The last week has definitely kept me, and much of the country, on edge as we watched storms ravage the Midwest. For today’s column I would like to take a moment to focus on how you can raise money for this cause (or any other).

I have spent the past four years living in Missouri and thus, have had many friends effected by one of the deadliest tornadoes of the past 60 years. With the death toll rising over 130, there more than 150 people missing after Joplin was torn apart. As the small Missouri community still tries to dig itself out of the rubble, surrounding states and towns band together to help.

Before I go into details about how you can put together a benefit or a fundraiser, if you are just looking for a way to help out visit the Joplin, Mo facebook page:

You can also text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. If you would like to donate in other ways besides monetarily, you can visit to sign up to donate blood or time.

How to Put Together a Fundraiser

1. Decide on which type of event you would like to throw. Fundraising campaigns can take on a variety of different forms, ultimately the most successful ones provide something attendants can take from it, this can range from services to entertainment. Depending on your resources and interests you can put together.

Since I am fairly close to the comedy scene in New York, I thought it would be good to put together comedy show showcasing Missouri comedians that are based here in New York. Surprisingly there is a pretty big pool of talented individuals. Since their roots are in the show-me state as well, it is easy to recruit people to donate their time and efforts.

2. Start Networking—in every sense of the word. You need to start pulling all the strings you can. Usually when it’s a cause other people can get behind it is a lot easier to get help and the more you delegate the less you have to worry about. Although I have the comedian contacts covered I knew I would need help spreading the world and nailing down a venue.

This is why I turned to the NYC Mizzou Alumni Association to see if they would be interested in becoming involved or at the least sending out an email to the members to let them know of the event. When fundraising social networking sites such as facebook and twitter are essential to spread the word to other friends who want to get involved.

I also know graphic designers and other creative Mizzou students that can help design fliers for the event, which is always a good way to draw peoples attention—online and around the venue. See if you have any creative friends who wouldn’t mind donating their talents.

3. Figure out how to handle the donations. Unfortunately there are a lot of fundraising scams out there and not everyone will know you well enough to trust you. You should always specify how much of the proceeds will go towards the cause (sometimes you may have to pay for the venue so a portion may go to that). I highly suggest depending on social networking and other free outlets to get the word out about your event instead of paying for a promotional service.

When it comes to collecting money, if your event is over a long period of time you can use sites such as that will allow people to donate to your cause via the internet. These sites are free and a great way to organize your donations.

If you want to donate your fundraising proceeds through the Red Cross you must first apply through their website. The website specifically states, “Before engaging in any fundraising activity on behalf of the Red Cross, you must receive written authorization to do so in the form of a fundraising agreement signed by a representative of the American National Red Cross.” To learn more about the organization’s rules about donating on their behalf visit this link.

4. Time is of the essence. Timing is everything, this is why you must work with everyone’s schedules who is involved in helping you but also consider those attending your event. People who decide that they want to do a fundraiser without having an initial cause planned out should look for something that is relevant and will evoke emotions from a large group of people.

Although there is no such thing as too much charity, there is such thing as too many charity events. One reason I decided to reach out to the Missourians in New York is because I hadn’t heard of anything else happening and know there is a large population here. If there were multiple fundraising events being thrown all around similar times it would be difficult to recruit people.

For those who really care about a cause, but you already know of large fundraisers going on for that cause see if you can combine forces with the other organizers to pool all your resources.

Putting together a fundraiser is a stressful task to take on, but at the end it is very rewarding. The more planning you put into the beginning stages, the better the outcome. The most important thing is to pick a cause you are tied to and passionate about, that way you are more determined to complete the project.

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