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Every year on the third Monday in January, the country celebrates Martin Luther King Day to honor the civil rights activist and his fight for peace, justice and equality. While we all know about his powerful movement, inspiring marches and of course his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, you may not be as familiar with the fundraising principles that made it all possible. Applying these same principles to your fundraising efforts can help you bring positive change to your own cause.

In this blog you will learn:

6 Fundraising Principles to Learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From donating his entire Nobel Peace Prize winnings to his movement to partnering with other activists to inspiring hundreds of people to join his cause, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the importance of fundraising and how to do it effectively. Here are six fundraising principles we can take away from his efforts.

Fundraising Principle #1: Ask everyone.

In order to raise funds, you have to ask. When you are passionate about what you are raising funds for, it is always on the forefront of your mind—ask often and ask everywhere you go. 

Fundraising Principle #2: Discuss success.

Share your accomplishments and how raising even more funds will bring future success. Donors love to hear what their money is going towards.

Fundraising Principle #3: Promote your cause.

While you may be raising funds for a particular need at the moment, it is all part of a greater cause. Promote that and invite your supporters to be a part of your story.

Fundraising Principle #4: Set an example.

Whether it’s donating time, money or resources, you must lead by example. Your commitment and dedication will encourage involvement and participation.

Fundraising Principle #5: Collaborate with others.

You can’t do it alone! Find ways to partner with other people and organizations that align with your values to gain exposure, expand outreach and more.

Fundraising Principle #6: Be financially ethical.

Be transparent about how you are using the funds you are asking donors to give. This will build trust in you and your cause.

Tips to Apply These Fundraising Principles to Your School Fundraiser

The six fundraising principles that helped fuel a massive social movement can easily be applied to other fundraising efforts—including school fundraisers. Here’s how!

  • Ask everyone. From staff and teachers to students and families to your local community, you have a huge network of supporters. Take advantage of that! Ask your network to spread the word about your fundraiser to everyone that they know and expand your outreach.
  • Discuss success. Your donors are more likely to give when they can not only know what their money is going towards, but they can also see all of the great strides you have made with previous efforts. So don’t be modest, share your stories! This can be done through email blasts and social media pages.
  • Promote your cause. Sure, you may be currently raising money for a new playground, but go deeper than that to your actual cause. Maybe you’re building the playground to include all-inclusive features for students with special needs or stem features to stimulate your students outdoors. Therefore, donating to your fundraiser will not just give your school a new playground but truly make a difference in students’ lives—that’s the real cause.
  • Set an example. You need families to volunteer, students to participate and donors to give. Show them that you understand and appreciate what you are asking of them by doing these things yourself. Get your hands dirty and man the bake sale table, give a donation to a cause dear to you and spread the word and collect donations from your own friends and family.
  • Be financially ethical. Transparency is critical. Share how all the funds you have raised are being spent. This can be especially important when you exceed a goal with a fundraiser. Your donors and families will know what the goal amount is allotted for, but you should also share how much extra was raised and how you end up using it.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to reflect on the remarkable legacy of this civil rights leader. As we draw inspiration from his powerful movement, we can also do so from the fundraising principles that fueled his vision for peace, justice, and equality. By incorporating these principles into our own initiatives, such as school fundraisers, we can amplify our impact and drive positive change in our communities.

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