There are literally thousands of ways to raise money for an organization or charity. However, it seems like the same old tried-and-true fundraising methods are used over and over again. There's the run/walk-a-thon, the pie/hot dog/rutabaga eating contest and, of course, the ever popular car wash.
All great ideas, to be sure, but they are so overdone that it becomes hard to attract new people to the charity, especially if it's an annual event. "Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration," to quote the Roman philosopher Apuleius (pretty highbrow, eh?).
Now, it would be easy to rattle off a bunch of other cliches here that fit this situation, like, "think outside the box," and, "you're only limited by your imagination." It would be easier, however, to simply tell you to read this article and, if you're a brave soul, give one or two or, heck, all of them a try for your next breast cancer awareness fundraiser.
After all, you do want people to be aware of your "awareness" event, don't you?
No. 5: Pet racing
It's a numbers game, fundraising. The amount of money you raise is directly proportional to the amount of people you get to show up at the event.
With that in mind, here's why holding pet races at your next breast cancer awareness fundraiser is as close to a guaranteed money maker as you're going to find.
According to the American Pet Products Association's 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, approximately 78.2 million Americans owned dogs and about 86.4 million were cat owners. Even factoring some crossover between dog and cat owners, that represents nearly half the entire population of the United States. You don't have to be Stephen Hawking to crunch those numbers.
The idea is simple, really. You just have people pay an entry fee to race their pet against the same or similar animals. Pet races give pet owners a chance to not only show off their bosom buddy, but also to prove to the world their awesomeness.
If you think that idea is smashing, wait for our next suggestion ...
No. 4: Smash for cash
The "Smash for Cash" idea is based on the philosophy of KISS, not as a reference to the iconic (makeup or sans makeup) rock band, but as an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid.
"Smash for Cash" could not be simpler. It's easy to organize, easy to manage and easy to run. It's an obvious, unabashed appeal the caveman/cavewoman in all of us. Think of it this way: (caveperson voice) "Me smash car! Me smash car good!"
All you have to do is get yourself an absolute, full-on piece-of-junk car (which you can likely buy from a junkyard for a couple hundred bucks or less, or possibly even get a local business to donate one); then get yourself a sledgehammer or similar weapon of mass destruction; and finally give anyone who pays the set price five cathartic, stress-releasing swings at your already junked car.
Now all you have to do is count the money.
Or you could start collecting your junk ...
No. 3: Infant/toddler rummage sale
We humans like to think of ourselves as unique, one-of-a-kind individuals, like snowflakes or grains of sand. And while this might be true in many ways, it is also true that we all share a number of the same or at least very similar traits. One of these is that, with very few exceptions, we all grow up, literally and figuratively.
So, inevitably, anyone who has had a child or children will have clothes, toys and God knows what else that your not-so-little-anymore ones will have outgrown.
Hold an infant and toddlers rummage sale for your breast cancer awareness fundraiser. All you'll need is a relatively large room, perhaps in a school or a church, along with some long tables. You could rent the tables to those plying their wares and charge an entry fee to shoppers.
Heck, you could even maximize your moneymaking potential by opening up the sale to anyone, parent or not, who has infant or toddler items to sell.
But if you really want to maximize your proceeds, consider turning to something everybody loves ...
No. 2: Chocopalooza!
There is only a handful (so to speak) of food items that almost every one loves: cheese, chicken and chocolate. Armed with this knowledge, you must do what is your inalienable right, nay duty, as a red, white and blue-blooded American capitalist: exploit it for monetary gain.
"Chocopalooza!" can also be mutually beneficial. Here's how. Invite local restaurants and pastry chefs to prepare samples of their favorite or signature chocolate desserts.
This idea is likely to take more planning and organizing than the others on this list, but it should also bring in a corresponding amount of people and money.
One suggestion is to advertise the event as a chocolate tasting. Rent a banquet hall. Or better yet, see if they'll provide their space for free, whereby they could set up a cash bar or something to make it worthwhile for them. You could increase your odds by offering to split the proceeds.
Oh, and one last thing, try as hard as you can not to eat all of the chocolate yourself.
Our last fundraising idea isn't a tasty as chocolate, but it's nearly as much fun ...
No. 1: Cow pie bingo
It is an undeniable fact of life: what goes in, must come out. Every living creature on Earth that eats and digests its food for sustenance and/or fun will have to rid itself of the unusable waste inevitably produced via this digestion process.
Even so, it's still funny.
This ubiquitous waste byproduct goes by a wide variety of names, both colloquial and formal. For our purposes here, we shall refer to it as "pie," as in cow pie.
Call it cow pie bingo, or cow pie lotto, or cow pie roulette, or come up with your own name. The funnier the better. Then paint a board with numbered squares on an enclosed fairly large patch of grass. Place one cow in said grass patch (and, yes, renting or borrowing a cow, especially for a good cause, is easier than you would think). Then have people bet on the numbered square they think the cow is going to leave its "pie."
Remember another undeniable fact of life: nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. And cow pie bingo will unquestionably attract a crowd, at least until the smell hits their nostrils.
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