If you’re involved with an equestrian group, chances are that you’ll be asked to help fundraise. Most equestrian clubs depend on fundraising efforts to provide their annual budget; those membership fees to your local GMO don’t go as far as you might think! There are a variety of events and activities your group can organize, but there are a few universal tenants of fundraising that apply regardless of activity.
- Be clear about who or what the fundraiser is benefiting. Whether you’re sending out donation requests or putting up flyers, make sure you include information about who or what the fundraising is benefiting. For example, if the proceeds from your fundraiser will be used to pay for a camp for junior riders, state that on the flyer or in the letter. If it’s a more general fundraiser for your group, that’s okay- just mention “proceeds benefit [Your Group]”.
- Include tax-exemption donation information if applicable. If your group is tax-exempt, mention this in any donation request letters you send. It’s also handy to have a copy of the official letter from the IRS available; many businesses will ask for a copy of the letter or your ID number.
- Target businesses who will benefit from exposure to your audience. There are a host of businesses that could benefit from advertising in your show program, or sponsoring a class, or paying for a listing on your website. Trailer dealers, truck dealerships, tack shops, real estate agents who specialize in farms or rural listings, veterinarians, sports psychologists, human and equine chiropractors and massage therapists- these are all excellent places to start. Conversely, don’t waste your time requesting a donation from a business who isn’t likely to see much benefit from supporting your group. You’re unlikely to get a donation. (My workplace, a tack shop, was once asked to sponsor a youth softball league…we declined.)
- Spell out the benefits of donating. While it’s tempting to think donors are willing to support an organization out of the goodness of their hearts, most want to know what’s in it for them. For example, if you are requesting sponsors for a show and offer different levels of sponsorship, outline what each level offers a sponsor! (You’d be shocked at how infrequently this information is laid out in requests.) If a $500 donation gets a donor a full page color ad in the show program, vendor space, tickets to the wine & cheese party, and a listing on your organization’s website for a year, tell them that!
- Thank your donors. After the event, send a thank you note to your donors. Thank them for their donation and, if applicable, explain how your organization used or will use the money. (“Thanks to your generous donation, we were able to send three of our young riders to the Youth Dressage Festival!”) An email or phone call thanking the donor is usually okay, too.
Have you done a lot of fundraising? What else would you add to this list?