This year my daughter’s Vacation Bible School is raising funds to build houses for people in Nepal who lost their houses in the recent earthquake.  Today was the last day of VBS and my daughter was scouring my car for loose change and peeking into my purse for any loose dollars.  She had already given this week, but her enthusiasm to give had grown to the point that donating more money was way more important than Crazy Hair Day.

I stopped to think about this week of fundraising and our reaction to it.

Monday: Looked at the flyer they sent home and said, “Oh, that’s nice they are doing that.”  My daughter came home and said,  “The boys have raised more money than the girls!  I need to bring money, mom.”

Tuesday:  We didn’t donate.  My daughter came home telling me all about Nepal, its people, their customs, and how to say “praise God” in their language.  She was now an expert on Nepal.  We decided to donate.

Wednesday:  I dropped off my daughter and we forgot her donation money at home.  (Darn!  We will remember tomorrow.)  Got announcement that so far the VBS had raised $ to build 19 houses!  (Put flyer on table by door as a reminder to bring money.)

Thursday:  Brought money!  Yay!  Girls are beating boys now!

Friday:  Brought more money and got high-fives from the staff!

So what can you learn about fundraising from my daughter’s VBS?

1.  Your donation pool has various motivations to donate.  

While my daughter and I both felt more compelled to give, as the week went on we were both motivated differently.  My daughter thought it was great we were building houses, but she was really motivated by the competition between the boys and girls.  I was motivated by thinking what it would be like to raise a family without a home and the opportunity to witness to people that have not heard about Jesus by helping to build houses for them.  I also wanted to model giving for my daughter.


2.  People usually don’t give the first time you ask them to.

I wanted to give but it took us 3 days to actually bring in the money.  People are blasted with opportunities to buy and give on a daily basis.  As they filter the opportunities the ones that resonate stay at the front of their minds and get put on a list of “what to do later” as they try to fit it into their busy lives.  People need to be reminded. One ask is not enough, and just because someone doesn’t respond the first time you ask, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or willing to give.


3.  People need to feel a connection to your cause before they give.

My daughter spoke about the fundraiser for the first few days, but when she came home a Nepali expert on the third day, she was pleading with me to give.  She was digging into her piggy bank and asking me for money.  She placed it in a plastic bag and put it on top of her clothes for the next morning.  She was committed because she now felt a connection to the Nepali people.


4.  People love to hop on a moving train.

When we got the report mid-week that 19 houses had been built so far we were excited and wanted to be a part of it!  We wanted to see just how many houses we could help build!


5.  People like to know the impact they are making.

When they announced that $2,000 was raised, it was impressive for kids to raise that in just a few days, but in my eyes it didn’t seem like it made much of an impact…until.  Until they told us that it takes about $100 to build a house in Nepal.  That’s 20 houses!  That’s a big impact!  Make sure you communicate the impact, not just the statistics.


6.  People will give more than once to one cause.

Following up with your donor base and keeping them in the loop of how the campaign is doing is so valuable.  It just may compel them to give again at the end to help meet a goal.  Just like my little girl was doing this morning picking pennies off the floor of our car.  It’s much easier to get a 2nd gift from an existing donor than to secure the first gift from a first time donor.

Written by Katie Nguyen, Social Marketing Manager


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