I'm thrilled to share with you a unique fundraising idea! Ronnie was beyond helpful to provide such a detailed outline with many great ideas for families interested in hosting a similar fundraiser. Big thanks to Ronnie for sharing today!
|Ronnie, Perri and PJ|
|PJ, Brooke, Perri and Ronnie|
Our daughter was about a year and a half old and we were ready to start the process of our second adoption. Adoption is a long and uncertain road but one thing we were certain of was that we could not possibly take on another adoption debt. We were, and are still, paying on loan that we took out for our first adoption. We were scared to ask for help at that time not realizing that people would have loved to support us. You live and you learn.
Knowing now that people want to help us, we decided to let them!
Fundraising options were seemingly endless! How in the world do you decide which route to take?
The biggest things we considered were – which option requires the least amount of money to produce AND how can we best use the talents, services, and resources of our friends and community to make this fundraiser a success?
Last October we decided on a plan - Have three major fundraisers over a year’s time. The money raised combined with the adoption tax credit would cover almost all of our adoption costs (in theory). Once we finished fundraising we would then we start the paperwork.
- Christmas concert – We are musical and most of our friends are musical. We have loads of musical connections so it made perfect sense.
- Dinner Dance – We know many people who can and will cook for large numbers, we know DJs, we know live bands and we know how to party ;)
- Giant Garage Sale – We live in a town that has a citywide garage sale every year! People flock from miles around to find treasures. We have a small sale every year during this time and always sell out! This time we will ask for donations from friends and family, advertise it as a multi family, adoption fundraiser garage sale and watch the money roll in!
The Christmas concert came first and was a huge success! Then in spring our plan was to start planning for a dinner dance to take place in late July. Plans changed quickly when in April we discovered we were pregnant! SURPRISE!
Adoption was, is and will continue to be our passion. This surprise delayed our fundraising schedule for a bit so we only have ONE fundraiser under our belt at this point – that is what I will share with you!
Planning this event was fun but also sent me into a panic on multiple occasions. I worried that no one would come and that we would waste so much time and effort (not just ours, but everyone who helped). I almost backed out at least 10 times. The night before the event we had our final rehearsal and it was terrible. I cried afterward and told my husband “prepare to be embarrassed.”
Just as I was trying to find a way to cancel the entire thing I got a text from a friend that said, “Im praying for your but mostly I want you to know that God’s perfection is made perfect in our imperfection and that His plan for His Children prevails beyond our plans. So I want to encourage you to remember His truth and that you are loved.”
Perfect timing. I pulled myself together and prayed. Peace came over me and I knew that I was not able to make this happen, but God was. Of course it turned out far greater than we could have imagined or planned. We ended up raising $4k at the event. We also discovered a HUGE $2k donation when we got home – so overall we raised $6k!
Here is how it all happened from start to finish -
- Planning Team – I think it is best to keep it small. I had my husband, two friends, and myself. We started planning in September. 3-4 months ahead is probably a reasonable time frame. Our event was December 6th at 7pm. It was risky to have an event in December because people have work parties, family gatherings and are just generally busy during the Christmas season. We got the word out in late October so people could plan around our event if they wanted to attend.
- Location – We considered renting a hall or a church space. As I looked into different venues I would mention the cause and usually would get offered a hefty discount. Thankfully I was able to find a church that allowed us to use their facility for free! I had attended this small church growing up. Our own church is massive and would have involved a cost to rent the space. It made more sense to go with a cozy space that would feel full and would have no cost to rent. PLUS a church already has as sounds system. If we rented a hall we would have to make separate arrangements for a sounds system. The church even provided a sound guy.
- Website & Ticket Sales – We did online ticketing and hard copy tickets.
- Online Ticketing – We used the site www.splashthat.com. It is spectacular! The best part is that it’s FREE! It looks super professional and helps you not only sell tickets but organize and advertise your event too. They have extremely fast and personal customer service as well. This was the single most helpful tool for this event. It would not have been as successful without it. (to check out what is left of the event site go to www.laboroflove.splashthat.com)
- Hard copy tickets – I googled this and found a random site to print hard copy tickets. I had to order way more than I needed but it was so inexpensive that it didn’t really matter. This way I could give bunches to my friends and family to sell in person. We made sure to have each person selling hard copy tickets collect contact info from each guest. I created an email address form so that I could manually enter them in the online ticketing site and send updates.
- Ticket prices - We wanted it to be affordable but also wanted to get the best bang for our buck! People will pay a little more for fundraisers so don’t be shy, but don’t be greedy. We charged $20 per person and passed the ticketing site’s service charge on to guest instead of absorbing it. We also created a $10 ticket for kids under 10 and a “Donation” ticket for those who couldn’t attend but wanted to donate. (We had a $20, $50 & $100 option for donations).
- Entertainment –
- We had so many options for this. We decided to put together a main band that would learn all of the songs. We also had three main vocalists and arranged for guest vocalists to spice it up.
If you don’t think you have musical connections, it isn’t the end of the world. You definitely can find some resources. For instance -
- Do you have a church worship band?
- Do you know any school choirs, quartets, or bands?
- Do you know of any local dance troupes or soloists?
- Does your church have a children’s ministry? They can learn cute little Christmas carols.
- Do you know one piano or guitar play and one solid singer who can perform a few Christmas classics and even lead the audience in a singalong?
- Do you know any cute kids who would want to read a Christmas poem or the story of Jesus’ birth?
- It is important to be creative! People love Christmas traditions so much that almost anything you choose will be heartwarming and enjoyable to your guests.
- We got in touch with everyone to see who was willing and available to perform and arranged two rehearsals prior to the show. Then we created our show schedule. We started with mingle and snack time to allow people buy raffle tickets, then we did two 25 minute sets with an intermission in between, followed by thank yous and raffle announcements. Everyone had a blast!
- Our story – Toward the end of the show I took a moment to share our heart for adoption and a bit about our first adoption. We have a great relationship with our first daughter’s birth mom so we talked a lot about that and I read a blog article she had written about the realities of adoption from her perspective. We wanted our guests to understand the need for open adoption and see how great it can be for everyone involved. We wanted to paint a realistic picture of how difficult it can be but how it is totally worth it. I’m not sure if there were any dry eyes in the room. It really helped our guests connect with our cause and feel good about supporting us. (Here is the link to the blog article written by our daughter’s birth mom. It’s very real so be prepared - http://chrysalishouseinc.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/creating-awareness-of-a-birthmother-experience/
Ronnie sharing their story
Ronnie and Perri with Brooke (Perri's birth mom)
- Raffle -
- This brought in a third of our total profits from the event.
- It is a good idea to assign the job of getting raffle prize donations to one of your main helpers and have them delegate to other friends as well. You can never have too many raffle prizes!
- If any donations are considerably large – like a musical instrument, an overnight stay, a TV, etc. Be sure to have a silent auction for those items instead of raffle ticket sales. Raffles for high cost items would undervalue the generous donation and also cut your possible profits down significantly.
- If you have several small raffle donations that can be lumped into a package or a basket be sure to do that, but be sure to not put competing businesses in a package together.
- If you have several small gift cards you can do a separate raffle for each, OR if the total of all of your gift cards is quite large ($500-$1000) then you can use that as a silent auction as well in order to bring in more money. Call it a “Shopping spree!”
- The best way to sell raffle tickets is to have 3-4 people walking around with a bucket or a bag containing a roll of raffle tickets and an envelope for cash. These helpers can approach people while they mingle and ask them if they want to buy tickets. People may not make their way to the raffle table otherwise. We didn’t sell single tickets because that gets complicated. We sold them $10 for one arm’s length and $20 for your height (or the height of the tallest person you can find). That way you are usually getting at least $20 from each person who buys. Then they can put their tickets wherever they want.
- Advertise – This is KEY! If people don’t know about it then no one will come, you will make no money. Fail.
- Social Media – Clearly this is the most common and easy way to advertise but we didn’t rely solely on this. Social media is oversaturated with event invites, and causes to support. We used it to the best of our ability but also branched out.
- We created flyers and posted them around town at small businesses and churches. I passed them out to my friends as well so that I wasn’t the only one running around posting.
- Request to sell tickets at your church or other churches - We visited several small groups, women’s/Men’s bible studies, etc within our church. Sometimes we gave a little spiel and other times we played a song or two as well. Then we passed out flyers and sold tickets to anyone interested at that moment. We also brought an email sign up in case people weren’t able to attend this event but would like to know about future events.
- We also called several small churches in the area and asked if we could visit on a Sunday in November to speak about our event, sell tickets and sing a song or two if they had time. This was a huge success! We visited 3 churches. We set up a table in the lobby before and after services to sell tickets and pass out flyers. Sharing with the congregations on stage and singing a song made people feel closer to the cause and really helped ticket sales.
- We asked (forced) our friends and family to ruthlessly sell tickets to everyone they knew. We armed them with hard copy tickets, email collection sheets and flyers. Word of mouth is huge! My dad even sold a ticket to a random man at a gas station!
- After the event –
- Side Notes:
- Graphic Design – I didn’t know anyone to help in this area so I found free stock photos online of Christmasy things and used those for our website, flyers and tickets. The key is to keep it uniform and simple across the board for advertising the event. Just like you would brand a company.
- Get “the square” credit card reader for your phone for advance sales and for the raffle. Have a helper operate it during the event because you will be too busy to sell raffle tickets yourself.
- Have a point person during the event who will direct a small team of people before, during and after the event. We had everyone arrive two hours early to set up and get a quick briefing on what to do during the event.
- Our helpers – 4 raffles sellers, 2 ticket collectors, 1 snack table attendant, and 1 main point person to direct helpers and guests.
- Be sure to have a photographer donate their time to document the event. We know 6 different photographers and forgot to ask any of them to help. We have only a few cell phone photos from the event. Big time fail.
- I created an event schedule detailing times and jobs for each person. My point person had a quick meeting with the helpers and passed out the schedule so everyone was on the same page.
- We printed signs directing people to the restrooms, the raffles, the exits, etc and had helpers place them throughout the building.
- Have a kid’s table in the back. We set up a table with Christmas coloring pages I printed online, crayons and chairs. Kids don’t want to sit through a concert, but some parents didn’t have childcare so we wanted to accommodate the best that we could.
- We borrowed a lot of décor items from friends and family. We also bought little things like cups, plates, and table covers from the dollar store. The best part is that the church was already decorated for Christmas so we didn’t really need to add much.
- We had a table with cookies and other dessert snacks, coffee and cider for guests. You could turn this into another moneymaker like a bake sale but we decided to just take donations. Our friends and family provided the baked goods.
- We created small flyers that we placed on each seat for guests to complete with name and email. The incentive for them was to be entered into a raffle for a Starbucks card – and we used the info to create an alert list for future fundraisers.
- Be sure to acknowledge any businesses or people who donated to the raffle or to the event in any way. We created a slide to project before the event, during the intermission and afterward. We also thanked each of them from the microphone. Don’t forget to publicly thank any helpers too.
After all was said and done we were humbled, honored, overwhelmed, inspired and thankful to say the least. It was hard to let our pride down and allow people to support us. We live in a cold world where we have been taught to take care of our own business, do it ourselves, and don’t expect anyone to go out of their way to help. On the night of our little fundraiser the world felt a little warmer. It was surreal to look out at the faces in the audience and realize that 150 people were gathered for the same cause – adoption.
Interested in receiving more information about fundraising and access to resources to help you fund your adoption? Then working with an adoption consultant might be a good fit for your family. Email me at email@example.com.