Fall fundraising ideas- it’s not too late for 2015

salt city candle company

Salt city candle company- I love candles, but I’m really particular- but I know women who have literally spent hundreds of dollars on candles in a single event

Last weekend I attended a social function that, as social functions occurring just before Thanksgiving almost always do, end with a call for donations.

This was a worthy cause-a non-profit school with a broad curriculum and outstanding programs but had budgeted for a number of students that didn’t show up. These things happen-more so when the economy is on the verge of hitting the skids. Upon learning that the deficit was in the tens of thousands of dollars (and not wanting to tap into long term savings ear-marked for infrastructure) I went into board member/fundraising mode.

As I sat, happily munching away on Swedish meatballs and lemon squares (not in the order I might note), I tapped into the recesses of my former life, the one wherein I was invariably on some committee to raise money.

The easiest low/no cost means to raise a few thousand dollars is to host events where a product provider brings in a “line” of items and the upside (after cost) is donated to the school. The provider extends his/her potential customer base and uses it as a tax write-off (if your entity is a non-profit). At my children’s previous school, we had three per year and each event brought between $500-$2000 to the school, the highest usually being either jewelry or clothing. It’s most helpful to have things aligned with the season.

  • December: jewelry. It’s not too late to start (it being 11/9). A holiday jewelry showing in early December might be feasible.
  • February: valentines/clothing for spring- Like the Cabi line tends to do very well (it also fits the party/hostess model)
  • April: really anything wellness oriented- diet/weight loss/essential oils

Ground rules: talk around-network-learn which individuals (usually women) are ‘at-home-sales people.’ This can be everything from make-up to tupperware, candles to lingerie. In the vein of being the most inclusive/least offensive, go with what will work in your area.

What to ask for: “will you have an evening just for our organization? You will be introduced to my/the entirely new network of potential customers and be able to write off the evening as a business expense (e.g. donating proceeds to the entity). In other words, the costs of the product will be covered as profits are donated to the entity.

What you need:

  • a venue. Find a gracious hostess or host yourself.
  • marketing. Distribute through as many means as possible (evite, email, facebook etc).
  • food. Offer modest food- apps or desserts, beverages.

Post event, follow up with a word of thanks to the attendees for supporting the cause, and my personal favorite is always knowing how much was raised.