Putting the fun in fundraising

Not another cake sale! Raising funds doesn’t have to be a drag


Talk about fund raising and most people roll their eyes or run a mile. In tough economic climes, the thought of doling out cash left, right and centre – however good the cause – is a little hard to swallow. And if parents are already paying school fees or club subscriptions, asking them to dig deep for the latest fundraising venture may start to alienate rather than motivate. But, with a bit of thought and planning, it is possible to make the whole experience fun, meaningful and, importantly, lucrative.

1. Get creative
Instead of the usual bake sales, car washes and blunt begging letters, ring the changes with a new and inventive activity that sparks imaginations of both kids and children. A quiz day or read-a-thon for the kids, a golf outing or tennis morning for mums and dads, a concert, recital or talent show – all these ideas pique interest by offering something a different from the norm.

2. Make it meaningful
An activity where children learn something and/or support a socially or environmentally responsible goal is far more likely to garner support from the folks controlling the purse strings. A sponsored walk to raise money for PTA funds is unlikely to get the juices flowing as it’s not the worthiest of causes and it doesn’t teach the kids a great deal. By contrast, a popcorn sale where the kids have to plan their stall, budget for corn, bags and a popcorn maker, staff the stall and bank the funds, teaches them a host of social and business lessons. All of a sudden, Dhs10 for a bag seems like a bargain.

3. Involve the children
Bursting with (sometimes annoying) energy, kids are naturally curious and keen to make a difference. They’re also surprisingly aware of their surroundings, so harness some of that enthusiasm to teach them about the values of compassion and giving. It’s clear, for example, that youngsters who get involved in making up boxes for the Dubai Shoebox initiative begin to realise that there are people who are less fortunate than us and who would appreciate our support. Whatever your activity or cause, by explaining in age-appropriate terms how and why you want to help or raise money, you’ll find that kids will quickly latch on to the idea and be eager to help – especially if the activity is fun!

4. Set a goal
From an organiser’s point of view, knowing how much money you want to raise will help you decide exactly how to go about it. What activities will help you reach your goal in the required time? By creating a ‘charity thermometer’ that grows along with your fundraising efforts, the children and other fundraisers will be excited to see that their work is having an impact and be motivated to keep going.

5. See the whole experience
Instead of viewing the activity purely as a means to an end, look on the whole experience. That way, instead of grumbling ‘Oh I suppose it’s for a good cause…’ as they open their wallets yet again, parents will be just as engaged as their children. A well-run fundraising drive can be an experience that builds self-esteem, provides community service, and promotes school/organisation and community spirit.

From the art…

An increasingly popular and effective approach to fundraising in the UAE is to run a Drawings By Me programme. Here, your school or organisation organises an art session where kids draw and colour their own picture, perhaps working around a theme or celebration such as Christmas or ‘my life in Dubai’. Drawings by Me takes the artwork and transforms it into individual greetings cards, calendars, notebooks, mugs, coffee tumblers etc which are then offered to parents for sale.

‘Drawing is a wonderful way to harness children’s creativity and get them involved in fundraising,’ says Lilian El Yordi, the owner of Drawings by Me. ‘Every child’s picture is special in its own, unique way, and the kids get a real buzz by seeing their drawings on our finished products. They really do feel part of the fund-raising process.’

She adds: ‘It’s an engaging, meaningful activity for all concerned. There’s no financial commitment, and part of the proceeds from the products sold goes to meet your organisation’s fund-raising goals. It’s a win-win.’
If you’re interested in running a Drawings by Me session with your school or organisation, or would just like to find out more, call 050 9508275 or email info@drawingsbyme.com.

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