Fundraising Etiquette for a Successful Outcome

01/17/2017 09:18 am ET Updated Jan 17, 2017

Raising money for a worthy cause is a noble effort. As with any endeavor, it’s increasingly successful when done with decorum, grace and good judgment. Fundraising with integrity will provide you more donors and leave your reputation intact.

Follow these 9 fundraising etiquette tips for a successful outcome.

Avoid putting coworkers on the spot. The office is a fertile ground for parents to accommodate their children’s latest school or sports fundraisers. But going from desk to desk puts people on the spot and can feel intrusive and off-putting. Many of your peers may also have children with their own fundraising initiatives.

Instead of a hard sell, try a softer approach by leaving a flyer or catalog in the break room. Make sure to include your contact information for those who are interested. I understand this may not be as aggressive as you like, but you will salvage your good standing by taking a kinder, gentler approach.

Ask but don’t pressure. As much as you want your child to win the prize for most donations collected, avoid using high-pressure tactics to convince others to contribute. A friendly way of asking could go something like: “Mary, my son’s baseball team made it to nationals and we’re holding a raffle to raise money to send them to Arkansas. Would you be interested in making a $5 contribution?”

Avoid asking those you supervise to donate; it’s not only unprofessional, but they may feel coerced into participating because you’re their boss.

Don’t underestimate the power of a “thank you.” Showing gratitude will make donors feel good about supporting a worthy cause. They’ll also be more receptive the next time you ask. Show your appreciation by bringing in a “thank you” tray of breakfast sandwiches or a plate of your famous chocolate walnut fudge.

Supporters also appreciate knowing their contributions make a difference. For example, if their donation helped provide computers for students at the neighborhood school, send them a picture of the students and include a hand written thank you note.

Always reciprocate. If someone says yes to your fundraising efforts, return the favor. Understand people donate for a myriad of reasons. Whether they write a check to advocate your favorite charity or buy a dozen cookies, be ready to say yes when the shoe is on the other foot.

Consider the source. If you’re asked to donate, there may be more than a bag of popcorn involved. Sometimes making a contribution is an exercise in relationship building. If your client’s child is raising money for their soccer team, a monetary offering could help keep a strong connection intact.

Look for another way to contribute. Maybe you don’t want to buy cookie dough, or perhaps you’re well-stocked on gift wrap. If the fundraiser involves buying something you don’t want, consider making a straight donation. They’ll be more than happy to accept your money even if you choose not to purchase an item. Better yet, let someone else pick something and do two good deeds.

Avoid online overkill. Electronically bombarding social contacts with multiple emails, status updates and other social media is a definite wrongdoing. Social networking apps are great tools for casting a wide net among prospective contributors but don’t go overboard. Make one or two mentions with a final reminder before the deadline - anything more and you may lose some of your followers.

Take “no” for an answer. Recognize not everyone can help every time. Many people are already committed to other charities, and some may be facing budget constraints. Regardless of how dedicated you are to the goal, don’t make it your personal mission to convert people who decline.

Be an ambassador for your cause. If you’re giving time and energy to benefit an organization, be sure you’re representing it well. Rude and pushy behavior will reflect poorly on the cause, school or group you’re supporting. Be the epitome of courtesy when raising funds.

You may also like A Charitable Take on Gift Giving. For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

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