BAT Tips

Basic Fundraising Tips

Here are some basic fundraising tips for all out BAT fundraisers! Please don't hesitate to email [email protected] for any other burning questions you may have. Best of luck to all of you!



Personal asks are the most effective way to fundraise! Events are fun, but personal asks have a 50% success rate for fundraising. Don't be afraid of asking people to support causes you believe in!

How many times should I ask people for a donation? Three. Reach out to people three times. If they don’t respond to you after the third try, it’s best to let it go.

How do I approach people if I’m not sure they support they RRFP? You can approach people in a variety of ways. The majority of people support the heart of the RRFP. Talk about why you support the center. The key is to look for a conversation opportunity. Adjust activist language as needed.


  1. Whenever you can and however you can, ask people to support you: Let everyone know you are bowling for abortion access. When they ask why, the conversation door has been opened. Take this opportunity to tell them why you support the RRFP.
  2. Corporate Matching: Take advantage of corporate matching gifts programs. Many of your donors may work for companies that have a program like this — their donation could double simply by filling out a form from their Human Resources department and following the steps to submit a matching gift.
  3. Spare Change: Ask your favorite restaurant or local pub to put out a jar for donations of spare change. Decorate it with pictures of your bowling team. Put them someplace obvious to get people’s attention. Or ask your family and friends to put aside their spare change every week. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up!
  4. In Lieu of Gifts: In lieu of birthday, house-warming, wedding, or retirement gifts, ask your friends and family to make a donation to the RRFP’s Bowl-a-Thon.
  5. Ask People You Might Not Think to Ask: Take a chance and ask your doctor(s), dentist, veterinarian, chiropractor, therapist, yoga instructor, insurance agent, lawyer, mechanic dry cleaner, or hair stylist for a donation.
  6. “Sit” for Donations: Baby-sit, pet-sit, house-sit. Offer services to the neighbors to get them involved.
  7. Dog walking for donations: Send out a flyer to your neighborhood offering your services to dog walk or dog sit while the owners are out of town.
  8. Personal vending machine at work: Have you ever wondered how much money the vending machine at work clears in a single week? Find out! Purchase some of the office favorites in bulk (or have them donated), mark them up, and sell them from your desk for $1 or $2. If you have a way to keep them cold, do the same with bottled water and sodas.
  9. Signing Your E-mail or Changing Your voicemail: Get in the habit of signing your e-mail with your name followed by the link to your personal fundraising page. You can also change your voicemail and answering machine message to let people know you’re bowling for abortion access.

Be creative and have fun!  Above all make sure that you send a personal email to all your contacts. Time and time again this has proven to be the most effective method of fundraising for similar events.


Setting Your Goal


We’re asking the lot of you to set your goals as high as possible. What we really want, though, is for this fundraiser to be fun for you. So…

  • If you’re new to the BAT, don’t sweat it! $500 might seem like a lot right now, but you’re going to be really surprised at how easy it is to reach that. And once you do, you can raise your goal.
  • We want you to feel confident! Set your goals realistically. Keep in mind who you’ll be asking for donations and how much they’d be able to give.
  • Try to get together with your team to set expectations for team and personal goals. It helps to know what page everyone else is on.
  • Don’t spread yourself thin! We want you to push yourself and work hard, of course, but it’s important to us that you take care of yourself and don’t make commitments that are too much to handle. We don’t want anyone getting burned out!
  • If you are an experienced bowler, consider setting your goal a bit higher. Think about the new people you may have met in the last year. Ask previous donors to donate $5 more than they did last time. If you have the time, try squeezing in one more team event.
  • Use your goal to raise your goal! Tell people when you’re getting close, like maybe you need 3 more folks to donate $10 to reach your goal, and when you reach it, raise it!
  • Diversify! Try using as many fundraising techniques as possible- social media, emails, handwritten letters, phone calls, a variety of team events, personal asks, and other tools are out there! Think about the people you want to ask and what they’d respond to the best.



Talking Points

If you’re new to this, asking people for money for an organization can seem kind of daunting, so it always helps to have some basic talking points to back you up. You can start by telling people that…


The RRFP is a grassroots abortion fund with no big-money sponsors. All of our funding comes from small donations from fundraisers like you! No donation is too small.

From the success 2014’s Bowl-a-Thon we were able to increase our budget for abortion pledges another $500 a month-- from $2500 to $3000! We are now able to pledge larger amounts to more people who need financial support.

-BUT- We still have to turn away more folks than we can help.

WHY does RRFP always have to turn away folks every month?

  • Most first trimester abortions average at about $400 in VA. Not a HUGE amount of money to a lot of us, especially if you can get it covered by insurance or Medicaid, or set up a payment plan. But you can’t. Abortion is not covered in VA, unless there is a serious abnormality or life threatening complication. (And even this is on the chopping block.) $400 up front to a person struggling to pay bills or take care of a family may well be unobtainable. The cost after the first trimester seems to go up exponentially.
  • After 20 weeks you have to go out of state to DC, NC, or MD to obtain an abortion. So now we’re talking travel cost. Adding to travel cost in VA is the 24 hour ultrasound law. Most VA clinics have already been requiring patients to undergo ultrasounds and incorporating that in to the cost (adding about $100 to the total cost).
  • The real kicker is that now, instead of getting your ultrasound and abortion during the same visit, you must come back at least 24 hours after your ultrasound to be deemed responsible enough to get an abortion. So that’s two appointments. That’s two days taking off work. Two days of travel cost. Two days of finding someone to care for your children. After the first trimester, you’re also required to undergo (and pay for) IV sedation, which means that the clinic won’t see you unless you have someone to go with you and take you home. That adds travel costs and missed work to the person you have to find to go with you. The majority of counties in VA do not have abortion clinics, so much of this happens in state.

The good news is that no new abortion laws passed in this General Assembly and VA's Board of Health may review its abortion clinic restrictions!
The bad news is that Congress has ALREADY proposed five new restrictive abortion laws.

The TRAP laws are still in place that require local clinics to undergo costly, unnecessary reconstruction or close down all together. Two clinics have closed in VA since they've passed.

Now you can use this information to tell folks why it’s so important to reach our goal of $50,000. So many restrictions have been stacked against reproductive health in the last 3 years. The need for abortion funding assistance is growing now more than ever and the RRFP will continue fighting to fill that gap!

Using Social Media


Using Social Media

Facebook and Twitter are already buzzing with RRFP Bowl-a-Thon Fundraising. Which has been incredibly successful for many bowlers (myself included!). It’s time for everyone to bring their “A game” to the social networking world, and I’ve got some tried and true tips that will help to get the money flowing.

  • Make it exciting. Short, sweet and sassy is the way I like to keep my social media updates. You want something that will call for attention, pull at their purse strings and be easy enough to follow through with right then and there. This is why it’s important to include a direct link to your registration site, with a short fact or interesting tidbit and a description of what you are doing.
  • Example: “Think that all people deserve the right to access abortion care? So does the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project! Help support their work and my bowling team by clicking here: (insert your link), it’s fast, easy and makes a huge impact!”
  • Be repetitive. Trust me, there is no way you could be the most annoying person on facebook, so don’t worry about posting too much. Daily is great, and WILL result in more money. You won’t offend people, after all social media by its very definition is meant to be somewhat repetitive and annoying.
  • Include a challenge. This is the best tip I could give you! People are way more likely to donate if they know that it’s going to make a personal difference for your donation goal. Get Creative!
  • Example:  *“I am $46 away from reaching my fundraising goal for the rrfp’s bowl-a-thon AND reaching 3rd place on the scoreboard. Who wants to help?!?
  • Thank people via Social Media. Everyday I put up a status update that includes a thank you for one person, and include a link on how other people can donate. It allows me to seem like I have a unique purpose in my update and people like to be spotlighted for their donations. It also serves as a reminder to everyone I sent personal emails to soliciting for donations. I have received at least 1-3 donations from every “thank you” update I’ve done.
  • Tell them how much you want them to give. We know that we don’t expect our friends to give us $200 donations for our bowling team, but they might not! Tell them how much money you are looking for, and make sure it’s something you think your group of friends can manage.
  • Example: “If 10 friends donate $10 to my bowling team for the RRFP I will be halfway to my goal! Pack your lunch tomorrow instead of eating out, just think about the amazing work the RRFP does! Will you be one of the ten? Click here: (insert link)”

The Email Ask


The Email Ask

We can not stress enough the importance of sending out email asks! VA is known for having one of the most event- oriented Bowl-a-thons in the country, which makes mid- February through mid- April a very awesome time to support abortion access… But during last year’s Bowl-a-thon, Carolina Abortion Fund, who we were neck and neck with throughout, had very few events. Almost all of their donations came from email and social media asks. Imagine how much you can pull in for RRFP if you put some extra effort towards sending out those emails! We’ve got some tried and true methods that get the job done easy!

  • Read & Personalize the sample email we have sent out and posted on the blog.  Personalize it where needed (we make anything that needs to be personalized stand out, so don’t worry about missing something) and sign them, or write your own your way!
  • Send them out to your contacts. Everyone and anyone. Use a catchy subject line that will make your email stick out.
  • The best time to send out an email is on Tuesday or Wednesday during the 9-5 workday. Some say that Friday afternoon can be successful because people are so bored at work and are browsing the internet, but that can be risky because above all you want to AVOID WEEKENDS. Do not send out emails asking for people to do anything on a weekend.
  • Don’t send out a mass email to everyone you know. Take the time to send it out individually with each person’s name used in the opening. If it feels right include a personal greeting, making that personal step can make a big difference in someone following through on their donation.
  • If you don’t have a current email address (and let’s face it, a three year old email address that you haven’t used in a while might not be current) use their Facebook profile if you are friends (or, hey, even if you aren’t). A general rule of thumb is if you have a current email address, use that before Facebook. However, go with what you know, you might have people who you know are more likely to respond via Facebook.  

These are tried and true methods. There’s usually about an at least 50% donation response from sending out emails and personal facebook messages. I’ts easy and it works! So get on it!

Event Planning

One way that many teams have added some padding to their team totals is by hosting events. Lindsey, the coordinator of Bowl-a-thons past has come up with a few tips that you might want to consider if you are planning an event.


Event Planning Tips

Be creative.

Fundraisers are a dime a dozen, a little imagination can go a long way. You want people to get so excited not only do they want to come but they bring a few friends with them.

Be realistic.

You don’t want to plan something that is going to take too much time from your team to plan, especially if you are hoping to raise a smaller amount. Ex: Don’t spend 20 hours and tons of resources planning an event that will only result in $150.
Make money. This is a fundraiser, y’all… people aren’t just paying for the experience, they are paying because they believe in what you are doing and they want to contribute to your team! Let them!

Collective Bargaining.

Make sure you are cutting a deal with venues, suppliers and people that will give you the biggest cut of money. Not only are you giving them a chance to support a great cause you are offering free advertising. Having a cocktail party? Ask the bar to give you a cut of the food served as well as the drinks. The worst they can say is "no".

Have a goal.

How much money do you really need to make? Plan your event around that goal. If you are planning a dinner and you need to raise $300, and you want to charge $20 per person, you need 15 people to come. Your job is to make sure at least 15 people will be there and paying. Don’t skip this tip!

Do not plan to raise your entire overall team goal at an event! I encourage you to have as many events as your pretty little team can handle! Events are great, and fun…. and a LOT of work! Make sure every member of your team has sent out our sample email/letter to their contacts and has followed up!

Even if you are able to raise your goal through a series of events it would be a shame to not have your team members solicit for funds from their contacts. It’s just too easy and too successful to not do! And remember, the goal is the starting point not the ending, we hope that many of you will go way over your goals. Which, historically is very likely!

Common mistakes in event planning:

  • Not charging enough (or charging too much)!
  • Waiting until last minute. Every year the last weekend before the Bowl-a-Thon is saturated with team fundraisers. Richmond is small, and there is overlap in the people who would normally come to your totally awesome fundraiser, so don’t make them have to choose based on the date! Check the calendar!

So, that’s the low down for event planning! We have already heard through the grapevine about quite a few upcoming events and are super excited to see the dough start rolling in, after all we’re trying to raise $50,000!!! If you are planning an event and want RRFP to promote it, email us ([email protected]) and we will put them on the calendar.

Event Ideas

Some fundraising event ideas compiled by Lauren Vincelli (and more) for RRFP!



I had great success with this in years past. $500+! I called on some talented women I knew in the salon biz and asked them to donate time and space to a Cut-a-Thon. Three stylists donated their time and skills on a Sunday (a day the salon was normally closed for business) For $25 supporters could get a shampoo and cut by a professional stylist and the salon/stylist was exposed to a whole new clientele, many of whom became repeat customers. Our team brought pastries and coffee for stylists and waiting customers. As a thank you to the salon a team member who is a professional photographer offered to take professional photos of them and their space for their website and Facebook.


A photo booth is a great way to bump up almost any fundraiser. All you need a digital camera and printer or a polaroid camera and film. Supporters can pay $5 for a photo taken by a professional photographer (do you know any?) This is a great add on to a dance party, Cut-a-Thon (think before and after pics) or other events. Make it extra fun with cute props like fake mustaches, silly hats, crazy glasses, dress up clothes from the thrift store. OR make a stand alone photo booth in a place with high foot traffic like Carytown, Shockoe Bottom or VCU.


For about $10-$25 you can get a one-time booth at one of the many farmers markets to sell baked goods for your cause. You could ask local bakeries and restaurants for donations or DIY. State law requires that baked goods prepared in an un-inspected kitchen be labeled with all ingredients and with the full address of where items were prepared among other things. Check with the manager of the farmer's market and VA state laws to be sure you are up to code: State and Federal Laws regulate what can and cannot be sold. Non-profits conducting one-day food sales must still adhere to these rules. Many of the RVA farmers' markets are on this list:

PRO TIP: you eat with your eyes first! make sure your items look AWESOME and taste just as good. Anyone can make a cookie but cute cookies will get you noticed and get them sold! Toll house cookies are not good enough. The extra time will pay off & pay for more abortions!


If you work in food service, consider teaming up with some of your fellow workers and letting patrons know that you plan to donate a percentage of your tips for the night to you cause. Get organized and post on Facebook, Twitter etc. and make it known to you friends and family. Encourage them to dine out for a good cause.


Hold a catered event. Most caterers in RVA charge between $13-$15 a person. Double that and host a private catered event complete with excellent food and adult beverages. If you know a friend with a beautiful back yard, a church or community center with an event space or a business willing to lend the space it is a great idea. Last year Liz, Julie, and I hosted a catered pizza party. We had a banquet license for ABC, great music, a charming space donated by Lamplighter and delicious wood fired pizza from Pizza tonight. We charged about $20-30 per person and made about $700. If you know a food cart or caterer willing to discount or donate even better. There are TONS of great food carts here. Details like decor and thank you notes can make an event really special. Set up a blog or Facebook page to promote, give info and sell tickets!

ABC event licenses are not hard to get but do require a little time:

Check out an example BAT event here:


Flex your own cooking skills as a team and host a dinner party or brunch at your home, backyard, community center, another organization or church. Call on friends for borrowing extra tables and chairs. Decorate your tables with flowers of fun curios and encourage all team members to participate in cooking and cleaning for an exceptional dinner party. Make it special by choosing a cool theme-- Harry Potter? Golden Girls? Drag? Invite musicians, encourage dancing, and encourage donating. ABC sales may be more casual here but technically a license is still required.

Make an event where families are welcome and are charged a donation entrance fee to join in the fun. Or organize a potluck party along the same lines where everyone brings a dish to pass and gets to socialize with friends and neighbors. The entrance fee to the party becomes your donation.


If you know a great musician or if you are one hit the streets! Carytown, shockoe bottom, vcu, financial district... Get out there and belt it out, donate the money in the hat to the cause!


Alternatively, if you have venue connects, feel free to host a benefit house show! If you know musicians, ask them to perform a benefit concert. It’s a great way to tap into your local music scene. House shows in Richmond that collect donations, have great musicians willing to donate time & are well advertised ahead of time have raised upwards of $1000 in the past!


Throw a fundraising party at a local establishment. Charge your guests an entrance fee (donation). But also make sure to ask that local restaurant or bar to support you with a donation of 10% (or more!) of the night’s sales—don’t be too shy to ask. You can offer to generate a flyer to promote patrons coming to their establishment to help increase their business, and thus your percentage.


Host a fundraising party at your home for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Share why you’re supporting The RRFP. It’s a great way to ask people in person to support your fundraising efforts. Try party variations such as a movie night featuring classic fun movies or other team theme oriented parties.


Challenge another fundraising team or get some friendly competition amongst your own team by challenging them to a dance off. Hook up with a regularly well-attended dace party or plan your own. BUST ASS to learn some sweet dance moves, clear the floor and bust a move. This idea was a huge success for DC teams in the Wayside Cup, and I heard some teams were stacked with ringers-- professional dancers and dance majors. In any case the donation jar was passed and people voted with their wallets and it was tons of fun!


Ask friends and professionals to donate work to an art auction, organize in a space, and invite everyone! think of some unconventional auction items like tattoo or piercing sessions, hand made jewelry and crafts, cooking lessons, music lessons, private commissions, salon and spa gift certificates and auction them off. This is a great event for a quiet, well lit bar or restaurant with live music.


Ask all of your friends and neighbors to participate by donating items for sale. Make signs that indicate all proceeds are going to The RRFP’s Bowl-a-Thon. Add a bake sale and/or lemonade stand, and have a donation jar visibly displayed.


Get friends and family to donate things for you to sell on an Internet auction site (like eBay). Make sure to let bidders know that the items selling price is going towards your fundraising for the Bowl-a-Thon.


Forget bowling for a minute. Pledge for every $X.00 donated you will spend X:00 minutes in a Richmond neighborhood picking up trash. Invite teammates, friends and community members to join you. just set a date for the clean up. Promote the event and be sure to include a link to your online donation page. Promote it online and go door-to-door and on the neighborhood blogs. This is a good reminder of how we all need to depend on each other for ALL kinds of community improvement. finish the cleanup with a pot-luck or bbq. include a cooler of water, cups and snacks for volunteers. The city can help you with your clean up, removing heavy appliances and clean up materials:

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