By Dr. Thomas R. Reich
Summer is here, and the sun is back to make us feel great, feeling good makes us feel in a charitable mood. Here are some fun in the summer month’s fundraiser ideas with little or no cost to help your organization have fun in the summer month’s fundraisers and raise some money for a good cause at the same time.
Always remember, members of your organization work hard as volunteers or as employees for very little because they believe in the cause and in your mission. If you can make the process of getting donations fun and a little different, everyone wins. Make this summer fun for all. Set a goal that is attainable and beat that goal. A good team likes to exceed their goals, not just meet them.
So before you jump in the pool, dive into some fun in the summer months fundraisers! When you make it fun, the vacation never ends.
1) High Tech Recycling Drive: First do your research and find online and local recycling companies willing to buy certain high tech items from a nonprofit running a recycling drive. You will find cell phones which can be a big money generator. They are sold to foreign countries and the recyclers are willing to pay nicely for used phones. Empty printer cartridges and old computers are favorites as well. Next, go to local businesses and ask for donations of obsolete tech items they may have. Make sure to have a professional image and a well thought out program; this will enable you to be very successful.
2) Guided Tours: You may be in a small town or a large city, it is summer; family and friends are visiting your hamlet. Who knows the area better than you and your organization? Brainstorm and find the places of interest that have not been totally exploited. Now put together a walking tour and market it to local government as well as local hotels and business. You get your volunteers out in the open air and the visitors get a view of your fair city or town they would never have seen or a part of history they would never have heard of otherwise. One suggestion that works well, a garden tour of the best gardens of a historic neighborhood, giving you the chance to show off beautiful gardens and a bit of history as well. Another suggestion; hold a best garden competition to select the gardens on the tour!
3) Chili Cook-off: With this fun in the summer month’s fundraiser, you can piggy back onto a local fair or other summer event to make that event even more fun. Everyone has something they are best at and you will find many think they have the best chili recipe. Now that it is summer many are growing peppers in their garden and want to show off. Organize the event with prizes and two sources of donations. There should be an entry fee and a fee for spectators to taste and judge the event as well as official judges. Make sure to try for corporate sponsors for the signage around the event, table rental, etc. Suggested prizes include best overall, best sweet chili, hottest chili, audience pick and best looking chili. Also, have a competition for chili peppers themselves, best pepper, most unusual and strangest. Fun in the summer months Fundraisers in summer don’t get better than this one!
4) Summer Fun Pet Pageant: I remember as a kid winning a blue ribbon for my dog KoKo in a kid’s dog show. It made my summer and I still remember it. Pet pageants are easy and fun for all concerned, make sure to have lots of first and second place ribbons and many categories so everyone goes home with something. It is not about close judging but more about the entry fees and making the participants feel good about themselves and their pets. Have lots of categories; if you have hamsters and only one shows up, well, you have a winner. If 10 participants show up, you have best in show, first, second, and then best coat, largest, and so on; you get the picture. Make the entry something reasonable like $10, get the ribbons wholesale, and you will make funds for your organization. All will enjoy a day in the sun and everyone goes home a winner!
5) Local Celebrity Sporting Event: Before you say, “But mayor so and so can’t play baseball and such and such a club is doing a golf tournament”, remember we are thinking out of the box. Think of a fun sport that is enjoyed by all in your local community. Things like miniature golf, bowling, or croquet. Make arrangements with the bowling alley or if it is croquet, with a local mansion or public building with a destination lawn that will attract people. Then comes the interesting part. Get local celebrities to join in the fun. Individuals like local TV and radio personalities, town officials and local CEOs are the usual fair. You then charge for entry to the event and get sponsored teams to compete against the celebrities. Spice it up by allowing betting with play money on various parts of the game and the biggest winners get to bid on prizes.
6) Local Artist Silent Auction: This is an event to add another activity to an existing event fun in the summer months fundraiser. Fundraisers need to be fun and this one lets artists feel good about themselves, donate their art to a good cause and donors to walk away with something for their donation. You get artists from all ages and types of art, kids, teens, adults and the elderly in any media they work. Set up the art in a well displayed area; allow the silent auction to go on for at least a full day, encouraging the donors that it is not the art but the donation to the cause. Artists get to have their art displayed to the public and possibly to have a piece of art actually sold for the first time, donors bid the art up in private, and everyone wins!
7) Host a Series of Films: Find a great group of films like early James Bond or Hitchcock and show them one per week, or as a 1 week festival and maybe get some shorts to begin the show. If you have a local film historian, ask them give the intro of each film. Charge admission and sell gourmet treats as concessions. This fun in the summer months fundraiser includes doing quirky things, and seeing old movies on a big screen is a summer favorite. For even more of summer flair, see if you can get the city to let you set up the whole thing outdoors in a park or on the grounds of a local museum.
8) Outside Adult Spelling Bee: Here is a fun in the summer month’s fundraiser that is sure to be a delight for the kids. Organize a spelling bee for adults and the kids will make up the audience, and then have a spelling bee for the kids. Finally pick the best of each event for a show down between the kids and adults for a spelling bee champion. Donations for entry or do a sponsorship arrangement. You can also charge for audience seats in the big event between kids and adults.
Let this summer be a big fundraising opportunity for your organization. Use innovative thinking and creative strategies to make the most out of fun in the summer month’s fundraisers the most effective they can be in the coming months.