doesn’t.

  • Call those $0 fundraisers... how can you help?

  • Only $100 more until you reach your goal… how can you help them get there?

  • You reached your goal… now let’s increase it! How can you help?

  • Post event – thank you! How did they enjoy the event – do they need any help thanking their donors? [of course,  you should already have tools available for this] and finally… get them signed up for next year!

4. Teams.   Team participation = increased fundraising and overall satisfaction.  Teams have more fun – connection, relationships… shenanigans, memories. Focus on teams. Especially the corporate ones.


5. Proper Care and Maintenance of participants [better known as stewardship] this can’t be an afterthought. Proper stewardship keeps them engaged.  Knowing what they want, why they are there.  Stewardship is also cultivation. Who knows… proper care and maintenance can lead to a major gift, a planned gift, monthly or annual gifts.  It should be your mission to convert your event participants.  Move them up the pyramid.


Pledge-based fundraising events are plenty when you scan event calendars – use these tips to ensure your participants and donors are raising the most money they can for your cause!


Jackie Fox
Sponsorship and Fundraising Specialist - Our Forté Events


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