May 6, 2013

More Fun Fundraising

It’s spring, and the birds are singing, the flowers blooming and my wallet’s being laid open.

May always sneaks up on us as one of the most expensive times of year. We prepare for the beginning of school shopping and save for Christmas. But with field trips and yearbooks and teacher thank-you-gifts, end-of-the-school-year racks up the costs.

And it’s not just kids pulling on the purse strings but myriad fundraisers—cancer walks and garden shows, spaghetti dinners and themed dances.

Don’t get me wrong: These are noble and important causes, and we try to support a number of non-profits.

But, let me be honest: I give more cheerfully when it’s fun.

Our Episcopal Church Women held its annual card party last week. The main fundraiser of the year, the traditions of this event were writ in stone just after Moses came down from the mountain. But we took a chance and added a new element: Heads or tails. Women purchased Mardi Gras beads, each strand the equivalent of one raffle ticket. In addition to the beads adding glamour to our outfits, they raised $3 a piece for mission and youth ministry of the church.
When the game began, those with beads stood up and put their hands on either their head or ahem, their tail. Then a non-biased, independent, no skin-in-the-game ECW member flipped a coin. If it turned up heads – and that’s where your hands were, then the beads stayed on. If you choose tails, then you lost a strand. The last-beaded-woman standing won. The prize: a beautiful Coach purse and wallet valued at $400. 

Worth playing for? You betcha. 

I don’t think heads or tails is going to transform the church or spur a spontaneous and widespread altar call. But it was fun. It added a lot of laughter and created, at least for a bit, some energy and community. 

I wonder if we might look at many of our fundraisers, even those long-held, written-in-stone traditions, and ask an important question: Are they fun? 

If the answer’s no, then I encourage you to consider ways to make it so. And for those who already are raising the roof in addition to money, share the wealth. Post your fun fundraising ideas. There should be plenty to go around. 

(And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t win the purse. But heads or tails added another $500 or so to the day’s $8,000 tally. And we gave joyfully. I call that a win-win).