The $4,000 haircut

Marlene recently got a $4,000 haircut.  Before incredulity sets in, allow me to clarify.  As a passionate supporter of Chai Lifeline Canada, an organization that supports the families of children facing serious illnesses, Marlene chose to turn a simple haircut into a fundraising opportunity. After deciding to grow her hair and donate it to make a wig, Marlene invited her friends, family, and colleagues to sponsor her efforts and the work of Chai Lifeline Canada. Reaching out on-line through a personalized fundraising platform, Marlene’s haircut garnered close to $4,000 in support for the charity within a very short period of time.

With the advent of on-line giving and peer-to-peer solicitation, today’s fundraising events look very different than the traditional fundraising dinner event of old, where patrons would buy tickets or tables to support the cause. While the gold standard dinner still serves a purpose, fundraising events now encompass a wide range of programs and reflect a broad variety of interests.

Mass participation events such as charitable runs and bike-rides abound. Creative programming involving art, comedy, and dancing competitions cater to the cultural crowd, while intimate gatherings such as games nights and parlour meetings are hosted in private homes.  Whatever the size or shape, fundraising events offer an important avenue to raise much needed charitable dollars and grow your network of supporters.

Most events incorporate the peer-to-peer fundraising model, where a participant reaches out to his or her community for support. Since this type of fundraising relies on the strength and reach of your participant’s network to achieve success, any event you run should aim to engage passionate, well connected people in support of your mission.

For larger events, this means putting a committee in place and carefully selecting chair-people who will be strong recruiters and who have influence and reach within your donor community. Larger events also need tactical plans including a budget, marketing strategy and logistical management. But even small scale events can be successful with digital technology that simplifies outreach for your fundraisers and facilitates an easy donation process for sponsors.

If you are planning a fundraising event with an on-line giving component, make sure that your platform offers the following functions:

  • Optimization for desktop and mobile devices
  • An easy registration process for participants to create personal and team pages
  • The option for fundraisers to upload their address books and add contacts individually for personal solicitation
  • Customization of personal pages including photos and messaging
  • A secure channel for supporters to sponsor or donate to your cause at any time
  • The ability for participants to easily share their personal pages via social media channels

Events can serve as an important fundraising vehicle for charities of any size. Successful events raise funds, help you get your message out, and engage the community with your organization. When you have the proper systems in place, it’s easy for your participants to champion the cause and reach out to their personal community for support. And that simple commitment to reach out can raise $4,000 from a haircut.