Favorite ideas for fundraisers, and the story of Megan

Copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

When it comes to ideas for fundraisers and causes for youth groups, 17-year-old Megan had an outstanding story that can be adapted by others.

Megan lived near Seattle, Washington and decided she wanted to help the homeless on the streets. She founded “Megan’s Mission” to hand-deliver fleece blankets, scarves, hats, socks and gloves directly to the homeless. With each delivery, she tells them she’s praying for them.
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Megan's story drew tears and cheers: The various news stories about her mission stated how touched the recipients were, sometimes even breaking down into tears and seeing Megan as an angel. She and a group of others including her parents purchased fleece in bulk, then sewed the items as a group activity. Once completed, they filled a wagon with the items and headed to downtown Seattle to directly deliver the items. Adults were involved in the delivery, so safety was addressed.

Megan’s ideas for fundraisers

Megan's main fundraiser for buying the materials for the blankets and other items started out as selling hot chocolate, apple cider and cookies during the Christmas holidays in a neighborhood where the neighbors are all known to lavishly decorate the outside of their homes with lights. The neighborhood always draws a crowd that drives through rather slowly. So Megan set up her stand and offered holiday goodies, with the drivers aware it was a fundraiser for the homeless. She earned hundreds of dollars this way, sometimes getting large tips.

This allowed Megan’s group to buy fleece in bulk to make the blankets, scarves and hats, and to purchase quantities of gloves and socks.

Her fundraising idea made enough money to also donate $100 a month to Firstplace, a school for homeless and at-risk kids; Childhaven, which helps drug babies and small children; Union Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter; and she gave $600 a year to Fusion, an organization for women with children affected by domestic violence.

Another of her ideas for fundraisers happened when she got a little more well-known. She started selling colorful silicon bracelets for $2 each with “Megan’s Mission” stamped on them.

Eventually, yet another idea for fundraisers came about. Megan spent much time in hospitals growing up. So she has written two children’s books about being a child in a hospital, and growing up different, the profits of both which were targeted to further good causes including Shriner Hospital where children are treated at no cost to their parents.

Megan’s model of causes and ideas for fundraisers is successful in more than one way

- It involved innovative ideas for fundraisers that built on each other over time. Starting with tried and true hands-on homemade selling when her mission wasn’t well known. Then expanding the fundraising, and learning how to buy customized items in bulk to sell for a profit to further support her cause.

- Only after the mission was well-known enough for a web site and more media coverage, and she had more experience in the world of charity, she used that wisdom to learn about publishing and how to publish for a profit that further funded her causes.

- So, as Megan did, just like in the real world of commerce: Start with something everyone already actually wants (hot chocolate, cookies) before the brand or mission is well-known. Once well-known, cash in on the brand or mission itself and earn with products (like the bracelets) that reflect the brand.

- Megan and her group actually see the expressions and faces of the people who receive her goods. The sense of being a valued community citizen sinks in deep. They go out into the community and feel themselves making a difference in others’ lives.

Adapting Megan’s ideas for your fundraisers

Selling the homemade: Location and timing are so important, as in the warm holiday goodies she sold in a safe location where many people were passing through. Other ideas for fundraisers I’ve seen that meet these criteria include a group of girls who sold lemonade and slices of seedless watermelon during the summer in a popular city jogging park, and kids selling houseplants at a home product store.

Selling customized items and self-published books: Places like our affiliate Zazzle allow you to design custom items like caps, mugs, and T-shirts, and self-publish books with no money upfront, selling them from an online store where each one is made only when someone places and pays for an order. These are best for when customers will order your products online.

However, “make-on-demand” has to cover its own overhead. Prices for each object are not low bulk prices, and you have to mark up their prices enough to make a profit yourself, making the final price somewhat higher.

There are also well-established publishers of fundraising books and calendars. Most concentrate on cookbooks as fundraisers. If your group’s mission or project gets better known, you might find artists and printers donating services towards your cause.

You may also be interested in

Youth group fundraisers and causes

The fundraiser idea for generating ongoing funds

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The Instant Event Fundraising System