Where’s the Fun in Fundraising?

I need $20,000.

Who doesn’t?

I’ve been trying to raise it as part of a fundraising campaign for the past 10 months. This is something I have no experience with, so it’s been interesting, to say the least.

Sometime about a year ago, I was attending my son’s Scout meeting when the parents began to talk about the need for some sort of high adventure trip for the older boys.

For some reason, people looked at me. Why, I don’t know. I’m not an outdoorsy person, and I’ve never been on a “high adventure.”

This is what I told them. And then I hesitantly followed with the word, “However…”

Because, in fact, I had been on an adventure of sorts, and very recently. As some readers may recall, back in the summer of 2010 I set out for a very long walk across England. It was a charity walk, raising money for the Joseph Salmon Trust. Good fun for a good cause.

I hadn’t really thought of it as being something a bunch of Boy Scouts from Idaho would do. But once I started talking about it, I could see a bunch of parents becoming very interested. Once the boys heard about it, well, that was it. There was no way I was going to get out of walking that wall again.

Which is funny, because at first I wasn’t too keen on several aspects of a return trip to Hadrian’s Wall country. The biggest was the cost. But the thought was that by setting a date for two years in the future, there would be plenty of time for all participants to raise the money through Boy Scout fundraisers.

The other thing I wasn’t looking forward to was getting back in shape for an 84-mile walk. But it’s good for me. Having a goal gets me to the gym.

However, I quickly learned that the only thing I really had to fear was the fundraising. As I said, I’ve never done this before.

And it’s hard. Annoyingly, unpleasantly, frustratingly hard.

We’ve sold popcorn, honey, and BBQ dry rub. We’ve had car washes and pancake breakfasts. There have been yard clean-ups and chili feeds. And all of that just in the first year.

I’ve learned a few things about fundraising. First, working for the money is so much easier than trying to sell stuff for the money. I’d much rather haul dirt in a wheelbarrow than stand in front of a store pleading with people to buy a bag of caramel popcorn.

Second, I’ve learned that you can easily get burned out on fundraising. Two years of doing it is a year too much.

But we’ll keep marching on. Because the boys are more than eager to make the trip, to visit the birthplace of Scouting, and to walk the path of the ancient Roman Centurions.

When I do stop and ask myself why there’s no “fun” in fundraising, I think about these boys who are looking forward to the adventure. It’s one that most of them would not have a chance to do otherwise.

Some of these kids have never even been out of the state of Idaho before, let alone on the other side of the world. It will be a life-changing trip for them. I try to remember that when I’m arranging yet another table sale or calling around to see who needs their yard weeded.

By the way, anyone want to buy some lovely creamed honey or tasty BBQ dry rub? Need some dirt moved? How about a nice plate of all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage?

Hey, I’m trying.

7 thoughts on “Where’s the Fun in Fundraising?

  1. I hear ya with fundraising, I have 2 boys who play sports and my wife and I feel very awkward when trying to sell things to co-workers, family, etc. However one good idea that we do every year is Super Bowl block pools, half the money goes to the team and we usually make a couple thousand because there are a lot of people that love gambling! Another idea would be to have some sort of a party, say a beef and beer, people like to eat and drink and we made about $4,000 off of that one night, a lot of hard work but it paid off. Finally franchises like Applebee’s will let you host a pancake fundraiser, where the team parents are the servers, and bus the tables. For only a couple hours of work we were able to make about $1500 dollars. Finally fast food places like Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc will let you give out flyers to people who are already going to eat there anyway and you get 10 to 20 per cent of the sales. Everyone likes and needs to eat, so getting a cut off the top is nice!

    • We are doing an Applebee’s breakfast in a few months. I’ve also written to a local restaurant chain about sponsoring us with t-shirts for the trip. The Super Bowl pool would be awesome except for the fact that the BSA frowns upon raising money from gambling. That also means no raffles. :(

  2. Have you ever thought of putting together a list of names of potential donors (i.e. parents, grandparents, businesses, some “deep pocket” community people; etc. and just ask them for a donation? Put together a nice little 3-fold flyer/brochure explaining the “case’ for giving and use it as a marketing tool. That approach is much easier than the “selling” of something, especially when everyone does it and you still have to buy the things you are selling and you are putting a tremendous effort with, perhaps, a very slim profit. You could be using that time and energy on making direct “asks”.

    • We hadn’t thought of something like that, but it’s definitely something for us to consider. I do want the boys to “earn” their way, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a little back-up support. We still have 18 month before the trip. Many things still to do! Thanks for the advice.

  3. Working at a private school, I know all about the “joys” of fundraising. We are just starting the process of gathering donations for our annual auction. It’s a lot of work but is our biggest fundraiser of the year. A new one that we tried this year was the Texas Roadhouse fundraiser lunch. It was very successful for us because we arranged for delivery to local businesses. You might contact them to see if you can get on their calendar.

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