running a benefit and need some ideas — The Bump
June 2011 Moms

running a benefit and need some ideas

My friend's little baby was born 10 weeks premature and has severe eye problems resulting in blindness in both eyes. Yes, heartwrenching stuff. She will have surgery in November to give her a 50/50 chance of partial vision recovery. Worse is that my friend was laid off from her job b/c she was 4 weeks from maternity leave eligibility. Friends are banding together to do a beef/beer type benefit in november.

If you have been to a benefit for ANYTHING, what kind of cool thing or raffle or basket or whatever did they have that stood out in your mind as a good idea or detail? Planning to do gift baskets for raffle, gift cards. Is the "in" thing for charities still a plastic bracelet? Trying to think of a simple item (sports bottle) that we can sell for like $2 that could bring in additional donations.

If you have run a benefit (bonus!!) any ideas on getting the word out, dealing with local businesses or connecting with larger charities?

Any thoughts are appreciated!

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Re: running a benefit and need some ideas

  • My 'baby' at work is an annual silent auction used to raise money for the local food bank (I think last year it brought in over $12,000) and we also do a raffle to increase participation in the United Way campaign.  I have a form letter that I use to send to businesses to solicit donations as well as I make lots of phone calls, hit up anyone and everyone I know, etc. 

    Some of the more popular items are the gift baskets.  We always get one from the local zoo, the people who manage our fitness center (through the university), a very popular one we have every year is one donated by a local liquor distributor, we always have bottles of wine donated from individuals, golf packages, etc. 

    Some deas for themed gift baskets:

    movies - our local AAA donated one that included movie tickets, a popcorn bucket with several bags of microwave popcorn, and several different boxes of movie treats

    sports - get some some good sports movies, throw in some odds and ends sports memorabilia, snacks

    health/fitness - personal training sessions, massage gift certificate, healthy snacks, water bottle, towel, yoga mat

    Make lots of phone calls...you'd be surprised at how many people are willing to donate items for a good cause and many of the smaller businesses will see this as an opportunity for advertising.  Talk to people.  Do eveyrthing you can to get the word out.  FB can be a great tool for this sort of thing.  I had one jewelry store owner donate a watch this year - my first year soliciting a donation from them, but he felt compelled to do so when he saw it was part of the Scouting for Food campaign as he was a boyscout.

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  • Spectacular ideas!! Thank you so much. I love the zoo idea and never even thought of a fitness center. I think we are hesitant about the cold calling but you've given me hope that someone will donate something. Thank you!!
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  • A few baskets that I can think of standing out at benefits...

    Spa package- mani, pedi, nail polish, lotions, etc.  Usually a salon will donate something

    Hair package- hair cut and color, shampoo, conditioner, products, etc.  Again usually donated from a salon.

    An odd one that sparked a lot of interest was a nice thermal lunch box filled with office supplies, like pens, paper, tape, etc.  I believe donated from a place like staples, maybe something a couponer could do.

    There was also a really cool one of a flight over the area.  If you have a small airport and could find a pilot to donate a 30 min flyover.

    If I can think of any others I will let you know.

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  • Also we had a benefit at a bowling alley.  It was like $20 a team to participate and the bowling alley gave x amount of dollars from that back to the benefit.  They had a few different raffles.  A 50/50 that you could buy tickets for $1 each, 6 for $5 and a "wing span" for $20, they also had a raffle that you bought tickets for $1 and then put them in buckets you wanted a chance to win.  So there were a lot of random smaller prizes like action figures, sports wear, etc. and a backet next to each one.  You coudl put as many tickets in as you wanted to up your chance of winning and they also had the silent auction with all the gift baskets and bigger items. 

    The bowling alley had their snack bar and bar open and gave a % of the proceeds to the benefit but other than that there was no food which I am sure really helped on the cost factor of putting it on. 

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  • imageMrsI:

    Also we had a benefit at a bowling alley.  It was like $20 a team to participate and the bowling alley gave x amount of dollars from that back to the benefit.  They had a few different raffles.  A 50/50 that you could buy tickets for $1 each, 6 for $5 and a "wing span" for $20, they also had a raffle that you bought tickets for $1 and then put them in buckets you wanted a chance to win.  So there were a lot of random smaller prizes like action figures, sports wear, etc. and a backet next to each one.  You coudl put as many tickets in as you wanted to up your chance of winning and they also had the silent auction with all the gift baskets and bigger items. 

    The bowling alley had their snack bar and bar open and gave a % of the proceeds to the benefit but other than that there was no food which I am sure really helped on the cost factor of putting it on. 

    This too...the bowling alley where I used to bartend would allow people to hold various fundraisers.

    And while I'm thinking of it...I know there are a few area restaurants (that are chains) that have various fund raising opportunities - like a portion of sales for a set time on a certain night will be donated to a charity - that sort of thing (the two that come to mind that did this, I think, were Wendy's and Max & Erma's).  I have heard of spas/salons donating their services for a day to raise money for various charities.

    Even a basic spaghtti dinner/pancake breakfast kind of thing could help.

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  • Make sure you take advantage of social media - use facebook/twitter to spread the word.

    Also, like other people said, just do a lot of cold calling. Local businesses like doing things like this so just ask. 

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  • If you have a local sports team, season tickets or even a pair of tickets to a big game could garner a lot of $$, along with autographed memorabilia from coaches/players. You could contact the sports information director for college/PR person for pro about getting a ball or photo signed -- I worked for the basketball program at my university (a major/successful program), and our coach always had balls, photos, etc. in his office to sign for benefits, auctions, etc..

    Good luck!

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  • I did a fundraiser when I was an adviser for a class to help them raise money for prom. We made up a "Movie Night" basket. We included some movies, candy, popcorn, and a snugly blanket. I was surprised how many people bought tickets for it.
  • I think in our community Applebee's and Pizza Hut have donated to a group a % of sales on a certain night.  So, if they are local maybe something you could check out.
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