Monday, November 12, 2007

Healthy fundraisers equal healthy news coverage

Schools that banish the junk food and embrace healthful fundraising activities often enjoy positive press coverage as a result, as this Chronicle-Telegram story underscores:

"...the Westview Elementary PTA came up with a new way of helping the school that... really got the kids moving.

"During two sessions Friday, every member of the student body laced up their walking shoes for the first Westview Wildcat Walk. The PTA hopes the walkathon-style event will become a yearly event.

"'We were just looking for something different than just selling wrapping paper or candy,' said Susan Mueller, PTA second vice president. 'This is a healthy choice that is more fun for the kids.'"

Use the health & fitness marketing angle whenever you can.

And generate more excitement by rewarding successful young fundraisers with a stunt, as happened in the above event:

" student from each class will be randomly selected to smash a pie in [Principal Paul] Holland’s face.

"'I draw the line at kissing pigs or anything like that. I’m all for motivating my students, but that is not the kind of memory I plan on making. Plus, pie tastes much better,' Holland said."

Well, I guess the fundraiser wasn't very healthy for his diet.

Here's a story about another fundraiser that ended with a good-natured principal performing a stunt--and this guy was willing to kiss a pig.

"At least it was a clean pig," he said. "The kids wanted it to be all sloppy."

As I note in my book on educational stunts, administrators should always stay in their own comfort zone. Some would rather kiss a pig, while some would rather take multiple pies in the face...

The plane truth? Here's a fantastic fundraising idea

Thinking big and getting creative generated fun headlines for California's Apple Valley High--as well as cash for a good cause, the Victorville Daily Press reports:

"The Apple Valley Sun Devils squared off this morning against an unlikely group of opponents: The staff of the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, which flies around the world curing avoidable blindness.

"Amid hoots, hollers and a lot of trash talking, it took the 47 football players 6.9 seconds to pull the 350,000-pound DC-10 jetliner 12 feet. ...

"The demonstration was intended to be a test run for a fundraising event on the Chinese island of Macau in December, where the plane is headed next."

The Aero-News Network adds that the event raised "money for residents of third world countries that need glasses, or have other eye related ailments, but can't afford them. ...

"This event is a rehearsal for a similar fundraising event planned in Macau in December, where five corporate sponsors will compete, and will pay $10,000 each for the opportunity."

A spectacular menu that should open mouths and wallets

Forget the annual fundraising barbecue or spaghetti feed--the Toledo Blade reports on an Ohio high school is planning a scholarship benefit night with a menu that's the most ambitious I've ever seen:

"...a Loire Valley Salade of asparagus spears, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and sweet onion cucumber relish with a raspberry vinaigrette. The entree of seared beef tenderloin topped with Alouette cheese and green peppercorn sauce will be served with pomme Lyonnaise potatoes with tornados of yellow squash and zucchini. ...

"A vegetarian option features smoked mozzarella tart, haricot vert, and oven-roasted roma tomato confit.

"For dessert, there will be a variety of petit fours, cream puffs, French pastries, and assorted coffees."

And did I forget to mention the French wine and cheese tasting beforehand?

Sacre bleu! Talk about a fundraiser folks will be talking about into the new year...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Don't wait for complaints to draft a fundraising policy

The FUNdraising book explores the notion of school and district fundraising policies, pegged to a story out of Wisconsin about a band sale of a pre-packaged product that contained filet knives. I was reminded of that this morning by an article in the Albany Democrat-Herald:

"Complaints about a middle-school fundraiser last year have prompted district officials to draft a policy on school fundraisers for the Albany School Board to consider. ....

"The catalyst was a fundraiser last March at Calapooia Middle School. The Parent Teacher Student Association asked students to bring donations for PTSA programs by March 2, with the promise of an afternoon in the library with blankets, pillows and snacks for each child who brought in at least $20. Students who didn’t participate or who brought in less were to read in their classrooms instead.

"Parent complaints and letters to the editor prompted school officials to look to district policies for guidance..."

Don't wait for outraged letters to the editor to start rolling in. And PTAs, PTOs and other education groups can adopt best-practice guidelines independent of the schools they serve.

Policies can address the sale of junk food and events involving alcohol (such as wine tastings) or gambling (casino nights, raffles), how money is handled and accounted for, and many other issues. Here are a few more, from the story above:

* "forms for organizers to fill out annually that specify the goal of the fundraiser, the type of activity, the time it will take, how the funds will be collected and the number of students to be involved. ...

* "...this statement: 'Under no circumstances will students or staff be coerced or compelled to participate in fundraising activities. Students may not be barred or otherwise penalized because of a refusal to participate in fundraising activities conducted on behalf of a school or the district.'"

Do you have experiences with fundraising policies? What do you think they should include?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Taking a gamble on a poker fundraiser

Poker has been a hot fad in the past couple of years. Tournaments are featured every day on TV and those clay-chip sets in the shiny metal suitcases have been found under many Christmas trees in recent holiday seasons. Some education groups are taking advantage of poker's popularity by holding fundraising tourneys--such as Nevada's Lake Tahoe School, as the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reports.

Laws in some states and communities preclude such fundraisers, and even when it's legal some school groups might not find charity gambling palatable. But where it's legal and fits in with the community culture, poker can be a fun deal.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A swashbuckling FUNdraiser idea

Check out this story in the Owings Mills Times about a cool Fence-A-Thon fundraiser in Canada:

"A centuries-old sport, fencing swordplay can involve three different weapons, a foil, an epee or a saber, allowing combatants to strike their opponents at different target areas of the body. Fencing is played in a narrow lane to resemble confined combat in areas like castle hallways. ...

"The Chesapeake Fencing Club stresses that the Fence-A-Thon is not a tournament, but rather a 13-hour- long fencing marathon, but to [participant Bruce] Heidebrecht, a forensic scientist, it's more of a reunion.

"'It's just a big social event,' he said. 'You get to see people maybe you haven't seen in a year; college kids or people with families come out that typically can't make it to regular matches.' ...

"Registration is $25, with participants earning pledge donations per bout. After covering expenses, the remaining proceeds are split between the club and Sisters Academy of Baltimore, a middle school for girls.

"Last year, the event, which drew 60 fencers, raised about $1,000..."

A big social event that brings the community together in support of education? Now that's cutting-edge stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One secret to a good FUNdraiser: Have a backup plan

That's the lesson to take away from this Scranton Times-Tribune (yes, it's a real city not just the setting for "The Office") story about a fundraiser that nearly flopped:

"It seems the 'cow,' really a steer named 'Dingbat,' tried to end the Riverside High School track and field team fundraiser before it even began on Saturday.

"In plain talk, he couldn't hold it in, and instead let loose inside his trailer - twice - even before his owner could get him onto the numbered grid.

"Once he was out on the grid inside the pen behind the school, the 600-pound Hereford spent the better part of two and a half hours munching on grass where 225 numbers had been randomly spray painted on."

An easy fix here would be to have an extra cow around, or at least some backup entertainment.

It's funny--the FUNdraising book actually includes advice from a farmer for how to help make sure the cow goes, but here's a case of one that went too soon...