FUNDRAISING BASICS

The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk is the primary fundraising event for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Our mission is to spread awareness and raise the funds required for scientific research, education, resources and legislation directly related to suicide prevention, mood disorders and depression.

Every Walker pledges to fundraise $1,000 to further the work of AFSP. Whether you are new to fundraising or a seasoned pro, we will provide you with a wealth of information and a team of friendly Coaches to give you advice, inspiration and support that will help you surpass your fundraising goals. So many Walkers who were initially concerned about reaching their requirement met it and then went on to double or triple their goal before the Overnight Walk. We have helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for suicide prevention and we will be here to guide you every step of the way. Below are the nine fundamentals for successfully spreading awareness about your Overnight campaign so you can FUNDRAISE for the walk to save lives:

Please read through the Fundraising Tips portion of our website for extensive information about the following topics:

DonorDrive Manual

Sample Fundraising Letters

 Thank You's

 Additional Fundraising Ideas

Format your goal for success.

There are no words to describe the feelings of fulfillment and empowerment that come along with working towards a goal and achieving it. Fundraising $1,000 will take some dedication on your part, but you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it can be when you develop a plan that you are determined to follow. It’s important to know how you are getting to your goal, and creating a step-by-step strategy to take you from $0 to $1,000 will anchor your commitment, increase your confidence and strengthen your fundraising skills. Think about your daily routine and schedule time each week to work on your fundraising campaign. Try breaking up the $1,000 goal into 5 goals of $200, or 10 goals of $100, or 20 goals of $50, and make sure you acknowledge and celebrate each and every goal when you meet it. A significant part of the Overnight journey is defined by your fundraising experience, and each dollar represents another step.

Please check out the page for Fundraising Calendar Plans that will help you meet your goal in 6 months, 3 months or 1 month. We also offer blank Fundraising Calendars for you to print out and personalize so you can fit fundraising into your schedule.

Utilize your personal fundraising page.

Every Walker receives access to a personal fundraising page when they register, and this tool has proven to generate more fundraising dollars for those who take advantage of it. This page will help you track your fundraising dollars, spread the word about your mission to save lives and allow people to donate to your fundraising account with the click of a button. Even if you are not “computer-savvy,” it is easy to set up and we highly recommend it. Set up your fundraising page by visiting www.TheOvernight.org and logging into DonorDrive with your email address and password you chose when you registered. Personalize the page with a picture and a message, and you can send emails through DonorDrive or include a link to your page in emails sent through your personal account.  

If you need additional assistance setting up your fundraising page, contact your Walker Coach.

Network, network, network.

You never know who has been touched by suicide, mood disorders and depression- it could be your neighbor, colleague or a friend of someone you know. Spreading the word about your fundraising by networking is easy to do. Simply start by writing out a list of everyone you know: family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, your doctor, dry cleaner, babysitter, auto mechanic, boss, the guy behind the counter at your local coffee shop, the woman ringing up your groceries, the librarian checking out your books, etc. Each point of contact you have during any day has the potential for a conversation you can start about the Overnight Walk, and everyone you know deserves the opportunity to donate. Expand your circle by asking people to spread the word about your fundraising, and make sure you include a note in your emails to forward your message along. Regardless of whether or not your contacts donate, they probably know someone who will. You may even find someone who is interested in registering to walk with you which will make the training, fundraising and event experience even more meaningful than it already is.

Dedicate yourself to requesting donations.

Don’t wait- start your campaign and ask for your first donation TODAY. Whether you ask by letter, email, phone or in-person, the sooner you ask, the easier your fundraising process will be. Send emails or letters and make phone calls to everyone in your address and phone books. The golden rule of fundraising is: You raise money when you ask for it. The biggest mistake you can make as a fundraiser is assuming that people will not or cannot donate. It is your job to describe the cause, ask for a donation and allow people to make up their own mind about whether or not to donate and how much they can give. Think about it- if you ask someone for $50, you might get $50, or you could get less. But if you ask someone for $10, you might get $10, but you probably won't get any more than that. Making a donation does not mean breaking the bank, and it is important to remind everyone that all you need is $20 from 50 people- less than the cost of dinner and a movie- to reach your goal.

Recognize any opportunity to fundraise.  

There are a million and one creative ways to generate fundraising dollars, and we encourage everyone to bring the “fun” out of fundraising. Think outside of the box- if you love to cook, host a dinner party or a potluck, and request a $10 donation from each attendee. Or, if 20 people donate $5 each to be part of a raffle for a donated gift, you will raise $100 towards your goal. You can also request donations as birthday gifts- the options are endless. Also, many corporations have Matching Gift programs which reward their employees for donating to the charity of their choice by matching a percentage of the donation. Sometimes, a Matching Gift can double an initial donation, so make sure everyone you know asks their place of employment if this benefit is available to them.

Ask, ask, ask again.

It is common to experience discouraging moments during your fundraising campaign. The fact is that the average American needs to be asked SIX TIMES before they make a donation, so never give up. Just because someone has not yet donated does not mean that they will never donate, so make sure you follow up with everyone you know. You can send gentle reminders in the form of newsletters, or simply bring up the Overnight Walk in conversation. Let them know that every dollar counts in the fight to prevent suicide and that there is still time to donate. It is also important for you to consider talking about how you have been personally affected by suicide, mood disorders and depression. Many Walkers from past Overnight events have been deeply touched by the outpouring of support they received when they shared their story and the powerful, healing effect it created while they fundraised. This is what the Overnight Walk is all about- letting people know that it’s OK to talk about suicide so we can break the silence, lift the stigma and save lives.

Inquire within the Overnight community.

The power of the Overnight Walk is created by this inspiring and resourceful community of people like you who are dedicated to making a difference. You’re not in this alone- all of us are drawn together by a connection to suicide. Visit the Overnight Facebook page often to see what other Walkers are doing to spread awareness and fundraise. Participants from all over the country connect on this Facebook page to share ideas for fundraising and tips for training, and you may even find someone in your area to form a fundraising team with. Please check your email regularly for our monthly Newsletters which include Overnight news, fundraising success stories and much more. We will also email you invitations to Pre-Walk events where you can log some training hours and meet other Walkers. And don’t forget- if you ever have any questions or need some extra motivation, your Walker Coach is just a phone call or an email away.

Spread awareness to save lives.

The most important aspect of your fundraising effort is educating people about our mission. Think of it like dominoes- the information you share with one person will get passed along to another person, and if someone at risk receives this information, then you may have saved an irreplaceable life. Talking about the facts and sharing your experiences WILL help lift the stigma surrounding suicide, depression and mood disorders so those who struggle WILL find the strength they need to seek help. Educate yourself on the statistics surrounding this cause so you can constantly remind potential donors why their donation is so crucial. For instance, did you know that over 38,000 lives are lost to suicide annually in the U.S.? Did you know that 90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death? Knowledge is power, and we must work together to make suicide a national priority.

Please visit www.AFSP.org to learn about the facts surrounding suicide such as risk factors, warning signs and much more.

Express gratitude.

Last but certainly not least, it is important to formally thank everyone who donates to you. Show your appreciation by phone, letter or email, and let your donors know that their contribution- large or small- is important to you and critical to the cause. Invite them to support you at the Overnight Walk by attending Opening Ceremony and cheering you on at the Support Stations. You can also encourage them to heighten their involvement by volunteering during the event or by joining our Crew team to support Walkers during the night. Some of your donors may even decide to register, fundraise and walk with you. Don’t forget that you are doing something most never dare to do- take the extra step to save lives, and the power of your passion is an inspiration.

We all need extra support and encouragement from time to time, and your Walker Coach is only a phone call or an email away. For any questions or extra tips about training, call 888-THE-OVERNIGHT (888-843-6837) or email Coaches@TheOvernight.org

 

Get the word out