By Dick Raddatz
So, you want a new church bus but don’t have the money to pay for it? No problem! Raising thousands of dollars is never easy, but it can be done efficiently if you follow four steps to success.
1. Organize, Organize, Organize!
An active and motivated fundraising committee is critical to your success. Meet often to set your goals, plan your dates, determine your rewards, prepare your communication letters and kick off the fundraiser with enthusiasm.
Keep the campaign as short as possible. Longer doesn’t always mean more money. People eventually wear out, so keep it short.
Raising big bucks takes all hands on deck. Select one person to be in charge and have one person from each group who will benefit from the bus to be on the fundraising committee. For example, find a motivated leader from the choir, men’s club, mission trips, youth groups, etc. They will be responsible for coordinating activities as their group meets on various days.
Raising thousands for a new church bus will require more than one fundraiser. Start with the one that makes the most profit so you get off to a fast start. Selling fundraising products can earn from 40 percent to 90 percent. Don’t do anything for less than 40 percent with shipping included.
You will also want to get plain old donations from key church members who always come through for major fundraising campaigns like building funds, etc. Have one key person in charge of their solicitations. Requests from the pulpit and stories in the church bulletin are important for every phase of your campaign.
Proven product fundraising ideas include candy sales, catalog sales, pizza sales, Christmas tree sales, coupon books, pretzel rod sales, scratch cards, raffles and cookie sales. Spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts and fish fries are all good ideas, but they require a lot of labor and expense if you need to hire outside companies to provide them.
2. Control, Control, Control!
Raising thousands of dollars can be difficult if you lose control of the product and money. If you are selling products you must have written records of who has what and a way to record money turned in.
Have everyone sign a form indicating how much product they have and how much they should turn in when they sell out. Each sub group leader should be in charge of distributing product and collecting from their specific group. It’s just too much for one person to handle all groups in the church.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Most people are like sheep. They need a shepherd to lead them by communicating exactly what they should do, how to do it and when to do it.
Your color printer is your friend. Print out full-color flyers showing pictures of the bus, tell them how much it is going to cost, how you plan to raise the money and exactly what and when you expect them to do. You can even print flyers for sub groups and explain how the bus will benefit the choir, for example. Make it personal so everyone is committed to participate.
If you are selling a product, you want to do a series of Sale-O-Grams. Do this in print and email to double your exposure.
Sale-O-Gram #1 – This goes out to every member or family one week before the sale begins. It explains when the sale will start, where and when to pick up the product.
Sale-O-Gram #2 – Letter #2 is passed out with the product. It tells them hints to sell, who to contact, what to say, when to turn in the money and who to call if they have any questions.
Sale-O-Gram #3 – This is the most important letter. It goes out halfway through the sale and serves as a reminder that the campaign is in progress and they should get going if they have not started. Highlight definite turn-in dates and the importance of turning in the money on a special date so you aren’t chasing down your money weeks after the sale ends.
Taking the time and making the effort to do all three Sale-O-Grams can actually double your profit. Remember, if they don’t know who, what, where, when and why, they won’t participate!
Also, keep everyone informed of your progress. A big thermometer should be built to chart the money collected so far.
4. Promote, Promote, Promote!
Any successful campaign needs a fun and exciting incentive program. You would think that members would participate out of the goodness of their heart, but that has been proven to be false. A strong prize program will get much better participation and raise more money even after prize expenses.
Be creative, have a nice prize for the top seller but also for sellers who reach a lesser level so more people are rewarded. For example, you could offer the first bus ride to the top 15 sellers to a pizza party or the local ice cream store.
This is the secret to your success…Organize, Control, Communicate and Promote.
Since you “volunteered” to run the bus fundraiser, why not take a little extra effort and make it the biggest success in the history of your church?
Dick Raddatz is the CEO of Pennies To Dollars Donation System and has helped groups raise millions of dollars since 1974, www.penniestodollars.com.