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Hop to it! Fun Easter fundraising ideas

Easter bunny photos

Photos with the Easter bunny can be a fun part of any springtime fundraiser as well as memories to last a lifetime.

Easter is a time of joy, and there are many fun traditions surrounding this holiday: gifts of chocolate and candies nestled in baskets filled with green “grass,” colored hard-boiled eggs, bouquets of lilies and other flowers in soft, pastel shades … and perhaps the biggest thrill for kids: the Easter Bunny.

Any or all of these familiar elements can be used as the basis for a fun and successful fundraising event. Here are just a few ideas to help get you and your organization started.

Dress someone in a bunny suit to host your event or even just a meal or an afternoon tea for little ones – the Easter Bunny is the central character for many Easter celebrations and provides the perfect foil to any number of holiday-themed activities. Be prepared for plenty of enthusiastic kids! You might want to have a photographer on hand to take quick family portraits with him.

As just about any kid will tell you, the Easter bunny brings Easter eggs! An Easter egg hunt held in a playground, park or sports field is a time-tested draw for families. Brightly packaged chocolate eggs or other goodies work just as well as real, decorated eggs. You can charge a nominal fee to take part in the hunt, or it can serve as a free event anchoring other fundraising ideas such as raffles, door prizes and refreshments.

Speaking of eggs, an event that can spark lots of interest is an Easter egg decoration contest. Categories could include most original, funniest, most colorful, etc. People could vote with their spare change in cups placed beside each egg, with the winner taking home the contents of the cup (or your group can form a jury, select the winners and award them small prizes). Related ideas include holding an Easter cake or cookie competition.

An Easter Bunny Hop dance party provides a fun way for little ones to burn off all that sugar-fueled energy. Provide each dancer with a set of floppy bunny ears from the dollar store to wear as they move (hop?) along to popular and traditional kids’ music.

It’s a good idea to offer advance-sale tickets for your Easter-themed event to help give your group an idea of how many guests you can expect to see on the big day. With a computer and a printer, you can use perforated ticket paper to create beautiful, personalized tickets that are sequentially numbered – perfect for use in any raffle drawings or contests you might hold during your fundraiser. To help keep things organized, you’ll want to establish separate groups or committees for each event if you will be holding more than one.Easter Egg Hunt

Have fun and good luck with your fundraising event!
Easter Bunny is the central character for many Easter celebrations and provides the perfect foil to any number of holiday-themed activities.

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March Madness offers great fundraising opportunities

March Madness fundraiser

March Madness is copyrighted by the NCAA, so make sure your tickets and promotional material don’t use that phrase. I like March Mayhem, for instance.

The month of March is an exciting time for fans of college basketball. This is when the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, organizes a championship tournament called March Madness that lasts for several weeks as the teams advance through the rounds and compete for the winning title.

This popular sporting event provides a great theme for fundraising, offering plenty of opportunities for creative events that will draw community members together for food and fun.

One fundraising idea is to hold a cookoff. Participants can form teams who compete against each other to see who makes the best chili, chowder, chicken wings – the possibilities are virtually endless. The competition could be organized much the same way as the team brackets, with the cooks serving up appetizers in the first round, moving on to main dishes and ending with desserts. Charge a nominal fee for each team and have prizes ready for the winners.March Mayhem ticket sample

Your organization could also hold a March Madness party for one or more of the games. Be sure to have access to a large television and enough room and snacks for guests. A good way to ensure that you won’t run short of either is to offer advance-sale tickets that are sequentially numbered to help you keep track of how many have been printed and sold. You can also charge admission at the door and guests will receive food and drink while watching the games.

To raise even more money, you could combine other, related activities with your party. Consider organizing a free-throw contest if your March Madness party will be held in a gym. For a small fee, participants can compete against each other for a chance to win a prize. Of you can ask ticket holders to write in their guess for that game’s winner and enter all of the correct answers into a drawing for a door prize.

college basketball viewing party

The college basketball finals are a great excuse to gather friends and coworkers and host a fundraiser party for your favorite charity or organization.

Prizes can be gift certificates or other items donated by local businesses that can be placed in a basket to be raffled off in a drawing (another possible use for those sequentially numbered tickets!). As much as possible, continue the March Madness theme in the basket by including basketball-related items, such as a local team-themed T-shirt.

Just remember: The phrase “March Madness” is trademarked and cannot be used in connection with a sports event or to sell something related to college basketball.

These are a few ways your organization can have fun sharing in the excitement of the college basketball season’s final weeks. Have a great time and best of luck with your fundraiser!

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Mardi Gras offers the perfect venue for a spirited fundraiser

Mardi Gras partyFull of colorful costumes, masquerade balls and parades, delicious foods, and spirited music and dancing, the carnival known as Mardi Gras – held on the day before Ash Wednesday every year – offers lots of fun for everyone. A Mardi Gras party is a great way to say goodbye to the winter blahs and at the same time raise funds for your organization.

As you begin to plan your event, decide how elaborate a party your organization wants (or is able) to hold. The time to delegate responsibilities for what can be a complex event is right at the start. You’ll need volunteers to oversee the following areas: decorating; entertainment; food and drink planning/prep, especially if alcohol will be served; donations and sponsorships; publicity; photographer (for next year’s publicity and event); and the event itself – before, during and after – for setup and takedown.Mardi Gras themed dance

As the best-known Mardi Gras party is held in New Orleans, your menu would certainly be on the mark to include such classic regional foods as po’boys, jambalaya and crawfish in keeping with Big Easy culinary traditions. Keep in mind, however, that communities along the GulfCoast from Texas to Florida hold their own versions of Mardi Gras; so if crawfish aren’t locally available, you can still be true to the spirit of Mardi Gras by serving up surf and turf, shrimp cocktails or other dishes that include seafood. If a culinary school or college is nearby, ask them to volunteer their time in creating a menu.

To help simplify food prep and cleanup (and possibly comply with local codes), you’ll want to secure a venue that includes a kitchen. This would also enable your organization to hold Cajun cooking classes if desired. Potential places include churches, fire halls, restaurants, cafeterias or the meeting house of a civic organization such as the VFW or Lions Club. If you plan to serve alcohol (consider serving mint juleps, bloody marys and hurricanes), be sure that the venue allows it and then secure any necessary permits or licenses.

Decorate the venue with balloons in purple, gold and green, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. Red light bulbs will add a note of mystery, particularly fun if your hold a masquerade ball or a costume contest during your event. Stock up on beads, which can be found online or in most costume shops, and hang them everywhere possible – including on guests! And don’t forget masks: whether feathered or as simple as the classic Comedy and Tragedy masks, they’ve become widely associated with the carnival.

Mardi Gras party fundraiserEntertainment is key to recreating the joyful spirit of Mardi Gras. Look for a local band that plays zydeco or New Orleans-style jazz or, barring that, blues, bluegrass and/or country. If such a band can’t be found in your area, hire a DJ to play these styles of music. Be sure your venue offers enough room for a live band or a DJ booth before making a commitment.

Find a local celebrity emcee – TV and radio personalities and civic leaders are prime candidates -to host the event. An emcee can keep the celebration lively and moving while playfully reminding your guests about the charity.

Admission tickets should not be overlooked. Mardi Gras is a feast for the senses, and your tickets can (and should) reflect the spirit of fun and revelry with whimsical artwork. Use sequentially numbered tickets not only to help you keep track of how many guests attend, but also to help make it simple to hold a silent auction or raffle during your event. Be sure to offer an exciting grand prize – a trip to New Orleans would be perfect, for example, or dinner at a Cajun restaurant. You could even auction off the title of “Mardi Gras King” (have a robe and scepter ready!) and offer him a small prize or give him the honor of announcing the auction or raffle winners.Mardi Gras fundraiser ticket

Sponsorships are an important part of making the magic happen. You may find that local businesses are willing to sponsor a table or help underwrite your expenses and donate items for a raffle drawing, silent auction or costume contest in exchange for recognition of their generosity.

Download the Mardi Gras Dinner Dance template today and have fun and enjoy a successful Mardi Gras fundraiser!

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Unique winter holiday fundraising ideas

The holiday season is a time for joyful events full of cheer that bring together the entire community. Your group or organization can take part in the fun with a variety of exciting fundraising ideas!

Festival of Trees fundraiser

Host a “Festival of Trees” fundraiser with individuals decorating donated trees. Ask local businesses to donate trees and decorations. Raffle off the finished trees to needy families.

Events such as First Night observations can be a great way to get the word out about your organization. These events are family-friendly celebrations of the new year that commonly include live music performances, fireworks at midnight and much more. The higher the participation among community groups, the more fun for everyone – so if a first night event is planned for your area, it’s worth asking about being a presence there with a basket or other type of raffle.

Some communities hold open houses of private homes and public spaces decked out in their holiday best. The sight of a lovingly tended Victorian home adorned with lights and sprigs of fragrant evergreen brings a warm, nostalgic feel to many. If an open house is being held near you, consider taking part by selling tickets at each home. The more tickets guests purchase, the greater their chance of winning a prize after the event ends – just be sure to remind them to retain their ticket stubs!

What is Christmas without a visit from Santa? Your organization could host a breakfast with Santa at a local mall, VFW post or community hall and sell tickets in advance to help give you an idea of how much will be needed in terms of food and other supplies. Ask the management of a grocery store if the store would be able to donate food and supplies for your event. You could even hold a drawing for a classic Christmas ham dinner with all the trimmings, which would help generate positive publicity for the grocer when the store donates the meal.

While the little ones are visiting with Old St. Nick, mom and dad could enter a Santa sack toy raffle. Ask local businesses, especially shopping centers, to make a donation of different types of toys for girls and boys – the more the better, and the better the publicity for everyone involved. The idea is to raffle off a sack full of toys, and pending on the size of the sack and the toys themselves, this could mean over $1,000 in toys!

Another type of fundraiser your group may want to think about is a festival of trees. Your local mall, museum or community center may have space available for a display of donated artificial trees, or tree farmers in your area may be willing to donate fresh trees and wreaths in exchange for publicity. Decorate the trees and hold a silent auction for a lucky family to take home a tree that’s ready for gifts to be placed underneath!

Have fun and enjoy your holidays!

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Turkey bowling events are super fun fundraisers

Turkey bowling pinsThanksgiving in America is traditionally a time for roast turkey and a gathering of family and friends. Some, however, put an unusual spin on the national holiday and go bowling.

Turkey bowling, that is. Turkey bowling at a super market

Growing in popularity in recent years, turkey bowling is said to have originated in the late 1980s in a Newport Beach, Calif., grocery store when a manager slid a frozen turkey across the floor, toppling a soda bottle by accident. From such a humble beginning comes one of the season’s more unusual fundraising events.

You can use regular or plastic bowling pins instead of soda bottles; and yes, it’s okay to use a plastic turkey instead of a real, frozen bird! With its irregular shape, the turkey moves in unexpected directions when rolled. That unpredictable trajectory helps make turkey bowling fun to both watch and play.

There are a number of ways turkey bowling can help you raise funds for your group or for another worthy cause, such as the local food pantry or other relief organization. Fundraising can be as simple as selling admission tickets to the event; or participants can buy tickets for a chance to win prizes for successfully knocking over a certain number of pins in a single roll, knocking over a pin of a particular color, etc. Frozen turkeys may be donated by a local supermarket and awarded as prizes – or given directly to your area food bank.

You may be able to obtain permission to use an actual bowling alley for your event, or an ice rink or fire hall or other facility with a large room may be available if outdoor conditions are less than desirable.

If your organization is looking for a fundraising idea that’s out of the ordinary, give turkey bowling a try!

Turkey bowling ticket

Download our free Turkey Bowling template sample ticket and start making plans today!

Good luck and have fun!

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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!

 

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Summertime raffle ideas

Hot July rafflesSummer is here in earnest in July – a month that bursts out of the gate with the Fourth of July holiday and continues with vacations (and “staycations”) and gathering family and friends around the backyard grill. Your organization’s fundraising can highlight the best of this warm, sunny month with fun raffles and events.

One raffle that’s growing in popularity across the country is the Fourth of July millionaire raffle. Operated by a number of state lottery programs, these raffles typically award 1776 prizes ranging from $100 all the way to $1,000,000 in a series of early-bird drawings spread out over a month or two, with a grand prize awarded on or around July 4.

Variations on this theme are relatively simple. Instead of offering a million-dollar prize, for example, your group could award a $1776 cash grand prize and smaller runner-up cash prizes along with a variety of holiday and seasonally themed prizes in a “Freedom Raffle.”

Prizes such as barbecuing tools and supplies are a staple of summertime, and tickets to a local clambake or clam boil would certainly be in keeping with the warm-weather theme. Wrap smaller prizes in patriotic red, white and blue paper or place them in appropriately decorated baskets with small flags and ribbons.

A “Christmas in July” raffle is another favorite summertime fundraiser. One variation is the 12 Days of Christmas raffle, in which a different winner is named over a 12-day period. Some great prizes entrants will be excited to find under your organization’s “tree” could include Apple iPad Minis, e-readers, gift certificates to local businesses and more. Consider a tradional holiday theme for the prizes, such as a tree skirt or a red and green table runner, tree ornaments and beautiful accent pieces, for some tongue-in-cheek fun.

Have fun and keep cool!

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Impress the dads out there with a Father’s Day golf ball drop fundraiser

A great idea for a Father’s Day-themed fundraiser can be as close as a local golf course.

Golf ball drop

Ask a local helicopter pilot to donate their services for a golf ball drop.

If you can imagine a thousand golf balls raining down onto a target placed on a course green, you can imagine a golf ball drop. With a little coordination, your organization can put together a fun, memorable event to help raise money for your cause.

To make a golf ball drop happen, first make arrangements with a golf course owner in your area to temporarily reserve a green for the event. To actually drop the balls, ask your local fire department to provide a bucket truck and driver for the event; or hire a helicopter or hot air balloon (they may offer a reduced fee or even participate for free in exchange for being mentioned in your event publicity).

Numbered golf balls

Number the golf balls to match the raffle tickets you’ve sold. Drop them from a height and whichever numbers land withing a target win a raffle prize.

Sequentially enumerate a set number of golf balls – up to 1,000, if you like – and put them in a bag, bucket or other container ready to be taken up to about 150 feet and dropped onto a target on the designated green.

There are a number of different ways to award prizes in a golf ball drop. Each participant purchases a quantity of raffle tickets and the number on the tickets matches the numbers on the golf balls. Each ball that lands within the target area wins a prize. You can place the winning balls in a jar and randomly draw them to determine which prize to award.

You can also place one raffle ticket in a sealed envelope prior to the drop. If one of the balls that drops within the target area has the same number as the sealed ticket, that ticketholder wins the “grand prize” – perhaps a new car (donated by a local dealership), a $1,000 gift card to a home improvement center, etc.

You could also award smaller prizes to first-, second-, third- and fourth-place ticketholders or, alternately, the ticketholder whose ball ends up farthest from the hole – a 46” LCD television, for instance, or a 4G Apple iPad 2.

A golf ball drop fundraiser is sure to create a buzz in your community. Have fun!

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Memorial Day heralds the beginning of summer raffle season

For many people, the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial first days of summer.  One great way to generate interest in your organization’s fundraising raffle is to offer irresistible summertime necessities as prizes.

Inner tube floating gift basketA day at the beach is a classic way to enjoy a sunny summer’s day, so items like suntan lotion or sunscreen, beach towels/blankets, sunglasses, disposable cameras, bug spray, flip flops, sudoku or crossword puzzle books, and a beach ball would fit the bill. Pack items into a large plastic bucket with a child’s shovel to compete the theme, and some lucky family will be all set to go.

Other summer-themed prize ideas include an ice cream maker, portable barbecue grill, a volleyball or badminton set, or a picnic basket with place settings included.

Memorial Day is, above all, a time set aside to remember all Americans who have died in military service for the United States. In keeping with the meaning of Memorial Day, you could offer a gift basket with a twist: a “one for you, one for them” raffle.

To do this, offer a basket prize of goodies for a lucky winner – but also prepare a “basket” of needed and requested items for troops overseas. Organizations such as give2thetroops.org provide lists of possibilities, including lip balms, travel-size bug sprays, air pumps and needles for sports balls, iTunes gift cards and much more, accept donations and send donations to the troops. They also provide instructions on how to properly mail items.

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Mother’s Day provides great ideas for a raffle

Mother's Day spa basketMother’s Day raffles can be a fun way to celebrate Mom on her special day while raising funds for your organization. Create a buzz in the community with some fun, creative prizes!

Consider grouping prizes by themes. A “Time for Me” prize package could include luscious fragrant soaps with a loofah mitt or luxuriously soft bath cloth, bath salts and gels, a sachet of fragrance and a CD of classical or jazz music. Or take Mom to the next level with a gift certificate to a popular local day spa for a wash and set, soothing facial, mani/pedi, massage and makeover … even a hot stone or Swedish massage.

Another theme could be “Best Night In” – think small bottles of wines donated by a local wine shop paired with cheeses, succulent fruit and fresh breads. Make arrangements ahead of time to ensure all items are properly stored and at their best when the winner collects the prize.

Your organization can also help give busy moms a boost with some practical prizes. You could offer prepaid cards from gas stations – a big help for soccer moms. And what mom doesn’t love to be treated to a delicious meal? Your prize offerings could include gift certificates to local restaurants. Gift certificates for services such as housecleaning, carpet cleaning – even babysitting – can make mom’s day.

So get creative and have fun for your Mother’s Day raffle!

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