Raise Funds For CCL Nationally

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Lynate Pettengill, Senior Development Director
Lynate Pettengill
Sr Development Director

As a Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteer, you’re already making a difference by building political will in your community. Thank you so much for your hard work! 

Many volunteers also support CCL financially. We appreciate your donations. Sometimes our dedicated volunteers want to go above and beyond by organizing a fundraising campaign for CCL or its sister organization, Citizens’ Climate Education (CCE). It’s another great way to make a difference.  You can learn more about that here. Raising money can be fun and satisfying--just ask our development team!

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What's the difference between CCL and CCE?

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. 501(c)(4) organizations can engage in unlimited lobbying so long as it pertains to the organization’s mission. Donations made to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax-deductible, though some businesses who make these contributions often write them off as advertising or business expenses. Financial information for CCL can be found on CCL’s website.

Citizens Climate Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 501(c)(3) organizations are not allowed to endorse or oppose political candidates, or donate money or time to political campaigns. Although 501(c)(3) organizations are allowed to allocate some time and expenses to lobbying, CCE chooses to leave all direct lobbying to CCL. Donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are deductible to the full extent of the law as charitable contributions. Financial information for CCE can be found on CCE’s website.

Planning for a successful campaign

Set a goal. The first step in fundraising is determining how much money you intend to raise. Setting a goal provides motivation and focus.

Your goal should be bold, but realistic. Some considerations that might impact your goal setting include the amount of time you can devote towards fundraising and the size and composition of your personal and business networks.

Once you have your overall goal set, you might consider setting internal goals within that. For example, if you plan to raise $1,000 in a four-week timeframe, you might want to commit to securing $200 in the first week, $600 in the following two weeks, and $200 in the last week.

Schedule your campaign

Take a look at your calendar. Can you take advantage of a timely event or special occasion?

  • April is a great time to host a tax-return party or fundraising ask.
  • Earth Day is April 22nd.
  • Have a birthday coming up? Rather than receiving gifts, ask for birthday donations to CCL.
  • What about Christmas?  Lots of people give to charities around the holiday season.

There are plenty of great ways to use certain days of the year to your advantage, so have a look at the calendar and see what works for you!

Identify who you’ll ask

Once you’ve determined your goal, create a list of everyone you know, and all the groups you’re connected to. You’ll be surprised at the length of your list.

Then prioritize who to contact first, starting with those you are closest to before moving on to more casual acquaintances. When you start with your closest contacts and work outwards, you ensure that you build up progress from your core supporters before you reach out to the people who are less likely to donate.

This approach is especially effective because people become more likely to donate as you make progress towards your goal. As you reach your outer circle of friends, reconnecting with so many long-lost friends can be rewarding and a bonus to the good work you’re doing!

Remember, it is vital to ask as many people as you can: people can only make a donation if you give them the opportunity. You should not assume that someone cannot afford to donate or will not be interested in supporting your cause; the top reason people in the U.S. don’t donate to charity is because they haven’t been asked. If you ask, they may just surprise you!

Send a fundraising letter

Start out with a general pitch that can then be modified depending on the audience.

  • Fundraising “letters” can be sent via social media or email, as well as the old-fashioned way, by handwriting a card or letter.

In your letter, be sure to appeal to emotions. Successful fundraisers can harness the simple power of emotion. Logic can then reinforce the appeal. Perhaps you would want to give an anecdote of why this issue and our work is important to you. 

If you’re having trouble getting going, here's a forum post where groups have shared easy steps for writing a fundraising letter.

Your fundraising goal should be a stretch, but it should be doable. If you are getting close to your goal, then celebrate, thank your donors, and raise it so people continue to donate. You want to avoid the situation in which prospective donors decide not to donate because you have reached your goal or are almost there.

Here's a list of ideas that groups have brainstormed outside of your typical fundraising ask. Thanks for sharing yours!

Make the first donation

It helps if you can tell others that you are a donor yourself.

  • In your email or letter, you can state “I started off my fundraising campaign by contributing $50. Can you join me in supporting CCE?”
  • If you cannot donate yourself, but you can quantify the volunteer efforts you’ve contributed towards CCL’s success, you should touch on this. For example, you might say, “I write a handwritten letter to my Member of Congress every single month requesting they pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax. I have also had 5 Letters to the Editor published in our local paper in the past twelve months supporting this. I know that not everyone has the extra time to do these sorts of tasks. But maybe you’ll support the work CCE does financially if you cannot commit time.”
Follow-up 

Scheduling a meeting with a Member of Congress can require persistence, and so can getting friends and family members to donate during a fundraising campaign.

  • During face-to-face interactions or phone calls with friends, family, neighbors, or other prospective donors, mention your progress and your goal. Don’t be shy about asking more than once. People need to be reminded!
  • Research shows that as you get closer to your goal, people are more likely to donate. So if you asked someone early on and they haven’t yet donated, you should approach them again after you’ve had some successes.
  • Set dates to send your first request announcing your participation, and then follow up with those who do not donate right away 1-2 weeks later with another request (sometimes via another method than the first request is helpful).  
Use social media

Use Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to update friends on your fundraising progress. You can connect your personal fundraising page to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to post updates. Social media is a great way to stay in front of people without making a ‘hard ask’.

You can also “Tag & Thank” via social media. Don’t make every post an “ask”. Share inspiring news stories on climate change or other positive anecdotes about CCL’s work or successes. This will get your volunteer work into their newsfeeds and be something they remember when you do ask them again to donate.

You can also use social media to set internal goals (e.g. $200 by the end of week one, $400 dollars by week three, etc.). You can provide updates of your progress towards each of these mini-goals and ask for people to help you get over the next hurdle. This creates more urgency for support and gives you a built-in reason to follow up. 

Close the loop

After you’ve completed your fundraising, send your donors a handwritten note to thank them for their generosity. Tell them how much you raised in total and what your participation in this challenge meant to you.

In addition to closing the loop, you are setting the stage for future donation appeals. Donors will be more likely to give again if they feel that their donation was appreciated and valuable. You might need their support again next year for our fundraising campaign!

You might consider sending three thank you’s:

  • an email thank you immediately upon the donation
  • a social media Tag & Thank with a link to your fundraising page so that others are reminded if they haven’t donated yet
  • a personalized handwritten thank you card after your fundraising campaign is over detailing how much you raised and how much was raised in total for the entire campaign.

Keep track of your donors and detailed notes on which you have thanked so that nobody is left out.

If you promised any prizes or goodies or services to your donors, make sure you follow through on these as soon as you can!

Go Deeper

If you have any questions, contact CCL’s Grants Manager Ashley Skoch or Christopher Anderson at christopher.anderson@citizensclimate.org for more information.

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