Haitian flagThe immediate outpouring of support for Haitian relief efforts has been astounding.  Donations are reaching record amounts and people continue to want to donate or fundraise to help the people of Haiti.

Britt Bravo has a great article with links: Helping Haiti: Places to Donate, Creative Fundraising Ideas, and Being a Smart Donor.  I’d like to add a few tips for fundraising, especially if you are volunteering to raise money for an organization you are not directly working for.

1. Choose a beneficiary

If you are going to fundraise for this effort its important to chose a reputable charity that will do the most good for the people of Haiti.

There are several well known organizations that were already working in Haiti and were able to ram up quickly to provide aid.  Many of these groups are updating several times a day on Twitter.  It’s a great way to keep up with the latest news:

Red Cross: @redcross
Doctors Without Borders @MSF_USA
Partners in Health @PIH_org
Oxfam @oxfam @oxfamamerica

Here’s a list of additional groups from whatgives.

2. Make your own donation

You cannot ask other people to donate if you haven’t done so yourself.  This is a basic fundraising principle that applies to any fundraising effort where you are asking others to give.

3. Consider virtual fundraising

In this case what I mean by virtual fundraising, is to encourage your friends to make direct donations.  This is really the easiest way to fundraise these days!  This way all the funds go directly to the organization that needs the funds.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Blog about the organization and join events like BloggersUnite for Haiti
  • Become a fan of the charity on Facebook & suggest your friends become fans
  • Post the mobile giving numbers on your Facebook or Twitter account
  • Organize a meetup and collect donations there, or ask everyone to give on their mobile phones while there
  • Go to the organization’s website to see what resources they offer. For example, CARE provides several suggestions on how to spread the word

4. Prior to planning a fundraiser, contact the organization

If you would like to organize a special event, first contact the organization that will benefit.  Find out what the best way to help will be, and if they can authorize your fundraising.  For example, you may have an idea to collect health supplies. However many groups discourage collections because of the difficulty of transporting items.

Right now these groups are super busy working round the clock to provide life saving aid.  So they may not be able to to talk with you right away.  But especially for large fundraising efforts, its important that you have the sign-off of the organization. For the larger nonprofits with multiple offices, you may be able to work with a local affiliate rather than the headquarters.

5. Be transparent with donors

One of the reasons to work directly with the charity is to provide assurance to people who make donations that their money is going to the right place.

Unfortunately at times like these opportunists with fake charities will pop up. So it’s important that donors know that your efforts are on the up and up.  Don’t try to set up a new charity or go through an organization that does not work in this area.

There are a lot of orphanages, hospitials and other groups that are doing great work but are not as well know as the big charities mentioned earlier.  Having a letter from a representative of the group, or even better a staff or board member working with you on your fundraiser will add legitimacy.

When possible, ask people to give directly to the charity.  For example, if you have a fundraising event, get people or businesses to underwrite the costs of food or other supplies.  Then ask attendees to write checks to the charity and just mail it in for them.

Are you fundraising for Haitian relief efforts? Post a comment below.

Posted on 19 January 2010

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