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Finding the Fun in Fundraising

Updated: Jul 7

Sleepless nights, countless hours, and endless planning, fundraising, by any stretch of the imagination, is a demanding endeavor. Navigating the challenges of fundraising requires resilience, creativity, and a strong commitment.

To be completely honest, I think it is safe to say that no one really enjoys asking others for help. Even if it is for a good cause or purpose, there is something truly uncomfortable in asking everyone you know to give money. But, despite the vulnerability and stress, we know that fundraising is key to growing our impacts and outreach while providing unique opportunities to engage with and thank our supporters, whom without, the work we do at Red String would not be possible.

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We started Red String at the very beginnings of the Covid-19 health pandemic, and for the first two and a half years, we were forced to limit our fundraising to only on-line activities. Fast forward to 2022, and for our first in-person fundraising event, we hosted a small Donor Get-Together in Santa Monica. The event was free as a means to thank our supporters. About 20 people attended the invite-only event enjoying a day of food, drinks, and mingling. As part of the event, we held our first on-line Charity Auction. Auction items were mainly donated by team members and friends. Between the auction and extra donations made at the get-together, we were able to raise $6200! Overall, the event was definitely a success thanks to the support of our friends and family. It also served as a great learning experience into the forays of fundraising and event planning.

Last year, we expanded our fundraising to include both the Get-Together and a Charity Golf Tournament, and as part of the events, we held our online auction. Even though the Get-Together doubled in attendance and the auction was expanded to include items from local businesses and organizations, our previous year's experience helped a lot. But, planning the Charity Golf Tournament turned out to be a whole other dimension. Although there were many sleepless nights and a lot of hard work that went into the planning - from finding a golf course to host our event and cajoling enough players to register for the tournament to ensuring every detail was meticulously planned - we ended up with 40 players and a really fun day on the links. Between the two events, we were able to raise over $16,000! Important funds for our grant giving program.

As we prepare for this year's fundraising events, we take time to reflect on our past learnings:

  1. Fundraising takes someone to lead, but others also have to play their positions. Successful fundraising, first and foremost, takes someone with an idea who is willing to take the reins. Without this, nothing happens. But equally important is when a person volunteers to lead a fundraising event, others have to lend their hands in support. I am grateful that Tina and Pam have taken the lead for our Get-together and Golf Tournament events, respectively. It's only because of their vision and leadership, and the team's support, that have made those events so successful.

  2. Fundraising events is not only about raising money. If charities view fundraising events as only about raising funds, they most likely missed the most important and fun part of hosting those events. From the start, we believed that our fundraising events should primarily be about engaging with and thanking our supporters in a fun way, to share our stories, and to invite them into our journey while, at the same time, raising important funds for the foundation.

  3. The day you choose for your event matters. We held our first charity golf tournament on a Friday, thinking that it would maximize the number of participants. What we didn't realize is that most club tournaments start on Fridays and many people were already committed. So when planning a charity golf tournament, make sure to pick a date that not only suits you, but also works best for your target pool of players.

  4. People and local businesses want to help. It is always a bit nerve wracking going into a local business and asking for support - whether an in-kind donation or sponsorship - but as it turns out, all the nervousness is completely unwarranted. The truth is, every business and individual we speak to are very understanding and supportive of our efforts even if they are not always able to make a contribution. People want to help others do good things for the community.

  5. People who you expect to support you will not necessarily always do so. Although it is difficult to not take it personally when family members or friends do not donate to our cause, we cannot tell people how to prioritize what they support or how to spend their money, so at the end of the day no hard feelings.

  6. But, there will people that you would never even think of who will step up in major ways.  We continue to be amazed by the support from people who may not have known a lot about the foundation, but still offered to volunteer their time, efforts, and talents to help us. When this happens, it truly lifts our spirits. In particular, I have to give a huge shout out to Toni Saner and Martha Sterbens who offered to help with this year's golf tournament. Toni is silk-screening our logo on over 40 gift bags and Martha is embroidering our logo on a similar number of gift golf towels. Adding these personal touches really helps make our tournament special.

In case I haven't said it enough already, please let me take another opportunity to express my deepest and most sincere gratitude for all of the generous support that we have received over the years, it has truly made this experience worthwhile.

So what is next for our fundraising journey?

We are working hard preparing for our upcoming "fun-raising" events and auctions. We are hoping that this year's events will be more engaging and interactive than ever before. We are upgrading our auction platform and user experience to make everything easier and more intuitive - from a simplified auction event registration process to better post-auction communications and payment. Most of all, we are looking forward to engaging with and thanking all of our supporters who make the work we do at Red String possible.

We hope you will come join us.

If you would like to support Red String, please plan to participate in our Get-Together auction and/or upcoming Swing for String golf tournament and/or auction.

(to be continued)

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