Why is my Fundraiser failing?


It’s three weeks before your event, and you log on your registration website to see how many participants have signed up. You scroll down and see that you only have 14 people signed up online and another 12 paper registrations collected. With only 26 participants signed up, you are a far cry away from the 50-participant minimum for your event. You start to panic and wonder how this could be – with only three weeks until your event and one week until you need to order your supplies. You close out your browser window and look at your spreadsheet with your sponsorship and donation information, and you total a whopping $129. You are about to go into full-on meltdown mode and call your event co-sponsor to vent.

Unfortunately, this happens in the world of fundraising. You are probably thinking to yourself, “that would never happen to my event!” Hopefully not. As My School Color Run and now Get Active Fundraising, we’ve helped over 1,000+ schools and organizations host successful fundraising events and compiled a list of the top 5 reasons why fundraisers fail and ways to overcome these hurdles.

Top 5 Reasons Why Fundraising Events Fail and How to Avoid these Mistakes:

1. Lack of planning – In the scenario above, the event coordinator signed up with our recommended 8 weeks, however, as soon as they paid their deposit they completely dropped the ball. They took more than 2 weeks to turn in the Questionnaire used by our GAF customer service team to create their promotion materials and forms, leaving them with less than 6 weeks to plan and promote their event. By the time they put up their custom fliers and got the word out on social media, they were down to only 4 weeks until their event date and only 2 weeks until their supply order was due. The lack of participation at this event was directly related to a lack of planning by the fundraising hosts.
If you want to host a successful fundraising event, you cannot expect it to happen last minute. Successful fundraising events are built by rock star teams working together and communicating well. They meet together as a team regularly and communicate consistently with their Get Active FUNrunner.

2. Lack of promoting – If Get Active Fundraising had a rallying cry, it would be “PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE!” (and then promote some more.) With the number of resources (free resources!) available today, promoting an event should be a non-issue. Our GAF Customer Service team has a host of creative promotion ideas to jumpstart your event and help increase your number of participants. Do you want to make sure the students at your school remember to sign up for your event? Have a teacher or the Principal stand near the car line in a funny costume with a sign advertising your event. We guarantee it will get the kids talking about your fundraising event! Make it fun, make it memorable, and promote across multiple channels – social media, paper fliers sent home, press release, a school-wide automated phone call – you name it, promote there.

3. Not enough help – Before you begin planning your event, you will need to form a team to collaborate with through the planning process and to contact potential volunteers. Brainstorm with your planning team about who you want to be on your volunteer team: a mom/dad that is an avid runner, a teacher who is a great event planner, the coach of a local sports team could make excellent volunteers for a GAF event. If parent volunteers are not plentiful, local running clubs, local athletic shoe stores, and other fitness-oriented businesses can be a valuable resource. Be creative with inviting people with a passion for helping and serving your community! A fun way to do this is to send a personal invitation to help with your event and tell them why you think they would be the best person for the job you are asking them to do. You want Ms. Smith, the drama teacher to MC your event, tell her why! You want the art teacher to host a face painting tent at your event – tell him why! You’ll be surprised by how people will want to help when they know that you value their skills and time.

4. Scheduling conflicts – Scheduling conflicts can turn a successful fundraiser into a rescheduled event overnight. The best way to avoid scheduling conflicts is to finalize your event date and location with the person or persons responsible for your school or organization’s calendar before you begin planning anything else. You may need to do some research to find out who you need to contact – the city if you are using city streets, the principal, the school district offices, the venue manager, the parks and rec department. Whoever it is, contact now, before you find out that prom, a football game, a parade, or some other event has been double booked for your event date or location. The hassle of rescheduling an event can be avoided nine times out of 10 by merely finalizing your event date and location, permissions, and necessary permits with the appropriate departments.

5. Personal Issues – The best way to avoid personal problems affecting your event is to take a team approach to planning and hosting your fundraising event. Put aside any control issues you have about things not exactly going as you have envisioned and invite multiple key players to your planning team. Together, brainstorm processes to put in place to make sure that the success of your event does not rest solely on the shoulders of one person. Create a game plan to determine how your event will continue if someone on your planning team is unexpectedly not able to be there the day of the event, or even in a couple of weeks leading up to your event. Excellent communication with your planning team is imperative to overcoming this obstacle.

Take it from us, we’ve seen great fundraising, and we know it isn’t easy to “Go it Alone.” Avoid these common mistakes and more by partnering with a trusted and proven name in the fundraising consulting field. We’ve helped over 1,000 schools and organizations, totaling more than $1.5 million in funds raised and we are here to help you too.