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Fundraising Gets a Face-Lift

Carmen Kamrath

Culture and safety concerns have changed ministry fundraising. Use these creative ideas to raise money -- and keep kids safe.

Remember when you were a child, sitting alone at the corner of your block selling lemonade? without parental supervision? Or when your elementary school sold Christmas wrapping paper and you racked up big sales by selling to every house within three blocks?

Today's safety-conscious culture has changed the way schools and ministries conduct fundraising. Gone are the days of sending kids into neighborhoods to sell candy door-to-door in efforts to raise money for summer camp or a playground. Heightened awareness of dangerous people and abduction fears have put a halt on many traditional fundraising methods. But ministries still need money, especially for things outside the budget -- such as camps, retreats, missions, or extra equipment.

If you're facing a new season of fundraising, don't feel discouraged. The trick isn't to give up on traditional types of fundraising; it's to think creatively. Traditional methods such as sales campaigns can flourish -- and still keep kids safe. Plus, there are alternative fundraising opportunities that with parent support can build ministry budgets and causes. Take a look at the new face of fundraising.

Selling to the Masses

Many fundraising companies successfully help organizations raise money by selling products such as candy, wrapping paper, candles, and other gift items. Since kids approaching neighborhood strangers door-to-door is frowned upon nowadays by everyone from your insurance carrier to homeowners, try these creative venues to still generate hefty sales and make the most out of individual-sales fundraisers.

• Worship Services-After church is in session, set up a booth for people to purchase items you're selling. Schedule plenty of time to get items back to purchasers if it's around the holidays and they'll be using their purchases for gifts or decorating. If sales go toward individual accounts for camp or a mission trip, have kids sign up for shifts to make it fair. Ask for parents to help at the booth each time.

• Storefronts-Many businesses such as grocery stores, discount stores, and banks allow organizations to sell fundraising products at the entrance of their stores. Bring signs, tables, and sample products if they're available. If you're raising money for a cause or mission, offer information in case people want to donate later but not on the spot. Enlist parent help in shifts, and train kids prior to sales on the art of approaching patrons without being pushy.

• Internet-More fundraising providers offer options for organizations to have kids send emails to friends and relatives about the products they're selling, and individuals can purchase and pay for items directly online. This process is simple because it only requires kids to send a mass email. The companies track purchases and send organizations a check based on their profits. This is a great way to get contributions from friends and relatives who don't live nearby, and delivery is worry-free since products are mailed directly to purchasers.

• Public Events-Consider selling items at community events such as festivals, county fairs, or swap meets. Many venues allow nonprofits to set up booths for free or at a substantial discount. Encourage small groups or families to sign up together to work shifts. Not only is this a great way to sell fundraising items, but it showcases your ministry, church, and upcoming events.

• Stands-At different times throughout the year, you may want to set up a stand in a parking lot at an intersection. (Check with local authorities for safety precautions.) Christmas (wreaths), Valentine's Day (flowers), Easter (chocolates), or Independence Day (fireworks) are prime holidays to set up a stand for sales. If you sell products this way, acquire the proper licenses, permits, and sign-offs from local authorities. (For example, if you're hosting a fireworks stand, the fire department must sign off on your set-up and location). Of course, parent  help makes these fundraisers fly.

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