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HOSTING A FUNDRAISER ON BEHALF OF A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
A hosted event is one that you organize and manage on behalf of a charitable organization [an organization which holds the 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS].
In order to raise money on the charity’s behalf, you will need to contact them first to see if your event meets the organization’s requirements. Many organizations have guidelines for fundraising in their name. When you contact them, let them know you are interested in hosting a fundraiser to support their mission. Describe the event, as well as the mission of Writers Resist, so that the organization understands who will be raising money on their behalf.
The organization may need you to handle funds in certain ways, and may need to give you guidelines about what to say when discussing the charity. Coordinate with the nonprofit on how to handle donations. In order for donations to be tax-deductible for donors (and not incur tax for you), checks or credit card donations must be made to the organization that holds the nonprofit status (i.e. not to you, and not to Writers Resist).
Most nonprofits will not provide funding to support community fundraisers; event organizers are generally responsible for covering any/all expenses. Funds collected on behalf of a charity partner by the event should never be used to cover operating expenses for the event. For this reason, find advance sponsors and/or venues that will allow you to hold your event for no cost. That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask in advance if the nonprofit will reimburse reasonable event costs.
Handling donations at the event: Here are several options. Choose one or a combination of these options, but please keep careful records, no matter what method you use.
Direct Representation: a representative from the organization(s) attends the event and takes donations of cash, check or credit card directly from donors. This is the most preferable option, if possible.
Online Donations: the organization(s) has a website that accepts online credit card or PayPal donations. You will need to have at least two dedicated volunteers with laptops or tablets ready to help donors give online during the event itself. If your organization is represented by Crowdrise (www.crowdrise.com), you may use that site to accept donations.
Pledge Cards: the organization(s) provides pledge cards or donation forms for you to distribute and collect at the event. You return these forms to the organization(s), and they are responsible for collecting/processing the pledged/donated funds.
THE PROCESS, STEP BY STEP
1] Check http://www.multistatefiling.org to determine if your state has special requirements about raising money on behalf of nonprofit organizations. (Some states, for instance, prohibit fundraising for a charitable organization without a signed agreement with the recipient organization).
2] Choose a charitable organization(s) based on Writers Resist criteria.
3] Contact the organization(s). Tell them what you would like to do at the event, how you will conduct financial accounting for the money you make, how you want to advertise, and ask about their rules for financial management, advertising, branding, and any other policies they may have that can affect your event. If you are fundraising for more than one organization, let all organizations know your plans; a nonprofit might not wish to partner with another organization, for a range of reasons.
4] Determine whether the organization(s) can provide:
-a mailing list to use for advertising the event
-printed materials to hand out at the event
-donor cards/donation forms to hand out/collect at the event
-a representative to collect donations on-site
-an information packet for event organizers that details how to set up the event advance advertising
-material support for event expenses
-tax donation receipts for donors (most charitable organizations will issue tax receipts only if the donation is made payable to the nonprofit itself, and includes the donor’s complete contact information).
5] During the event:
-highlight the nonprofit(s) by providing materials about the organization(s)
-make a brief speech about the charity or charities whose work the event supports
-pass out donor pledge cards
-direct guests to online donation sites (via volunteers with computers on-site)
6] After the event
maintain careful records of donations and submit them to the nonprofit organization(s) forward any donor pledge cards to the organization(s) immediately report final pledge/donation totals to the coordinators of Writers Resist