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Funding

Description

Some of these projects may involve investments by business or property owners. While some may be personal investments, there may also be projects that will enhance the entire commercial district, and therefore require fundraising and donations from multiple sources such as funding commitments from business/property owners, grants, or fundraising activities.

Funding Commitments from Business or Property Owners
  1. If you have a business association, you can use your dues to fund projects in the district. Be sure to create a budget and gain consensus on a vision of how to use the money.
  2. For a larger project, or for districts without a business association, create a budget specifically for the proposed project. This will help other business/property owners see exactly how their donations will be used.
  3. Show potential donors how this project will benefit them. Is it a one time event that will bring hundreds of people to the district? Is it a permanent installation that will increase foot traffic? Will it make the district more beautiful? Have clear goals and evaluation measures identified before you ask for money.
  4. Identify other ways that business and property owners can be involved even if they can’t donate money (in-kind donations). Is there a business in your district that could do advertising for free? Could someone donate equipment? In-kind donations can make planning the event easier, because you already have the experts involved!
  5. Recognize donors or other sponsors as part of  your project. Share how they will be recognized based on differing levels of commitment.
  6. After the project is implemented, ask how you did. Give people the opportunity to give honest feedback and have a plan for how to incorporate that feedback in the future.
Grants
  1. Once your district has selected a project, recruit volunteers for a fundraising team. Create a list of tasks, brainstorm different fundraising events/methods (see right for some examples), and have your team members sign up for specific roles, preferably ones that are related to their skills.

  2. Establish goals and make a plan. When setting a fundraising goal, be sure to consider the kinds of expenses you will have to complete your ultimate project and to conduct the fundraising. It’s often helpful to set target dates as a motivator, and it’s a good idea to write down your goals. Make them specific, but be realistic about possible constraints. Also consider how many people in your neighborhood need to participate, and create a plan for how to get as many participants as you can.

  3. Create a timeline. Start with the date of your event or end of your project in mind and work backwards. Come up with clear deadlines of when things will need to get done to stay on track.

  4. Focus. Keep the focus of every meeting and conversation on why you are trying to raise money, and be open to different ideas on how to get there. By keeping the focus on what you want to achieve, you can avoid group disputes that detract from the mission.

  5. Work together, celebrate together. Make sure everyone knows that their hard work is appreciated, and make sure you celebrate your successes together. If you have a celebration, grand reveal, or ribbon-cutting ceremony, make sure to invite everyone who has contributed time, money, services, or merchandise to make it happen. If it’s a formal event, recognize the more significant donors and offer them a chance to say a few words.

  6. Say thanks. Remember to send thank-you notes to volunteers, donors, businesses, and anyone who helps your group achieve its goals. “Thank you” goes a long way, and gives you an opportunity to tell or show them what was accomplished with their contributions. This simple gesture also improves the chances they will donate toward future projects.

Organize a Fundraiser
  1. Once your district has selected a project, recruit volunteers for a fundraising team. Create a list of tasks, brainstorm different fundraising events/methods (see right for some examples), and have your team members sign up for specific roles, preferably ones that are related to their skills.

  2. Establish goals and make a plan. When setting a fundraising goal, be sure to consider the kinds of expenses you will have to complete your ultimate project and to conduct the fundraising. It’s often helpful to set target dates as a motivator, and it’s a good idea to write down your goals. Make them specific, but be realistic about possible constraints. Also consider how many people in your neighborhood need to participate, and create a plan for how to get as many participants as you can.

  3. Create a timeline. Start with the date of your event or end of your project in mind and work backwards. Come up with clear deadlines of when things will need to get done to stay on track.

  4. Focus. Keep the focus of every meeting and conversation on why you are trying to raise money, and be open to different ideas on how to get there. By keeping the focus on what you want to achieve, you can avoid group disputes that detract from the mission.

  5. Work together, celebrate together. Make sure everyone knows that their hard work is appreciated, and make sure you celebrate your successes together. If you have a celebration, grand reveal, or ribbon-cutting ceremony, make sure to invite everyone who has contributed time, money, services, or merchandise to make it happen. If it’s a formal event, recognize the more significant donors and offer them a chance to say a few words.

  6. Say thanks. Remember to send thank-you notes to volunteers, donors, businesses, and anyone who helps your group achieve its goals. “Thank you” goes a long way, and gives you an opportunity to tell or show them what was accomplished with their contributions. This simple gesture also improves the chances they will donate toward future projects. 

Fundraising Ideas
  • Eat out for a cause. Ask a local restaurant to donate a small percentage of their sales for a certain day or week. It’s a fairly easy way to collect money for your cause while supporting a local business. Make sure to spread the word to your neighbors and friends.

  • If your group is very organized, you can also arrange for a restaurant “crawl” wherein participants pay a flat fee to sample food and drinks from a variety of restaurants. This takes much more coordination between volunteers and multiple restaurants, but can create a fun environment and raise more money.

  • Organize a district concert, market, or movie night. You can hold the event in a nearby park, or right in the district. This could be a great Lighter Quicker Cheaper placemaking project! Sell tickets to the event, or charge vendors to be there. Offer refreshments, food, or desserts for sale.

  • Organize a holiday tour or parade of businesses. Recruit people who want to show off their holiday decorations, pick a date, and provide a map of participating businesses to attendees. This is a great way to increase foot traffic at businesses in the district. Solicit sponsors for the event to raise money, or charge food trucks to attend.

  • Organize a paint and sip night. Recruit a local artist to lead the class. Sell tickets ahead of time and provide a cash bar with a portion of the proceeds going to your organization.

  • Sell t-shirts promoting your district. Hire a local graphic designer to create a design that highlights your district, and take orders online or at local businesses.