Fundraising Tips

Last year we raised over $17,500 for Arthritis research, education, and community programs. In fact 78 cents of every dollar we have raised for the Arthritis Foundation will be going towards these amazing programs and research. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated to this very important cause once again. There are no words to express how thankful we are to you all. 

We have been asked by many how we were able to raise so much money in such a short amount of time ($17,252 in 11 weeks, and an additional 300 came in after the walk). In fact I have been emailed via Facebook and Youtube numerous times about this, not only from other JA families, but also from others working to raise money for their own causes. Here I will explain just how we did it. 

Building a Team
First things first: You need as many team members as you can find that are JUST AS DEVOTED AS YOU ARE to your cause. For us, that meant our family and friends who know and love our daughter as much as we do. For us, this cause is VERY personal. This disease, this autoimmune disease, is literally attacking our daughter from the inside out and we will do ANYTHING to try to find a cure. 

And I won't lie: having team members who happen to have a lot of friends and family as well won't hurt ;)

Using What You Have at Your Fingertips: The Internet
Make a Simple, FREE Website for Your Cause
I decided that it was very important to have a website that our donors could reference. It started out simple and over the weeks I changed it to include more information. You happen to be reading this on our FREE Team Esella site. What do you think?

TELL YOUR STORY! Make a video!
And then...back to the education. I wanted to tell our story while educating others about this disease. I wanted people to understand how important this cause is. So I made a video that explained the disease. I used pictures of my daughter and facts about the disease that I found at the Arthritis Foundation's website. I of course posted our video on our free site so that people could easily find it. 

Where We Started: The Email Campaign
After our website was up and running and we had a team developed, the first thing we started was the good ol' email campaign. I am sure you have been a recipient of an email or two from someone in your life who is doing a walk for some great cause. So that is how we started. Our original goal was $1000 and I was hoping we could meet that goal (ha ha ha...guess we did, eh?)

Once we had our main team established, everyone emailed everyone THEY knew. In your email out, it is very important that you explain why your cause is important. Highlighting how devastating the disease is and also including how the money you raise will be used are important things to include. 

However, you also do not want your email to be too long, too wordy, or include a bunch of unneeded information. Keeping it informational and to the point is best. In our emails we made sure to include:

The link to our website
The link to our video on youtube 
The link to where they could go to donate
An invitation to JOIN OUR TEAM
The last one is important. You want as many people as you can to join your team so that you can reach MORE people about your cause. So invite all your friends and family to join your team. 

Even the ones who can't physically be at the fundraising walk/run.

Yes, you can even invite people to join your team who cannot physically participate in the event. How? They can join your team and "virtually" walk with you that day, meaning they can join, help you raise money, and support you and your cause. We had a few "virtual" members this year, but hope to have MANY more next year.

Social Networking is Your Friend
After we sent out our emails, many of my team members also posted on their Facebook pages about the walk. Think about it: Do you REALLY have all 192 of your Facebook friend's email addresses? I doubt it. But you can easily spread the word about your cause through Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. 
What I personally did, was post that I was participating in the Arthritis Walk on April 30th and I then linked our website so that my FB friends could go read about my cause and why I was participating in the walk. I asked all my FB friends to post my link on THEIR walls, as well as the link to our video on youtube. 

THEN, every time someone donated, I would thank them on FB, tag them in the post and I would be sure to end the post with the link to our website This way the thank you and the link would show up on their page, which all THEIR friends will see. This could inspire some of their friends to view our site and donate as well. 

The week before the walk I started a Team Esella Fan page on FB..I really should have done this earlier. Next year I plan to also include our FB page in our email campaign and ask for people to come "like" us. will be a way for people to follow your fundraising. I decided to "celebrate" Arthritis Awareness Month (May) I will be trying to post daily facts about this silent disease on our fan page. EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT!!!

And Then we Started to get Inspired
Our email and Facebook campaign brought in over $4000 in our first week of fundraising. We also went from 10 to over 20 team members as well. It was so incredible that we raised that much in such a short amount of time, that we started to wonder what else we could do to raise money. 

Team Esella 2011 Fundraisers
Team Members Somer and Po came up with the idea of Casino Night. They held it in their home and raised over $500! You can read more about it HERE.

Team Member Erin hosted a Premier Designs Jewelery Party where 20% of the proceeds went to Team Esella! This raised over $200!

Then I went a-googling one day and found a post somewhere about a young boy who raised several hundred dollars by having a lemonade stand in his neighborhood. This inspred the first annual Ellie Belly Lemonade Stand which raised over $700 in just 5 hours! You can read more about it HERE
Other Fundraising Ideas
Though we didn't get the chance to do them this year, here are some other ideas of fundraisers you can have:
Bake Sale/Bagel Day: This would really work well for people that work in an office. You can bring in bagels or other baked goods and hand them out in exchange for a donation to your team. My husband was going to to this this year but life just got a little crazy. Hopefully next year!

Auction: You can have businesses or local artists donate their products and have an auction (silent or otherwise). You can even do the auctions online to be able to reach more people. 

Restaurants: Fundraising Night: Many restaurants offer a fundraising event night. Basically you hand out fliers to as many people as you can advertising to eat at said restaurant on a specific date. That night a certain percentage of the restaurants sales will go to your cause (all the sales of the patrons who bring in the flier). 

Cut for a Cause: See if a local salon (the one you or a team member goes to) will donate 20% of their profits one day. It is great PR for the business and great for your cause. (And what if two or three DIFFERENT team members got their Salon to do this??)

Vendor Party: So to expand on the Jewelery Party we did have, you can have a party/girls night out with SEVERAL vendors. Jewelery, Children's Books, Beauty Products, a Winery, food items, etc. My mom came up with the idea that having a party right before CHRISTMAS would be a great time for people to find gifts for the holidays while donating to a great cause. Typically 20% of the profits will go to your cause. I am thinking of maybe planning one of these for Team Esella 2012. 

Cook Off or Scrabble Tournament: I found these ideas online. Similar to the Casino Night...but instead of a poker tournament you can have a cook off or a Scrabble Tournament....Another fun event to bring in $$. Make sure to have raffle prizes and yummy food and beverage! (To limit costs...ask people to bring a yummy food to share and a mixer). 

Recycle Drive: I found this idea on a fellow JIA/JRA mama's blog. This year for their Arthritis Walk they are doing a Recycle Drive to help raise money. They set up recycle cans with signs at different locations and collect them and turn them in for the cash. They even set up a Facebook Fan Page called Bottles For Bevin. You can read about it here: Bottles For Bevin

Get a Local Business Involved: One of our team members had a local business match her donations up to $500. It was a fairly easy way to make another $500! However there are other ways to get businesses involved. A business can pledge to donate a percentage of proceeds from sales of items to your cause. It helps to have an "in" with the business, however you don't have to. It doesn't ever hurt to ask. My friend Nicole (mother to Bevin, mentioned earlier) happens to have her own business, in which she decided to donate all proceeds from her Tutu orders to her team. You never know what business may want to ask around.'s good publicity for companies to participate and donate to charities. Let YOUR cause help them. It is a win-win.
Sell Your Cause: Create a logo for your team, and create items that you can sell, the proceeds going to your cause. There are a few ways to do this. you can create and buy the items in bulk and then sell them, or create them on an online website like and sell them there. JA Team Run Bubba's Run (Bevin's Team, as mentioned earlier) came up with several items to "sell" or "exchange" for a donation to their team. Items included t-shirts, window decals, and water bottles. Team Captain Nicole actually had a friend who made the decals (which were used for the windows and the water bottles). So see if you have a friend who can donate their time and product, or if a business will donate. As far as a logo: again you can create it yourself or have a friend donate their time and talent. The Team Esella logo was created by my friend Kristen, a high school art teacher.

Garage Sale for a Cause: You can have a garage/rummage sale and donate all your proceeds to your team. Don't have much to sell? Try contacting your friends, family, and neighbors (hand out fliers, email, etc) asking for their old junk to donate. Then make sure to ADVERTISE your sale...most likely people who come by will donate $$ just because it's a great cause. 

Raffle: So we actually DID have two raffles (one at our Casino Night, one at the Lemonade Stand). We had businesses and friends/family donate raffle prizes. However you can have a raffle without an "event" attached by having all your tram members sell tickets to their friends/family. However make sure you look into the laws in your state about raffles for charities to make sure you are doing everything legally :) 

Now YOU can be a successful fundraiser!
I hope that this will help some of you in your fund raising for your causes. Good luck!