Putting the FUN Back in Fund-Raising

My first efforts at fund raising were designed to put money in my own pocket. Mom helped me make some sort of pot holders that I then tried to sell door-to-door. Since I’m no longer in that business, I assume the money I made did not seem worth the effort.

Eventually I learned that the best way to raise personal funds came through employment… although the entrepreneur in me still yearns to try my hand at something. If the government doesn’t stop spending my social security on things like buying Pakistan’s friendship, I may be left with no choice.

In high school I belonged to the Key Club – a group of teens sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club – and we raised money for underprivileged children by delivering free neighborhood phone directories and asking for donations. I have no idea where the money we collected went, but we did a pretty decent job of laying guilt on people to get them to drop paper – not coins – in our boxes.

As an adult, I belonged to the Lions Club and became very adept at selling over-priced brooms, light bulbs, and fruitcakes. I’ve also sold more than my share of raffle tickets.

As a member of our church’s Out Reach committee, I’ve sold tickets to Irish Dinners, Gourmet Dinners, and various dances. (In our church, most forms of dancing are permitted.)

And then we discover SCRIP!

Gift Cards - Just as good as Cash!

My bride and I attended a church service in Akron, Ohio and saw that they were selling gift cards after each service. We investigated and convinced our church in Cumming, Georgia to give it a try.

We’ve been selling scrip for about eleven months and have earned a little over $11,000 for our efforts. It’s taken us a while to convince all our members to participate, but as more and more people take the time to buy some cards, our profits are beginning to increase.

So, what’s so great about this type of fund-raising? Simple. A person pays $100 for a grocery store gift card and receive $100 with which to buy groceries. The only thing it costs that person is a few minutes to trade a check for a piece of plastic.

So, how are the funds raised? Again, simple. The grocery store sells the cards to us at a discount. The merchant can then write off the discount as a cost of doing business or a charitable contribution.

There are literally hundreds of retailers who participate in this program. We can get gift cards for restaurants, clothing stores, home improvement and hardware stores, on-line shopping sites, and just about anything else you can think of.

Currently we are looking for other churches in the area to pick up the same project. If we can combine our purchasing power we may be able to get bigger discounts. We’re also trying to contact local merchants who are not yet participating in the program. We recently added a local Greek restaurant that has become one our members’ favorite places.

Any one who has ever sold a fifty-cent candy bar for a buck and a half should take notice of this entry on my blog. There are much better ways to raise money than selling magazine subscriptions to grandparents.

The economy is tough. Why ask people to overpay for anything – no matter how worthy the cause? For every card shown in the photo, I paid face value and the church received a donation. When I take those cards into those merchants, I’ll get exactly what I paid for.

What a deal!

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