Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

A free newsletter with fundraising ideas, tips, and secrets for the small nonprofit fundraiser

November 21, 2018

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Article Archive

A Fundraising Success Story: Lessons Learned by Robert Zimmerman and Ann Lehman

There is so much gloom-and-doom news every day about fundraising that ZimNotes decided to tell a success story about a preschool. There are lessons here for everyone.

When we started working with a wonderful preschool in Berkeley, California, called Step One School, we asked them about their fundraising methods (other than tuition) and discovered that the school's main activity was a dinner with an auction. This event required countless staff and volunteer hours (the school had no development director; the co-directors did all of the staff fundraising work), and netted a pittance. Occasionally a board member would send a friendly holiday letter that would garner a few donations. No follow-up, no tracking of donors, and an event that grew more burdensome each year, burning out many folks along the way.

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How To Hold A Successful Basket Bingo Fundraiser by Amy Passmore

Bingo fundraising events have been around for decades. That's because people love to play bingo and charities can earn several thousand dollars in just one evening of bingo. Many nonprofit organizations, clubs and schools have annual basket bingo events. There are some organizations whose basket bingo fundraisers have become so popular and lucrative that they hold basket bingos two and three times a year.

While your organization can earn as much as $5,000 for an evening of basket bingo, it does take quite a lot work and preparation behind the scenes to put on one of these fundraisers.

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Develop Next Yearís Fundraising Plan Now by the AFRDS

Failure to plan is planning to fail. It's an old saying, but it holds true for just about any major project, including school fundraising. Now that spring is unfolding and summer vacation looms on the horizon, it's understandable that next year's fundraisers are not at the top of your list of priorities right now. You may have already signed a contract with a professional fundraising company for next fall's fundraiser. Hidden away in a file folder somewhere, you may even have a list of other fundraising ideas that you'll revisit sometime in the future. This is a start, but unfortunately it's not enough. Fundraising experts and experienced PTA leaders say spring is an ideal time to develop a solid game plan for the following year's fundraisers - and helps eliminate headaches down the road.

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Touch a Truck Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Is your nonprofit looking for a brand new fundraiser? One that's fun? One that will attract participants that normally wouldn't come to your fundraising events? One that is family friendly? And oh yes, one that raises money?

Welcome to "Touch a Truck", where kids of all ages can climb, discover and explore their favorite things on wheels.

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Foundations Don't Fund General Operating Costs - Or Do They? by Pamela Grow

Do you still believe that tired old legend about how difficult it is to find foundations that support general operating expenses?

It's one of the grant writing myths that even I bought into. Why not? The foundation that I worked for for a number of years generally dissuaded grant seekers from applying for general operating expenses, preferring to fund specific programs and capital. Foundation trends did, for a number of years, steer away from funding organization general operating expenses.

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The 50-50 Raffle Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

The 50-50 raffle fundraiser. It's not the most glamorous fundraiser. Or even the most productive fundraiser for the amount of money it raises. But when used correctly, the 50-50 raffle can be a steady ongoing source of fundraising revenue for almost any size or type of nonprofit group.

The 50-50 raffle won't win you any prizes (no pun intended) as a fundraiser. But then again, it won't hurt you either. The 50-50 raffle fundraiser has a lot going for it and almost no downside:

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Fundraising Raffle Laws, Rules, and Regulations by Deane Brengle

In the United States and Canada all types of fundraising raffles are considered to be games of chance. Consequently, they are very tightly regulated and failure to adhere to the law is considered a serious offense. If you have any doubt about the correct procedures, do not rely on anybody's word but a government official or a lawyer knowledgeable in these matters.

In many areas there may be more than one governmental body that has jurisdiction over a fundraising raffle. It is always good to check your state/province/territory and your local government for any necessary licenses and permits.

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Raffle Fundraiser Success Story by Suzanne Wouk

My son's school had a raffle this year that was so successful that next year the school might just implement this raffle idea as the only fundraiser.

Our school like most schools has an auction/dinner fundraiser every year. An event that a handful of parents work on all year long for weeks and weeks and the rest of the school parents put in a pretty good share of time too. This year was one of the most successful ones because we also implemented a raffle that raised a quarter of the whole event!

The truth is I think that raffles rule! But you have to do it in a smart way. Here is what we did:

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Fundraising Opportunities at Sports Events: Raise Money for Your Club or Team by Amy Passmore

If you live in a community large enough to have a professional sports team or university there may be fundraising opportunities for your organization by working at sporting events. Many times sports organizations have jobs set aside that they let nonprofit groups perform so they can earn money. The teams do this as a way of giving to the community and building good community relationships. Some of the jobs your club or team might be able to do at a sports event are: helping to direct traffic in the parking lot, handing out programs, selling food, setting up before a game or cleaning up after a game.

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Halloween Pin-Ups for St. Jude by Deane Brengle

Maybe you've seen them before at your local bar, grocery store, gas station, hardware store, bank, pharmacy, or just about any other service or retail business. Pin-ups - or bar bucks as they're sometimes known as. Buy one for a buck, write your name on it, and they will pin it up on the wall. They usually make their appearance around a holiday.

One of the more successful ongoing fundraisers of this type is the corporate sponsorship of St. Jude Children's Hospital by Coors Brewing Company.

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Fundraising with Cookbooks by Deane Brengle

Cookbooks have been popular fundraisers for years. They started out with church and women's groups and have now spread like wildfire. It's because they can be produced by almost any size group, club, team, or nonprofit organization. Much of the increased popularity can be attributed to the use of the internet by cookbook publishing companies and the ease of producing a cookbook online.

Despite the spread of cookbook fundraisers, they remain a good source of fundraising income.

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Fundraising With Search Engines by Deane Brengle

Up to now I've been recommending ways for your members to redirect where they spend their everyday discretionary dollars in order to contribute to your group. This has been part of my continuing series about adding "low impact" fundraisers to ensure you capitalize on the newest trends in fundraising.

Now I'm recommending a new way to raise money for your nonprofit without anyone spending any money. It's an offshoot of our internet revolution and it is called "fundraising with search engines".

To the internet savvy, the search engine is one of the most useful and frequently used tools on the web. Millions of people use them every day to find almost anything they want on the internet.

Now your nonprofit can benefit from this search craze.

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Rebate Fundraisers by Deane Brengle

Twenty years ago nobody would have thought that by just doing your day-to-day shopping for groceries you could be fundraising for your group. Or that your usual shopping for household and business items could be generating money for your nonprofit too.

Well, as the old saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention".

With the growing need and demand for more fundraising dollars, creative fundraisers are exploring virgin territories in search of new funds. And they have found willing partners with the stores we use every day.

Many stores - local, national, chains, and online - will rebate a percentage of your purchase to the nonprofit of your choice. While many of these stores only will work with schools, some stores only care that you are a 501c3.

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Fundraising with Restaurant Nights by Deane Brengle

Many restaurants offer nonprofit groups a popular way to fundraise with "Restaurant Night" fundraisers.

Here's how it works: The restaurant gives your group a percentage of the sales on a designated night for all the customers that your organization brings to their business. Most of the time the restaurant will limit your available nights to a week night- usually one their slow nights.

A restaurant night fundraiser requires virtually no planning and very little investment from your group. If the restaurant requires a flyer or coupon to be presented for your group to receive credit, it will often print those up themselves.

Why does a restaurant participate and even encourage this type of fundraiser?

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Fundraising with Online Auctions by Deane Brengle

Fundraising auctions, whether live or silent, have been around for a long time. And they work successfully for many nonprofits. Fundraising auctions do so well because they are an effective way to raise more money for your organization by typically tapping into your donors discretionary spending funds vs. charitable giving funds.

But it is a fact that they are a lot of work! Especially when combined with another event like a dinner, wine tasting, or desert extravaganza.

Why Online?

If you're thinking about adding an auction to your fundraising arsenal, think about starting out with an online auction. It's a perfect way to start tapping into new fundraising dollars without the hassle of auctioneers, event venues, caterers, volunteers, auction brochures, security, checkout, auction software, and all the other hassles that can seem overwhelming to the auction virgin.

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Fundraising with Magazines by Deane Brengle

Many nonprofit organizations are looking for alternative ways to raise funds and are casting an eye towards the internet for new fresh ideas. For over a decade now the internet has been leading the way with innovations in almost every field and endeavor. Fundraising for nonprofits has benefited from these advances in technology too.

I'll bet that almost all of you have been contacted at one point or another by a child selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Right off the bat I'm going to tell you this program is nothing like that! Not even close. No door to door sales, no brochures, no collecting payment, no deliveries, no bounced checks, and no pesky follow-ups with after order problems.

Readers Digest, the publishing giant, has created a unique online magazine fundraising program that harnesses the power of the internet to raise funds for any size nonprofit with none of the traditional fundraising hassles. It doesn't matter if your group has 20 members or 2,000 - this magazine fundraising program works the same. Any kind of group - local elementary school PTA, church group, nature organization, library, museum, or sports booster club - this fundraiser works for all groups and it's painless.

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Fundraising with CafePress by Deane Brengle

Many small nonprofit groups would like custom t-shirts for their events. Or maybe they're looking for coffee mugs with their logo to give away as donation incentives. Or hats with their logo to sell to members and supporters to promote awareness of their group. But despite the need they can't justify the funds to design and print the minimum amounts of these items that local suppliers demand.

Enter CafePress riding to the rescue!

With CafePress you can create and sell an amazing variety of products with no up front costs and no inventory worries. Your group can set up your own online store at CafePress and sell your own personalized products 24/7 - 365 days a year. You pick the products you want to sell, personalize them, and set your own prices. CafePress does the rest. It couldn't be easier.

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Recycle Printer Cartridges & Cell Phones Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Most folks wouldn't dream that recycling something they normally throw away could be a very lucrative fundraiser. You would be overlooking a great new low impact fundraiser if you ignore the potential untapped profit a printer cartridge and cell phone recycling fundraiser could be earning for your group.

How the Program Works

It's really quite simple: You organize a collection system that gathers empty printer cartridges and old cell phones from a large group of people and send them in to be recycled. Then you get paid ...

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Fundraising with Paypal by Deane Brengle

Many people are aware of PayPal from its popular use as a payment system for eBay auctions. PayPal is a universally recognized Internet payment merchant with a solid reputation of being secure and easy to use. It is by far the largest of its kind, and is available in 103 countries/regions and used by more 100 million accountholders worldwide. But PayPal can be so much more.

Along with being a payment option for eBay online auction users, PayPal also offers a feature called PayPal Donations. PayPal Donations is a simple solution enabling nonprofit organizations to collect donations from their own Web sites or a link in their email newsletters. It is an ideal solution for nonprofits that don't have a full-time technology staff or sophisticated online fund-raising software. PayPal Donations is an easy to implement donation system that involves no upfront costs, and maintains detailed transaction records for your accounting.

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Top 5 Fundraisers for 2007 by Deane Brengle

Ever since I began writing and publishing online about fundraising for small groups in 1996 the most asked question I get is "What's the hottest fundraiser right now?"

And the best answer that I've been able to come up with is "You're asking the wrong question".

Believe it or not, I'm not being a smart ass when I say that. Because just relying on the latest fundraising fad isn't going to get your group ahead in the long run.

The question I think everyone should be asking is "What mix of fundraisers is best for my group?"

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Seasonal Fundraising Ideas by Deane Brengle

The calendar can provide some great inspiration when looking for fundraising ideas for your group. The changing seasons, holidays and other calendar related events can create good opportunities for fundraisers that can be repeated year after year. The momentum from a fundraiser that is held every year can be a real boost to your bottom line.

Make sure you're not duplicating the efforts of another group in your area before you proceed with planning your own seasonal fundraiser.

Here's a starting point to get you going. Don't be afraid to modify or improvise using these ideas.

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Easy Fundraisers by Kimberly Reynolds

An easy fundraiser shouldn't take a lot of effort, but let's be honest. It is going to take SOME effort.

The level of effort is often directly proportional to the size of your group's monetary goal, but not always. That's why you are considering an easy fundraiser in the first place - you're looking for less effort, not more.

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Fundraising Ideas for 2006 by Kimberly Reynolds

Heard about the Minneapolis church that auctioned off their three front pews for the Christmas Eve service as part of their school fundraiser? The bids topped $6,000 or $1,000 a pew. Not bad for something that went for free most other places. Just imagine what you can get for the premium seats at your own events.

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Church Fund Raiser Ideas by Kimberly Reynolds

If you're looking for some church fundraiser ideas, here are a dozen or so that are fairly easy to put together. These church fund raisers are low cost and take some effort, but they do a great job of raising much needed funds.

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Individual Fundraising by Kimberly Reynolds

When you are doing individual fundraising for a personal cause such as breast cancer research, multiple sclerosis, AIDS charity, or even personal medical expenses, you need proven fundraising ideas. Here are six ideas for individual fundraisers.

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Pizza Hut Fundraiser by Kimberly Reynolds

Another popular way to raise funds is a Pizza Hut Fundraiser. There are two different types of fundraisers. One is a pizza discount card offering two-for-one deals on up to twenty pizzas.

The second fund raiser is coordinating a Pizza Night for your group at the local Pizza Hut and earning 25% of the total revenue associated with your group's purchases.

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Cheesecake Calendar Fundraiser by Kimberly Reynolds

What exactly is a cheesecake calendar fundraiser? It's a calendar with 'tongue-in-cheek' photos of community members combined with delicious cheesecake recipes on every page. The cheesecake aspect gives it something of a naughty connotation, but it's really tasteful and all in good fun.

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Chair-ity Fundraiser for Charity by Kimberly Reynolds

This is an easy fundraiser idea for any group, whether it's a school, church, nonprofit, or cause-related organization. Doing a 'chair-ity' fundraiser is so simple, and yet so profitable, that you'll be amazed at your results.

You see, a chair-ity fundraiser revolves around fundraising with chairs, new or used, it doesn't matter. What matters is simply the presentation. That is, what gets added to the chair in the way of decoration, accessories, and enhancements.

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Fundraising for Church Groups by Kimberly Reynolds

A great idea for a church fundraiser is putting together an annual 'Church Feastival' where good food, carnival games, auctions, and family fun combine for a wonderful fundraising event. The idea is to attract a broad spectrum of the local population to your fundraiser by having something for everybody.

The benefit to the church is that many newcomers will form a very positive impression of your ministry and facilities that will in time translate into a larger congregation. And of course, there's all the wonderful things you can do with all the funds raised by your 'Feastival.'

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Softball Fundraisers by Kimberly Reynolds

Looking for some easy softball fundraisers that really produce great results? Here are three softball fundraising ideas to consider.

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Custom Silicone Bracelets Fundraiser by Kimberly Reynolds

Fundraiser bracelets are hugely popular among young people, particularly the custom silicone bracelets with a trendy slogan impressed in the rubber. Silicon wristbands come in every color under the sun, with bright vibrant colors leading the pack, but black and white are also big hits.

You'll see a pink silicone bracelet promoting breast cancer events such as Relay For Life while blue bracelets are hot with youth sports team like football or baseball teams. Church groups prefer the white variety with slogans like 'Got Faith' or 'WWJD?' (What Would Jesus Do?) among the best sellers.

With custom silicone bracelets, you can select your phrase, pick a color, and have several hundred available to sell within days. It really is a fantastic way to fundraise, particularly in conjunction with a well publicized event.

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Mystery Dinner Theater Fundraiser by Kimberly Reynolds

A murder mystery dinner theater fundraiser is a fun way to raise funds. Here's how to host a murder mystery as a fundraising event. First, you need a location and that choice is critical to your success.

Your location must combine good food with exclusive use of the facility because your theater performance takes place in acts divided by dinner courses. You don't want other restaurant patrons coming and going during the critical scenes, so it's best to book a reserved dining room at an inn or a large restaurant.

Make sure the room seats a large enough crowd to actually produce a good profit. Negotiate a flat group rate that includes dinner and dessert. Check and see if there are deals that include wine with dinner or if there's a corkage fee if they bring their own bottle.

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Little League Fundraisers by Kimberly Reynolds

Youth sports fundraisers can be painful for parents, so here are some easy baseball fundraiser ideas. Most Little League teams need to raise funds to cover expenses such as field maintenance, uniforms, umpires, etc. The money raised by selling advertising space at the ball fields and by doing the portrait fund raiser only goes so far.

So what are some easy Little League fundraisers and what can you do to maximize the funds raised? Let's take a look at traditional candy sales, discount cards, and some event ideas.

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"Can You Spare a Dollar" Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Have you sighed at the thought of another product fundraiser? Or rolled your eyes when someone mentioned another fundraising event?

Tickets to sell. Orders to take. Products to deliver. Volunteers to coordinate.

I'll admit it - I've grumbled behind the back of someone suggesting a new fundraiser. More than once. And I know I'm not alone. Am I?

But this fundraiser has me thinking. This one's got potential. It's got a lot going for it:

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Green Fundraising: An Eco-friendly Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Ten years ago if you told someone that you were doing a green fundraiser they would have given you a vacant look. "Green Awareness" and the "Green Movement" had yet to be coined as everyday terms.

Today, pretty much everyone knows what going green means. Most corporations, manufacturers, and businesses are racing to produce earth friendly products, use recycled materials, or develop production methods that don't harm the environment. So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that pretty soon it would trickle down to school fundraising.

Ron Brandow, of, says, "Many of our current fundraisers and groups were expressing an interest in renewable products and green fundraisers. We could see the market need".

Green fundraising isnít as difficult as you might imagine, there are a number of things that you can do and sell to make your fundraising environmentally friendly.

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Coming Soon to a Mall Near You: New fundraising technique taking hold by Ken Burnett

Face-to-face fundraising, not as you might think, is the hot fundraising technique sweeping most of Europe now, and parts of the Far East too, and is just beginning to make its presence felt in North America.

With the cost of acquiring donors by almost any other means skyrocketing, fundraisers throughout the world are falling over themselves to grab whatever capacity the newly formed face-to-face fundraising companies can offer. Yet most fundraisers in North America are blissfully unaware the technique even exists. This won't last.

Before long this controversial "in your face" fundraising method will be as hotly debated in Atlanta and Albuquerque as it is in Aberdeen and Antwerp.

But what will it mean, when face-to-face fundraising hits the main streets and shopping malls of your local area?

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Do an "Easy Thousand" Fundraiser 6 Easy Steps For Small Nonprofits to Raise $1,000 in Under Three Weeks by Sandy Rees

For most small nonprofit organizations, one thousand dollars is a lot of money. Here's a technique to use those closest to your organization to raise it in three weeks or less. It's called an "Easy Thousand" and there are just 6 simple steps involved.

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Raffle Ideas for Fundraising by Kimberly Reynolds

People enjoy getting a chance to win something, so here are a some easy fundraiser raffle ideas to boost your fundraising efforts. Your raffle can be an inexpensive ticket for a prize drawing or a $100 ticket for a big prize such as a big screen television or a new car.

The basics of a raffle fundraiser are quite simple. Your costs are limited to the ticket expense and purchasing the prizes. Often times, local merchants will donate items or offer special discounts to nonprofits or school groups.

As with any fundraiser, the better the items offered, the more funds you raise. Your fundraising raffle can be of short duration or have tickets for sale for a month or more.

It all depends on how much you are trying to raise and what type of raffle you conduct.

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