Tag Archives: planning

Holiday Fundraiser Ideas That Help Lessen The Burden On Families

holiday fundraiser ideasPreparing for the holidays can not only be stressful, but often overwhelming for many families. Your organization can help with holiday fundraiser ideas that offer a number of useful services and can help keep Mom and Dad’s to-do list short.

Amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas – all the shopping, decorating, and travelling adds up – it’s easy to lose track of time. Your group can help busy families enjoy home-baked goods by offering baked holiday cookies that members of the community can purchase by the dozen. Decide on two or three basic, popular varieties, such as sugar cookies or snickerdoodles, and begin taking orders at least two weeks in advance to give your group time to prepare and bake. If time, skill and interest allows, you could even offer pies or cakes. Continue reading

Pamper moms with a spa package fundraiser

Mother's Day Fundraiser

Invite a selection of manicurists, hair stylists, cosmetologists and massage therapists to your Mother’s Day fundraiser.

The month of May is associated with Mother’s Day, a time to remember Mom and go out of your way to shower her with love and attention. With a Mother’s Day spa fundraiser, your organization can help pamper and celebrate these wonderful women while raising funds for your cause. Continue reading

Erin go Bragh – Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with colorful festivities

St Patrick's DayAs we turn the calendar to March, winter relaxes its grip and lawns gradually shed their drab yellows and browns in favor of the bright green of early spring. Another type of green becomes prevalent during this month: the green of St. Patrick’s Day. This day celebrates Irish culture and traditions and offers a variety of fun, family-friendly fundraising opportunities for your organization. Continue reading

Bring the town out of hibernation with a Winter Carnival fundraiser

Ice fishing for the kids

A nearby river or lake could be the perfect site for an ice fishing contest for sportspeople both young and old.

After the lights and decorations have come down and been put away, after the holiday cheer has subsided into the realization that winter is just getting started, many people struggle to fight off the urge to hibernate until spring. But that’s no fun! Your charitable organization can come to the rescue by holding a winter festival that offers something for everyone to enjoy while helping raise funds. Continue reading

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.