Guidelines for Fundraising

Everybody Can Help- Fundraising Guidelines

The evolution of a process flow.

One of my 2014 goals is to try and channel some of my hyper active daydreaming into social good. My experience with both startups and endurance events (such as GORUCK challenges and Spartan races) has connected me with some of the most passionate and hard working people around. Many personality traits of those active in each realm run in parallel: Resilient, Decisive, and Fearless to name a few. With these comes great responsibility, especially when fundraising efforts are involved- one wrong move and your good intentions will be perceived as self fulfilling “wins” and not as genuine charitable help others. I am fortunate enough to have several friends who own successful 501(c)(3) organizations, and along with numerous family and friends- their feedback in all of this was crucial. Thank you!

To skip the details and view the guidelines now, go here for IMAGE or here for PDF

I had three goals when creating the guidelines:

1. Outline a clear path of action for any future charity/fundraising effort that can be shared and referenced by both the requester and the donor
2. Demonstrate the difference between a direct cause campaign vs. one with self/business gain (not necessarily a bad thing)
3. Set higher standards for myself when fundraising (I discovered plenty of ways to improve my own campaigns while creating this)

What prompted this?
The launch of endless crowdsourced fundraising platforms has opened a world of near “instant gratification” when trying to help yourself or others. Even those with the best intentions can launch a campaign that loses focus on the cause at hand, and even worse- leaves them with a reputation of one simply looking for others to pay for extracurricular activities (or in some cases basic everyday expenses). Couple that with a social newsfeed of you enjoying dinners out, traveling, and/or buying yourself a new wardrobe, and “Houston, We’ve got a problem”.


Before we get to the guidelines, let’s be clear on (at least for our purposes here) the definition of “Proceeds”.
PROCEEDS: “The 100,000 lb elephant in the fundraiser room”

I refer to proceeds as ALL of the money or goods brought in, not the NET (money or goods brought in after product costs, salaries, or other expenses). If you have to pay for a person (designer, developer, or yourself), pay for a product (t-shirt, patch, medal) or anything else associated with your campaign before paying the cause, you must use Path 1.  As mentioned above, this is not necessarily a negative path- however, the guidelines do differ slightly and donors should be aware that ALL proceeds did not go directly to the cause.

Use the boxes below to help you select a path, then go to the chart and follow the steps for that path.


If you prefer a higher resolution PDF of the guidelines, go HERE.

Good Livin' Fundraising guidelines.
Good Livin’ Fundraising guidelines.

Every fundraising effort is not a race. Some require patience and a well thought out strategy before execution. If you really do just want help with some of the expenses associated with endurance events- be clear about it, and perhaps offer something unique in return to your donors.  Follow the guidelines above when creating your campaign, and share with others who may want a reference and guide to follow when creating theirs.  As a donor- check to see if the campaign you are considering helping has followed these guidelines.  For further inspiration- watch the Ted Talk below, fascinating insight into walls we should be crumbling to stop the roadblocks charity organizations are faced with every day.


3 thoughts on “Everybody Can Help- Fundraising Guidelines”

  1. Very thought provoking! Wanting to help is a natural impulse as the GRT community is the most passionate, generous, selfless group of people I have ever met. Ripe for the picking by sleezy opportunists. Transparency is the key to building trust and good faith!

  2. First off, let me say what a great and much needed post this is. Let’s say I am working on a patch and have run into a situation regarding costs and what I should cover and what’s reasonable for buyers to cover:
    Patch company A is charging X amount per patch and I was originally going to be selling at list price with any extra funds people donate being split between Y and Z charities while covering shipping myself. Do I account for shipping in the cost I charge folks and secondly do I list that in my post with an explanation and cost breakdown?

  3. I watched the Ted Talk, very interesting facts.
    I may be stretching on another subject a little, but from my standpoint, I believe that we live in a world of “instant gratification”, where we just want to see results and gains from our efforts instantly. We also live in a capitalist world, where money is at the center of our thoughts and desires. So many of us are just missing the point of life itself. We get lost in materialistic thoughts and desires and forget about what matters most: people. Society teaches us that in order to be happy and live the “American dream” we should get a good education in order to get a good job so we can pay for a big house and the whole enchilada. A bunch of bull crap in my opinion. Happiness is not about being CEO of a big corporation or possessions, happiness comes in what you give. The more you give, the more you connect with people and learn about different organizations, the more you grow and progress, and that is true happiness in my eyes. Of course, most people will look at me and say, yeah, that’s great and all, but giving your time is not gonna pay your bills… This kind of response really ticks me off. It’s like the families in my neighborhood telling me to stop fighting against bullying in schools because “it’s everywhere” and “everybody gets bullied at some point” and “you alone are not going to make a difference so why even bother?” Really?? These people are lazy and just plain selfish, have clearly been brainwashed to believe the lies our society teaches us and choose to refuse to even donate a few minutes of their time to make a difference. And most times, that’s all it takes. A few minutes. And we forget that we can be so powerful when we unite and work together. We have the power to change the world, we just decide not to. We focus on ourselves and our needs first instead of focusing on others. And people who live like this are missing so much of what life should be !! So to go back to the non-profit sector and thinking of ways to improve our thinking toward giving to charities, I am in total agreement with Ted. There are tons of charities out there, and most times people have a hard time “choosing” who to give to, and instead of looking into the “why” of the charity, they look at the financials first. We need to start asking questions, listening a little more and caring about the cause and be involved in it vs just wanting to make a donation because it looks good. There are tons of fraudulent causes out there, and if we all involved a little more of our TIME and not just money in the “real and honest” causes, the non-profit sector wouldn’t be what it is today.

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