Your First Big Fundraiser

(and what comes next)

Hey I’m Jim Reiner, creator of the fundraising fast formula.

Others have used this info from little league to high school and college baseball and softball teams to a whole variety of church and neighborhood charity groups.

In this lesson I will teach the core
of the fundraising fast formula.

It’s a proven formula used by dozens to start and grow their fundraising.  This is how you start and this is how you grow. Get momentum.

If you missed the first lesson then go check it out now. Go read it and come back here. I’ll be waiting for you.

In this lesson I show you 3 fundraising campaigns. You could call these small, medium, and large based on effort and results.

These will help you find the one that is the right fit for you right now. And I’ll show you how to stack them so you get bigger and stronger.

So follow along and take notes. Either you:

  • are already doing fundraising and want it to grow or
  • you want to get started.

No matter which, this brings out the freedom of purpose in helping others.

There is a broad spectrum of people in this.

On one end is a church trying to put together a softball field in the community and on the other end is a division 1 college baseball team competing for a regional title. They all need funds for their program.

I started out desperate and I am in this now to make the biggest positive impact I can make. Doing good and making an impact.

It’s a lot easier to make an impact when you have money and dollars are rolling in.

  • Not long ago there were lots of things you needed to do.
  • Now a-days there are many things you can do immediately.

Now there’s a danger or down side

A lot of people depend on what I call ‘hope’ fundraising. If you are in a shipwreck, hope can help you stay alive.

But in fund raising you need a plan.  I see some people work and then hope someone will donate. Well that is not real life. If you get no donations, you fade away.

The cure for slimy, hype marketing is a well structured fundraiser. You might be really creeped out about cold-call marketing or being a slimy hyped salesman.

But, if you don’t get the marketing worked out, you wont have a successful fundraiser.

Your program has a contribution for your community and for your athletes, so step up and raise your game. You owe it to yourself and to the youth in your program.

Share what you are doing. Market effectively.

I hope you join me in the fundraising fast formula program.  But remember there is magic in a fundraiser fast because you get immediate results and can make an immediate impact.

I’m teaching you what I learned. I am not making this up. I lived it and experienced this.

Here’s an experience that changed my life in 2002.

My son played his freshman year of high school baseball at a school just down the road from us.  He was the only one who played every inning of every game.

And this school’s varsity team was a perennial state section champ, so we were looking forward to that experience in the next couple years. 

Then just as the sophomore baseball season was to start, we were told we had change schools.

Some other high school in the district was found breaking the rules in major way during football season. They actually had 20 year old Samoans playing on their championship football team. 

The fraud was discovered. The rules were changed for all schools for all sports.  Boundary lines and qualifications tightened up.

And we were told we could no longer attend or play baseball there. This was hard to take emotionally.

So we searched for another school we could attend that had a baseball program my son could participate in.

We registered at a new school (incidentally farther way, but how can we argue with the goofy boundary rules?) and he started attending practices in mid February.

He was a newbie and had to start from scratch to gain any kind of respect or opportunity to play.  He was a pitcher and they did not let him pitch for over a month.  Very disappointing.

But worse was the ball field.

I looked at it.  Field conditions are terrible, equipment is bad, uniforms are years old and beat up. My son’s dream to play high school and college baseball is vaporizing before my eyes.

I was in agony.  How can they put up with this?  WHY do they put up with this?

I began to visualize a better baseball field. How can I possibly do that?

I have some MLB grounds keeping experience, but it takes money.  They have none.  Their past fundraisers are pathetic.  They need a lot more than $3,000 if this is going to work.

So I began to plan how to get there step by step for each major field issue.

  • I considered the tools, equipment, materials, and the labor needed for each part.
  • I figured out the order in which to work on these. 
  • It forced me to learn at a high rate, make contacts, study, do cold calls, and practice my primitive fundraising message. 

Getting out there just plain scared me, I went everywhere, had embarrassing attempts to raise money at stores and real estate offices, awkward street corner displays, and even got kicked out of nursing homes and banks.

I was just trying to get out there. Yet I wouldn’t engage enough the right way. I just needed more study, more practice, more learning.  I withdrew. But it was all really an avoidance mechanism. 

I quit, flushed it down. I was chicken. I got a few suppliers to give me some discounts and a few donations, but I ended up paying out over $1,400 myself to get this done.

Maybe you can't raise as much as you hoped for...

That’s why you need this foundational training and discover the basis of every successful donation.

It’s simple. I studied the best of marketing for years all over the US in many industries and saw that the essentials of making a sale is pretty much the same for getting a donation with one important twist.

Maybe you’ve had a moment like this in your life.  

  • A failure in trying something new.
  • Then its time to move on.
  • Start over. Emotions starting to churn.
  • I knew I needed to restart.

A month later I started another fundraiser. It too had a humble beginning. Six donors. It was about getting momentum. I sold 5 vinyl advertising banners. I learned the true mastery of what it took. 

I also have known a lot of people who try to create the perfect fundraiser and end up with many delays and then suddenly the whole baseball season is over and finally they are ready to start.  Too late. Fail.

Spring 2004 I started a fundraiser for a high school baseball team with a variety of outreach campaigns. I was nervous. I put in a lot of work with a volunteer team. I did not have to wait long.

The first week we brought in over $3,000.

Within a month we had over $10,000, and by the end of month three we had over $33,000.

This gave me, and even better, the high school baseball program immediate success, confidence, and momentum.

As I look back, what gives me most satisfaction is that a better playing field led to better player performance. Two were selected in the MLB draft. Five went on to college baseball on scholarships.

Now hundreds of organizations have used my material and brought in many hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations in cash and in kind. 

These include:

  • youth sports,
  • neighborhood watch groups,
  • girls high school and college softball,
  • boys high school and college baseball,
  • girls tennis, and
  • churches,
  • schools,
  • orphanages,
  • middle schools,
  • public and private schools,
  • youth programs.

And to think of all those people they have been able to help. These are ripples of positive impact that spread.

There are huge results as they make investments in the people of their community. They are truly heroes. And I get excited about people doing their first fundraiser.

So how do you start from scratch and build a program-changing fundraiser. In this lesson I show you the 3 examples that can become a framework for your fundraising.

The first example is for a small organization just starting out. You can start with a simple letter.  Gather a small list of potential sponsors. 10 is ok.

Next, get this letter in front of them via Email or a postal letter or in person.  In person is best. Other techniques should have an in-person follow up if possible.

Put together a simple fundraising letter.  Go review lesson 1 if you have not already seen it. Use simple content. Then ask for the donation.

Here’s an example: a college girls softball team needed to improve the quality of their softball field. This was Siltanen park. They put together a one day project. 

They needed 12 tons of clay, a sod cutter, a tractor with a rear tiller and smooth bucket loader, and a 1.5 ton steamroller. These items were estimated at $1,500. Within 2 weeks they had raised a combination of cash donations and discounted rental equipment for the project.

So, this is the first step.  A simple step with payback.

Next is a medium size fundraiser.

This could be for you if have already done fundraising in the past and perhaps have a list of contacts you have already worked with.

This fundraising approach uses a variety of methods each designed to make progress in reaching bigger fundraising goals such as $30,000.

For example, you can use letter writing, door knocking, online, and individual as well as group activities. 

This multi-faceted approach gets the players involved, the parents involved, and works the fundraising from many angles.

You can have community outreach, personal visits to local businesses, letters to past supporters, and a variety of other efforts like car wash, rummage sale, bake sale, coupon sale, etc.

Remember, lesson 1 showed you how to get going on the fundraising journey and how your life and program can change for the better.

Here in lesson 2 we are looking at how a multi-faceted approach can transform your sports program’s fundraising.  Then in example 3 you will discover what can be involved to get a grant of as much as $75,000.  Read lesson 1 if you have not seen it. 

Now with your fundraiser, you need to have a definitive end date for collecting donations.  Do not leave it open ended. You should see a big spike in donations at the end of the time frame. You’ll find out more details in the fundraising fast program. Commit to getting it right.

And finally we look at the grant application approach for fundraising.

No matter what your market is, there are people who are working hard to get a grant award.

When you go through the grant application process for your sports program you will use all the work you would do for the simple fundraiser or the multi-faceted fundraiser. 

The typical process to apply for a good sized grant is a two step process.

  • First, you submit a letter of inquiry that provides a summary of who you are, what you do, why you need funds, and how you will take care of anything the funding helps you build.
  • Second, if the granting organization believes that your initial proposal is worth learning more about (in other words, they see your efforts will help them advance their cause), then you will be asked to fill out a longer grant application.

Pursuing a grant will take time and effort to do a thorough job. But it can be powerful. Grant funding can be substantially larger than typical letter-driven fundraising.  

The key to a winning grant application is to understand what the grantor is trying to do. For example, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has a mission:

  • to promote and enhance the growth of youth participation in baseball and softball and
  • to help organizations become self-sufficient and effective.

So your proposed project should help make this happen for them.

And as with most every grant, the funding organization has an interest in what you will do to maintain and to sustain their funded project over time. 

The worst outcome is for a high school to get a $200,000 baseball field renovation grant from MLB and then two years later it looks worse than before the renovation was done.

Nobody wants that to happen. But I have seen it. More than once.

And even if you don’t get the grant award, you will have dug up so much information about your program and your plans that you will be positioned to have a much better response if you do another multi-faceted fundraiser.

Of course, you want the grant award, but all is not lost if you don’t win it.  It is powerful.  You can be awarded a high 5 figure amount in a matter of 3-6 months.

Now we covered a lot today, but I want to share one more thing. I would call it fundraiser stacking.

You can do all three types of fundraisers at the same time or stagger them out over time. Donations can increase 10 times what you get in the single letter fundraiser alone.

New ideas lead to more fundraisers. Your only constraint will be your own time to do this.

Your first fundraiser will not be your last. Why not keep doing it over and over and getting better at it?

If you are reading this, you are probably
in one of 4 categories.

  1. You are already involved with a group in the midst of a fundraiser right now. You can put to use the principles in the fundraising fast formula.  You increase your results.
  2. You are thinking about the need and value of a fundraiser, but you simply don’t have time. You need help that is basically out-of-the-box to get started.
  3. You are the only person in your program that will do the fundraising. You are motivated and want to do it right the first time because there are no second chances when you do it alone.
  4. Or you have no idea what to do.  Nothing. You are starting from scratch. That’s where I was.

These 3 kind of fundraisers can fit into any of these categories. Maybe you get the biggest donations ever or maybe you are just getting started. 

Don’t take too long thinking about this.

Get going. Move quickly. 

The most successful fundraising months are Oct-Dec and Feb-April. The best month is Dec.

You don’t need to do all of this at once. Take a deep breathe. You need to find your path.

  • Where are you at?
  • What action are you going to take?

If you find value in this, please share with 3 others who would benefit. This will seriously change the course of your organization and its youth sports program. 

Next I walk through a fundraising blueprint with you. If we meet 3 years from now tell me how your organization and your life would change by doing a successful fundraiser.

Leave a comment, I love to hear from you. 

Tell me how your organization and life would change by doing a successful fundraiser:

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.