Q&A: Workplace Fundraising

Q&A: Workplace Fundraising

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A USA Fundraising reader asks about workplace fundraising for a food bank.

Question:

Hi! I need ideas. I am in charge of a work based fundraising activity. The proceeds go to the local food bank. I need to raise $600-1000. In the past, I have been involved in fundraising for kids which is usually an easy sell. However, since this involves adults and is a workplace based event, I am coming up short on ideas. It needs to be a low investment in time and money, but be fun and applicable to both men and women of all ages. Our work group has about 75 people. Approx. 80% are male. I need to complete this in the month of March. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Answer:

Workplace fundraising can be a challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun!  We’ve organized several fundraising campaigns in our office and here are some that really worked well:

Half & Half – Go around the office selling raffle tickets (we sold them for $2 each or 3 for $5).  Around mid-afternoon, draw a ticket.  The holder of the winning ticket gets half of the total amount raised from selling the tickets, and the rest goes to your charity.  We held a half & half once a week for 4 weeks and raised several hundred dollars.

Silent Auction – This takes a lot of organizing as the key will be to get some great items donated.  Contact local businesses and even large corporations like cell phone suppliers, hotel chains, etc.  Describe your cause and ask them if they will donate an item to your auction.  A conference room is a great place for your auction because you’ll have plenty of room to set up your items for display and to set out bid sheets for people to place bids.  Indicate a starting bid on each sheet and give people a set amount of time (2 hours is usually enough) to place their bids.

Flowers, chocolate and anything pink! – You mentioned that you need to complete your fundraising in March.  Well February is right before that!  And with so many male coworkers I’m sure there are several who are more than panicking about the arrival of Valentine’s day.  Speak to florists, candy stores or even lingerie stores in your area and ask if they will provide a selection of bouquets, flower arrangements, boxed chocolates, or if they can provide a catalog for people to place orders at the office.  In exchange for the boost in business you’ll be giving them, ask if they will donate a percentage of the profits to your cause.

Raffles – This will take a lot of phone calls, but all you need to find is one generous company to donate something big like a weekend getaway package, a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant, a cell phone, mp3 player or other handheld device, anything that will really get people excited.  Sell raffle tickets in the office starting on a Monday and do the final drawing that Friday.

Jeans Days – If your office has a dress code that prohibits jeans or casual dress, find out if you can have Jeans Day Fridays or Casual Dress Days.  People can pay $5 for the opportunity to wear their jeans to work!  We’ve tried this one several times and have always had great success with it.  If you do have a casual work environment, try a theme dress day like Hawaiian Shirt Day, Crazy Hat Day, or Flip Flop Friday!

Gourmet Lunch – If you have a few gourmet cooks in the office, ask if they will donate their time and culinary creations to cook up some great lunch dishes they can bring to the office.  Sell tickets to your lunch in advance so that you will know how many people to plan for.  Be sure to have plenty of plates, napkins, forks, knives and cups on hand.  Serve coffee, non-alcoholic punch and tasty home baked treats for dessert.

Bake Sale – a whole lunch may be too much to plan, but if you have some willing volunteers to bring in some baking, a bake sale is a great way to raise funds.  Be sure you have a large space like a conference room to hold the sale, and publicize it well starting a few days before the sale.

For some more details and ideas, we have an article on corporate fundraising ideas here.

Good luck and happy fundraising!

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