To Sell or not to Sell

Friday, January 2, 2009
There are a number of ways to raise money for a given organization. One of the primary purposes of this blog is to discover them, share about them, and develop them. One idea that I don’t know about personally, because I’ve never done it, is selling goods in exchange for donations. I've been very interested, however, as an additional avenue for Team Sam, so I did some investigating.

The Fundraising Coach seems to believe that selling stuff isn’t a good idea, saying that, “selling things dilutes your brand and potentially confuses your message to donors.” Marc feels that most people fear “taking” money from people as a charitable donation. I admit, I’ve felt this way a few times, especially when it comes to asking people who don’t have a disease to give to our research.

Still, can selling something be worthwhile? When I visited Mazatlan, a city on Mexico’s west coast, I met some missionaries at the Looney Bean, a coffee shop. The coffee shop employed a number of local short-term missionaries, which helped them finance their ministry work. Ok, I can see the benefits of that. And how many of us have ever bought a pie or a cake from a bake sale?

In my heart of hearts, as long as it’s legal, you do whatever you have to do to raise the money that will end this disease. But I want your thoughts…do you sell stuff to raise money? If so, what type of stuff do you sell? If not, why don’t you sell stuff?


Kelli said...

The best way we have found to raise money is by doing a letter campaign. We send letters to all of our friends, family, co-workers, businesses we have relationships with, etc. It isn't easy to ask people for money, but suprisingly, most people like to give.

We live in a small town, so each year we do a fundraiser where we wait tables at a local pizza place and get all of the tips. It is a very simple fundraiser bc the only prep is finding 6 people willing to work it (and my sahm mom friends love getting to work!) We advertise the fundraiser in the newspaper along with info for sending in donations and have gotten many phone calls from people we don't even know who want to send in money or want to know how they can help. We have gotten $300 - $800 for this fundraiser.

Over the past couple of years, we have branched out by asking some of our "team members" to lead their own team. This brings in even more $.

Hope that helps!

Dan said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts. This is another area of fundraising that we're going to hopefully look at in the future. I'm glad you had some success with that as it spurs me on to try it out.

I like how you used the opportunity to make people aware of CF also with the newspaper ads, etc. That's definitely a good side-effect that I hope to see happen in our efforts as well.

Thanks for the great idea!

Cindy said...

Also, if you have an Aplebee's in your area, they will do a pancake breakfast. You sell tickets in advance, they get less than half of the ticket price (to cover supplies), you wait tables & that's it. It earned us $900 this year. And it was quick - only a morning!
I also sell items on You make your own design, mark your prices up to what you want your profit, and hope they sell. I need to get back to work on my shop, but visit the site, and search cystic would be amazed.
Like Kelli, I also do the letter writing campaign & it has been the most profitable. Good luck!

Dan said...

I knew there was a reason I loved Applebees!

This is great information. Hopefully we can put both of the ideas into operation when I get back from overseas.

One of the biggest things we have done so far, really the only thing, was the letter campaign, or a type of letter campaign, and like you, it was our biggest success.

Katey said...

Hi Dan....

I lead a pretty big Great Strides team each year and are always looking for new ideas to fundraise. I have done a bake sale, which was ok, but not worth the time and effort put into it. Last year, my Mom and I decided to make home-made jewlery. I made over $900 doing was awesome! This year I have decided to sell candles: Candles for CF. I just started it, so not sure how it is going to turn out. I do a letter writing campaign each year, which is the root of my fundraising. However, in order to meet my goal, I need to do an on-the-side fundraiser as well.

During my transplant, to help my family with expenses, a local Applebees back home did a Pancake breakfast like described by the comments above. While, I was unable to attend, it was a huge success and all of the local community came together to help raise funds. So I would definitely look into that.

Another idea would be if the area you live in ever has an arts and crafts show or something similar at a church, etc., that is a great idea to sell something. I know several teams who do that at their church and are very successful.

At last, but not least. I coordinated our local walk last year, so I had the opportunity to attend many fundraising events for our chapter. One little girl (about Sam's age) had a little "neighbordhood" party at her house (or it can be at a close friend's house). They had food donated. They also got a moon bounce donated as well. In addition, the local fire station came by to give a tour of their fire truck; and a guy from one of the Pet Stores donated his time and brought a few animals by to share with the kids. It was basically a "block party" (but families coming from all over. All we did was set up a table with donation jars. That was it. And this family made a little over $4,000. It turned out to be great. And a lot of places will donate things to younger kids like Sam. You just have to ask around to see who is willing to donate.

Hope this helps! I'm looking forward to hopefully getting some more ideas off your blog!

Lil' Chris' Mom said...

I'm really glad you started this blog! I'm getting some great ideas from you and your commentors!

This summer will only be our second year. So far, we've done Jeans for Genes day at work where employees pay $5 or more to wear jeans for a specific day. Everyone loves that one.

I have a friend that just started making jewelry and selling it for Lil' Chris.

And the next biggest thing we did was emailing everyone we knew and of course posting it on our blog helped too:)

This year we are going to do the pizza shop thing like mentioned above by Kelli. I'll let you know how it goes.
Hope this helps,

Dan said...

Thank you both for your comments. I have heard of people selling jewelry before, and I'm glad that it works. I'm also very happy to hear that Jeans for Genes works. Unfortunately, this won't work for me at this time on the ship, but I'm going to hold on to that information for any future shore duty jobs I might have.

I absolutely love the idea of a block party, or some kind of special event. I can't wait to plan my own and see what happens! We'll see.

Check back this week as I will post the results of our recycling trial program.


Kelli said...

A great way to do Jeans for Genes or the sneaker pin-ups is to use your contacts and ask them to do it for you. For instance, if you know someone who works at a bank, they could get area branches involved in a pin-up campaign. Gas stations, restraunts, etc often do this. You could ask friends to find out if their church or employer will do Jeans for Genes, etc. Some places will committ to doing this more than once a year. When I was a teacher, we teachers loved doing the jeans thing.

Also, if you have any teacher, principal, guidance counselor friends then they may be able to do a Change 4 A Cure campaign where the students bring in money throughout the week (pennies on Monday, Nickels on Tuesday, etc) and the class that brings in the most gets a pizza party. This can bring in a lot of $.

Also, anyone who does a fundraiser should check with their local Thrivent Chapter bc Thrivent will often do some sort of match (for 3 years they matched our walksite $1 for every $3, and they would give us up for $15,000)

Also, we have one person on our committee who focuses on letter campaigns to area foundations. He only solicits a select few each year but sends them a large packet with profiles of areas CFer's and a call for help. For the past few years he has raised $30,000 each year just by doing this.

I chaired our walk the past 2 years and am taking a break this year but it is all coming back to me now, lol!