Many parent action groups meet their annual budgetary needs solely by fund raising within their own communities.

Before beginning fund raising efforts the following questions should be answered:
  1. What type of parent group is doing the fund raising?
  2. If the goal is to become a long-term parent group, is there a board of directors?
  3. Is the group a private, nonprofit (501-C3) corporation?
  4. Does it have tax exempt status?
  5. Have the goals, objectives and marketing package been developed?
If the group wanting to raise funds is very informal with the sole purpose of giving parents a chance for networking with other parents, numbers 2 through 5 above may be omitted. But if the group is working for long term change within the community, these things need to be in place before asking people or other organizations for money.

Because there are Federal and State laws governing 501-C3 corporations, it is a good idea to consult a corporate attorney to find out the steps required to attain that status. Many attorneys work for no charge to worthy enterprises, and most offer the first consultation free. Once this has been done:
Step 1
Develop a fund raising plan. How much resource funding is needed? Determining the amount of funds needed will help meet the objectives.

At this time, the group needs to write out a budget for the upcoming period. The period can be quarterly, semiannually, or annually. The budget includes expenses and funds. Your budget should have listed on one side all of your expenses and on the other side all of your fund raising activities, including in-kind donations (a donation of products or services in place of money).

Step 2
Identify sources for funding. For example:
  • State Agencies
  • Civic Organizations
  • United Way
  • Individuals
  • Foundations
  • Federal sources (check the Federal Register)
Step 3
Choose more than one method of fund raising. Some possibilities are:
  • Direct Mail - Sending letters to a carefully chosen list requesting a contribution.
  • Grants
  • Personal Contact
  • Fund raising events

For Funding Foundations, see the "Internet Resource" section at the end of this guide.

Marketing involves how people view the organization; everything done by the organization relates in some way to marketing. The trick is to make sure people view the organization in the desired way. This is done through face-to-face contact, written materials and promotions. Always keep the goals in mind when working on marketing materials. It must be made clear to the public what the organization does and what it is about.
Face to Face:
The first marketing tool is the people involved in the group. The board of directors, advisory board and volunteers all combine to project an image; they are walking, talking advertisements. Make it clear to everyone involved what the goals are so they all give the same message.

Written Materials:
The organization should have an attractive brochure answering the questions of Who? How? Why? What? When? and Where? It should be professional, sincere and factual. It should be neat, clear and concise. The eyes should be able to follow through smoothly from one item to the next. Large, easy- to-read type and white space are two tools used to interest the reader: Always include an address and phone number.

A fact sheet is another type of promotional material. This is simply a statement of goals and structure of the organization. It should include the mission, board of directors, advisors, staff, projects, future goals, funding status and a sentence or two about what sets the organization apart from others. The fact sheet is useful when requesting funds.

Some organizations do an educational package. This would include drug facts, prevention models, personal testimonials, resources available, etc.

Promotions are used to generate positive publicity. Consider having a local business sponsor a drug-free party, bumper stickers, pins, etc. Try to use businesses that appeal to young people, such as pizza restaurants, amusement parks, etc.

Another type of promotion is media promotion. Send press releases to local papers on a regular basis. Make sure the release is double-spaced and includes a contact name at the parent organization, someone who will be available to answer questions, etc.

Public Service Announcements (PSA s) are a free service offered by the media. Not only will they run taped announcements at no charge, but they will often help make them.

Recommended resource publications dealing with funding and marketing: "Prevention Pipeline," "The Future by Design." For ordering information see Bibliography section entitled "Coalition Building/Community Involvement" in back of this guide.