Category Archives: Planning

October events offer ample fundraising opportunities

Columbus day dinnerWith the end of summer comes the end of vacation season, the beginning of another school year – and a whole new season of fundraising opportunities. October is a great month for themed fundraising events, with Columbus Day in the middle of the month and Halloween at the end.

Celebrating the arrival of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus Day is a federal holiday that is observed in most states with parades and Italian-themed events. One such event is bocce. Bocce is a classic Italian lawn game that is easy to learn and fun for people of all ages to play, which makes it a great choice for a low-cost, low-hassle fundraiser. Individuals or teams can register to play in a tournament for a nominal fee, with a prize going to the top player or team.

Food is a well-known element in Italian culture and helps round out your fundraising offerings, especially when presented in the form of a dinner/dance that highlights Italian foods and music. Many Italian foods are familiar and easy enough to prepare or have catered – your organization might consider holding a spaghetti dinner with meatballs, foccacia pizzas with a variety of toppings, grilled sausage sandwiches with sauteed onions slices and strips of bell pepper as main dishes; dessert items might be Italian ice or gelato, ricotta-filled cannoli, biscotti or fresh fruit, with espresso or cappuccino and Italian sodas on hand as refreshments.numbered dinner ticket

The popularity of Halloween has increased in recent years, and your organization is sure to enjoy a successful, “spooktacular” event when it’s held on or near the 31st, especially if you think outside the traditional box and offer fun, new activities along with familiar favorites.

Your group could partner with a local farmer and hold a pumpkin sale a week or two ahead of the big day, or even carve some of the pumpkins for use in the window displays of local businesses. Another possibility is a “Halloween Happening,” with a pumpkin-carving (or, depending on the availability of space and cleanup crews, pumpkin *smashing*) competition in addition to the classic bobbing for apples and costume contest.

A “Hilarity House” offers a creative alternative to the scary/creepy/gross haunted house, with familiar Halloween characters acting out of the ordinary – imagine a Count Dracula who craves chocolate, not blood, or a Dr. Jeckyll who turns into a goofy clown instead of Mr. Hyde. Two teams of witches in pointed hats and black costumes might use their brooms as hockey sticks and play short games of Witch Hockey with a small football.Halloween party ticket

With both the Italian dinner and the Hilarity House, you can sell admission tickets ahead of the event and have tickets available for purchase at the door as space at your venue allows. Sequentially numbered tickets can be used for a raffle drawing to add another dimension of fun.

Enjoy the holidays of October, and good luck to your fundraisers!

Fall fundraising ideas to warm your heart and clean your yard

Ahhh, autumn. The season of hot cocoa, bright colors on trees, lengthening shadows and the first crisp, frosty mornings. It’s a great season to celebrate with a fall fundraiser!

raking leaves and yard workWith harvest season fast approaching, your organization could team up with a local pumpkin or apple farm (sometimes one and the same) to help you raise money for your cause. Larger farms often hold a festival on their grounds to showcase the bounty of their harvest, with fun rides and events for little ones – they may be willing to donate a percentage of their profits on a given day to your group.

Many people in cooler climates look forward to warming up with a steaming hot bowl of soup after a brisk day – so why not hold an elegant soup sampling event? Ask local restaurants to participate by bringing their favorite soups to share with the community, either as samples or as part of a cook-off compePumpkin farm free offertition. Your local VFW, American Legion or school may be able to provide kitchen and dining facilities at a discount or even for fee. A pottery business in your area could donate bowls in which the soup will be served, and the bowls could be raffled off or sold outright as a way to raise additional funds.

Even as the leaves are turning colors, they’re also dropping from the trees and piling up in the yard. By holding a yardwork-a-thon, your group can help eliminate the hassle for folks while giving them an opportunity to support your cause. Collect pledge donations in advance of the event by posting fliers around the neighborhood and in post offices, supermarkets and other public areas, sending out an e-mail or postal mail blast and through word of mouth. Be sure to include such details as the date and times available for the cleanups, what services will be offered (raking leaves, bringing outdoor toys or sensitive plants in, etc.). Each household in whose yard you work could be entered into a raffle for practical, related yardwork tools such as a lawn mower, a new hedge trimmer, and so on – be sure to have plenty of tickets handy!

Keep in mind the fact that fall weather is notoriously unpredictable. When holding an outdoor event, remind everyone working at the event to dress for changing conditions and to bring a knit hat, a light jacket, gloves and boots. In addition, the hours of available daylight are decreasing, so you’ll want to be aware of what time sunset takes place in your area and be sure to finish your event before darkness falls.

Good luck and enjoy your fall fundraising!

Planning for a perfect fundraiser

Last month, we looked at fundraising plans – a road map that helps you to establish fundraising goals and what types of events will help your organization reach those goals. Once you’ve chosen the kind of event that will best benefit your mission, the next step is to chart out how to make that event happen as smoothly as possible. With some forethought and effort, you can avoid many of the pitfalls and headaches that are brought on by a lack of proper planning.event logistics

Take a realistic look at your fundraising budget. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money – how much has been allocated toward the upfront costs of making an event happen? Depending on the type of event you are planning, you may need to be able to cover the costs of space rental, transportation, catering, entertainment/food, and advertising. If a raffle drawing is in your plans, for example, you will need to budget for raffle ticket paper and software as an economical and convenient alternative to using a commercial printing house.

Consider the anticipated upfront costs, set aside a buffer amount for unforeseen circumstances … and then stick to your budget once it’s finalized.

Look ahead on the calendar when setting the date of your event. Give your group enough time to realistically meet its goals. Be sure to take the time to investigate what other events are taking place in your community to help prevent too much competition for people’s time, attention and dollars. Look closely at the calendar: a holiday might help your group’s goals … or it might interfere.

A special consideration for outdoor events is the weather, which doesn’t always choose to work with your best-laid plans. Have a rainy-day backup plan in place. Similarly, have a backup plan in case something goes wrong with the equipment, a performance, or any other part of your event. Rehearse as much as possible to help identify pressure points and deal with problems that may arise.

As you make your plans, it’s critical that you spend time working out the logistics of physically holding an event. Do your plans comply with local laws regarding health and safety, for example? Find out right from the start whether you will need special permits to carry out your plans. Your committee members may need to choose who will be responsible for conducting this research and ensuring that all regulations are being met.

Related to the logistics of holding an event are coordination of ticket sales. Selling tickets to an event can add up to a surprising amount of work, and you want to avoid burnout and frustration. Spread out the tasks of selling tickets among several people, and establish a single person who will be responsible for coordinating the money and sales figures.

When the event is over, do not forget one of the most important aspects of holding an event – thanking everyone involved, including the community. Members of the public have given you their hard-earned cash, and members of your committee and organization have donated hours and hours of their personal time to see that the event is a success. If the people who worked on the fundraiser do not feel appreciated, you can bet they’ll refuse to work on another fundraiser. And everyone who donated or participated will want to know how much was raised and what it is that your group will be able to do that you couldn’t have done without them. This bedrock of goodwill is a strong base on which to build future fundraising events.

A fundraising plan is your road map to success

A key element to the success of any business in operation today is its business plan – a road map that outlines the route a business plans to take to increase its revenues and grow financially. A similar road map exists for nonprofits and other organizations that raise monies for their continued growth and success. fundraising plan

Called a fundraising plan, this road map helps you to look ahead, establish fundraising goals and then focus your efforts on how to achieve those goals. A comprehensive, written fundraising plan becomes a document that you and everyone else can refer to for guidance on tactics and strategies while you’re in the middle of mailing letters, making phone calls and composing e-mails.

Under the best scenario, fundraising plans are written by members of your organization’s development committee in consultation with the CEO or executive director and the board. In the absence of a development staff, the executive director or CEO should write it while consulting with the board. Development consultants are another option; they can help your charity write a fundraising plan that suits your needs, but be sure they are qualified to do so.

A common approach to writing a fundraising plan is to start by listing the overall fundraising goal for the coming year. Articulate what the end goal is for your group’s efforts, based on the organization’s actual needs. Be sure to base your figure on a demonstrable need, not just what seems like a good amount. This is the time to think about what activities your organization would like to carry out, and how much money it will take to do so.

The next step is to think about the mission of your organization – why do you need the money? What is your operating budget, and why is it the size that it is? Once you raise the money, what will you do with it?

Now you’re ready to consider exactly how you will reach your fundraising goals. What methods have worked in the past? Or, if your group is entirely new to fundraising, brainstorm ideas and list them one by one.

You may decide that holding events will be the sole means of raising the money needed to reach your goals. Perhaps a mixture of events, asking donors to make individual gifts (called “individual giving”) to your organization, and soliciting giving from major donor groups is best for your group. These are certainly valid options, but you are not limited to them. Some other tactics include direct mail, telemarketing, pursuing corporate giving programs, online and e-giving, and participatory fundraising (walk-a-thons, cook-offs, etc.).

Once you have a list of tactics, establish a timeline that covers the coming year and pinpoint where on the timeline each tactic belongs. Treat each tactic as a smaller goal that leads to your organization’s success: even though they are smaller, they are important pieces of your fundraising puzzle and need just as much care and attention. Look at each tactic and break them down into timelines of their own – when will a decision on venue need to be made? When will sponsors be solicited? When will invitations need to be sent?

The same approach can be taken for a fundraising plan that looks ahead 2 years, 5 years and beyond. A one-year fundraising plan should be seen as a starting point to charting out years of success for your organization. It’s well worth taking the time to do this work at the very beginning to help avoid stress and even financial panic down the road.

Volunteer perks keep fundraising motivation high

Running a successful fundraising campaign can be mentally and emotionally tiring for even the most enthusiastic volunteer. After weeks and months of hard work trying to keep the community’s enthusiasm high, workers themselves can be in need of a pick-me-up. Here are some ideas to help prevent the candle from burning at both ends and keep your team’s motivation boosted.

fundraising committee rewards

One of the best way to keep your fundraising volunteers motivated is with rewards like a nice dinner out or even an extravagant limo trip.

1. Make sure there aren’t too many tasks in too little time for the number of workers. Few things are as demotivating and morale-crushing as the perception that one’s tasks are too onerous, too complicated or too numerous. Spread the workload evenly among the team, and check in with everyone regularly to gauge where they’re at. If you receive feedback indicating a need for more support or resources, or learn that some workers are carrying more than their fair share of the weight, make workload adjustments accordingly as possible.

If you’re the head of the fundraising committee, check yourself: Are you carrying your fair share of the work? Delegation is, of course, an important skill for event organizers and managers, but there’s a definite line between delegating and shirking. Be honest with yourself and evaluate your own level of effort.

2. On a related note, honor the people with whom you’re working. Be sure to praise committee members – particularly those who are volunteers – for jobs well done and thank them throughout the campaign – not just at the end – for all their hard work. Not only does genuine gratitude and recognition buoy flagging spirits, it helps foster an atmosphere of open communication, which is critical.

3. Keep track of your committee’s progress toward the goal and be sure it’s visible to all. A classic means of doing this is to set up goal thermometers in public areas with gradations and fill in the appropriate amount that’s already been raised. This lets the community see at a glance how your fundraising is coming and how close you are to meeting your goal – and which often has the effect of rallying people to step up and help your group make it.

4. Along the same lines, regular (if not daily) updates on your campaign’s progress can be made available on your organization’s website and/or social media outlets (Twitter and Facebook are especially useful for this purpose).
5. Coordinate mini-campaigns or surprise 24-hour contests during the course of the fundraising campaign, with fun and exciting prizes that many participants can win, not just the top few. You could raffle off larger prizes, tied in to sales; keep in mind that some prizes, like an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World or a visit to a winery or other local destination, tend to inspire people more strongly than, say, a jarred candle.fundraiser dinner reward

6. When the campaign is over, a nice touch that really says thank you for everyone’s hard work is to throw a party! Have one last gathering somewhere special, such as a bowling alley, a local museum, a public garden or a park. Be sure to make reservations well in advance if required by the venue.

The main thing to keep in mind is that your fundraising committee is composed of people who are volunteering their free time to help support your organization. By making sure you do everything in your power to make them feel appreciated and welcome, you’re raking huge steps toward securing their continued support in future campaigns.

May offers two chances for holiday fundraising

With the month of May come not one, but two big holidays for fundraising: Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

Flowers and chocolates are both widely associated with Mother’s Day. Carnations and daisies are particularly popular, as are roses, lilies, tulips, irises and gladioli. If selling flowers, decide whether to sell pre-orders of bouquets for delivery or pickup just before the holiday or to sell individual flowers on Mother’s Day itself. Work with a florist in your community who is willing to help you put together some lovely flowers or stunning bouquets at a discount in exchange for recognition at your event.

chocolates and flowers

Not very many mothers will turn up their noses to a tin of gourmet chocolates and fresh flowers.

As for chocolates … well, few are the moms who will turn up their nose at a box of gourmet chocolates! And the mouthwatering treat comes in more forms than just small squares in a box. Hold a bake sale right before Mother’s Day and sell variations on a chocolate theme: brownies, chocolate-chip cookies and so on. Be sure to include a variety of other flavors, such as lemon, red velvet and vanilla. With a bake sale, you will likely find a number of volunteer bakers eager to show off their baking skills while lending your organization a hand.

You may decide that it makes sense for your organization to offer both flowers and goodies for sale at a larger fundraising event. Consider holding a craft show if you have access to a gymnasium or other large space – this would provide people with an opportunity to browse among quality handcrafted items and pick out a special gift for Mom to go along with the bouquet and sweets. Ask crafters to donate one or two of their products (or put together a festive, decorated basket) for a raffle drawing; also, see if local businesses that may not have purchased table space at the show are willing to donate gift certificates or coupons for the raffle. Sell sequentially numbered tickets at the door for as little as $1, collect the tickets in a bucket, basket or even a coffee can, and then set aside time during your event to pick and announce the winning ticket numbers.

Memorial Day is at once a solemn occasion, a day set aside to celebrate the service of all military veterans, and a joyful event that informally marks the beginning of the summer season. You can decide which way to go if your organization chooses to hold a Memorial Day fundraiser.

Most communities hold a parade, a festival or a similar type of event on Memorial Day weekend. Your organization can be as big or small a part of the action as your creativity and budget allow. Consider offering small or full-size American flags for sale prior to the holiday or during a local event – these flags can be purchased online from party supply stores, which may give a discount on bulk orders if asked.

On a larger scale, if you have access to suitable cooking equipment and adequate space you could hold a breakfast event before the parade starts using supplies donated by a local grocer (be sure to check with your municipality and obtain any necessary permits beforehand).

The warmer temperatures and generally pleasant weather of late May help fuel spring-cleaning events – another fun way to raise funds for your organization. Solicit members of your community to donate sellable items in good condition for your group to sell over the holiday weekend. Price the articles at full price on the first day and then offer deep discounts on the second day to help prevent leftover items. You could hold a drawing to raffle off any eye-catching, popular items.

Good luck and have fun with your May fundraisers!

How to make Raffle Ticket booklet covers

Raffle Ticket enthusiasts Ashley and Frances, from Australia, sent me a nice e-mail with a great idea about making covers for raffle ticket booklets that I wanted to share with you. See the steps outlined below:

In this example let’s assume we’re printing a total of 250 tickets and we’re going to staple them into booklets of 10 each, for a total of 25 booklets.

A) Print your tickets: 

St. Patrick's Day 50-50 Raffle Ticket

Sample St. Patrick’s Day 50-50 Raffle Ticket

1) Design your normal ticket and in the Numbering Specification tab, select  “Numbering Style: Stack Order”, “Numbering Order: Descending”. “Starting Number” would then be 250 and “Total Ticket Quantity: 250”. This will print a total of 32 sheets.

2) Now, when you print the tickets, they will be stacked in consecutive order so you can cut them apart, put them together in stacks of 10, and they’ll be in order from lowest to highest number.


B. Make a cover:

Ticket booklet with cover

Sample ticket booklet with a numbered cover

1) In the Ticket Design Panel delete any extra information you don’t want on the cover.

2) In Stub Design you can un-check everything under enable, or you can leave in helpful information like “If found, please call 555-555-5555”.

3) In Numbering Specification, delete all from starting number, ticket quantity and no. of digits.  This will give you a blank stub and just allow the main words on the cover to appear.    This will only show one ticket with the information.  You will then have to put in the ticket quantity i.e. the number of covers you want.

4) If you don’t want to number the booklets, you can put zero in the “Number of Digits” area. If you want to number the booklets to make it easier to track who is selling which ones, just  change “”Numbering Style: Single Sheet Order”, “Numbering Order: Ascending”. “Starting Number” would then be 1 and “Total Ticket Quantity: 25”, “Number of Digits: 3”. This will print a total of 4 sheets.

5) You can use a different color paper if you want. Card stock makes nice, durable covers for booklets made on bond stock which is lighter and easier to staple through.

Christmas and New Years shipping

Christmas TreeHarvest American will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 24th through Wednesday, Dec. 25th for the Christmas holiday.

There will be no USPS or UPS shipping after 3:00 PM Monday, Dec. 23rd through Wednesday, Dec. 25th. Regular shipping will resume on Thursday, Dec. 26th.

We will also be closed Wednesday, Jan. 1st for the New Years.

There will be no USPS or UPS shipping after 3:00 PM Tuesday, Dec. 31st through Wednesday, Jan. 1st. Regular shipping will resume on Thursday, Jan. 2nd.

Please take this into consideration when placing orders over the holidays.


We hope you have a Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving shipping special for limited days

Happy ThanksgivingHarvest American will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28th for the Thanksgiving holiday.

There will be no USPS shipping after 3:00 PM Wednesday, Nov. 27th. Regular shipping will resume on Friday, Nov. 29.

UPS shipping is not available after 3:00 PM, Nov. 27th through Dec. 1st. Please take this into consideration when placing orders over the holiday weekend.

To help ease the pain, we’re offering $10 off

any shipping method on orders of $50 or more.

Just use the code shipsaver in the Customer Code box of the shopping cart.

Good through 11/27/13

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Have a frighteningly good time with a Halloween basket social

Halloween BasketLooking for a fun way to bring members of your community together while raising money for your organization? Consider holding a Halloween basket social – good for adults as well as little ones.

For a successful basket social (a takeoff on the popular Chinese auction), you’ll want to make up about 2 dozen baskets (more or less, depending on the size of your organization and how many people you expect to come) prior to the date of your event. While you’ll certainly want baskets full of candy and goodies for the kiddos, you might also add items like small puzzles, coloring books and crayons, small stuffed animals or toys, or school supplies. For grownups, add a scary movie DVD or a free rental from a local rental shop, microwave popcorn, pumpkin cake mixes, gift certificates, etc. You might even hold a costume contest! In exchange for publicity, local businesses may be willing to donate the gift certificates and supplies.

Keep a few smaller items to have for door prizes that you can give away during your event. You might also reserve a large item as a lottery prize, or put together a consolation prize or two for those whose tickets didn’t win.

When people arrive on the day of your basket social, be sure to have plenty of raffle tickets on hand to sell at the door. You’ll want different colors of tickets for the door prizes, the baskets and the raffle prize so guests can purchase different types of tickets if they wish.

Place a large can, bowl or bucket in front of each basket for people to put their ticket stubs in, being careful to remind guests to retain their ticket to match numbers with the stub in case they win. During your event, pause every so often to draw a door prize winner. Designate a person from your group to draw for one item at a time from each of the containers of tickets, and then draw for the large lottery prize. After that, hold a consolation prize drawing and/or the costume contest drawing if you are offering them.

With a bit of planning, you can hold a Halloween event that offers fun for everyone while raising money for your group. Good luck and have a great time!