Making your voice heard is vital for children and kinship care families (grandfamilies) in your state and across the country, but traveling to Washington, D.C. for the GrandRally can be expensive!
Many relative caregivers have found that others in their communities are willing to help them reach their goals on behalf of children. Local organizations, foundations, community chests, and businesses may provide money and donations to help – even in a challenging economy! Some caregivers have been able to raise money successfully through family, friends, and their local employers, schools and faith-based organizations.
While the possibilities are endless, you first have to ask for support to get it! You can start by helping those around you understand how important the GrandRally is in making your community and country stronger.
General fundraising tips:
1. Define Your Mission
Before you start fundraising, think first about why the GrandRally is important to you and other relative caregivers in your community. How will it help you with the work you are already doing on behalf of children? What will you do with the new information you learn and the people you meet when you return home? Share your mission for children with the people who support you.
2. Know Your Costs
Estimate very carefully what it will cost you to participate in the GrandRally. Think through the specifics of the trip, from your expenses at home (e.g. child care for your grandchildren) to all of your expenses on the road (e.g. meals, hotels, transportation, and extras). Prepare a written budget. Figure out what you can pay for. This will give you a good idea of how much money you will need to request from funders. It also will help you stick to your budget when you are on your trip. Be outspoken on the issues of children and families, but conservative in planning your budget.
3. Be Creative About Funders
Search the web, check with your local librarian, and ask your local schools, faith organizations, and other community organizations about who might be able to help fund your trip. There may be local community chests, local foundations, and community and faith-based organizations that can help. Consider a fundraising event in your local church, temple, or mosque. And don’t forget about your friends and family members! They all might help you help children in your community who are being raised by grandparents and other relatives. Be creative in finding different sources of funding!
4. Ask for Help
Once you have a mission and can explain that mission to others, you are ready to approach potential funders for help. In past years many people have asked their local faith based organization to borrow a bus for the drive, a restuarant for food donations, and any other potential funders to donate their air miles to subsidize the cost of the trip. Remember the first rule of fundraising: YOU HAVE TO ASK FIRST. If a funder cannot pay for the whole trip, ask them to fund a part of it. If another says no, tell them politely that you understand and you will keep them posted on your future efforts. Be persistent! You will find someone to help!
5. Be Specific
When you ask someone to help you attend the GrandRally make sure you can translate the purpose of your trip in a clear, practical way that people can relate to. Explain exactly how going to the GrandRally will help your community (e.g. when I return, I will have learned new skills that will help make the kinship care resource center in our community serve families better). Be clear and specific.
6. Plan Carefully
It’s easy to become so excited about the funds you have raised that you overlook the careful planning needed to make your event or trip successful. Make sure you have made arrangements for transportation, lodging, and scheduled congressional visits. Plan ahead to make the most of the GrandRally and learn as much as possible.
7. Be Financially Responsible
Make sure you use any funds or donations responsibly. Keep careful written records of how you spend the money and return any unused funds to your donor. If you are raising funds to send folks to the GrandRally, you may want to ask a reliable organization to help you manage the funds and to distribute them as the event approaches. Although you are using the funds you have raised to cover your participation in the GrandRally, the money really belongs to those in the community who support you and what you are doing for children.
8. Make the Most of the GrandRally
Make sure you meet and exchange information with as many other GrandRally participants as possible. Learn about promising practices and programs in other parts of the country. Bring home written materials that others share with you. Take notes and think about how you can use the new contacts, skills, and knowledge you have gathered in your community. On the way home, write a “to-do” list for what you will do when you get back while ideas are still fresh in your mind. Consider a State GrandRally! Your spirit and persistence got you to the GrandRally, now enjoy it!
9. Give Thanks and Credit
Many people thank their funders when they first get support, but forget to thank them again when the event or project is over. Share your enthusiasm about the GrandRally. Thank the funder again for their generosity. Let them know how it will help you do more for children. If the funder hasn’t asked you to keep the donation a secret, think of ways to publicly thank the funder. Write a letter of thanks to the local paper, or thank the funder publicly at a local town hall or community meeting. Nominate the funder for a local community service award.
10. Follow Up with Your Funders
Long after the GrandRally is over, keep funders up to date on how their money is still helping you bring about real change in the community. Keep them regularly informed about the specific work that you are doing and what you are planning to do in the future. You may find that your first funders are willing to give you more money in the future.