How best to promote raising scholarship funds?
April 10, 2014 1:55 PM   Subscribe

My friends and I have created a memorial scholarship for a friend who passed away over 10 years ago. Through friends and family we're confident to get to our minimum endowment amount, but we'd want to promote this through Facebook and other means (i.e. events) in order to have an increased potential endowment. Do you have any suggestions/tips, on helping increase the visibility? Most of us don't live in our hometown (where the scholarship will be awarded) but several live within a couple hours drive. We have some ideas but want to hear experience and ideas. Thanks!
posted by sandmanwv to Education (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm on the board of a fledgling non-profit, in the process of obtaining our 501c3, have held a golf outing for 8 years, was in a similar situation...

Not to be insensitive, but what was your friend's specialty (in what she/he did in their life)? Hobbies, professional career/sports/unique characteristics? Was their death connected to a specific tragedy, disease, cause? I'm not trying to sound exploitative, but this will help guide what type of events you want to put on and stay away from. (An obvious example: Don't hold a wine tasting if your friend was a victim of drunk driving).

It would be extremely helpful to do an event related to it because it creates an emotional connection with the person's memory and the event. For example, if he/she adored dogs/cats and was a big volunteer at the local kennel/shelter, you could have an event related to pets (prom for dogs?). It will also make your event more distinctive from the rest of the non-profit fundraisers around town...
They are a dime a dozen out there, so try to make your event as distinctive as possible if you want to attract people who don't have a connection to your cause. Unless the deceased person was noteworthy, you will need to get people who don't know your friend or even care about your cause: they're at your event because you put on a great event and/or their friends are attending this event.
There's runs/walks, dinners/banquets, night at the races, beer/wine tastings, golf outings, reverse raffles, etc. There's plenty of these...Examine which ones are feasible for you to do given that you're a couple hour drive from your hometown... The fact that you aren't in your hometown makes it more difficult from a logistic perspective to hold your event there and will shape the event(s) that you can do. I don't know the size of your hometown, but in the brainstorming phase, go through a calendar and find out what dates/weekends are no good.

Holidays (Halloween may be a possible exception..) are not good times for non-profit events/fundraisers because people already have traditions to do certain things, are spending time with family, and/or throwing their own parties. Don't try to compete with them or huge cultural events unless you're looking to put something that is the antithesis of it, like a bougie art auction on the day before Super Bowl Sunday (even that, I would hesitate to do). If they're are any big cultural events/festival in your town, don't hold them on this date or even within the same week. These events and holidays actually eliminates 10-15 weeks from your calendar.

I would highly recommend holding the event in the hometown unless the deceased has a personal connection (attended college in a different town) in a different town. When you first start, many of your attendees will be friends, family, and family of friends, unless you have a big advertising budget and you have a unique event.

Thinking it over, if many of you are out of town, you may be better off instead finding a local business owner/event planner who is looking to put on an event and is looking for a cause to donate the proceeds to. This frees you from the burden of holding the event, but could also tarnish your image if the event go bad for some reason, so watch out on who you partner with. Going with someone that you already have a professional relationship with would be a huge advantage for you.

I and other board members have found local businesses that we often patronize or have close professional relationships with to be great sources for donations (for raffles at our annual charity event, etc) or to attend the event. If you don't still have those relationships in your hometown, it will be more difficult to solicit donations.

Holding events is very time consuming but it gets your name out there and gives a concrete building block to start raising $. All of this can feel daunting because it is a lot of work but it can be rewarding (your money/work is enabling student(s) to attend college and positively changing their path in life and their future), especially if your friends/volunteers don't have experience event-planning (throwing great keggers in college don't count...) or fundraising.

if you want to chat more, mefi mail me;
posted by fizzix at 3:19 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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