Jennifer Jordan essay
Chronicle a successful raffle fundraising campaign you or a family member has been a part of. What results were achieved? How did it help the organization and/or the community it was meant to benefit? How did the experience enrich you?
Completing my first marathon seemed improbable. Completing my first marathon while agreeing to fundraise $2,500 per participant for a local public health charity seemed impossible, but both were realized and inspired me to go all-in for a second year. I brought my little sister along for the training and fundraising ride! My little sister felt that first-year doubt I felt, but by season’s end she was filled with hope and excitement from fulfilling our running goal and for giving back so richly to the community. Several years later, she and I would up the stakes to fundraise $4,000 each and to complete a 50-mile M.S. Challenge, in honor of our mother who lived with Multiple Sclerosis. The truth is, enduring the long distances was the easiest part. It took guts, grit and miles of training, but we could control most of these outcomes. We knew what we were willing to contribute. It was the fundraising that was the greater of the two challenges. Fundraising required donor engagement strategies, heart and perseverance, and yet, we still had little control over what others were willing to contribute.
What was our secret strategy? We teamed-up with other race participants and held several events with a raffle component. The events offered an opportunity for those that had already made a cash donation to dig a little deeper and give more. For those that were apprehensive to give, it allowed us to connect, to have fun with our donors and to give them a feeling of “getting something in return.” It personalized the donor experience. The raffle process, showcasing prizes and calling out winners, filled events with a lively, anticipatory tenor that left a positive emotion with donors. They were willing to give again when asked the next year.
In addition to cash donors and raffle-ticket buyers, we found that local businesses were more interested in donating goods and services for charity raffles than they were in making cash donations. This knowledge afforded us the confidence to contact businesses owners we did not know personally, to test their level of interest in engaging in a raffle for a local public health charity and to introduce their goods or services to a new audience. Not all inquiries were a “yes” but many were and it was a joy to work with new members of the community.
What I gained from my raffle and fundraising experience is life-long friends among donors, and the knowledge of contacts who are committed to building their community. I gained life-long friends among my fundraising team, and a desire to mentor future participants and fundraisers. Most of all, I found had a lesser fear of hearing the word, “No.” Every, “No,” means I am one contact closer to my next, “Yes!”
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