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Erie Gives is #TwiceAsNice: Tips on Raising More $$$ with Checks

Erie Gives Day has become a crucial part of the fundraising efforts for many nonprofits in the Erie region. Last year, nonprofits raised over $4.4 million with nearly 100 nonprofits raising over $10,000 each. We’ve heard over and over from a number of organizations that Erie Gives Day is now one of their top fundraising mechanisms. And just think, this has all been done online. We have the opportunity to raise even more money for our charities in 2019 – Erie Gives is now accepting check contributions!

Some of us who prefer to go online to give might think, what’s the big deal? Won’t most folks just donate online anyway? Perhaps, but we know for a fact that some people can’t or won’t donate online. NPP staff has assisted The Erie Community Foundation team with answering phone calls during past Erie Gives Days. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who call in! They call, instead of go online, for a variety of reasons including:

  • They don’t trust the internet with their credit card information.
  • They don’t have access to the internet.
  • They aren’t comfortable navigating the internet.

I’m sure there are many other reasons. The point? People like options. So… what to do? Well, at a minimum go here and make sure your donors are aware of the Check Contribution Form and the opportunity to donate by check. They need to fill out the form and send the check to the Foundation before Erie Gives (the deadline is Monday, August 12th). 

When I first heard of this opportunity, I couldn’t help but to jump into my past fundraiser role and begin strategizing. Here are some of my thoughts about how you can take advantage of this huge opportunity:

  1. Pair the Check Contribution Form with a customized solicitation of your own and send it to your organization’s supporters. This is a great opportunity to tell your story while also encouraging people to give through this vehicle.
  2. Customize a form of your own by downloading the Check Contribution Form image and inserting it into a flyer, letter, postcard, etc. The Erie Community Foundation doesn’t care how the information looks, only that the pertinent information accompanies the check.
  3. Call up donors who haven’t given on Erie Gives Day and ask if they would like to give via check. If they say yes, offer to send or bring the form to them. As a fundraiser, I was always eager to get in front of my donors. If they give you the opportunity, take them up on it.
  4. Tell your donors that the option to give by check is available and that you’d be happy to collect a check from them and drop it off at The Erie Community Foundation yourself.  Perhaps even create a “Check Day” a week before where donors are encouraged to bring checks to you during a specified time period. There could be treats, tours, or other enticements to encourage them to visit. Remember, do what you can to get in front of your donors.
  5. Do you have some sort of event in July? If so, give donors the opportunity to write a check at the event – collect any checks from this event to drop off at The Erie Community Foundation prior to August 12th.
  6. If you have major donors who haven’t given during Erie Gives, this is a great opportunity to ask them to do so. Perhaps they avoided making that major online donation on Erie Gives because of the size of the gift. Either way, have a conversation.
  7. Bring your checks to The Erie Community Foundation on August 12th. Why you ask?  Well, August 12th is not only the day before Erie Gives (and the deadline for checks) but also Membership Appreciation Day at The Nonprofit Partnership.  Join us for some food, fun, and to drop off your checks. There will be great photo opportunities that you can use to do some pre-promotion of Erie Gives Day. If food and fun weren’t enough selling points, we’ll also have the opportunity for your organization and donors to tap into the competitive spirit. The grill masters will be taking organization name submissions in lieu of tips – one organization will be randomly chosen to win a $1,000 donation towards their Erie Gives proceeds! This is an opportunity to corral your supporters to not only come and spend time with you, but also to add to your chances for more money.

Ok, that is a lot and some might say “why go through all that work—I’ll just keep pushing the online donation.” Certainly DO keep encouraging people to give online but DO put in the work for check donations, too. The more you can control, the better. If you can get a donor to give you a check the week before Erie Gives, you know it's going to be counted. If a donor tells you they’ll go online that day and donate, there is no guarantee that they will.

We are excited about this new opportunity and you should be as well.  Now let’s get to work!

Click here to access The Nonprofit Partnership's Erie Gives Toolkit!

The Nonprofit Partnership's offices at The Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Transformational Philanthropy are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM.

Phone 814.240.2490