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Eight Traits of Effective Youth
Fundraising Programs:
Seasonal Events

by Jim & Connie Walters


Editor's Note: This is the eighth and final part of an eight part monthly series. Although it's focus is on youth fund-raising programs, these traits are universal enough for all fund-raisers to make note of. Our thanks to Jim Walters. For more information about the authors and their expertise please see the end of the article.


Part 8: Momentum is created through repetitions of successful seasonal events.

Effective fund-raising programs did not appear overnight. They started small, tried different things, and grew over the long run. They also recognized that a small success can be parlayed into a big success through repetition and improvement.

An annual planning cycle could consist of three phases: calendaring, executing, and evaluating. Many groups forget to take time to be intentional about that third phase, the evaluation, and yet that is the place where the lessons learned this year can be parlayed into the momentum for next year. One of the tasks of an effective fund-raising coordinator will be to give affirmation and appreciation to all those who led projects, and at the same time provide a forum for discussing and evaluating those events.

Often the first attempt of a new project will be exciting, fruitful, but "buggy." The second year, promotion will be easier, anticipation will be greater, but expectations will be higher. And, if those expectations aren't met, the third year can be the most difficult.

After two or three successful repetitions, an event acquires its own "tradition," or, momentum, that makes it a welcomed annual event. This is your goal, to have some "bread and butter" events that form the backbone of the program. Then, you can innovate around them with new events while at the same time "tweaking" each of the main ones just a little each year to prevent burnout.

Another task of leadership is to "know the seasons," to recognize when it is time to furlough (skip for one year) or even abandon (skip permanently) long-standing events. Kevin Kelly of "Wired" magazine talks about the need to "let go at the top" in today's networked and non-structural economy. Kelly says, "One day you are the king of the mountain, and the next day there's no mountain... While one product is at its peak, another will move the mountain by changing the rules." The solution, says Kelly, is to "devolve," that is, "to go from one peak to another" by letting go of the old, even before they become obsolete, in order to be able to grasp the new, before it reaches its peak.

Such is the challenge of fund-raising. To be one step ahead of obsolescence while reaching forward to grasp innovation, at one and the same time. To those who can do it, the rewards will be rich, as they lead their organizations through highly effective fund- raising.

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About the Author:

Jim Walters serves in a local church ministry in Denver, Colorado. Along with his wife Connie, who has led fund-raisers for both church, elementary school, and high school groups, they formed Booster Solutions to help others find profitable answers to their fundraising problems.

Together they have written "Top Ten Youth Fundraisers", a 16 page handbook that details their plans for 10 great fundraising ideas. Each plan in the manual is fresh, tested and profitable. They work well for both school and church groups. This is not a rehash of coupon books, subscriptions or car washes.

Every plan includes: 1) an overview of the project as successfully completed. 2) a "key thought" ensuring your success. 3) step-by-step outline with options and thoughts on variations.

To order send a check for $7 (includes tax and shipping) to:

Jim Walters
11431 W. Lake Drive
Littleton CO 80127

For more information contact Jim at jwalters@bvchurch.org.



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