Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fundraising Ideas

I have had so much going on at the moment, but it's all really exciting.  I have a new niece ready to be born at any moment.... and of course a new cross stitch that I've been working like crazy to get finished before.

I've been spending a bit of time with my photography - and I have some pics to share.  The unfortunate thing is my PC is struggling (it's getting so old and slow now), so it's hard to get the time to download photos etc.

But I guess the thing that has been taking up the most of my time (aside from work), is that I am going to be going on a build for Habitat for Humanity.  I know, so cool.  Anyway, work pretty much gave me the all clear to fundraise as much as I wanted with my colleagues, and I have been blown away by people's generosity with their money and their time.  As I scoured the internet to try and find fundraising ideas - and as I have already been approached by several other people who are doing similar projects that require fundraising I thought - I should do a blog post!  I should warn you now, this will be quite long, so if you do not have a need to fundraise - the next part is going to be really, really boring.

So here are my ideas in absolutely no particular order:
  1. Sausage Sizzle/BBQPRO - I found this to be amazingly profitable.
    CON - I held it at work which in turn caused me to deal with a lot of red tape.
    OUTLAY - Do your homework and you could get away with only spending around $50-60 for around 200 sausages.
    PEOPLE POWER - Helpers are needed. 1-2 people to watch the BBQ, someone to sell and handle money, someone to help with bread/putting them together at the bare minimum.  The more helpers the better.

    If you plan carefully and try not to have too much waste, with cheap grocery stores such as Aldi, and Coles and Woolies following suit - bulk buys on sausages, sauce, onions and $1 loaf bread, you can get away with a sausage costing less than 50 cents to make, and you can sell them for the current going rate of $2.50!  That is a pretty good profit margin.  I have recommended to other people to perhaps approach Bunnings or Officeworks who allow charities to use their BBQ on Saturdays or Sundays.  It's a win-win, as the smell of a the sausages draws a crowd, and those places get lots of customers anyway.
  2. Sell charity chocolatesPRO - They pretty much sell themselves.
    CON - It can be costly to buy them upfront.
    OUTLAY - If you buy your own like me, as much as you want to spend. If you use a proper chocolate charity company I think the minimum spend is around $350 up front.
    PEOPLE POWER - None, although I did have a lovely colleague keep an eye out for them while I went on a holiday.

    I ended up getting my boxes of chocolates in bulk from Costco.  I then put boxes together by price value and sold them around my office.  It was a balancing act as I wanted to make sure they were all sold (even though I am a chocoholic - I certainly didn't want to end up with any leftovers), but I also wanted to make a profit.  Because my work is really close to several supermarkets, I kept the profit margin quite low, but I did manage to sell every last one of them, so that was a good feeling.
  3. Hold a bake off / Bake sale
    PRO - Gets a lot of people involved.
    CON - Are you kidding, there are no cons to baked goods!!!
    OUTLAY - Prize (which in our case was a CWA Cookbook).
    PEOPLE POWER - Volunteers to bake (but at my work this isn't hard to find).

    We held our bake off in conjunction with Melbourne Cup.  People could make something to bring in on the day and then in Masterchef style, you could vote for your favourite baked good with a gold coin donation.  The goods that earned the most $$ won a prize.  If you think about it, the person who makes the most of something is going to make the most - ie bring in 100 cupcakes and you can potentially earn more than someone who brings 25 cupcakes - but it's just for fun, and it raised quite a bit, with only the prize to outlay.
  4. Raffles
    PRO - Can raise quite a bit.
    CON - Depending on the prize/s can be hard to sell tickets.  I am also fairly sure there are rules/laws about how much you can make etc - but none of our raffles .
    OUTLAY - Prizes (unless they are donated), raffle ticket books (which are not expensive and can be purchased at newsagencies or supermarkets)
    PEOPLE POWER - Not a lot needed, unless you are getting people to walk around to sell tickets.

    I had some VERY expensive bottles of wine/champagne donated to me by my boss.  We sold some of the tickets at the BBQ/Sausage Sizzle, then sold the rest at the Happy Hour where we drew the prizes.  As mentioned above, so long as you have the prize donated, and as long as you know you can sell lots of tickets, it will be very profitable.  We sold tickets for $2 each and sold two books of 100 - so that is $400 right there.

    I also had a very sweet girl who is amazingly talented at baking, make a gingerbread house at Christmas time.  She sold raffle tickets to people at work for the house for $1 each, and sold 200 tickets.  There's another fast $200! 

    Although it does sound easy, again, you do need to be able to sell them.  And people are more motivated to buy tickets when it's something they are interested in - it can also take a bit of coercing sometimes - so you might have to put on your salesperson hat!!
  5. Trivia nightPRO - Lots of fun, and very profitable.
    CON - Takes a lot of organising.
    OUTLAY - Cost of room hire, any extras such as projector hire, we had cost of printing tickets, and we also bought some decorations.  Prizes can also be expensive unless you can get sponsors.
    PEOPLE POWER - An MC, someone to work the music/PC/projector, people to mark the answers, people to collect money for games/sit on the registration desk.

    The girl I did this with had been involved with pub trivia before so she organised all the questions/answers.  I have done this before, but I was glad to hand it over this time.  I spent a fair amount of time organising the room, selling tickets, advertising and trying to get prizes.

    Prizes - I approached a lot of local businesses to see if they would be willing to donate goods or services for the prizes and in return we would display their logo and promote their businesses.  What I found with approaching businesses is that unless the boss was actually in the store, I didn't have much luck.  I also had better luck with businesses that are not franchises.  I also had several friends who donated lovely things - one friend had been an Avon consultant and she offered me a stack of her old unused products, and another friend who is a very talented photographer donated a prize of a family portrait session and a 8x6 print.  I also had corporate sponsors donate lots of wine and champagne which was great  In addition to that we sent lots of emails to local tourist attractions/cinemas etc.  What was really helpful was that our charity (Habitat for Humanity), wrote us a letter that stated that we were officially fundraising for their charity which helped when we sent out the emails.  I guess a con to sending out a stack of emails is that the business may feel like it's just soliciting, but a pro is that the email has a better chance at ending up with someone like a manager or a boss who is able to make a call on donating tickets etc.

    Most of the money raised was made from ticket sales.  Again it is a balancing act with keeping it affordable, but also raising money.  We sold tickets for $15 each.  We had tables of 8 (because that was the table size that our venue catered for).  If I was to do it again tomorrow, I would advertise tables of 8 for $120.  They would have to pay upfront and provide me with a team leader with contact details.  I would also set up a special bank account to collect the money.  I hadn't thought of that before, and I didn't want funds to end up getting mixed up with my regular account, but so many people these days prefer to do EFT payments rather than dealing with cash.

    Working in Canberra, I have a lot of friends who work in Government Departments.  It's not difficult to send a flier to a friend in each of these departments to get them to advertise at their work.  If they are managers or team leaders an event like a trivia night is a great way to team build.
  6. Corporate sponsorshipPRO - Companies can be extremely generous
    CON - I think it helps to have some kind of relationship with at least someone working at the company.
    OUTLAY - A well crafted email... not much really.
    PEOPLE POWER - An insider can be most helpful.

    I have worked in my current area (in a professional stream) for over 12 years on and off.  We have several companies that we have used for many years.  With encouragement and blessing from my big boss, I approached them with an email.  I told them about the project I was working on and advised that if they would like, they could assist in any or all of the following ways:- 1. Advertising our Trivia Night with their staff; 2. Providing prizes for the Trivia Night; and/or 3. Providing corporate sponsorship.  All the companies advertised to their staff - and being that we are all in a professional stream, there were lots of good networking opportunities there.  Again, this encouraged them to provide prizes for advertising.  Some of the companies have budget for fundraising and assisting charities, so they also offered monetary sponsorship which absolutely blew me away and by far was the easiest way I made money.  How did I get their money? I had the charity issue an invoice for them, and they paid the charity directly.  This was brilliant as I didn't really want responsibility for these large amounts.
  7. Direct donations
    PRO - People are generous and like to donate to a worthy cause.
    CON - I worried that I was annoying my friends asking for money.
    OUTLAY - In my case it was the cost of setting up a donations website ($160).
    PEOPLE POWER - None really.

    Similar I guess to corporate sponsorship, except that you are going out to friends and family rather than businesses/companies.  Habitat for Humanity has a minimum donation you need to raise to enable you to participate in the build.  They offer the use of a donations page so that you can send the link to your friends/family.  I had a lot of very generous friends donate this way - and some of the corporate sponsorship went towards this for me too.  One extra bonus is that for most registered charities any direct donations over $2 are tax deductible.
  8. Advertising ideas - Facebook/Social networking.  I don't have facebook, but I have friends that do.  I asked a couple to advertise the Trivia Night, my Direct Donations Page and also ask if there was anyone willing to donate any prizes.  That was how I got the photography and Avon.
     - Blogs and other business websites. My friend with the photography business kindly advertised the Trivia Night on her website.
     - Work newsletters. We have an online newspaper at work which details happenings in the office.  With over 8,000 people, it is a good way to get a message out to a lot of people.  They very kindly allowed me to write an article about what I was doing, and advertising Trivia Night.  I'm not sure how many people actually came to the night because of this, but I did get contacted by a lot of people to find out about Habitat and how they could be involved which I guess is good for the cause.  I also had lots of people stop me and give me donations because they couldn't come to the trivia.  I also think it validated what I was doing and some of the emails I sent out gave my colleagues a bit more information about what I was doing.
     - Radio advertising/Not-for-Profit TV ads.  Although I didn't end up doing it, every weekend they have a spot on our local station where you can advertise events for free.  I was going to do this for the Trivia Night, however I had such a good response from workmates that I didn't feel it necessary.
  9. Other ideas
     - Happy hour/Work drinks.  We did do this, but it was similar in a lot of ways to the BBQ - quite a lot of red tape, but in the end worked out well.  We sold a lot of wine raffle tickets here (I guess wine drinkers go to happy hour), and we also drew our raffle which was a nice end to the night.  Our usual generous bakers cooked, and we gave people the opportunity to donate again for the nibblies.  This was good as some people donated a lot.  It also gave me a lot of opportunity to talk one on one with people who were interested in what I was doing, and either held an affinity with Habitat, or Fiji (where I'm going to build the houses).
     - Offering some kind of service for donations.  I have an embroidery machine so around Christmas time I did an advertising email out to my workmates to see if anyone wanted me to embroider a name or initial onto a towel/facewasher/hankie/blanket etc.  I set the price and offered discounts for return customers.  I made quite a bit of money as they had to buy their own items to be embroidered and I already had the thread/machine and other supplies.
     - Other types of competitions. This will depend on what your audience/friends/colleagues etc are into.  It could be colouring in, some kind of sport or recreation, model building.  You will most likely need prizes which can be bought or donated.  It can be a great way to team build.
     - Movie nights.  Some cinema's allow you to book out a session, sell the tickets at a special rate and profit from the sales.  I didn't need to do this, but having a lot of friends who love movies, it was on my list of things to look into.
     - Girls night in type event. If you have friends who like to cook, or massage, paint nails etc, they can "sell their services" for a donation to the cause.  It can be a relaxing/pampering type night, or just food/drinks etc with a donation jar.  Options are endless.
     - Boys night in. Not to be left out, the guys can do something similar, although they might want to play poker, video games, pool etc for a fee.
     - Tupperware/Avon/other home shopping parties.  I guess similar to a girls night, there are heaps of home shopping companies that you can have parties for that can help raise money.  It's probably just a matter of contacting your sales rep to find out more.
Anyway, if you are still with me, it is a miracle.  I am getting tired now, so I'll stop with the brainstorming.  Although if I do have any more ideas or thoughts, I think I'll come back and add them to this post.  Even if this post only ever gets read by one person who needs some ideas I hope it will be helpful.

PS. I should mention that all my fundraising efforts (with donations and everything) came to almost $9,000!  It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it for a really good cause.  If you are reading this and you helped me in any way - thank you!!!!

PPS. If you would like to read about the build I went on, I've now added a post here.

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