If you are reading this blog it means that you and I share a common ground. It means that you and I both recognize that while a good hug, a shoulder to cry on and an “I’m sorry” is appreciated by the families experiencing a battle with cancer, it simply isn’t enough. It must also mean that you understand that the only real thing you can do to help aside from emotional support is raise money and get it into the hands of researchers. And if you are on the Cookies for Kid’s Cancer website, it must mean you are looking for some way to take action in your community to maybe honor a loved one’s battle and/or join the movement of citizens working to help researchers find a cure. I am just one woman in one community trying to motivate others to create and hold fundraisers in their communities that are fun, memorable and of course profitable. It is my hopes that this blog with inspire you to raise funds whether it is through a bake sale, or through a fundraiser with an event that is a bit outside of the cookie box.
For my Anchorage based fundraiser, I worked along side of two women to make this happen. We set out to meet four major goals. They are as follows: 1.to honor the life and battle of Christy’s son Bryant who lost his battle two years ago, 2. to hold a community oriented fundraiser to make members of our community feel a sense of togetherness and empowerment, 3. to put on an event that broke the mold of a stuffy fundraiser and, 4. to raise a hell of a lot of money!
After many conversations and a ton of caffeine we decided on a cookie bake off. The bake off would be between ten top bakeries and restaurants and the people attending would be the judge. We also held a silent auction, a raffle and provided attendees with a hip venue, drinks, appetizers and live music to make the evening feel like a Saturday night out. This is how the night looked:
People purchased their tickets at the door and got a bid number for the silent auction and their ballots at the door. They were then sent to another table to purchase raffle tickets. Raffle tickets could be used for the raffle, to buy t-shirts and purchase jewelry that we had for sale. Each raffle ticket was $5.00, t-shirts were 3 tickets, jewelry was 2, and raffle items varied from 1-3 tickets.
We had live music and beer and wine that was donated to us. When our supports came it they grabbed a drink and danced their way through the line of bakers, tasted cookies and talked with contestants about their creations. We put out baker bios, cookie descriptions and allowed businesses to put out business cards and menus to promote themselves. After going down the line of cookies, guests found themselves at the raffle and silent auction table.
We decided to split our donations between a silent auction and raffle because we figured not everyone could afford to bid of the silent auction items but could possibly afford $25 in raffle tickets and have a shot at winning a free plane ticket or a head-to-toe spa package. This proved to be a great idea and very profitable. Who wouldn’t throw in $5-$10 for a chance at something that values at over $500? All items were donated locally put into packages. All businesses that donated also had a chance to set out cards, brochures etc. We filled the venue with facts about cancer, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and of course Bryant.
The night was a huge success. We utilized local media to advertise the event and put up fliers and postcards all over town to ensure a good turnout. The cookies were a great conversations piece for everyone, even people that didn’t know each other had something to talk about with the bake off and auction items. Because all of the silent auction items were local donations, many of them came out to support our cause which made sort of a chic place to be. When all was said and done we after all the overhead was accounted for we raised about $9,000 on the night, which was great for our first fundraiser.
During the process of putting on this event we learned a few things:
1. Your community wants to support you and your cause.
People are basically kind hearted but store owners are also business oriented. To get donations you have to do two things: tug on their heartstrings and present to them why donating to this cause would benefit them. Often times we needed to visit a business 2 or three times before we got a donation but we chose not to take “no” or “I’ll think about it” for an answer.
2.Corporations have a lot of money and it IS available to you.
Learn from our mistakes. We decided to do this event in January which wasn’t enough time to even get one sponsor. Because of that, we lost out on thousands of dollars which disappointed and frustrated us to no end. We SO DESPERATELY wanted to send CFKC check for $20,000 and just weren’t able to do it this year due to our lack of knowledge about the process.
3. Call on everyone you know.
Help and donations sometimes come from places you least expect. Call on everyone you know. Everyone, and reach out in several ways, phone calls, emails, letters, Facebook, make your message hard to miss.
4. It’s totally worth it!
I am a full time working mother and a graduate student. It was sometimes a challenge to find time to put on this event. However, keeping in mind that a few tired days at work was nowhere near a chemotherapy treatment kept me going. When you see your fundraiser play out, it’s totally worth it. Also, if I have an hour at the end of the day for The Real Housewives of NJ, then I have an hour to solicit for donations.
It is in my hopes that I am able to turn this into an annual event and double our funds raised each year. This experience was satisfying to my soul. It means more to me than just writing a check. It’s getting involved and educating the masses about something that could happen to anyone. Please consider hosting a bake sale or event in your community.