Donations and Fundraisers

Things to remember:

*         Fundraising goals are important – for the organization AND the fundraiser!  Be sure to to reward and congratulate yourself and your cooperators as you plan and move forward.  Tap into the competitive nature of your cooperators and keep everyone, including the media up to date on accomplishments and events.

*         Remember to employ legal and ethical practices that are expected of your 501c3 or other organization and always, be sure that your organization is properly insured for the activities you are planning.

*         No matter what you decide to do remember:  If you don’t ask, you don’t get!  So, take what you know and love about your organization and share it with the community.  Chances are, when others see your commitment and motivation, they will be willing to contribute to your cause.

Here are a few fundraising ideas that local organizations often use.  Be sure to plan activities that match your community interests, organization talents, and capacity.

  • New to the neighborhood?  Expanding your fundraising efforts?  Take a Survey.

A newsletter that includes a community survey is a good way to find out what concerns people have and what might motivate them to donate to your organization.  It’s also a good way to find out which members of the community you may want to focus future fundraising efforts toward.  If you discover that there are a lot of animal owners in your community for example, you may want to create a fundraising campaign based on organizing resources and emergency support for animals, or you may find that many people work during the day and so an evening fundraising event that doesn’t take too much time might be most appropriate.  Let people know that if they cannot contribute financially at this time, they can complete the survey as an alternative form of support.  Include an envelope so it’s easy to donate/respond.  This is also a good opportunity to highlight a volunteer or contributor.  People will be likely to contribute if they know someone else just like them has done so.

  • Garden Tours that Feature Fire Safe Landscaping

Choose some gardens that are beautiful and fire safe.  Provide refreshments and a map, plus outreach material for those on the tour.  Contact local nurseries, hardware stores, and other businesses to find out if they are interested in participating, advertising the event, or selling tickets.  Tour participants could use their tickets to receive a discount from those businesses.  You might also include access to local fuel breaks on the day of the tour and include them on the map. 

  • Silent Auction or Raffle With Donations from Local Artists or Businesses

How about a drawing for a year of monthly yard maintenance?  You should be able to cover the landscaper’s cost with ticket proceeds, plus they get publicity and may be able to donate some of all of their services.

  • Barbeque or Chili Cooking Contest

Get local restaurants to participate as a benefit, and let the supporters decide.  One bowl, one vote!

  • Sponsorship From Local Businesses to Print a Fire Prevention Calendar

There are many user friendly resources online for designing and printing your own calendars.  A calendar could feature scenes of the local area with reminders to clean the gutters in the spring, change smoke detector batteries and update emergency kits.  Local fire prevention events could also be noted if the dates are known in advance.  Sponsors could be mentioned in the monthly pages.

  • Offset The Cost of Printing Outreach Material by Including Advertisements 

Many groups work with a local paper to print a fire prevention supplement.  Advertisers can make up the cost of printing with adds that specifically relate to forest management, tools, smoke alarms,  landscaping or arborist services, emergency supplies, and more.

  • Firewood Sale

Firewood is very labor intensive but if you have a source for donated wood and can process and transport it, people will feel positive about buying firewood to support a community organization.

  • Arrange a Special Hiking Trip

Depending on the area where your efforts are focused, you may have ranches or timberland that is not generally accessible to the public.  You may be able to arrange for access with the property owner and provide a day of hiking, scenery and refreshments to your top supporters or sell tickets directly for the trip.

  • Create Something that is Beautiful/Useful/Fun and For Sale

Examples could be T-shirts, pins, stickers, holiday wreaths put together by volunteers or any other value-added item.  It’s local, it supports the community, and it’s really cool (whatever it is)!  A couple of great examples come from the Quail Ridge Conservancy near Lake Berryessa which created steel oak leaf necklaces and beautiful paper cards to sell or give to donors.  Holidays are an especially good time to put these efforts in gear. 

  • Donations, and Giveaways

Having a giveaway item is a good way to make donating a little more exciting.  If you are accepting donations, consider offering even something as simple as a T-shirt with your organization’s logo (they say some people fight fires just for the T-shirts) or maybe a free smoke detector to every 100th donor.   

  • Reverse Trick-or-Treating

A great way to meet your neighbors – and a great reason to use that Halloween costume more than once!  On a day/night that is NOT Halloween, deliver some information about your Fire Safe Council, an educational fire safe brochure, and (most importantly!) a piece of candy to each of your neighbors.  As you know, a brochure is much more effective when paired with a conversation.  Take time to explain the information in the brochure and answer questions.

  • Short on money?  Out of Ideas?

Consider hosting a “Non-Event” in which you invite people to stay home, relax and NOT attend yet another fundraiser.  It’s a creative and surprising way to elicit support for your organization without putting yourself and your Board through the chaos of planning an actual event.  Some ideas for making this interesting…

*         Encourage “guests” to stay home and read a book in honor of your organization.  Include a book mark with a friendly reminder to donate.

*         Distribute hot cocoa mix or a tea bag to each “guest” with an “invitation” to enjoy a cozy beverage after they mail their donation.  Seek donations for the fundraising supplies from community sponsors (i.e. local grocery or printer service).

*         Include information about your group including your mission statement, your successes, your goals and your need in the invitation.

*         Specify a date and time to “attend” this “Non-Event” in support of your cause.  Be creative by selecting a day that is noteworthy or easy to remember – Winter Solstice, Full Moon, Day after Christmas, etc…

*         Explain how much money the organization can save by not hosting a large fundraiser (room rental, food, etc.) AND how much money the guests will save (babysitter fees, party attire, etc.).

*         Ask your “guests” for a donation in return for “attending” the event.  Offer suggested donations amounts, perhaps specifying what the donation can help you accomplish.  Or get creative in naming the contribution levels: $25 donations = Snowflakes, $100 donations = Snowmen.

*         Be humorous!  Remember, since this is a “Non-Event” the sky’s the limit on what you (and your guests) can expect. 

Join the ABC Fire Safe Council for the

1st Annual Black Tie Non-Event!

The event will NOT begin at 7:00 pm SHARP on Saturday, December 18.

The Program will NOT include a holiday sing-along with Smokey Bear.

Refreshments will NOT be provided by legendary Chef Ina Garten.

We do hope you will NOT join us!