Tag Archives: charitable contributions

Pumpkin smashing fundraisers make the most of Halloween leftovers

Not sure what to do with your jack o’ lantern after Halloween night? If your answer is yes, chances are good you’re not alone. There are probably many people in your community who are left wondering what to do with that grinning orange face once the candle within has burned out and the shell’s begun to wither. Hold a smashing pumpkin fundraiser in the week or so after Halloween, and help make disposal easy. Continue reading

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.

How to ask for raffle prize donations

Donation letterThe success of your fundraiser is very often directly related to the prizes that you offer. While your organization may have set aside a certain amount for purchasing prizes, you might find that your budget is stretched too thin after covering other necessary expenses and won’t cover the costs of popular, high-end prizes that draw people’s attention like electronics. The good news is that you may find you don’t have to go it alone – you can call on members of your local business community to lend a hand.

Businesses grow and thrive by getting their name out and will themselves benefit from the positive publicity of contributing to a charitable organization’s fundraising event. Most companies small and large maintain a budget for advertising – for them, it’s simply the cost of being in business and a means of letting the public know about their services. But for you, it can mean a successful event!

While there are a number of ways to approach a business owner to ask for their help with a project such as a fundraiser or raffle, one of the best is to send him or her a brief letter explaining who you and your organization are, the type and purpose of event you’re planning and the kind of help you’d like to receive from him or her. Be clear, direct and to the point. And be sure to thank them for their support!

Before you sit down to write that letter, however, be sure to do some research on your targeted businesses and determine who is the appropriate person for your request. Many times, a quick visit to the company’s website or a simple phone call asking to whom such a request should be directed will yield the name you need in just a few minutes. Taking the time and making the effort to do this will go a long way toward receiving a timely – and generous – response.

Here’s an example letter to help you get started:

[Claudia Sample]
[Vice President, Marketing]
[Their Business Name, Inc.]
[60 E. Main Street]
[Sampletown, NY 55555]


Dear [Ms. Sample]:

I am writing to you on behalf of [Sample] Elementary School in [Yourtown], [Yourstate]. The school PTA is currently planning a midwinter fundraising raffle to be held [YourDate] in the Middle School cafeteria. This event will consist of an afternoon of fun for the children and their families. Previous raffles have always proved very popular.

Money raised at the event will be used to replace rubber mats and other gymnasium equipment at [Sample] Elementary. These items are worn and no longer suitable for the children’s use.

We are hoping that [Their Business Name, Inc.] is willing to supply us with a suitable prize for our raffle. [Their Business Name, Inc.] gift baskets are always popular, but any suitable product you could donate to us would be much appreciated.

If you are able to help, we would be very grateful. Please send a donation directly to the school at the address below. If you require any more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the school address or email me at [your email address here]. I can be reached at [(Your) Phone-number] should you wish to speak with me directly.

Thank you in advance and best wishes from everyone at [Sample] Elementary School.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]
Fundraising Coordinator
[Sample] Elementary School PTA
[Sample] Central Schools
[Yourtown], [Yourstate] [Yourzip]

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!

Give the Twelve Days of Christmas raffle a try

Looking for a holiday-themed raffle that’s a little different and a lot of fun? Give the 12 Days of Christmas raffle a try – it’s a great way to keep the excitement building up until the big day and provides an opportunity to involve a variety of local businesses.

12 raffles of Christmas drawing

Try out a Twelve Days of Christmas raffle where you hold daily drawings with ever-increasing prizes. You can sell individual tickets or all 12 as a package at a savings.

The rules are fairly simple: your organization holds a raffle drawing and offers a different prize every day for 12 days. To keep interest high, the value of the prizes increases the closer you get to Christmas.

With a dozen prizes to pay out, you’ll need to be creative in your planning and make the most of your prize budget. A great way to start out is to contact locally owned businesses in your community and ask if they would like to either donate a product or service or offer them at a reduced price. Many times, a local business owner will be happy to donate, as this amounts to “free” advertising for him or her.

Gift certificates, vouchers and coupon books for popular items and services make great prizes, especially at the early stages of a 12-day drawing. To keep enthusiasm high and encourage ticket sales, offer increasingly higher-end items, such as a weekend getaway for two, a Nintendo Wii U or a 50″ flat-screen TV.

For a raffle like the 12 Days of Christmas, you can sell tickets individually and offer a block of 12 at a special rate for the chance to win all 12 prizes. (A smart idea is to clarify that a winning ticket can only win once!) Be sure to collect all tickets prior to the date of the first drawing.

Download the 12 Days of Christmas.zip files now.

Above all – have fun!

‘Tis the Season for Charitable Contributions

Season of GivingAs this holiday season rapidly approaches, you might want to get your charitable efforts well underway before your schedule spins out of control … again … like it does every year.

So right now, before bad weather sets in and everybody heads south for the season, it’s the perfect time to catch local businesspeople and ask for donations of cash or products for your next raffle or drawing. With Thanksgiving still a couple of weeks away, you’ll be able to find most business owners in their offices. Many of them will be feeling warm, charitable thoughts (and it’s not just because they haven’t yet opened their credit card statements or suffered through the 300th rendition of “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”.)

At year’s end, many businesses might have unsold inventory they need to clear out to make space for next year’s products. And, let’s not overlook the fact that many of these businesses can be greatly benefited by squeezing in a bit of last-minute tax deductions! Many businesses have their fiscal year’s-end coming up and every little bit makes a difference.

There are a few rules your business friends should be aware of before they start packing your arms full of unsold inventory. I recommend reading a recent article by About.com’s contributor William Perez called ” Tax Deduction for Charity Donations Contributions to churches and non-profits are tax-deductible.”

Perez points out that a gift of cash or property must meet certain criteria in order to be tax-deductible.

Businesses must actually donate cash or property. A pledge or promise to donate is not deductible until they actually pay.

They must contribute to a qualified tax-exempt organization.A qualified charity will be able to provide the business with the proper documentation to prove their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Not all organizations, such as churches and religious organizations are required to obtain 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.

Proper records must be kept. This includes saving canceled checks, acknowledgment letters from the charity, and appraisals for donated property. Contributions of property (other than cash) are also subject to strict record keeping and substantiation rules. The business must be able to substantiate the fair market value of the goods or property donated, plus keep any written acknowledgments you receive from the charity.

There are limitations on the deduction that can be applied. A charitable contribution’s tax deduction may be limited. There are limits specific to charitable contributions, and there are general limits on itemized deductions. A properly certified accountant is the best source for this information.

Not all contributions are tax deductible. Contributions are not tax deductible if given to any of the following:

  • Political parties, political campaigns, or political action committees.
  • Contributions given to individual people.
  • Fees or dues paid to professional associations.
  • Contributions to labor unions, chambers of commerce, or business associations.
  • Contributions to for-profit schools and hospitals.
  • Contributions to foreign governments.
  • Fines or penalties paid to local or state governments.
  • The value of your time for services rendered to a non-profit.

Charities should be ready to provide documentation to businesses regarding their donations in a timely manner. This includes both cash and non-cash contributions. No tax deduction will be allowed if the taxpayer cannot provide any supporting documentation –  and that might make the business owner less likely to contribute next year.

IRS Resources:


Season of Giving

The first snowfall of the new winter season is here, with bright, cheer lights glistening in the chill of deepening night.  The holiday season is upon us, and the gathering of family and friends makes this a very special time of year.

Part of what makes the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day distinct from the rest of the year, is where we turn the focus of our attention.

Need doesn’t take a break; it knows no holidays, it has no “in” season.  And during the torrent of commercials and advertisements, and still, a small voice reminds us that buried beneath the retail throngs lies a desire to give.

For some, the holidays are a galvanizing point, the time of year when the spirit of giving moves them to ask others, “What can I do for you?  What would you like?  Is there anything you need?”  The eyes of their hearts look away from themselves and look up and around to see the needs and wants of those in the community.

Others – and perhaps you know someone who fits this description – makes a commitment to help others all year round.  For these dedicated souls, whose determination spans the length of the year, the holidays open the door to even greater opportunities for giving.  They will spend countless hours serving others, whether directly or indirectly, knowing that no gift of time is too small to provide a great and satisfying return.

And that gift of time is given in so many ways.  Setting up and making arrangements to hold a raffle or drawing to benefit a family or charitable organization, for instance, involves a number of people who share the same vision and work together for that common goal.  Someone has to make sure the tickets get designed, get printed correctly and arrive in time, after all.  Someone has to see to it that publicity is managed properly.  And someone has to keep track of donations, prizes, and all the rest.  I doesn’t happen in a minute, and it can’t get done on its own!

When it’s all said and done…when the winning tickets have been drawn and the numbers called…those who helped make the drawing a reality can savor the knowledge that they played a part in making someone else’s day that much brighter.  Those who put forth the effort to see that the fundraiser successfully met its goal can look back with the satisfaction of knowing all that work went to a good cause.

And ultimately, that’s what the season of giving is all about.


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