Fundraising events, including charity races and anything-a-thons, are a fun, effective way for nonprofits to garner public support and engagement for their cause. You may find that throughout the year, you field multiple requests from friends, families, or coworkers participating in events to raise money. These requests can be opportunities to connect with people in your life and the causes they care about. But, they can also dilute the power of your donations by spreading your giving in too many directions. How should you respond to these solicitations?
Decide If You Want to Donate
Multiple factors will guide your decision to donate (or not). In the case of personal asks, your relationship with the person asking will inevitably be part of your decision. You may find it more difficult to reject a request from a close friend or someone with a strong emotional appeal, such as a cancer survivor asking you to support cancer research. Giving is always personal; don’t be afraid to let your heart play a role in your decision.
Hopefully, the person making the request did their research before asking for you to join them in supporting the charity. However, ensuring the organization has proven to deliver on its mission is always prudent. Is your money going to the right place? Answer these questions:
- Is the charity fiscally responsible and impactful with their donations? A quick Charity Navigator search can help you to determine if an organization matches your expectations.
- Can you afford to give? Charity is wonderful, but your own needs should be a priority.
Decide How Much to Donate
If you decide to donate, carefully consider how much you want to commit.
If you have a giving plan for the year that includes a flexible “flex” budget, this is the time to dip into that budget. Usually, a giving flex budget is money available for unexpected giving throughout the years during times of crisis and for special events aligned with charitable fundraising. If you feel strongly about the work the event supports, you may want to give a significant portion of your flex budget, perhaps 25%. If your support is primarily for inter-personal reasons, rather than a strong belief that the organization is well-aligned with your values and philanthropic goals, a token donation is appropriate.
If you do not have a set flex budget, you have a little more work to determine how much is appropriate. A bit of work now can answer this question and prepare you for future asks. These simple steps can guide your giving plan:
How much do you want to give during the year?
Which issue(s) would you like to address with your donations?
If you have multiple issue areas, how will you balance your giving between them?
- How much do you want to set aside for a flex budget?
Once you have created your giving plan, you can decide how an individual ask fits in. Taking the time to determine your priorities and ability to give puts requests into context and can help you make thoughtful decisions. Remember that the point of a fundraising event is to bring many supporters together at once. Even a nominal donation contributes to the larger effort and makes you part of the collective impact.
Don't Forget the Event
Events supporting charitable organizations or individuals completing races in support of a cause want your donations, but they also want your engagement. Helping a friend spread the word about an event they are passionate about or cheering on a family member as they run are also great ways to engage with fundraising events. Your support, financial and otherwise, matters.