From therapies and treatments to equipment and home accessibility renovations, many of us need to organize a fundraiser at some point just to keep up with the ongoing costs of our kiddos. The task may seem daunting at first, and often asking for money from others can seem difficult. However, with the right planning and some creativity, fundraising can actually be fun and very beneficial for your family.
Because many of our families have had experience in this realm, we've compiled some of the best and most beneficial ideas for you to consider. We encourage you to try something small to start and then work your way up to a larger event.
Let us know which of these ideas and tips work best for you!
1. Create a Facebook page and list an associated fundraising app, such as Fundrazr, Gofund Me, IndeGogo or Kickstarter.
2. Host a fundraising event, such as a spaghetti dinner, concert, bowling night or Bingo. You can charge an entrance fee, have teams gather donations for prizes, or ask for donations that you can raffle -- everything from local business products or services to items your crafty friends can make.
3. Sell T-shirts. www.bonfirefunds.com offers custom shirts with free setup and a large portion of every shirt goes straight to your cause. Extremely easy and zero cost to you.
4. Start a Scentsy, Mary Kay, Premier, Stell & Dot, Silpada or Avon fundraiser with a local rep. We all know one.
5. Ask local businesses for donations or for help with raffles or events. Some restaurants will do Dine to Donate events, where a certain percent of sales a certain night go to a cause.
6. Create an online charity auction with donated goods.
7. Choose the Torture. Have donors pay $1 a vote to decide which form of “torture” to inflict on you or someone who's willing to be your guinea pig (such as dying their hair, dressing as a clown, trading a job for a day).
8. Party Like It’s 1999. Get entertainment and food donated and charge an entry fee for each guest.
9. Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S. Host a spell-a-thon with each contestant collecting donations for the number of words they spell correctly. The top winners receive donated prizes.
10. Smoothie Stand. A healthy and yummy twist on the tired ol’ lemonade stand.
11. Strike Gold. Participants ask friends and family to donate old jewelry they no longer wear and trade the gold in for cash.
12. 50/50 Raffle. Sell raffle tickets and offer half of the proceeds as prizes.
13. Going Once, Going Twice. Seek out service and product donations and have an online or in-person silent auction.
14. Buy a Meal. Volunteers donate homemade meals to sell.
15. Karaoke Style. Have participants raise pledges for their commitment to lip-sync and sell tickets to the performance.
16. Working at the Car Wash. Coordinate a group to wash cars in a high traffic location for donations.
17. Cook Off. Solicit local celebrities to enter their best dishes and have people pay to vote on the winners.
18. It’s a Wrap. Coordinate with a store to offer gift wrap services during the holidays.
19. So Sweet. Get baked goods donated to sell at an event like a dance or basketball game.
20. Trendy Bracelets. Sell silicone bracelets that promote your cause.
21. For the Birds. Deliver a group of fake pink flamingos to a donor’s yard and leave a note explaining the cause and asking for a donation to “replant” the flamingos in the yard of the next “victim” the first donor designates.
23. Another Man’s Treasure. Collect gently used items from a group to be sold at a yard sale.
24. Text It. Use a service that allows your organization to receive donations of $5 to $10 by text messages.
25. Bail Me Out. Handcuff two willing fundraisers and let them loose when they raise “bail.”
26. Sticky Fly. Sell pieces of duct tape to donors to stick your group’s leader to a wall suspended above the floor for a portion of an event.
27. Sit-a-thon. Offer babysitting services for a designated evening or two.
28. Make it Up. Send invitations to a made-up event and offer invitees tickets to support the cause without having to leave home.
29. It’s a Bust. Sell balloons for $10 each and insert a number in each that corresponds to a raffle ticket. Pop a balloon for each prize and read off the winning number.
30. Nacho Dough. Sell a lunch or dinner of nachos and a cookie at a church or school when participants already need to stay through a meal.
31. Rent-a-Worker. Volunteers commit to working for an afternoon doing any odd jobs sponsors “hire” them to do.
32. Pay it Forward. Give each person in your organization $10 and a specific amount of time to use the funds to raise as much as they can for the cause.
33. Birthday Pledge. Ask for donations to a favorite cause instead of birthday gifts.
34. Pump it Up. Coordinate with a local gas station to have volunteers serve as gas station attendants who pump gas and clean windshields for donations for a day.
35. Consignment donations. Ask people to do spring cleaning in their kids' closets. Thred Up will give you the bag and free shipping for all clothes, then give your fundraiser cash for each item accepted: http://www.thredup.com/groups/info
Tips for Success
1. Start a Facebook page for your child. Get followers and post regular updates to share your life with them BEFORE you start asking for money. This builds trust and gives people a way to see where their donations are going. If you like to write, you can blog, which can create even more loyalty and conversations with people. Some fans enjoy reading the full version, and not just quick updates on Facebook.
2. Decide what you'll want to do to fundraise. Pick one or two to focus on. Do T-shirts OR wrist bands...try not to overwhelm your followers with a ton of choices -- especially with smaller items.
3. Get a few large donors/donations before you launch the big fundraising campaign. Once you start, add these in to create some big, initial momentum. Show your followers this progress and be SUPER excited about it. People like seeing momentum quickly, and it will help you bring in more donations -- often from people who may not normally donate -- because they want to help you reach that goal.
4. Make it easy to give. Fundrazr and other apps charge a fee, but they also make it really easy for people to give so the fee is not a deterrent. If someone has to go through too many steps, they are less likely to give.
5. Look to your resources. Who do you know? Maybe you have a friend or relative who will offer their services at a reduced rate or with part of the sales going to your cause (ie: hairstylist, restaurant or bar, carwash, etc.), or maybe they’ll donate goods or services for an auction.
6. Once you've raised the money, keep your donors engaged for the next campaign. Don't ask them to do anything for a while, and give them a break from giving, but keep them abreast of what's going on with your child and give them updates about their condition -- good and bad -- especially pictures and videos. If you're really adventurous, create a video telling the story of your kiddo. Video translates so much more than writing/text can. iMovie on the Mac is easy, and you can put music to photos/video.
Ask for money too often. Balance asking for money with other posts showing milestones, progress, good news, photos, etc.
Ask people to make checks out in your child's name. Make sure all donations come to you or a non-profit organization you've setup. This allows your child to keep their benefits if they receive SSI or are on Medicaid. Speak with a financial advisor that is an expert in special needs planning, like Kacy Seitz (one of our HIE moms). It's extremely important no money is in your child's name as you fundraise.
Try to guilt people into giving or blame the doctors or hospital for your child's condition. Keep your posts positive.
BE SURE TO:
Thank everyone who donates or shares your page. Thank them individually with a personal email and a hand-written note if it’s a larger donation. A group thank you on your Facebook page is not enough. People want individual attention so don't hide your gratitude!