Fundraising Redefined.

Hmmm…I remember when I was in high school (not that long ago!) my biggest issue was planning successful fundraisers. So, there are generally two objectives you hopefully have from such an event. (Disclaimer: Please note that the following post probably goes against convention, but pull my leg and keep on reading anyway!) The first is obvious: raising funds for the particular Red Cross mission-related cause you are interested in. The second is a little less clear: increasing your club or chapter’s youth volunteer base and member activity levels. I did not really realize the importance of the second goal until I joined the National Youth Council during my freshman year at Stanford (Go Card!).

There are plenty of resources on our site (insert plug for here) about planning “successful” fundraisers—how to raise the most funds. I would like to take fundraising one step further by taking a small step back. Quickly take a moment to figure out why you decided to volunteer for the Red Cross…or even why you are reading my post right now! This is your Red Cross story. Everyone has one, so figure out what yours is. This story is serious money. I am not even kidding. Young Money would be insanely jealous…about your mad fundraising skizzles. But, remember, it isn’t all about the money. That is not your sole purpose as a youth volunteer, and you should never pigeon hole yourself into that role.

So, now the two-prong approach kicks in. Volunteer recruitment and retaining. The absolute best way to get more people on board (both in your chapter’s youth department and your club) is to have them join in on the action. It may be slightly awkward to tell them your Red Cross story, so help them live it. Give them a reason to help. Sell it. It’s almost like a game, and if you are interested in business…here is some early work experience for you. If you aren’t, well…here is some experience for you anyway. Challenge is always a good thing.

Events are so much better publicity than any Club/Activities Fair can be. Most people learn by doing. Teach them that the Red Cross is more than just some blood bank. Persuade them that they are actively making a difference in the fundraiser’s target community. Do research on that cause you are supporting. Generally, the Red Cross website is an EXCELLENT resource with statistics left and right. Use it. When the event planners have their act together and demonstrate how they plan to make a difference with regards to the cause they are supporting, I am more inclined to join them. So, the bottom line is: know what you are doing and be comfortable expressing yourself and speaking about the cause to promote it. This is not quite the time to be shy… I know this is easier said than done, but the best way to achieve this is to plan the event at least three weeks in advance. Flyers need to be put up two weeks in advance. And the week of the event…that’s when all the legwork happens. You are a Red Cross volunteer. Be happy. Be proud.

This post is really just a different perspective on fundraising. I will make a follow up post if you guys would like me to expand on this concept. Let me know your thoughts!

Have a Happy Friday!

-Swetha Prabhakar

(Yours Truly)

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