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Knitty Noras and Baby Walkers
Member Name: Shazzy
Date: 30/04/02, updated on 30/04/02 (140 review reads)
Advantages: It's a challenge, Gives you a sense of achievement
Disadvantages: When it goes wrong, you're to blame!
Jumble sales, raffles, sponsored walks…. fundraising. Yes, I have some memories of this.
Once upon a time I was a member of the administrative committee for a local charity. Quite how I got roped into being in charge of fundraising still remains a bit of a mystery to me, but it happened, and I did the job for just over a year. How well I did it is probably open to question, but considering I didn’t have a clue when I started, I don’t think I did too badly. We raised more that year than during the two previous years together so I must’ve been doing something right.
Once I’d recovered from the shock of being put in charge of something that I knew nothing about, I contacted my predecessor in the hope that she’d have some advice for me. She’d been there before, she knew what made money and what didn’t. Good move, wouldn’t you say? Well, that’s what I thought, but unfortunately the lady had fallen out with the chief administrator of the charity and wasn’t in the least bit helpful. Ah well… I tried.
My next step was to have a scout around and see if she’d left any notes about the fundraising that’d been carried out while she was in charge. I looked in filing cabinets, on shelves, in drawers, behind the toilet and under the rug but nothing was to be found. Well, nothing apart from a diary of events. I now knew WHAT they’d done during the previous year, but I still knew nothing about how they’d arranged any of the events or, more importantly, how much had been raised from each of them.
Ok, I thought, let’s have a look through the accounts. I felt pretty sure I’d at least get an indication of what I could expect to raise from each event by looking at what had been registered under ‘fundraising’ directly before and following each event that I’d found in the diary. Ha! Who was I kidding? There were plenty of ins and o
uts under fundraising, but it was obvious that the lady who went before me hadn’t been particularly organised. Sure, the transactions were all there, but they were very haphazard and I could only guess at which ‘outs’ belonged to which ‘ins’. All in all, I had very little to go on.
Some of the other committee members had a rough idea of what had been successful and what hadn’t, so I just worked on those and developed a few ideas of my own, hoping that I’d manage to organise enough successful events to keep the charity alive.
It’s really quite daunting to find yourself in charge of fundraising, because almost all charities are dependent upon those funds to survive. If I did a poor job they’d hardly have enough to pay for their office space and administrative costs, let alone actually help anybody. I decided there and then that I’d do everything I could to beat the previous year's fundraising figures and threw myself into the job.
First of all, let’s have a look at some of the events that were arranged.
~ Valentine’s Roses
A couple of us stood outside the local railway station during the afternoon rush hour and sold bunches of roses to men on their way home. A local florist sponsored this by letting us have the roses at trade price. By selling them at an ‘affordable’ price, we ensured that as many as possible would be sold and still make a decent profit. The florist provided the paper we used to wrap them in, so the only additional purchase we needed to make was the plastic buckets we used to store the bunches of roses in. We didn’t raise huge amounts of money this way, but a tidy amount for just a few hours work. We had to apply to the local council to be able to set up a pitch outside the station, but in my experience, when it comes to fundraising, especially when local charities are involved, local authorities are usually quite
~ Jumble Sale
It goes without saying that we had a jumbly. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the best ways of raising funds, but there’s quite a bit of work involved. Luckily we didn’t have to hire a hall or anything because we had space of our own. I had a look through the list of charity supporters, found a couple of blokes that I knew had vans and sorted out ‘collectors’. I did some of the collecting myself, in my old beaten up estate, and after a month of so of advertising for jumble in the local paper, we had enough to stage the event. I hadn’t dared to advertise a date before I knew we had enough, but I needn’t have worried. If you’re willing to collect, people will offer you all sorts of things that they no longer want or need.
The biggest headache connected to the jumble sale was getting enough volunteers together who were willing to help out on the day. Take my advice, ask at least twice as many people as you think you’ll need, because there will always be those who don’t turn up on the day, and there are always jobs to be done that you didn’t think of beforehand. If you end up with too many volunteers, you can always thank some for coming along and send them home again, but trying to get through it with too few is a nightmare. By the end of the day we were all just about ready to drop, but spending a day ‘pulling together’ had been fun and a fair amount of money was raised.
~ Sponsored Baby Walk
As I was a new mum myself at the time, a sponsored baby walk seemed like a good idea. It would give new mums an excuse to spend the day out in the fresh air with their little ones, and get to know other mothers too.
We decided on a route around town that would follow bus routes closely enough to allow anybody to ‘jump off’ the walk at any point, but without touching roads with heavy traffic more th
Check-in points were set up at approximately every 2 kilometres (the walk covered 20 kilometres in all) and each walker had to have their card stamped at each point as proof of how far they’d walked when collecting their money.
This one didn’t cost much to arrange. A local printing company printed up the sponsor cards for us in return for having their advertising on the bottom of each card and us adding a ‘sponsored by…’ note at the end of our own newspaper advertising announcing the event.
The day turned out to be one of our most successful fundraisers. Lots of mums turned out, and a few dads too. As suggested in the event announcement, buggies and prams were decorated and a good few were ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. We had everything from clowns to chickens pushing buggies that day. New friendships were forged and the charity gained a few new active volunteers.
The only drawback is that some walkers never paid in their collected money and a LOT of them didn’t pay it in until more than a month after the event. The ‘chasing up’ cost us a bit in phone calls, so if I were to arrange an event like this again, I’d probably do it differently. Maybe a sum to start would be better. There’d be less hassle for the walkers as they wouldn’t need sponsors and less chasing up for the fundraising administrator. Mind you, on the down side, it probably wouldn’t raise quite as much money either. Oh well… it was fun.
~ Sponsored Knit
This one got the older members of the charity interested, and as the charity I was involved with was one that primarily helped the elderly, it seemed quite appropriate. Old ladies can usually knit, and they usually enjoy it too.
What we did was ask people to knit squares of a certain dimension. These squares would then be sewn/crocheted together to make blankets that would be sent
to a place that I’ve unfortunately forgotten (try as I might, I can’t for the life of me remember where we sent them). It was some cold, famine stuck place anyway, and as a local church was arranging to send a lorry load of supplies down, we asked them if they’d take our blankets, which they were more than happy to do.
We announced a date when the squares would have to be delivered to the office or collected if the knitter was unable to travel into town. Each set of squares was counted and the amount noted on the knitters sponsor form.
For some reason, those who knitted squares were quicker at returning their sponsor money than those who’d baby walked and we raised a decent sum for the charity as well as helping those in need in another part of the world.
Again, apart from the event advertising, there was little cost involved. A few volunteers were needed to collect squares and a couple of counters were needed at the office. The biggest job was sewing them all together, but we arranged a ‘coffee morning’ type thing where members came along, had a cup of coffee and a chinwag while they did a bit of sewing. There were still a good few left to be sewn together by the end of the day but I just took them home, got a couple of friends round and together we finished the job off.
As well as the above, we arranged several tombolas held outside local shopping centres and a dinner/dance evening, which, although it involved a lot of preparation, was lots of fun and very successful.
Some points to bear in mind when arranging fundraising events:
~ If you’re arranging any event in a public place, do contact your local authority for advice. You may need permission and there may be rules surrounding the type of event you’re planning. Check well in advance.
~ People under the age of 16 are NOT allowed to collect money in public.
~ Don’t expect vol
unteers to stand alone with a tin, waiting for passers-by to pop a few coins their way. Not only will the volunteer get terribly bored, it’s also an ineffective way of raising funds.
~ The key word to any fundraising event is FUN. If the volunteers aren’t having fun, they won’t volunteer again. It’s also important to make sure that volunteers feel that they’re doing a worthwhile job. Show gratitude for their help. Perhaps give them a bunch of flowers each, or some promotional gift that the charity sells (mug, keyring, pen etc).
~ Make sure your volunteers are fed and watered. You can’t expect anybody to enjoy helping out if they’re left to starve all day. Arrange for somebody to make sandwiches etc and borrow a few flasks for tea/coffee.
~ If you’re ever in doubt as to whether there are regulations surrounding the type of event you’re planning, contact your local authority. Never just go ahead and hope for the best. It could cost your charity a lot of money in fines for breach of laws, by-laws, rules and regulations.
There are plenty of books available that will help you with ideas for events, guide you through the rules and regulations surrounding them and even offer advice on how to approach businesses for sponsorship. Just pop over to Amazon and type in “fundraising”.
One piece of personal advice I would like to give is PLEASE MAKE PLENTY OF NOTES TO HELP YOUR SUCCESSOR. I can’t stress this enough. Note down where you bought supplies from, which businesses you contacted for sponsorship and their responses, which volunteers did what, the names of contact persons within the various LA offices that you needed to contact and any other information that you think is relevant. And probably most importantly, the exact net income raised through each event. How much easier my job would’ve been if I’d had that sort of information
available when I started.
All in all I enjoyed my time as Charity Fundraiser but a year was enough. There’s a lot of work involved and a lot of stick to take when things don’t go quite as smoothly as planned. But when things go well, it gives you a real sense of achievement and for me, being on Income Support due to caring for my handicapped son, doing any charity work gave me a sense of purpose. I wasn’t just taking money, I was using my spare time to do something worthwhile for my local community. And after all, we all like to think we’re doing something of value don’t we?
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