Lizzie's Top Fundraising Tips & Ideas!

Liz is one of our wonderful volunteers and she has just returned from her first Global Village Build to Malawi. She did a fantastic job with her fundraising and has some Top Tips to help get you started!

Hi! I’m Lizzie. I’m from Sheffield and I usually work in a hospital as a Speech Therapist.

I love Africa and wanted to go there again, so I thought I might as well capitalise on the opportunity and do some charity work while I was there.  I had wanted to do something tangible, sustainable and grassroots for years and 2015 was the year!

I discovered Habitat for Humanity in the Lonely Planet book of Volunteering.  I had never heard of the charity but they sounded ethical and a short term project was perfect for me, as I was fitting the trip into a 2 and a half week period of annual leave.

In the past, I’d worked on a children’s camp in the USA, volunteered as a teacher in Cambodia for an organisation for children with Autism, volunteered in the Foodbanks in the UK and marshalled charity running races but I’d never done anything so physical like building a house.

It sounded like a satisfying and worthwhile challenge and it was appealing because it was completely different to my usual job in such a clinical environment – a chance to get my hands dirty!

“The fundraising, although daunting at the outset, was all part of the challenge.”

I had never done any fundraising on this scale before. I treated it like a project in itself. It was really exciting and it became a bit addictive, trying to beat the target I had originally set myself.

I started my homework by picking the brains of a former Team Leader for some ideas, as well as reading a couple of books and going online. Some of my original fundraising ideas had to be ditched as they weren’t feasible but within days of launching my online fundraising page and sending out a few emails,  I got a few hundred pounds in sponsorship for the Sheffield Half Marathon!  I was blown away by people’s generosity!

“Try to choose a mixture of fundraising activities that involve your friends/family/colleagues as well as the general public.”

For example, dinner with friends in a restaurant then bag packing in a supermarket targeting the general public. Think of a fundraising idea where people can have fun and get something from it themselves – then it’s a win-win situation.

Planning is the key. The planning takes longer than you might think so plan several months in advance.

One of my most successful events was a cake sale that raised £250 in 45 minutes! Everyone loves cake! A few suggestions if you’d like to do the same:

  • Always bake more cakes than you think you will sell
  • Cut them up into slices (rather than selling whole cakes)
  • Sell for at least £1 per slice
  • Choose a prime location – I chose the hospital foyer where I work and all 15 of my colleagues baked for the sale

I surprised myself, having had no fundraising experience before, and raised £2,200 in just 5 months, so go for it! It can be done – it just takes lots of passion about Habitat for Humanity GB.  It’s really good fun and very satisfying when you hit your target.

12 tips for running a fundraising:

  1. Advertise your event as widely as you can using posters, Facebook, social media and letters. I persuaded the Communications department in the hospital where I work to send out an email to the 3000 staff that work there to advertise my cake sale. Talking about your event well in advance is one of the best ways to get people interested.
  2. Thinking about running a quiz, raffle, or Tombola? It’s worth dropping into high street shops, businesses, football clubs, and restaurants to ask for prizes – chain businesses have a corporate social responsibility budget. One of my best raffle prizes was a voucher from Le Bistrot Pierre for dinner for 2 worth £35. I also managed to secure a full body massage!
  3. It’s handy to have an Authorisation Letter and some information about Habitat for Humanity ready to give the Manager to explain what you are doing, when and where the funds are going. [You can download information about our work on our Resources page here!]
  4. The venue is key. Choose a venue for your event that is accessible and has good car parking.
  5. Remember to have a large cash float to be able to give change to your customers, e.g. for entrance tickets, raffle tickets.
  6. Remember to minus your costs to work out your profit. 
  7. Give people alternative options. If they cannot attend your event, ask them if they would like to buy a cake / a raffle ticket instead.
  8. Have a paper sponsorship form as well as your online GV giving page – don’t let on the spot offers of sponsorship go by – ask Habitat for Humanity to send you an electronic form to print off.
  9. Try to get the payment of a ticket for your event from the donors beforehand as there will always be people who will not be able to attend at short notice for various reasons. You don’t want to risk losing the money.
  10. Don’t be shy about asking for favours from friends/ colleagues / acquaintances. People are really keen to support you and get involved when you tell them what you are doing. I asked the landlord of my local pub if I could host a pie and pea supper.  He kindly gave me the function room for free and sold me the pies and peas at cost price (£3 each). I made a profit of £5 on each ticket sold. The £8 ticket price also got my donors a go on the quiz. The landlord also donated a mini keg a beer as a quiz prize. I also ran a raffle on the night and charged £1 a strip. This event raised £550 and a good time was had by all 65 people that turned up!
  11. Do your homework. Make sure you know exactly where the money is going – your donors will want to know. Not many people have heard of Habitat for Humanity so have some facts and figures about the charity at your fingertips. Ask your Team Leader or Habitat for Humanity staff who will be able to give you a breakdown of the costs.
  12. Remember to contact your local newspaper a couple of weeks before you leave for your Global Village trip or before your fundraising event. They might even come along to the event!

“If running an event is not for you, there are lots of other ways to get fundraising!”

Things like bag packing in a supermarket are less labour intensive and won’t require very much organising. Ask about bag packing at the tills several months in advance as they tend to get booked up with charity bag packers, especially around Christmas.

A day that is not during a school holiday is not always the best, as it can be quite quiet – unless you live in a touristy town! The management will be able to advise on when the busiest periods are. I bag- packed at the local Co-operative, they pride themselves on ethical values and are very supportive of charities.

Ask the Habitat for Humanity team for collection boxes – these can be left on counters in shops or pubs for people to donate and you can pick them up just before your trip.

I used  to give me more ideas for fundraising – it’s an excellent resource!

Good luck!


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