October 2010 Archives

October 25, 2010

Charitable Events: Secure the Cashbox!

Here's a news story that's a perfect reminder of why, even though you trust your group's own members and donors, you've got to consider the worst possibilities when it comes to handling cash. Beware the passing kid on the bicycle . . . .

October 22, 2010

Fundraising Garage Sales Move Goods That the Thrift Stores Won't Take!

Have you tried donating used goods to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army lately? Having recently moved, I've done so by the carload -- and often end up carting stuff right back home.

"No, we don't take cushions." "Sorry, no stuffed animals." "Not if it needs repairs."

I'm not blaming them -- they no doubt get a lot of plain old garbage, and have to draw the line somewhere.

But that leaves some major challenges for people trying to get rid of stuff that isn't ready for the landfill. And that's where nonprofit garage sales can come in. If you can accept items that the established resale places can't, you'll be doing a service to both the donors and any interested buyers, and help the environment by reducing landfill volume. (If you really think no one will be interested in buying an item, put it in a "free" box.)

At day's end, of course, you may need to get creative about disposing of things, as you yourself realize that Goodwill and Salvation Army aren't going to take all the leftovers. Scout around your community ahead of time. The local animal shelter, for example, may have a use for bedding that others won't take.
October 13, 2010

Your Charity Benefit Events: Will They Interest People Who Don't Know Your Group?

The season of both charity benefit performances and germs is upon us, as I was unhappily reminded last night when stomach flu kept me from seeing comedian Robin Williams at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He was doing a benefit performance for the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, whose facility serving homeless dogs and cats was recently destroyed by fire.

Why look, here's one of the dogs they placed for adoption before the fire!

Anyway, as far as I know, the people who got my tickets were simply eager to see Robin Williams, no matter who the event benefited. With that kind of star power, the event itself is  practically a guaranteed success.

But the more interesting question, given that not every organization will be lucky enough to sign up Robin Williams, is whether those guests who were just there for the fun went away with some interest in supporting the Humane Society in the future? I'll never know for sure, but it's an interesting lens through which to view your own events. How do you make sure your message will reach not only your loyal supporters, but friends of friends, substitutes for people who stayed home sick, and so forth -- who may have only a dim idea of what your organization does?

Putting up posters and other visual representations of your organization's work is a good start, as is a rousing speech during intermission. I believe the Humane Society brought a dog along. In any case, remember that such an event offers a rare chance to compellingly and succinctly state what your organization does, why it does it, and why someone who just walked in off the street should care. Let your message outlive the event!

Now, back to my cup of ginger tea.
October 4, 2010

Moment of Fundraising Jealousy

There's just no getting around it. No matter how closely we examine our fundraising connections
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and assets, none of us active in U.S. fundraising will ever be able to hold a charity event quite like the one recently hosted by Bee Gee Robin Gibb and his wife Dwina (an artist and Druid) at their Oxfordshire estate, to benefit the group Against Breast Cancer.

Twelfth century mansions and former monasteries are simply hard to come by around our fifty states.

Especially ones that, according to their owner are haunted by a prank-playing ghost who mysteriously winds nonexistent clocks and fills up the chapel font with water.

Oh well. At least your major donors are less likely to face any spectral surprises.