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Fundraising Tips
By: Jeff Ellenberger

As a direct result of today’s economic times, many churches and church groups are relying on fundraising to bridge the gap (fill the holes!) in their budgets. More so now than ever, the importance of a successful fundraiser is critical.

With several companies and multiple products and services from which to choose, here are some suggestions and recommendations to consider.

Selecting a fundraiser is not an easy task. The product you select to sell or service you intend to provide must be of interest and value to both your congregation and your community.

No matter what product you decide to sell, choose a reputable fundraising company. Once you have made your decision, don’t hesitate to call and ask for customer testimonials and/or referrals. Check out ratings with the Better Business Bureau. Ask how long the company has been in business. It is important that the fundraising company you have selected is reputable and stands behind its product. 

Like you would expect from any other business, products that fail or arrive damaged should be replaced at no additional charge. Check the bottom line and look for hidden costs. Make sure that all of the support materials you need to run your sale, such as brochures and order forms, are furnished free of charge. Remember, any add-on costs, like shipping (shipping should be free!), detract from your profit. 

Keep it simple! The volunteer in charge does not want to be saddled with complicated tally sheets and order forms. It should not take an MBA to calculate your profit. Work not only with products that are easy to sell, but also with a program that’s easy to administrate.

Customer service is also a key. Should questions arise, there should be a toll-free number available so that any questions you may have regarding the program, products, additional orders, tabulation, payment, etc. can be dealt with directly.  

The price of the product is key to success. Current conditions being what they are, any fundraiser with a product selling for $10 or less has greater appeal than one offering more expensive items.  Out of necessity, today’s consumers are more budget-conscious. Everyone is tightening their belts, so the higher the price, the tougher the sell. 

Going hand in hand with price is value. No matter what product you are selling, consumers want the product to perform and meet expectations.  t better look like the picture in the sales brochure on which they based their decision.

Once you’ve made your decision, create some excitement! It is important to select a highly motivated and organized individual as your fundraising chairman. Hold a kickoff meeting to generate enthusiasm, get organized, stress participation, and review the program. Do not assume everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. 

For a great warm-up, advise sellers to start with family, friends, and close neighbors, while reminding them to always be courteous and polite. Set an attainable goal and communicate that to the sellers. Keep everyone on the same page for maximum results.

Schedule your fundraiser to avoid competing with others in your community and tap your local media outlets to help spread the word. Set a clear end date (two to three weeks recommended). Upon completion, hold a wrap-up meeting to thank everyone and share results. 

Happy fundraising!

Jeff Ellenberger is president of Dutch Mill Bulbs, a fundraising-with-flower bulbs company that, for 50 years, has been helping groups exceed their fundraising goals, www.dutchmillbulbs.com.


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