From The "Raising Money, Raising Awareness, and Raising Hell for a Good Cause!" Blog

Fruitful Fall Fundraisers 

As promised, here is another idea* for a fundraiser - one that is designed to raise money efficiently, attract new donors, engages both fundraisers and donors, increases your visibility. This is a good fundraiser for youth soccer teams, but can be used by groups of all kinds.

Soccer Club Fundraiser:

You’ll need to round up a few club parents and kids to go to a Sounder’s play-off game a couple of hours early.

Picture it - all those Sounders fans, waiting in line, nothing to do. Here comes your child’s soccer club, with a collection of bad holiday sweaters in tow. “Excuse me,” a little kicker says to a fan. “Our soccer club is raising money to hire a coach. My mom here will take a picture of your family in these ridiculous sweaters [teammates hold up samples] for $15. For $20, we’ll take the picture in front of this fake fire backdrop [teammates unroll a corrugated cardboard fireplace].These make great holiday cards, you know.”


· there’s a waiting line for two hours,
· a team of one photographer and three kids completes a sale every five minutes, and
· there are three home play-off games.

Then: Three teams working the line over three days will net over $3000.**

Of course, you will want to encourage the folks in line to sign up (you have packed a sign-up sheet, clip board, and pens, haven't you?) to receive your exciting newsletters, news of upcoming fundraisers, and more.***

If the Sounders don’t make the play-offs, hold this fundraiser in front of grocery stores, at parent-teacher nights, and at your kid’s soccer games - anywhere there’s a captive audience.

* Full disclosure: I have not tested this idea. But I like it because: 1) lots of potential customers are waiting for you to engage them, 2) it's a fun event that should appeal to fundraisers and donors alike, 3) it's a good photo op for local press, and so could be a great way to increase your group's visibility, and 4) it should be a lot less time-consuming than things like garage sales or dinner-and-auction events.

**1 sale/5-minutes x 24 units of 5 min./2-hours x 1 2-hour waiting line/day  x 3 days  x $15.00/sale     X 3 teams                                                                                                          team

*** Collecting contact info of potential donors and volunteers will probably be accomplished more successfully by nonprofit groups with a broader mission than that of the local school soccer club.


Fundraising with More Moxie than Money

It’s the season of big benefit dinners: dinner-and-auction dinners, gala dinners, dinner-and-dance dinners - every week-end between now and January. While these big benefits have their place (usually a swanky downtown hotel), sometimes I wonder if it's time to expand the menu of fundraiser options. First, too many big benefit events cause donors to fall victim to chicken-on-rice-pilaf-and-auction fatigue, which reduces their tolerance for dinner-and-auction affairs. Also, in this age of austerity, many would-be donors just can’t afford fancy events: Who can afford downtown Seattle parking?

What’s needed is more diversity vis-à-vis fundraising events. This would help nonprofits with limited cash flow to avoid spending more money on events than the events generate. Also, it would help them to attract support from would be donors who can’t to buy tickets to a fancy gala. Here are a few examples:

Your child’s tap dance troupe needs to raise money to travel across the country to an upcoming national competition. What kind of event can you do that’s different, inexpensive to produce, and unique? You could invite local celebrities to participate in a “Dancing with the Stars”-type of competition, only one that involves an activity that requires less physical preparation and training.  You could put on “Rappers for Tappers,” a performance that would involve local rappers coaching and performing with other local celebs. You could ask for an admission fee, or you could ask guests to vote for their favorite performers by dropping money in piggy banks corresponding to each team of rappers (who donate the money to your troupe). Or both.

The “If I Had a Dollar for Every Time …” Campaign: Pretend it’s election season. You are on the board of directors of a statewide anti-poverty organization with a large database of donors and other supporters. You and the other board members decide to raise money via an online fundraising campaign. You ask your supporters to fund your work by pledging $1 (or whatever) each time a local candidate spouts the “If-You-Work-Hard-and-Play-By the-Rules-You-Can-Make-It-In-America!” mantra.

Evil Ex Raffle: One organization with which I worked held a fundraiser with a Valentine’s Day theme – but for single people. This organization was putting on the event with almost no money and only a few weeks’ lead time. They wanted to hold a raffle during our event, but lacked the money and time to procure prizes; so we decided to hold an Evil Ex Raffle. We asked guests to donate gifts - from ex-partners - that we could use as raffle prizes. We collected a lot of prizes, including pieces of art, jewelry, and hand-crafted furniture.  Guests loved the raffle, which gave us a great return on our investment.

Stay tuned for more examples … and send me yours!


Attention Fundraisers: Are these September action items on your to-do list? Part 1

September is a good time to lay the groundwork for more efficient and effective fundraising in the coming months. Below - one example (check back for more):

Go back to school.  Find student organizations willing to:

- hold a fundraiser to benefit your organization. For example, college-   level social organizations, such as sororities and fraternities, might be interested in partnering with you.

- help with a fundraiser your group is holding. High school service groups, like Key Club, would be good prospects.

Do it now. 

If you wait, you may find that another group has beaten you to the punch. If you do nothing else (now), find out how far in advance your favorite service groups schedule their activities for the school year.

Benefits you can reap:

- volunteer help with your fundraising event,
- volunteers who remain involved with your organization, and
- donors  (because there’s a good chance that your loyal volunteer turns into a loyal donor).