Charity Fundraising Tips

[sample fundraising plan] [events] [a-z fundraising]

Across the Divide has been organising charity events since 1996 and it never ceases to amaze us how our challengers have gone about raising these much needed funds. By signing up for a charity challenge you are on the road to a remarkable experience, but one which will require a great deal of hard work and dedication on your part. It can sometimes seem daunting, but our experience shows it can be done. We hope that some of the hints and ideas we have laid out below will help make life easier for you.

There will be times however where you might question your sanity in setting yourself this challenge- will it be worth it? Yes, most definitely.



The most important of all - 'If you don't ask you don't get!'

  • Don't be daunted by the total; break it down into manageable chunks, £100 at a time.
  • If you don't ask for sponsorship no one will give it to you.
  • Make it easy for people to sponsor you
  • Enclose a SAE when approaching potential donors by letter
  • Offer to take sponsorship in the form of a cheque or cash there and then
  • Make yourself available and always return calls from people you have contacted

Shout about it! Let the world know what you are doing and why!

Whatever your approach, and it is likely that it will be a mixture of the approaches outlined below, the cardinal rule is to always follow up.

  • Call
  • Call again
  • Stop by and see your potential donors personally
  • Ask if they need any more information
  • Always thank sponsors with a postcard, slide show or photograph

Let all your sponsors know how the challenge went and how much it raised in total.


Give yourself enough time- if you leave it all to the last minute then you’ve risked missing your deadline- it is much less stressful to pace yourself and your fundraising.

Approaching an employer

If you are approaching your employer make sure that you present your ideas in an organised and professional manner detailing;

  • The challenge
  • Information on the charity or the cause you are supporting
  • What benefits there are to the company in question
  • Your publicity/ fundraising plan.
  • Ask to be included on the company's website and newsletter.

Contact the local press to get publicity. Also contact local businesses - incorporate their company name and logo in any t-shirts, raffle tickets, press releases and flyers that you might send out. The more organised the plan the more likely they are to want to support you.

Service/Rotary Clubs

Service Clubs such as the Lions or Rotary Clubs are often good places to approach for sponsorship and they will often invite you to talk about your adventures. Expect to talk for about 15-20 minutes and use visual aids where appropriate to illustrate your points and the cause they are supporting.

Friends and Family

Where possible, delegate. Never underestimate the value of friends and volunteers. They will have another set of contacts to you, different skills and enthusiasm.

The Internet

Set up a fundraising page at either or Here, sponsors can use a credit or debit card to make a donation and the charities can in most instances reclaim flat rate tax under the 'Gift Aid' scheme from the Inland Revenue.

Thank yous

Keep a detailed record of everybody that has supported you so that they can all be thanked when you return. Always thank them with a postcard, slide show or photograph. Let them know how the challenge went and how much it raised in total.

A sample fundraising plan

Amount to be raised £3000

Week 1-2
Sponsor yourself £50 (£2950)
Send out at least 25 letters to friends and family asking for £25 = £625 (£2325)

Week 2-3
Follow up on sponsorship letters
Ask four family members to sponsor you £25 = £100 (£2225)
Ask four neighbours to sponsor you £25 = £100 (£2125)
Ask eight work colleagues to sponsor you £25 = £200 (£1925)
Check with your company's human resource department to see if they would be prepared to 'match-fund'.

Week 3
Plan a fundraising party with at least 40 people at local pub, host a quiz night with a raffle, and charge £10 per head £400 (£1525)
Get three of your company's suppliers to sponsor you £50 = £150 (£1375)

Week 4
Organise a barbeque/ cheese and wine evening and charge £25 per head for 30 people taking out £5 per head costs = £600 (£775)

Week 5

Organise another pub quiz based on the destination you are travelling to and charge £10 per person for 40 people = £400 (£375)

Week 6
Car boot sale = £100 (£275)

Week 7
Sponsored silence = £50 (£225)

Week 8
Final follow up on letters written earlier and sponsorship from work place £200 (£25)
Finish fundraising efforts by putting in final £25 yourself (£0000)

Face to face

Ask for a specific amount rather than letting the donor decide- remember that it is easier to trade down than up;
"will you sponsor me £100 for the 'Extreme Challenge' challenge" "no, sorry I can not afford that", "how about £50" "lovely, thank you"

rather than

"will you sponsor me £50?" "OK", "what about £100" "no!"
Ask your employer if they 'match-fund, for example, if you are able to raise £1,000 your employer may match this and sponsor you for £1,000. Some employers will turn you down flat but you will be surprised how many companies will support you in this way.

By letter

Companies get lots of requests; make yours different. Be short and concise - be clear about the challenge that you have set yourself, who the beneficiaries are and any potential benefits to the person you are writing to, keep it short and simple (KISS).
Tailor your approach to your donor. Try and address each letter individually either to the Managing Director or the Community Affairs Director if the company has one. Do not expect a high rate of return from such a blanket mailing unless you have personal contact or they are based locally. However it is always worth asking and by following some of the advice here you might well improve your chances of success.
If you are writing to friends or colleagues then you might like to think along the following lines;

”I'll forgive that loan if you sponsor me for my charity challenge…”
”Will you please sponsor me…”
”Remember the time that I … will you return the favour and sponsor my charity challenge?”

Suggested letter layout

  • Your personal goal
  • Why you are supporting the particular challenge
  • If you have a personal connection discuss how the condition or issue has affected your life and the lives of those around you.
  • What the money raised will go towards
  • Include website address or a copy of the challenge brochure
  • How and where they can send their donations- or when you will call them

Mail it to friends, family, companies, work contacts and local schools.
As you get closer to your deadline email or write to all the people you contacted originally and let them know if you are short of your fundraising target and that you still need 'x' amount. Ask if they will sponsor you in order to take you to the target.

If you are able to change your email auto-signature at work and/or home, add a line about your challenge to raise awareness of what you are doing. If you have set up a web page for the challenge then create a link in the signature.

Event fundraising

An organised event will give people something for their money. For people who have already supported you directly it gives them a chance to contribute in a different manner. Remember however to budget carefully. Your events need to make profit and there is no point outlaying lots of time and effort if the return is too small.

Be innovative and wacky - remember that if it is interesting enough your local media will be more than happy to promote the event. Don't forget also your staff newsletter, parish magazine, notice boards and such like - the more people that turn up or get involved the more successful your event will be.

Here are some ideas that are proven to work.

  • Jail breakout challenge- workmates must get as far away from work as possible within a day or a weekend. They are sponsored for every mile - provided they stay within the law and don't spend any money.
  • Car boot sale
  • Out tray sale. We've had car boot and garage sales, why not stock your out tray with the trinkets you don't want anymore? Someone else may love those earrings!
  • Produce a monthly A3 quiz and sell it for £1.
  • Have a dress down day at work or at your local school.
  • Raffle your services for a day to iron, clean, cook, dog walk.
  • Hold a raffle. Ask local shops if they will donate any goods that can be used as prizes. Do you know a hairdresser, mechanic or gardener who would donate their service as a prize?
  • Organise a 5-aside, netball, cricket or sports match, charge each team an entry fee, sell refreshments and run sweepstake at the same time.
  • Run an auction of promises. Contact your friends and see what they can offer; babysitting, washing, hairdressing, gardening, photography, decorating, the list can go on and on.
  • Spot the baby. Embarrassment guaranteed when you collect everyone's baby photos. Charge people 50p to guess their identities.
  • Sponsored swim, run, diet, shave, leg wax- old fashioned they may be but they work.
  • Organise a Premiership, Wimbledon, Grand National sweepstake at work - betting on individual matches, riders or players.
  • Director service - sponsor the directors to dress as waiters and waitresses and serve lunch to staff members.
  • Cycle or walk to work for two months and put the money you would otherwise spend on transport towards your fund- and reduce pollution at the same time!
  • Hold a bad taste day at work- the worst shirt, tie, dress wins a bottle of champagne or to continue the theme, the cheapest most revolting bottle of sparkling wine you can find!
  • Invite your supporters to a themed evening- a night of Indian, Chinese or Mexican where you provide the food (in keeping with your theme, of course) people to bring a bottle of wine and charge £5 to cover the cost of the food.
  • Sponsored lunch run - offer to pop out and buy lunch for your colleagues. At 20p a go, five lunches a day will raise over £20 in a month.
  • A birthday or Christmas card amnesty - get your friends to send you a small donation instead of a card or present.
  • £5 draw - each person writes their name on a £5 note. The winner gets 25% of the total and the runner-up gets their £5 back. With 40 participants, that's £50 to the winner and £145 for your fund.
  • A cake sale at work every Friday- make a regular thing of it so the people plan ahead.
  • The cake divide - bake or buy your cake, divide it into eight slices and sell them at 50p a shot. In six months you'll have raised over £100 and won the undying love of your workmates.
  • Office tuck shop - buy bargain packs of chocolate bars, crisps and sweets, then set up a stall at work and sell them to your colleagues. Charge them a bit more than the usual retail price. This has been known to raise about £50 per month in an office of 120 particularly peckish people!
  • Weekend meat and wine draw - joints of meat and bottles of wine to be won every Friday - perfect for the weekend! Towards the end of the week, sell raffle tickets for 20p each or £1 for a strip of five. Meat and wine are popular, but you could include chocolate and flowers too. The first ticket drawn gets the most expensive prize, second gets the second priciest, etc. In a big office, different departments can run the draw on a rota basis.
  • Demure day - you undertake not to swear, use vulgarity, innuendo or indulge in raucous cackling for one whole day. Set a day and publicise it well in advance. Appoint an independent arbiter to monitor your performance/s. If you lapse - no cash!
  • Sponsored stairs. Work in a high-rise building? Get workmates to sponsor you to use the stairs instead of the lift for a set period

Seasonal ideas

  • Mulled wine and mince pie evening.
  • Offer your services as a gift wrapper for a small fee.
  • Get your family to pay you to cook Christmas dinner.
  • Carol singing in your local area.
  • A Christmas card amnesty - get your friends to send you a small donation instead of a card or present.
  • Unwanted Christmas presents sale. You know that CD you'll never listen to in a million years, or those shocking 'comedy' socks? Someone might like them. Bring them in and sell them to your friends and colleagues. Give a prize for the most awful pressie.

In the Summer

  • Have a barbecue with drinks and charge friends/neighbours to attend.

Will it be worth it?

'...Just brilliant, fantastically organised and a great team to be looking after us!'


QUICK HINTS – the A-Z of fundraising

A – Abseil down a local landmark. Great way to raise funds and get a lot of local PR

B - Bake cakes, bring and buy sales, baked bean bath

C - Car boot sale, coffee mornings, cake stalls

D - Disco - always good fun!

E - Egg & spoon race, Easter egg hunt

F - Fetes, fun run, fancy dress, football tournament

G - Guess the baby photo, guess the weight - can do a lot with guesses

H - Halloween party, hair braiding - always popular!

I - It’s a knockout competition, knobbly knees competition

J - Jumble Sales galore!

K - Karaoke, keepy uppies

L - Line dancing, loud tie day at work

M - Music quiz, magic show, murder mystery evening

N - New Year’s eve party, name the baby or teddy

O - odd jobs, odd clothes day

P - Pancake day, parties, plant sale, play

Q - Pub Quiz, get your local to run a succession leading up to your challenge

R - Raffles are always good at raising funds and don’t cost you a penny if you ask people to donate prizes - or use those unwanted Christmas pressies.

S - Sponsored anything, slide show evening,

T - Tea party, treasure hunt, tombola

U - Uniform days, university challenge

V - Valentines ball, variety show

W - Wacky races, welly throwing, wine tasting evening

X - Xmas ball, Xmas panto,

Y - Yo-yo competition

Z - Zany parties or clothes day


Taj Mahal Marathon
20th – 25th September 2007

More info