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Focus on Fundraising:
St. Patrick's Day

by Deane Brengle

St. Patrick's Day is a great day to hold a fundraiser. The theme is already set and all you have to do is provide a suitable event. This upcoming St. Patrick's Day is even better because it falls on a Saturday, March 17, 2001.

St. Patrick's Day is a tribute to Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. His story is pretty much unknown unless your Irish. But we all know about celebrating his day - wear (or drink) something green. St. Patrick's Day is a light hearted affair that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for St. Patrick's Day

  • Parties - Dinners - Dances

    A St. Patrick's Day shindig is a good time for all. Guests will expect to have a good time and party. Something green to drink is a given.

    Decorate with green balloons, mylar leprechauns, four-leaf clovers (shamrocks) and of course a Blarney Stone for people to kiss and make a wish (for a donation of course).

    Music and dancing are good Irish pastimes for your party. Bagpipes or an Irish band would be a natural. A dancing demonstration by an Irish Dance Troop would be a special treat. Of course any good dance band will know an Irish tune or two for the occasion.

    Traditional Irish food dishes make excellent meals for your party. Corn beef, Irish stew, and anything with potatoes is great. A special Irish drink served in a commemorative glass (for a donation of course) can raise money (green beer is traditional). You can also serve everyday food and dye it green (food coloring works great in the mashed potatoes). Clover shaped foods like pizza, sandwiches, and cakes are very creative too. Make them with clover shaped cookie cutters.

    Having some activities with an Irish theme will entertain your guests.

    • Count the Clovers- Fill a jar with four-leaf clovers (cut from green paper) and put it on display in a prominent place at the party. Sell chances to guess the amount of clovers in the jar. The person with the correct guess wins a prize (donated I hope).

    • Truth or Blarney- Ask several guests (it's best to arrange this ahead of time) to stand up in front of the party and tell a strange story. At the end of the story, ask the crowd to bid (auction style) for the right to tell the story teller their story is true or blarney. If the story tellers are well known (celebrities or group members) your guests will love to pay for the opportunity to tell them off.

    • Traditional fundraising activities can also be integrated into the evening. Silent and Live Auctions, Raffles and Door prizes can all fit in.

  • Flower Sales

    Selling flowers to your group, school, or at an event can be a big hit. Green carnations are the usual flower of choice because they are priced right. Try to take orders and collect money ahead of time so you don't get left with a lot of unsold flowers at the end of the day.

  • Bar Bucks

    These are called bucks because they usually sell for a dollar or $5. They are shamrock shaped green paper pieces that are sold in bars, stores or in schools. Your organizations name is printed on them with a space for the buyers name to go as well. When the Shamrock Buck is sold it is filled out by the buyer and the seller then tapes it to the wall. The buyer can put his or her name on the buck or both of the couples names. Offer donated prizes to the sellers who sell the most to motivate them.

  • Raffles

    A raffle can complement a dinner, dance, party or be a good stand alone event. A "Pot of Gold" raffle would be an excellent name. A simple 50/50 raffle would be appropriate where tickets are sold and half of the proceeds are the prize. Two round trip tickets to Ireland would also fit in nicely, although is more of a risk.

  • Run/Walk Events and Golf Tournaments

    If the weather will co-operate in your part of the country this can be a good compliment to a St. Patrick's Day party or as a stand alone event. If your community's calendar is crowded at other times of the year with these events, St. Patrick's Day can be an opportunity for your group to secure an open spot on the calendar.

  • High School Dance

    This is an idea time for your high school club or organization to host an annual dance. Even though St. Patrick's Day doesn't fall on the weekend very often, you will have to have your dance on a Friday or Saturday. Save your decorations for use with next years dance to cut down on costs. It's a good idea to combine a flower sale with the dance.

  • Box lunches

    The Houlton Animal Shelter in Houlton, Maine does an annual fundraiser, "St. Patrick's Day box lunch". They sell box lunches consisting of four finger-roll sandwiches, fruit, jello, sweets, tea bag, napkin, chips and after dinner mints. The cost is $4.00 per lunch.

    Most business' buy these lunches for their employees as a once a year treat and use the cost as a charitable contribution. Each year they have a team of volunteers who drop off order forms to local businesses and pick them up a week later. They deliver over 600 lunches each year. Their time invested is 8 to 10 hours. Net income is close to $2,000. Most of the food and all of the labor is donated.

  • Celebrate

    St. Therese School in Alhambra, CA allows students to wear jeans on St. Patrick's Day if they donate a $1.00 to towards 8th Grade fundraising. Be creative and ask you school principal to allow you to do something different for a donation: wear hats in school, shorts, chew gum, something they usually don't allow.

St. Patrick's Day Resources

These online resources will help you with your St. Patrick's Day shindig (don't forget your local party specialty stores and bakeries):

Clover Specialty Company- specialty items, jewelry and keychains

Oriental Trading Company- jewelry, stickers, shamrock lights and green silk carnations bulk flowers

Traditional Irish Recipes

Irish History

The Legend of St. Patrick

Legend of the Shamrock

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About the Author:

Deane Brengle writes for several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.

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