Why Fundraising Timing is SO Important!

Did you know that when it comes to door-to-door fundraising, the first group to go into an office or neighborhood to ask for donations, regardless of what product or service that there selling, has higher chances of success than any groups that come after?

It's no wonder why fundraising timing is so important. What time of year, season, day of the week and hour of the day that you decide to plan your fundraiser can really make or break its chance for success.

Take Christmas for instance. Traditionally door-to-door fundraisers planned around Christmas time received plenty of success. However, within the last 2 years, Christmas time fundraisers have been experiencing an all time low. Why might that be? Especially since Christmas is the season of giving and you would expect people to be more gracious.

Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, the Christmas fundraisers who have traditionally done really well are those that have continuously asked for funds the same time every year. Long standing fundraisers such as the Humane Society, give Christmas cards with cuddly animals on them for donations. Many people give to this cause every year because they've done so for a dozen years.

Same goes for the Salvation Army fundraising event. It is like a tradition to pop a dollar into the bucket of a Salvation Army volunteer as they ring their bell on a brightly lit street corner as you do your holiday shopping. However the newer Christmas-themed fundraisers haven't been experiencing the same “wonderful time of the year” luck.

“September 11th” is the busiest time of year in philanthropy,” says Stacy Palmer, the Editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an independent newspaper that covers the fundraising industry. “It's [the time of year] when all the checks come in. people gave very generously to the September 11 events, and the economy, which is what always affects charitable giving, it isn't very good, so some people can't afford to give as much as they once did. But on the brighter side, we're seeing some groups doing very well, and people really feeling a sense of giving back, and community that was rekindled after September 11.”

Has September 11th taken over Christmas charity?

When I think about it, September 11th was probably the last time that we have seen the world come together in support of one cause. Unlike Christmas, which a major majority of the world doesn't celebrate, support for September 11th was brought on by major suffering and loss that was witnessed by the entire world.

On that same note, a cause quite different from the loss experienced on September 11th might not go over very well at this time of year, as the focus will be elsewhere.

Some questions to consider:

Regardless of the theme of your fundraising event some important questions need to be asked in order to decide on the date for your fundraiser:

What is the goal of your event?

Is your goal to raise money or to raise membership and visibility for your organization? Is your goal to highlight a particular issue of importance?

Who is your audience?

Do you have any tie to a celebrity that would be willing to become involved in your event? Is your organization centered on a religious or health issue that will draw donors?

Who you want to attend?

Your desired audience will guide you to an event format and perhaps a date—for example if yours is a family-centered organization, then a weekend in the daytime hours would work best. If it's an outdoor event summer would draw an appropriate weather forecast (depending on location).

What is your theme?

Who do you want to honor? Think about the message you want to portray. Is there a special program you want to highlight?

Who are your volunteers?

Do you have staff or volunteers to plan this event? If not, do you have budget to hire a consultant?

What is your budget?

You won't know your budget until you established a donor audience. Set your budget on your donor habits and preferences.

What else is going on?

When planning the timing of your big fundraising event, make sure you do not plan your event on a big social or religious holiday, or competing with an existing local event. In the end you'll want it to be an experience that everyone feels good about – because that way they'll come out to help and donate the following year!

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