Ok. So, you are the new parent group leader for your school and you have been given the charge to raise some funds for a new play structure. Now, what do you do?
Well, keep your eye on this column every issue for tips and tricks regarding all aspects of fundraising. But for now, the first thing you are going to need is an idea-an idea of how to raise money, which usually means you need an idea of what to sell or do to get the community to open up its pocketbooks.
Read on my friend…here are some great ideas complimentary of your staff here at Today’s Playground. Just a reminder, when fundraising, to be sure to choose a program with not only age-appropriate products and services but also consider the safety of participants. Groups are the way to go, whenever possible.
Let’s start off by listing ideas of things you can sell that fit well within the fundraising cause and its parameters.
1. Food. Food of many kinds can be great, so long as its shelf life is longer than your distribution cycle. Cookie dough has been popular of late and will most likely continue to be so. But you may consider doing something new so as to not wear out a good idea. Here are some thoughts…
a. Gourmet foods: Companies such as Megan’s Pantry (meganspantry.com) offer fundraising opportunities selling gourmet menu items such as Three-Cheese Soup Mix, Old World Beer Bread Mix, and Cranberry Orange Muffin Mix.
b. Frozen foods: Outside of cookie dough, what else is there? How about pies, cheesecakes and brownie mix? How about taco meets or bread batter.
Check out Red Wheel (http://www.redwheelfundraising.com/) for these and similar options.
c. Candy: Everyone has a sweet tooth. Why not capitalize on it? From Chocolate to hard candy, companies such as Food Fundraisers (foodfundraisers.com) have plenty to offer.
d. Coffee: A new idea on the streets and one picking up steam (pun intended) is selling gourmet coffee beans. One we found we like is Tortuga Coffee (tortugacoffee.com). You may want to consider your community’s view on small children selling coffee-a drink not meant for them. But some churches and high schools are having success with this one.
2. Things. Outside of food, there are many non-edible things that can be sold for a good cause. Here is our short list of innovative ideas.
a. Ink Jet Cartridges: Too Cool (toocool.org) is helping schools and other organizations raise money by paying for used inkjet printer cartridges kids collect from parents and other citizens and businesses. Check out the website for details.
b. Silk-screened Tote Bags: Have the children in the organization you are raising funds for an autograph a piece of paper, or if there are too many to do this, have them all work on a special piece of artwork to be printed. You can then have it screen-printed onto a tote or duffle bag. Sell the bag for at least twice what it would cost you to have it made, and take orders for them so you don’t over produce them. It becomes memorabilia, which could mean more to customers than just another thing to spend money on for the cause.
c. Magazine Subscriptions. Visit www.magraise.com. With this one, you can either run the fundraiser in person or use the online option. You can set up a fundraising web page for the online convenience of participants and customers.
d. Luggage Tags: This one could be fairly simple and fun for customers. You would show brochures of tag choices, get information to be printed on the tags, and then just send the information, online, to the company to have the tags completed. The tags are shipped back to you approximately 48 hours after submission. Visit www.bagtagfundraiser.com for more information.
e. Scented Candles. Candles can be good because most households do use them. Take a look at www.aromalightcandles.com for more information on how a candle fundraiser could work.
a. Carwash. Although this has been done a million times before, different groups seem to offer a bit of a twist on it. It used to be that there was a set amount for washing a car or truck, but now some groups are just offering to wash and accepting donations. It’s a risk, sure, but who could let children work their hearts out washing a car and not pay them a fair amount for a job well done? People seem to be pretty receptive to this approach, and fairly generous in paying. This may work well in some areas than others, but if you are in a fairly friendly community, it might be a great option.
b. Yardwork. Maybe the previous concept applies. Offer to mow lawns or weed flowerbeds, and see if they don’t just pay you more than you thought you would ask. Just be sure that if your group is offering such services, that children are not ever going alone. Groups are the only way to go with these types of fundraisers. And supervision is a must. We don’t want the wrong “weeds” pulled up by their roots. And lawn mowing obviously has its dangers and minimum age limits.
c. Window washing. Again, this is one that should be done in a group and would be better suited for older children. Just be cautious if ladders are involved. There are some people who just don’t have the time to do this and would gladly contribute to a good cause to have it done. Just decide if it’s feasible for the area you live in.
4. Recognition. Sell recognition plaques and get your contributors’ names “up in lights,” at the new playground so to speak. Designate a certain size of engraved plaque for different amounts of donation. Talk with local contractors about donating a cinderblock wall to be built near the playground area for display of the plaques. Offer them a large-sized plaque for their donation of material and time.
Visit with a local trophy shop about having them donate or subsidize plaques, and offer them a larger sized plaque for the donation of their time and effort as well. Make it a community effort. Contact all local businesses. You might even leave it open to families to contribute $25 or $50 for a plaque with their name on it. Children will love finding their family’s plaque on the wall at their playground.
As with any fundraiser, take the time to think about how it might work in your community, what kind of time it will take, and who your participants will be as well as the time they will be able to invest and their capabilities.
You might be surprised how well something you thought may not work would do in your community, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little and try new things.
Editor’s note: Do you have fundraising ideas that have worked well in your community that you would like to share? E-mail them to [email protected] In the meantime, good luck, and be sure to check back with us next issue for more fundraising ideas.