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Column: Successfully fundraising on campus

Photo by Jalen Craglione

There’s a good chance that at least once at Bradley, you’ll ask, “Hey, can you donate?”

The variety of student organizations on campus all have something in common. We all engage in some fundraising, whether money is being raised to host an event or support a local charity.

Browsing through Hilltop Happenings, you’ll see student organizations advertising how to support their cause. If you viewed the most recent newsletter, you might’ve seen the announcement for Bradley American Marketing Association (AMA) and Bradley Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS) Toy Drive.

I’m a part of Bradley AMA and am helping organize the toy drive. We’re raising monetary and toy donations for the Peoria Children’s Home and Peoria Crittenton Centers.

If you’ve ever fundraised, you know it’s fulfilling but very overwhelming. You have to put yourself out there to advocate for your cause and find creative ways to get people to donate in order to reach your ambitious fundraising goals.

This is my second time organizing the toy drive, and there are specific lessons I learned from the first time around. Reflecting on last year’s toy drive helped me see what to implement versus avoid for this year. Here are three things I’m doing now, and I’d recommend the next time you fundraise.


Last year, when I got the role of leading the toy drive, I put a lot of responsibility on myself. I didn’t ask for much help with promoting or collecting donations. It made me feel that I bore the whole weight for the toy drive results. Not only did this make me stressed, but it limited the number of ideas for raising donations.

This year, I’m letting others participate in the fundraising process. I’m asking for my fellow AMA Exec members to get involved. Also, AMA is partnering with another student org, Bradley APICS.

Usually, the toy drive only benefits one local charity. This year we’re supporting two. We’re also implementing several ideas to raise donations, like placing two collection bins on campus and having a toy drive collection event. I wouldn’t have been able to do these additional initiatives for the toy drive myself. It truly takes a team, so don’t hesitate to bring others in to support your cause.


Something I learned by taking a behavioral economics class is that people will act if there’s an incentive. Asking someone to donate out of their goodwill does work. However, adding something they can participate in or receive encourages them even more to give.

We knew everyone would be busy around the time of our toy drive with finals nearing. So we created a study break event called “Presents & Trivia” and invited our peers to take a break from their work. They can win prizes that have been donated byZion Coffee and Leaves ‘n Bean Coffee gift cards. At the same time, attendees can win for the community by bringing donations to the event.

Overall, the toy drive collection event was a success!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the trivia and compete for free coffee – a valuable thing around finals. Most importantly, several attendees decided to donate to the toy drive. Therefore, the next time you fundraise, instead of just asking someone, “Hey, can you donate?” why not invite them to a fun event or offer something in return. They’ll feel inclined toward the mutually beneficial donation.


You may be thinking, yeah, thank you for the common sense. You have to spread the word when fundraising. Except, there are more effective ways to promote than others.

For instance, I did some promotions for last year’s toy drive, except it was mainly impersonal. I announced it on Hilltop Happenings and posted about it on my LinkedIn Page. However, I didn’t directly reach out to ask for donations. I wasn’t leveraging my network to fundraise.

With this toy drive, I’m pushing myself to ask for support directly. I’m contacting my work, family, Bradley alum, local Peoria businesses, and peers. I’ve found a direct ask is more impactful than if someone views a flier or a social media post. You’ll find the individuals you’ve built relationships with at college or professionally usually are glad to help your cause, that is, if you ask.

You got this

Fundraising doesn’t need to stress you out. Build your collaborative team, offer an incentive to donate, and promote to your personal network. Whatever your cause, you have the power to capture “Yes’s” when you ask, “Hey, can you donate?”

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