Frugal Fundraisers

Just because the economy is down and budgets are tight doesn't mean that schools and organizations can stop fundraising. In fact, it's even more important now than ever, as states are slashing educational and non-profit funding. Yet, the pressure is on these groups to provide valuable fundraising events. People aren't in a position to purchase high priced wrapping paper and raffle tickets for charity. Likewise, organizations don't have the initial investment to put into fundraising projects that may or may not recoup the initial cost. What options are available?

Forgo the Car Wash

There's very little invested except time, but today the $10 car wash isn't the best fundraiser. Instead, think of other services that still attract customers. Babysitting and "mom's night out" events are large draws these days. For $10 or $20 busy moms and dads can drop their children at a school gymnasium, a public library, or a church social hall and enjoy a night to themselves while their children play games, watch movies, or make crafts.

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Gather your volunteers and plan some great kids' activities that use what's available to your group. Then, advertise a safe environment on a Friday or Saturday night and collect the fee when children are dropped off. Think through possible snags like unruly children or varying ages and work out a plan and rules ahead of time. This will work great for church groups or sports teams where the children are familiar.

A New Gift Card

Put forth some legwork and find an area business that is willing to work with your group as a fundraiser. Ask if you could sell gift certificates for the business in return for a donated portion of the profit. For instance, you would sell fifty $10 gift cards for the local ice cream shop, collecting $500 from your patrons in return for the gift certificates. Then, you would give the ice cream shop $400 for $500 worth of gift cards. Your organization makes a 20% profit (or whatever you work out with the business), the business generated new customers and guaranteed $400 in sales, and your customers got prepaid gift cards. Your only task would be to print the gift cards and work out an arrangement with the business. Aim for universally appealing, local businesses which will be more willing to work with you and will generate more interest from your customers. Restaurants and grocery stores work especially well.

Homemade and Handy

Create a long term project that can generate annual income for your group. Most schools print calendars for the community, but think about offering an upgraded calendar as a fundraiser. You can arrange to have photo calendars printed at reasonable rates, including photos from last year's events. Add a dollar or two profit onto the cost of the calendar, and offer it for sale.

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You could also arrange to print your own holiday cards and sell them in packs for a profit. Create an appealing card that would be special for people to send to friends and family.

Make it something that they can't get anywhere else, something that they "must have." Then, have the cards printed in large bulk at your local photo or copy shop. The printer may offer a discount if advertising can be included in the card packets-ask about it. Market these items as annual items. An annual production interests patrons and creates more of a demand for your item. It also creates a future for your fundraising and an opportunity to fine tune your plan next year.

May 19, 20100 found this helpful

Hi great ideas here, did you also see my tip about organising a bring and barter event a few days back? For extreme frugality!

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May 19, 20100 found this helpful

I have always had a fundamental objection to fundraisers. Ask yourself what the school nets after paying for products, etc. and just ask for that much money from parents. If school nets 25 cents from each candy bar, ask for the 25 cents. Most can afford the actual net, but not the cost of the product plus the net.

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May 21, 20100 found this helpful

Our school just held a very successful Race for Education. Kids all walked or ran for an hour after raising pledges. This is an established program, so look for it on the internet. The whole thing is very professionally done, you get lots of help, so it's easy to do, too. The first year, you have to give them 20% or $1000, whichever is more. Thereafter, you get a CD disc and all program help for free. We have a small parochial school, but have raised over $12000 so far, keeping over $9700! Teachers get to keep all funds they raise without any of that having to be deducted.

I also like having a huge rummage sale for fundraising.

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