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An aggressive, interior attack on fundraising

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  • An aggressive, interior attack on fundraising

    This is not another "do you have any good fundraising ideas" thread.

    I've seen those, and they end up with 3 responses that mentioned spagetti dinners, cookbooks and raffles. And while any of these can be successful fundraisers -- I think that the change in our fiscal landscape is going to require so much more.

    I want to know who's innovating in their fundraising. I want to know who's doing the new thing that's going to allow fire departments to keep up with the budget reductions that are occuring nation-wide.

    I think it's time for an aggressive, interior attack on how we in the fire service view fundraising.

    Almost all of us do it? NFPA shows that most departments rely on 15% or more of their budget to come from fundraising.

    And most of us hate it. Up at 4:00a.m. scrambling eggs to sell for what turns out to be a $8 per man hour return on investment.

    We have to change the way we view fundraising in the fire service.

    Are your fundraisers keeping up with the budget reductions that have come, or are coming, from other sources of revenue?

    Are we looking beyond the things we've done for the last 50 years to raise funds?

    What are your thoughts, ideas, concerns around this area of fundraising?

  • #2
    Truely no pitch coming from this thread. Not a set-up. We have strategies we're working on, but I'm looking for what's working, what's stopped working, and trying to determine if there's as much inertia in this area are there seems to be.


    • #3
      We're not innovative.

      Mailout....~$30k a year.
      Harley Raffle...~$25k a year.

      Sorry, nothing creative....just successful.
      "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


      • #4
        Bones42 a few questions:

        What's the department/community size?

        What do you clear on each, or are those the numbers you gave me? Assuming you outsource the mailer -- expensive?

        How long have you been doing both?

        The mailer is more aggressive than I see many departments doing -- at least you're making the pitch. These tactics common in your surrounding departments in your area?



        • #5
          That's just my company. Volunteer department with 2 separate "business wise" companies. Town is 1.5 sq miles with about 5200 fulltime residents (per 2000 census) Population on weekends during summer gets up to ~45000.

          We have been doing the mailout for at least 30 years. As we have many rental/seasonal properties, we mail to the property owner and not the property address. This is the first year we had an outside company do the mailout, prior to that we did it ourselves. Personally, I like it better with us doing it as it's more personal, but getting satisfactory results with outside. I believe the cost for them was under $4k. Our average has been $30k for the last 8 years or so, a bit less before that. And with us doing it ourselves...that was pretty close to the net. This year will be less having the outside company do it...but no labor for the guys so it comes to be a wash in people's minds.

          This is year #7 or 8 on the Harley raffle. The 25k is about our net, it has depended on the costs of the bike each year. Some have been a bit more, some have been a bit less. We sell 2500 tickets max at $20 each. We have picked a bike and trailer that equal around 22k each year...as best we can. Minor costs of printing tickets and a flyer we mail out and the net comes to the $25k. This year....we will not sell all 2500 tickets so our net will be less. Slower ticket sales this year mostly due to economy.

          Mailouts are common in my area. There are 3 in my town at least...my fire company, the other fire company in town, and the vol EMS agency. The mailer states the funds are to be used to run the fire company, as this is what pays the building expenses. Fire Equip is purchased via a too small budget from town that is a tiny line item in the overall budget...no fire tax here.
          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


          • #6
            Very interesting.

            The "summer" residents create a nice pool of support. It would be interesting to know what percent of support comes from that group vs. permenent residents. I would suspect that your core base contributes at a higher percentage, but I could be wrong about that.

            I'd love to connect with whomever knows the details on the Harley raffle -- I'd be particularly interested to learn what you learned/changed over the first few years of doing it -- lessons learned sort of thing. Any chance you can make that connection for me?

            Thanks for your response.

            Mike Finger


            • #7
              Summer residents put a decent amount of support into the boardwalk businesses....not us. That's why we mail to the property owners and not the "resident" of the property.

              The day trip visitors though tend to support the Harley raffle. Many of those tickets are purchased from "out of towners".

              As to what we have learned on the Harley....we are doing it pretty much the same way we started it. Same # tickets, same price. We get it around the same time each year and it always gets raffled off in September, the day after the towns Seafood Festival. We have a police officer come that night and pull the winning ticket. The trailer we put the bike on and give away with the bike is smaller now as most people didn't keep the trailer anyway. We have gone from a more unique paint style to a very common one...no difference in sales. We've had smaller roadsters up to big electric glides...no difference in sales. We have a couple guys that took all the ticket stubs and typed the addresses into a spreadsheet, the next year we send a flyer out to all those people about the new raffle....that has been fairly successful.

              We are trying to work with our Town Council to allow us to put a more permanent, yet movable, trailer on the boardwalk to store the bike in. That would allow us much easier access to sell tickets. Currently, we trailer the bike up and down each time we want to sell and that takes at least 2 guys. If it was up there already, any single guy could go and sell.

              It will be at this years Seafood Festival again, where we should sell about 200 tickets in 7 hours.
              "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


              • #8
                By the way...Harley raffles in this area were pretty common when we started this...which is why we started it. Our location is what has made ours continue to be successful and many others abandon theirs. The boardwalk is a great spot for showing the bike and selling raffle tickets. If it was simply left to sitting outside the firehouse and newspaper ads and flyers and such...we would have no where near the success we have in ticket sales.
                "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                • #9
                  Great info. One of the things I'm trying to pay attention to are the "man-hours" put into different fund raisers. Sounds like this one requires some relocation and "sales" but relatively low impact stuff.

                  I'm seeing other departments that tend to discount the man hour aspect of fundraisers and, although they might make 15,000, they don't calculate that it worked out to $8/hour given the intense time commitment. Again, yours seems fairly low impact, and I imagine members would enjoy the interaction.

                  Again, thanks for the feedback.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
                    ...and I imagine members would enjoy the interaction...
                    Nah, we hate sitting on the boardwalk watching the "display" go by.
                    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                    • #11
                      I hadn't even considered that aspect of it. . . . and now I'm not considering anything but that aspect of it.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
                        We're not innovative.

                        Mailout....~$30k a year.
                        Harley Raffle...~$25k a year.

                        Sorry, nothing creative....just successful.

                        Do you get the motorcycles at cost? Do you handle the negotiations with the dealer?

                        Once you negotiate the cost to you, did the dealership give you the bike to promote the event?

                        Do you pay for the bike upfront or after the tickets have been sold?

                        Does your department own the bike and deal with the taxes etc then having to transfer the title to the winner ?



                        • #13
                          The dealer we work with (not our local dealer) is very good. We get a discounted price on the bike, but not cost. He does this with quite a few organizations in his area due to him being so easy to work with. (and it's free advertising for him as his dealership name is on all our signs) He does let us have the bike before it is paid off as he knows we send him checks every few weeks during the raffle. No sales tax as we are 501c. The winner of the bike gets a 1099 form with the value of the bike....whether they report that and pay the income taxes on it is up to them...our side of it is completed. The title stays with him until raffled off. When the raffle is concluded, we bring the bike back to the dealership. They then give it a final cleaning and put in the battery and fluids (no need for any of that to be sitting in bike for 4 months) and get it all set for the new owner. The owner picks it up at the dealership.

                          This was our 8th year. Years 2-5 we have been told by the dealer traded the raffled bike in for something else. The dealer accepted all those with no question.

                          The dealership is Atlantic County Harley.
                          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


                          • #14
                            were all volunteer with not taxs. we do LOTS of fundraisers. Call volume 150, community 1000 People. 20 volunteers.
                            we do1 Breakfast, 2 Dinners, 1 BBQ and full day event(music and beer) and a Crafts Fair every year andNet about 35$k.
                            We also receive about 15k$ in donations from two local seafood art and wine festivals in the area. Then we ask for a 50$ a year donation from community members and we get about 300 members, so $15000 from that.
                            Budget is about $70,000
                            We have gotten 2 grant engines, gear washer/dryer, new extrication equiptment, hose grant, TIC, and Radios through grant programs over the last 7 years.
                            We are currently in the process of building a new fire station will all donations and lots volunteer labor. We have secured a low interest USDA loan to fund a portion of the new station.
                            Somehow we continue to have strong community support and have a thriving volunteer fire department.
                            -Bodega Volunteer Fire Department- Bodega, CA


                            • #15
                              We do 2 major fundraisers.

                              A garage sale and an art/bake sale at opposite times of the year. We usually have at least one car donated to the garage sale and make quite a bit from that one. The art sale is all art from local artists and that brings in quite a bit too.

                              One year we had a major reservoir construction project going on behind our station and so had to forego these annual events. In their place we did a district home tour and a car show. Not sure the details on those as they were quite a few years ago now but I think they did alright.

                              We also have a paypal donation link on our website that gets quite a bit more donations than we anticipated when we put it up. Everyone who donates gets a personal thank you letter from the Chief (unless they donate anonymously).

                              Our wonderful auxillary puts holds both of these events and we use the funds to purchase things that are outside of our normal budget (TIC, extrication equipment, LDH, etc. have all been purchased from these funds).


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