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Simple Fundraising Ideas? One Woman’s Crazy, Adventurous Quest in Search of Ideas For Fundraisers
When I started out on my parenting journey several years ago, I didn’t realize that I, too, was beginning a never-ending search for simple fundraising ideas. Indeed, I had no idea that one of the main responsibilities of a parent would be to constantly brainstorm fundraising ideas.
Even after I had come to terms with the fact that fundraising would be a regular part of my life, I still had no idea it would be such an adventure.
You see, I have three kids at a school that sells everything from pies to pizza. We do drama, soccer, basketball AND I sit on the hockey board, which is entirely self-funded by—you guessed it—fundraisers.
I trade goods with friends: “I’ll take that pie and trade you some cookie dough…good thing we’re the same.” My family members won’t even answer the phone anymore for fear of them buying more things they don’t need.
We’ve done them all!
Let’s see, there’s a trade in gift wrap/specialty items/charms. These types of fundraisers are overused and overpriced if you ask me. Every time I turn around, my child has another catalog! In this economy, when I can buy wrapping paper for $1.00 at the local dollar store, why would I want a roll of wrapping paper that costs me $9.00? (What if it’s better quality, it gets ripped off as a gift anyway.) Actually, I’d rather write the school a check and try to sell these things.
Of course, we’re so tired of selling stuff anyway, so half the time I just make a good-sized order for my family (reluctantly, of course).
Example: My daughter recently came home and mentioned that the “Cookie Dough Guy” said that if they wanted enough money for their field trip to the Boston Museum, they were “encouraged” to sell at least two containers of cookie dough ($14.00 for each!). I spent $28.00 on two tubs of cookie dough. I could have gone to BJ’s, bought a LARGE batch of Tollhouse Cookie Dough for $6.99 AND bought my daughter’s museum admission for less! Why didn’t they just ask for money for the tour? This is absurd!
And what about those stalls at craft fairs or festivals?
Okay, so if you’re ever asked to “hang in for a couple of hours,” be very careful. Our organization registered a booth at our community’s Summerfest in June. I signed up for an early shift (I’m finishing my shift and going to enjoy a fun afternoon with my family). Yes, first mistake. Funny how your “replacements” never seem to show up to actually replace you. So there I was, 6 hours later “manning the stand”. If that wasn’t annoying enough, suddenly the sky turned dark, the wind picked up, and we were in one of those awful thunder and lightning storms. Everything blew wildly; the canopy was about to lift. And it rained in droves. Needless to say, we made very little money that day. (Even putting
Apart from the “severe thunderstorm factor”, the event was not very profitable because, while there was a lot of traffic, there was also a lot of competition.)
Oh, and let’s not forget one of my favorite “easy” fundraising ideas, pizza kits and pies.
Okay, yeah, they’re pretty decent sellers, but the logistics of the whole thing are crazy. First, you need to agree on an EXACT delivery time with the company, because they have to freeze the goods. Then you have to tell everyone when the exact delivery date is and ask them to actually come get their products. And when they don’t. . .Well, let’s just say I had a spare freezer in the basement to store some of those oversized boxes! And don’t get me started on how I had to make a bazillion phone calls to people who didn’t show up at our EXACT delivery time.
But my favorite adventure of all time was The Bottle Drive. The easiest fundraising ideas. You collect essentially human waste and exchange it for money. A piece of cake.
We thought so too. The conversation went something like this: “Let’s chase the bottles!” “Yes!” “On New Year’s Day.” “Great idea!” “All those New Years parties! We’ll make a ton of money!”
It became an obsession. I’m at the grocery store and ran into Mike. He says, “Hey, we’re having a New Year’s party, you and John should stop by.” Great, I thought. Give his address to one of the drivers to pick up the bottles in the morning. I get so excited about it that I actually tune in to find out where everyone is going to celebrate.
So it’s New Year’s Day, and with cards in hand and the addresses of all the parties that happened the night before, we hopped in our trucks and headed out. Did I mention we live in Maine? We had been hit by several December storms and today we had a Nor’auster as they are so fondly called. (If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means that the snow falls in unassuming little crystals at a moderate but relentless pace until you suddenly realize you’re completely submerged.) That didn’t deter us, though. . . don’t worry, just bundle up and start early.
Here’s a curious concept… an early start on New Year’s Day. Okay, so not everyone spent New Year’s Eve like me – in their pj’s, snuggled up by the wood stove, going to bed early so we could start the bottle chase early in the morning. At 9:00 a.m. if you had a party, you probably won’t be moving, much less cleaning your house. So many doors remained unanswered.
Finally, one area looked promising, until we saw… scouts. We couldn’t believe it. They also drove bottles! (It’s amazing how fast a lot of teenage hockey players, who aren’t all that excited to get up early this weekend, can move trying to outrun the scouts.)
My friend and I decided, enough of this door to door stuff, we would visit local restaurants and pubs. We hit the mother load at our local Thatchers store. We rock! Our hopes were high. Then we hear, “Sorry, you need to speak to the manager and they are closed on New Year’s Day” or “We have a lot of bottles in our shed, but unfortunately the plow hasn’t dug us out since the last storm. Come see us in the spring.”
Okay, this got discouraging. We exchanged cell phone calls and met regularly at a local redemption center. The snow came down faster than the plow could clear the roads and we realized it was too dangerous to drive on the road. With an army of twelve trucks, we headed back to the redemption center to find it closed due to the weather!
Now what do we do?
“Bring tos to my garage” (Who said that? Me? Note to self: you’re too accommodating.) Of course, everyone thinks it’s a great idea!
Before I know it, my garage is full of stale beer bottles, my hands are sticky and cold, I’m tired, my husband is ready to divorce me AND my car is now covered in 18 inches of wet snow because I don’t have enough room in my garage!
Over the next week, my husband and I stocked up on bottles and made several trips to the redemption center. Whoah! We made $350 for 15 people on a cold, snowy day driving all over town. There has to be an easier way to fundraise!
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