Greetings readers! My name is Sahasra Nandela, and as an ambassador over the past summer, I ran a community drive and planned a fundraiser. As I led these projects, I learned various skills like time management, organization, and interpersonal skills. Community drives and fundraisers are great ways to support your local communities. However, they may not receive the same support, funding, and resources as well-established nonprofits. In this article, I will be walking you through the process and tips to have a successful drive or fundraiser!
Before you even do your community drive or fundraiser, you must sit down and think about your motivation for conducting these activities. Next, you want to find a nonprofit organization that you can help collect donations or raise money. My community drive was with “Read and Feed,” which aims to provide resources such as school supplies, clothes, and books to low-income families. I specifically decided to run a book drive for them. As for my fundraiser, I planned to run a fundraiser through a platform called “A Community Thrives.” A Community Thrives is a crowdfunding network run by “USA Today.” It’s an easy way to collect money and donate directly to the organization you fundraise for. Remember, the organization you run your community drive or fundraiser for should be one you can trust and that you feel empowered. Research about the nonprofit and look at activities they have done in the past to assist the community. For example, my motivation for running a community drive with Read and Feed was to help low-income students in my area after a stressful school year with COVID-19. The pandemic hurt low-income students very hard, and I wanted to do my part in helping them out. My inspiration for planning a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was because I thought their mission to give all their patients free cancer treatment was ambitious, and I wanted to do my part in helping them.
The community drive and fundraising process require a lot of patience. It will be frustrating sometimes when you don’t get donations one day. If you are passionate about something, you will fight to do it regardless of how difficult it might be. Also, you want to have a target audience in mind. For my community drive, the target audience was the local members in my community who wanted to give back to low-income families. My target audience for the fundraiser I am planning is people who wish to support the mission of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital providing free cancer treatment to kids.
After selecting your organization and finding your motivation, it’s important to create ways to spread the word on your drive or fundraiser. At this age, we are very fortunate to have social media! When running my book drive for Read and Feed, I created a flyer and made social media posts to advertise and spread the word about my drive and fundraiser. I posted about the organization Read and Feed, my reason for running a book drive, the timeline, and which books would get accepted. Also, I listed my contact information like my parent-approved phone number and email address for interested donors to have in case they have questions. My fundraiser will be conducted in a few weeks outside of the Ambassador Program, so I made drafts for social media posts, including the same content. Make your message as short as possible because most people do not have the interest or time to read a whole essay on social media! The flyer I made was through Canva. I tried to make it as aesthetic as possible so more people would read it. I included all the information in my posts, just summarizing. I recommend you use images of the organization and elements/images to make the flyer prettier and pleasing to the eye!
Now comes the effortful part. Once you have posted your flyers and social media posts, you wait for donations and frequently spread the message. When you initially start the community drive or fundraiser, you might not get that many responses. You have to post and talk to local friends and family who might pass the message frequently. Friends of mine brought books that they no longer needed and other members in my county drove to drop off donations. You have to respond to text messages from people interested in donating who have questions. It’s not easy and takes a lot of work, but the results are worth it! One donor messaged me, saying, “I don’t go out to organize any of these events myself, but the least I can do is support people who are doing it. Thank you for promoting humanity!” These messages push you forward to keep trying and stay motivated.
Once you finish your drive, it’s time to reflect. That’s what I’m doing right now! You want to ask yourself if you reached the goal you set for yourself and if you’re satisfied with the results. If not, try extending the book drive or fundraiser for a couple more days to see if you get more responses. If you are satisfied, donate your materials or funds to the organization you chose and take pictures to preserve the memories. Congratulations, you did it!
The skills you will develop while conducting your community drive or fundraiser you will use in daily life. I improved my leadership, organization, communication, time management, and confidence as my drive progressed.
Most importantly, have a good time while running your community drive. Use your creativity! Don’t think of it as an assignment. Instead, think of it as your passion for assisting others.
Thank you for your time. I hope you are successful in your community drive or fundraiser!
[By Sahasra Nandela, is Empower And Help Student Ambassador 2020,2021 from North Carolina]