Traditionally, a birthday is your most self-centered day of the year. It is a day filled with parties, presents, and cake to help celebrate your introduction to the world. Although I usually enjoy the festivities, this year I wanted to try something a little different.

As a millennial, I have grown accustomed to the press’s “me” generation depiction of my peers. Although the shoe occasionally fits, many of my peers donate their disposal income to non-profits and spend free time volunteering. I was inspired to create a fundraiser that supported education and the SEO Scholars program for my recent quarter-century celebration after a few close friends held birthday fundraising celebrationsAs a fundraising newbie, I learned a lot about the process.

How to exceed Your Fundraising Goals

6 Tips to Exceed Your Fundraising Goals:

1. Pick a platform

In the age of social media, online fundraising presence is critical to your success. There are plenty of options available, but you need to find the site that fits your specific needs. I focused on the following:

  • Pricing and fees: At the end of the day, this is a fundraiser! Make sure you review the fee schedule page and read the fine print for every site (including PayPal).
  • Media options: Videos featuring personal stories are a great way to reach potential donors. Review the media and commentary options each site has to offer before making a final decision.

2. Set a goal

You want to establish a goal that is obtainable, yet high enough to make a significant contribution to your charity. I decided to build a spreadsheet to make an educated estimate of a suitable fundraising target. During the fundraiser, some people I expected to donate did not, while others surprised me with their contribution.

3. Create a fundraising story

Though it was for a good cause, I found it difficult to ask friends and family for money. I used the following strategies to reach out to my network:

  • Describe the organization: Provide a short description of the organization or cause. Where applicable, use data and statistics to add authority and validity to your cause. Do not cut and paste from the organization’s website. Instead, find a colorful, yet brief way to paint a picture of the organizations impact.
  • Use success stories and specific examples: This is the best way to make an emotional connection with a potential donor. If available, use a video that displays the organization and the lives it touches.
  • Explain your involvement: If you are a board member, volunteer, or long-time supporter of the organization and its mission, note it! Your network is more likely to support and initiative that also supports you.
  • Connect to the individual’s interest: If an individual in your network supports your cause through other avenues, use that as common connection point.

4. Communicate your message

After building your network spreadsheet, figure out the best way interact and communicate with potential donors:

  • Email and social media: This is a great way to reach a lot of people at the same time. However, information overload can occur and they might overlook or forget about your request. Make sure you attach the link to your fundraising page and use bullets and bold text to emphasize important content (always remember to blind carbon copy).
  • Text: Send a text message as a reminder, but not the initial communication for the fundraiser. It is a nice instant reminder that you have a fundraiser and would appreciate a donation.
  • In person or via telephone: Depending on your connection with the potential donors, a verbal communication is nice way to reconnect and ask for support. Even if the individual is not willing to donate at the moment, you were still able to catch up with a member of your network.

5. Thanks and gratitude

Since many of your donors are still starting out, it is important to acknowledge that you truly appreciate their support. You can send an email, Paperless postcard, or handwritten note to individual thank everyone that made a financial contribution.

6. Support your circle

A good friend once told me that fundraisers “bring you closer to your friends.” Although this seemed counter intuitive at first, once someone in your network supports your cause, you should in turn support their cause. After your fundraiser closes, remember the people who support your efforts and return the love.

Have your own addition to this list that helped you meet your fundraising goals? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Mentor Binta Brown, a trustee for many non-profits, her advice for creating fundraising goals and successfully meeting them.