Raising money in all economies can be challenging. However, in tough times like we are experiencing lately, it takes creativity and elbow grease to make things happen, when everyone is cutting back. I find these strategies take a lot more work to pull off, but they will create participation and contribution to your cause.
Ask for Stuff – Not for Money
In an economic downturn, not everyone can contribute cash. However, most people can donate stuff. Have a garage sale or flea market and have your network of friends and family donate the stock that you will sell. During these tough times, not everyone can donate cash, but just about everyone has the ability to do some spring cleaning, and donate used items. I guarantee the people who will be cleaning out their closets, basements and garages, would be eager to go shopping at your sale as well.
Pick a Theme
In order to generate a buzz, a theme can be a way to create excitement around your event. Maybe the theme will be ‘spring cleaning’ if you are having a flea market. Another strategy that worked well for me, was a “Sex and the City Shopping Spree”, where all I solicited was women’s clothing, shoes, boots, purses and any other girly accessories.
Some other ideas for themes are:
* Sports – solicit used sports equipment, weights, work out equipment, sports clothing, etc.
* Book Sale
* Kitchen – solicit kitchen items, small appliances, dishes, décor, table cloths, etc. Also set up a collection for the food bank and have people go through their cupboards.
* Kids stuff – toys, clothing, books
* Fancy Feet – shoes, boots, nail polish, make this one all about feet. Have a contest for the funkiest footwear that walks in the door to shop
To get the best bang for your buck, you need to let the world know you are doing this. I would not suggest paying for advertising, because of course that cost is going to come out of the profits of your sale.
When I held my Sex and the City shopping spree, I posted for both solicitation of items and for people to attend the sale in the following places
* free local internet classifieds such as kijiji, craig’s list, etc.
* I posted an ad on our intranet at work
* I asked friends to post my ads at their office (company newsletters, intranet sites and bulletin boards)
* I emailed all of my friends, and asked them to let people know what I was doing.
In conclusion, I found this format was extremely successful for me, and I raised a few thousand dollars. The disadvantage was that it was a ton of work getting all the items. I found that many people contacted me to pick up truckloads of stuff for this sale (which was awesome!) and many were not willing to drop items off to me.
I was driving almost every night for two weeks to pick up items. Then, I had to set up my back yard and basement the day of the sale.
However, it was well worth the effort in bogth profit and fun. I made more money this way than simply asking for cash. It seems that people feel better about giving money if they are getting “something” in return. So, I created an experience where people can shop for bargains and make their money go a little bit further, while supporting a great cause. A win-win situation will always result in a successful event.