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Tips to  Make Your Fundraiser Successful

I was recently at a few fundraisers that I found it to be very well organized with some very creative ideas.   Here are some ideas that I would like to share with you.

When you are organizing a fundraiser it is important to come up with a theme for the occasion that can be carried through all aspects of the event.

Bake Table

I have been involved with many fundraisers that have bake tables with great items but I have never found myself drawn to a table.  So what was so different about this bake sale?  It was basically because of the way the items were displayed.  The table was elegantly decorated and the baked goods were beautifully displayed.  The chairperson spent the time to place items in baskets, trays, dishes, ceramic loaf pans, and decorated boxes that were included with the sale.  Some of the display items were donated and others were purchased at dollar stores and from sale racks.  Baked goods were tied with beautiful ribbons or bows and/or covered with cellophane.  The items were displayed in a multi-level fashion with a cloth table covering.  It was simply beautiful and so appealing that you just had to go and buy something.  In fact it was difficult to decide exactly what to purchase.  She requested upscale baked goods like cakes. pies, breads, and muffins  rather than brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Specifically, items included apple pie, banana bread, non-brownie bar cookies, biscotti, bundt cake, container of caramel corn, carrot cake, cherry pie, chocolate cake, chocolate covered pretzels, coffee cake, specialty cupcakes, fruit cobblers, fudge, muffins, white chocolate dipped candy canes, and specialty cookies. All items must be home made -- no store bought items.  I heard that the baked table was very successful so the moral of the story is spend a little more time for a greater return.

Raffle Baskets

Raffle baskets are a large revenue generator at fundraisers.  Once again the way they are displayed and the items included are very important.  First, consider the theme of the event and then come up with related themes for each basket.  For instance, if the theme for the event is Winter Wonderland then maybe the theme for the baskets can be based on winter books.  For example Snow Day by Lester L. Laminack, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Angelina Ice Skates (Angelina Ballerina) by Katharine Holabird , First Tracks by Johnny Boyd.  Next, you need to come up with great items that will go along with your theme.  For instance, for "Snow Day" you can get a large blow up sled and fill it will all of your items.  Goodies could include anything that can be used on a snow day: a snow ball making kit, books, DVDs, Xbox360 or the hottest gaming machine of the time, video games etc...  The idea is to have them elaborately displayed and decorated so that you catch the attention of those walking past.

Silent Auction

Again, the way you display the items is very important.  Group items based on a theme: sports, family outings, health/fitness etc...  Give as much information as possible about the item and use clear picture frames to display the item detail sheets.  Cover the tables in cloth table covers so that it has an elegant feel to it.  Try not to cram too many items on one table to avoid confusion for the potential purchasers.  Many times, with school events, parents can not stay until the end but they really want a specific item.  A solution is to offer a "Buy Now" price.  This pre-determined price will allow the person to purchase the item before they leave.  You simply take their payment, put a sold sign on the item and make arrangements with them for pick up. I saw this for the first time recently and it seemed to be very successful.

Live Auction

When you think of a live auction you automatically think of high ticket items that an auctioneer is selling.  Well, the last high end fundraiser that I attended had a live auction and did not sell a single item.  The auctioneer stood there and going through his routine asked people to donate money for the great cause.  Starting with looking for1 person to donate $250.000 and then went down from there with 1 person to donate $100,000, then 3 people to donate $50,000,  5 to donate $25,000, 10 to donate $5,000 and lots to donate $1.000.  You can set the denominations based on your cause and the group of people attending the event.  It was extremely successful and a lot of money was raised on the spot.