Fundraising Etiquette Tips You Should Follow

Tim Ahern | March 5, 2015

As another fundraising season begins, nonprofits should stop to plan their efforts before beginning. During this planning phase, it’s important to remind everyone in your organization of a few basic rules every fundraiser should follow. Failure to follow these tips could permanently damage the good name your organization has built in the community, so it’s important that everyone keep them in mind.

Many of these rules are designed to avoid offending the very people you’re asking to support your cause. When you’re respectful of others and request rather than pressure, you’ll usually find you are much more successful in your efforts. Here are a few fundraising etiquette rules you should follow as you request money from friends, family, and strangers for your organization.

Give and Receive

It seems to be an unwritten rule of fundraising that you should give in order to receive. When given the opportunity to support others in their fundraising effort, support those organizations by purchasing at least one item. When you buy for your co-workers and family members as they sell items, they’ll be more likely to support yours, especially if children are involved. Saying “no” to others will very likely result in a “no” when you ask for money a few months later.

This is also true for your organization as a whole. At local events, set up a table and show your support. Establish your organization as one that is a loyal member of the community and you may find residents are contacting you when it’s time to collect money.

Respect Workplace Etiquette

You spend a large chunk of your waking life at work, so it’s a natural place to bring your fundraising catalogs. However, as much as your co-workers may seem unfazed when you come by asking for money each year, they may feel as though they’ve been put on the spot. Over time, complaints to HR could result in a company-wide policy against soliciting funds, which will permanently prohibit you from seeking help from co-workers.

To respect workplace productivity, simply spread the word that you’re selling items or taking donations and let your co-workers come to you if they’re interested. Ask permission to leave order forms and catalogs in a shared work area, such as a break table, where workers are frequently looking for something to read. If you have a compelling seasonal product like a Christmas wreath or giftwrap, use the product itself to lure people in. 

Don’t Overshare

In this social media era, it’s easy to rally support online. One social media post can bring interest from friends and family both nearby and far away. However, fundraisers can easily overdo it, posting far too often about their efforts. Sending out repeated tweets about your fundraiser will only lead to record numbers of unfollows. Instead, post a few well-timed pictures of your products, spread throughout the fundraising season, to generate and maintain interest.

You work hard to make your fundraiser a success. It’s important to make sure you represent your organization well by showing respect when requesting assistance. This will improve your standing in the community, which will ensure each year, your fundraiser is a success.