This reader question is from the fabulous Jenna Smith, education and communications coordinator and EMT at Peninsulas Emergency Medical Services Council.
Thank you for always being so personal! Your emails are one of the few e-newsletters that I read consistently because not only do I always feel like you are talking to me directly, but also for the great information! ;)
The question I would ask is this: I get great info for people who already have robust fundraising backgrounds and or plans from you and a few sources I have learned about from you. But where do I just start?”
Jenna, I’m glad you asked. if you’re looking to start your fundraising career, I’ve just written a book about how to start your fundraising career.
1. Start with grants. Where do you find grants for EMT, Fire and Rescue services? Start with this pdf (chapter 7 in it) is a huge help. Download the Fundraising for EMT-Fire-Rescue Services PDF here. (Chapter 7 is the one on Fundraising). This pdf has a list of places to get grants, PLUS a winning grant sample! It’s a must-read for Fire-Rescue and EMT fundraising. When you’ve exhausted these resources, then go to http://foundationcenter.org/collections. There will be a list of places you can go and search for grants, for free, in your area, using their platinum edition database.
2. I did some research on this to see what other people are doing for fundraising for these services, and it seems like they are going the community fundraiser route, using bake sales, golf tournaments, poker nights, and stuff like you probably did in high school. If you have only volunteer fundraisers, this isn’t a bad place to start. It could raise you $5,000 or so. But events are a lot of work for very little pay-off. If you’re looking for a way to sustain your program long term, I suggest
3. Advocate for set-aside money for your Fire-Rescue-EMT program on the state and county level. This means drawing up a petition and getting the requisite number of signatures to put it up for a ballot measure, to get a little money from state or county or school taxes diverted to your programs. Most counties have some of this money set aside for Fire-Rescue as it is, and the concept will make sense to them. If you’re not sure how to do this, you may have to consult with a professional lobbyist. There may be some available in your county who would be willing to give you some advice. Think about it. If everyone in your county just gave $1 more on their taxes, would that make a big difference for your program? If your region has 300,000 taxpayers, I think so! When I worked at a domestic violence agency, we advocated for county money to go to our shelters, and it worked!
4. Start your e-newsletter now. On your website, allow people to sign up for updates about safety warnings, fun facts, and the latest news from your programs. This will allow you to have a list of people who care about your services to call on when you want to raise money. MailChimp allows you to have a free enewsletter for up to 2,000 subscribers. Even if you don’t have enough money to do an appeal letter mailing, you can email people and ask them to give at the end of the year, when people are the most generous. If you’re interested in learning more about how to write an enewsletter, I have a webinar right here on June 6th to get you started.
5. Appeal Letter in November. If your EMT services have enough money, and have a database of names of people that you know have donated before and care about your services, then it’s a good idea to send an appeal letter at the end of the year. If you don’t know how to write an appeal letter, don’t worry. I have a series of posts on how to write an appeal letter here.
- Appeal letter writing 101
- Appeal Letter writing 102
- The Inner Game of Writing Your Appeal Letter
- Case study: How can you make your appeal letter better?
- A fantastic example of an appeal letter to get a new truck for a food bank, could this work for a new ambulance or fire truck?
6. If you’re brand new to fundraising and want a book about how to start every fundraising process, my first book, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, is an excellent place to start.
Do you have any more ideas for fundraising for EMT, Fire or Rescue services? Please leave a comment.