Like most things in life, being a part of a speech and debate club is costly, and while many established school teams have district funding and tournaments/camps as fundraisers, you might still need to raise a lot of money to cover the various entry fees, travel/lodging costs, as well as supplies for your team. Thus, you want to start fundraising as early as possible!
Most simply, a great way to raise money is to ask for donations from your friends and family. When asking for money, there are a couple tips you should keep in mind to maximize your profit:
Start early: The sooner you start, the more you can follow up and the more you get
Practice your pitch: If you seem confident, others will feel more confident their money will go to good use. You’re a speech and debate club: Use those skills!
Make sure your pitch is not all about you. Have a conversation. You want the donor to feel like a person, rather than a piggy bank.
Do it yourself: Fundraising websites that send emails for you are not only not personalized, but take money from donations, making the process harder than it should be.
Reach out to people you know: By social media, email, or text, the people who know how much Speech and Debate matter to you are the most likely to help pitch in.
Customize your messages: Explain why it's important to you personally, and where the money goes specifically. People want to donate to other people, not general organizations. If you send messages, handwritten letters are always better.
Try to ask face to face: People like to donate if you are there personally. They are less likely to donate to an email or words on a letter.
Ask for advice: Surprisingly, if you ask others for advice, the donor will feel valued and important and will more likely donate.
Ask for a specific amount of money: Doing this ensures that the donor doesnt have to do work in deciding how much money. Start with lower amounts if you feel uncomfortable asking for too much, such as 25$.
Use business cards: Anything that can help people remember about your organization will increase the chance they proactively donate. Its a small investment but it makes a big impact.
Follow up again and again: Be polite, but people need to be reminded! Don’t be shy.
Send thank yous: Whether you need future support or not, a thank you goes a long way to make people happy they donated to you.
A major part of your ask is the request for money itself. Money is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be like that. According to fundraising expert Marc Pitman, there are two great ways to ask for money without sounding confrontational:
Would you consider a gift of $X? Phrasing it this way makes it feel less like the donor is a bank and more like the donor is someone who is helping you.
Honestly I have NO idea how much to ask for, but would a gift of $X be something you’d consider? "Honesty" is respectful and disarming. It makes you personal. It also encourages them to donate because it's comfortable and phrased as a request for help.
Maybe asking directly for money hasn’t gotten you all the money you needed. Here are some other ideas for fundraising ideas.
Work for it: Offer your time in exchange for a donation to the cause. There are millions of different needs in your community. Find what is needed and sell your time for the cause. Approach companies and ask if you can do any small tasks for them.
Sell old stuff or make new creations: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as well as your fundraising opportunity (Craigslist, eBay, Consignment Stores: Sell old clothes or unused attire for fundraising, Etsy, Sell Old Phones/Electronics, Host a Garage Sale)
Bake Sale: Get your baking on! Bring in homemade baked goods and sell them at work or school.
Raffles: Sell tickets and keep ticket stubs. On the date of the draw, have someone close his or her eyes and pick a ticket stub from all the ones that were sold. Do this publicly. The winner receives a prize. Host any other online events, in which it can all be done on social media. This way, people are more likely to participate.
Change jars at local stores: Ask a local restaurant or store to see if you could have a donation change jar on their reception counters.
Scavenger Hunt: Set a route and make a list of items that the participants need to find in order to win. Advertise your scavenger hunt well and charge everyone a small fee to participate. The winning person/group gets a prize.
Car Wash: Hold a car wash either in your neighborhood or at work. Ask some local businesses to contribute items you will need for the car wash and get your friends involved.
Host an Event: People love to give money if they get things in return. Use events to publicize your club’s presence throughout the community while also getting the money you need. (Game show night - Host a game show and charge a entry fee, Host an informal tournament and showcase your speeches/debate skills, Host a model boat/egg drop competition, Auction off your friends for chores/jobs, Host a Oscars/Emmy’s/Fantasy Sports competition)
Sell Lunch: Notify co-workers that on a designated day you’ll be bringing in a $5 lunch they can buy. Make it something interesting that they’ll want to buy.
Lemonade Stand: Make lemonade, post signs, and sell it on a hot day.
Concession Stand: Purchasing and making inexpensive food items, resell them for a profit at major events in your community, especially those without stores nearby.
Sell a skill: Everyone has something useful they can do. Use that to earn money!
Change Jar Competition: Two teams (preferably friendly rivals). Two jars. The team that raises the most wins. If you do it at work (sales vs. finance), place the jars side-by-side where both teams will see it frequently.
Return on Investment Competition: Each competitor has $10, see who can utilize that $10 to raise the most. This could be a great team building activity for team members and can teach you important information regarding the economy..
Community Involvement. Reach out to local businesses or restaurants nearby to donate gift cards, valued at a certain price a piece, to resell on your own for the cause.
Percentage Night: Some restaurants will donate a percentage of what they make in so many hours. Others will donate a percentage from customers’ bills if they mention your club when they order. Speak to the managers of popular restaurants near you or search for a form to fill out on their website. a. They won’t tell you to say a club name, so be sure to tell everyone to mention your club. b. Restaurants to look into: Applebee’s, Panera, Panda Express c. Note: Chipotle has strict guidelines about meeting a certain amount of money before they donate to a cause. We suggest partnering with the above restaurants instead since we know these restaurants have been successful in the past.
Remember, like any events, you need to make sure that there is a need for such an event, as well as people who are interested in participating. Before you do anything, learn to publicize your club, research what is in need in your community, and plan any fundraising idea. The most profitable fundraising ideas are those you plan in advance! Want more fundraising ideas? Check this list compiled by the Borgen Project: https://borgenproject.org/fundraising-ideas/
Besides fundraising, another important aspect of getting your club off the ground is to let people know your club exists. Here are important things to keep in mind when trying to advertise a Speech and Debate club.
Have an established online presence: Whether its a website or a social media account (having both is the best option!), having an established presence not only makes people more likely to join your club, as it seems established, but it also makes it easier to market yourself.
Host events: You can fundraise and market at the same time. A lot of people don’t know what speech and debate is, but if you hold a showcase, tutoring classes, or just any fundraising event where you talk about the club, you can get people engaged and interested in the activity.
Use school resources: Many schools have bulletin boards, announcements, teachers who are willing to promote, etc. Whatever it is, use your resources. Oftentimes, these school advertising methods are something everyone pays attention to and people will be interested in.
Don’t be shy: When all else fails, ask everyone you know. Ask them to ask others. It’s a lot of work, but this is the best way to get people involved. When people respond with maybes such as “I’ll think about it”, make sure you follow-up and push them to give an answer.
Be specific: Within any type of advertising, you always want to be specific. Give a specific phone number or name to contact on your posters. Give a specific meeting date or website. This will ensure anyone who is interested and reaches out doesn’t get lost in the advertising.
Have your club set up: The last thing you want to do is get interest for a club that doesn’t exist yet. Make sure you have everything needed for logistics finished before you ask people to join your club.
Create merch: Not only is this something fun for your club members to match with, but it will also help show the presence of your club throughout the community.
Here are some websites that can help you design instagram posts, flyers, etc.