You’ve got your table all set up and your baked goods spread meticulously to attract the passerby when suddenly, “No, it can’t be. Not again!” Before you can say “thin mints,” that ravenous pack of ruthless Girl Scouts descends upon your turf, setting up their table across from your bake sale. In a flash, your bake sale has collapsed faster than the Red Sox playoff chances, and you’re left to wonder how you got outdone and why you bought so many cookies from the competition. The first question will be explained below, but as for the second: They’re Girl Scout cookies, dummy, and they are delicious. Duh.
Whether for charity, school, or just for fun, the world of fundraising can be a competitive place. It used to be that a solid effort put forward for a bake sale or car wash would carry you to your fundraising goals, but not anymore. As competition for attention increases, so too must your creative prowess to attract donors to your event or campaign. “Unconventional” is the new norm and it’s outside the box thinking that will carry you to financial fulfillment. Thus begins our two-part guide to help you find your fresh new fundraiser.
Forget everything that worked when you were a child because it won’t now (unless, of course, you have an army of adorable toddlers). Nobody bought the candy bars from me at that huge markup because there was some anomaly in the supply and demand for a Kit Kat Bar. It was because I was a cute, pudgy little kid with a clip-on school tie that wasn’t quite long enough. Likewise, when I want my car washed, I’ll do it myself or go to a business, not pay some amateur $20 to scratch the hubcaps on my ’92 Dodge Stratus.
Be prepared to sacrifice…
Your pride. I’m sure there are lots of us out there who would like to provide a genuine service as we try to raise funds – but isn’t our fundraising the service we’re providing? It’s tough to get it from both sides. When you can’t attract people with something they need, you can always try to attract them with something they want, like seeing their friends (or a total stranger) humiliated. Ask yourself, “Would I rather buy a brownie from my best friend, or pay $5 to dunk him in a vat of frigid water?”
Our friends love to embarrass us and it’s inevitable anyway, so why not turn a profit for a worthy cause in the process? That puts you in the driver seat. There are a number of ways to get creative with this. Dollar increments can be met with a tiered system of ignominious rewards: a $25 donation lets them pick your outfit for a night out at the bar, $50 and you can wear a hated opponent’s jersey to a home game for the local team. Got $100? Congratulations, you get instruct the barber on how to butcher that wonderful head of hair I’ve been growing out. A little pride is a small sacrifice for the greater good – and you can always earn it back.
Aim high, and take others with you
Gain a sense of accomplishment and help your friends regain their respect for you by pushing your body to the limits. 5k’s and marathons are nothing new in the world of fundraising, but how effectively you leverage them to your advantage can be the difference between the success and failure of your fundraiser. Whether you’re a first-timer or an established veteran with a case full of finisher’s medals, contests of endurance have a way of inspiring like little else. And if you’re tired of road races or running isn’t your thing, the world of other endurance events, mud runs, and triathlons has exploded over the last several years.
For now, be thinking of ways to humiliate yourself for a good cause! Next week, check in for part II of our guide to going the extra mile for your fundraiser.