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Master Calendar 2000
March Holiday and Seasonal Fundraising Ideas

by Deane Brengle


March 7th - Mardi Gras Day
March 17th - St. Patrick's Day
March 20th - Vernal Equinox (first day of spring)
March 26th - Oscar's


Mardi Gras Day

Celebrated on the day before Lent begins. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") was in past history a feast of food, drink, and human life. Mardi Gras was brought to the United States in 1682, when New Orleans was claimed in name of King Louis XIV. Marti Gras is different than other festivals in that it is celebrated for a period longer than one day.

Marti Gras is supposedly the greatest party on earth. New Orleans, LA and it's French quarter in particular, host a variety of parades, concerts and parties that are world renown.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to Mardi Gras Day there are a lot of benefits:

  • Mardi Gras Day isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • Mardi Gras Day is a light hearted affair that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for Mardi Gras Day

  • Party - Party - Party

    Whatever you call it, Mardi Gras Madness, Mardi Gras Celebration, Mardi Gras Party or Mardi Gras Ball, all attending will expect to party. To make sure they aren't disappointed plan your party well in advance and deck it out with all the fixings. Remember the traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple (representing justice), green (representing faith), and gold (representing power).

    For those of you who want to go all out, have a Mardi Gras Ball. The costumed ball is a long standing tradition complete with masks. You can make costumes optional but make the masks mandatory. Provide masks at the door for a reasonable fee for those who don't bring there own. A party with masks only is also great. It's the mystery of the masks and not knowing exactly who is behind them that creates excitement.

    Of course, you can still have a super party without costumes or masks.

    Decorate the entry way and walls with colorful Mardi Gras masks and balloons. You can hang a banner over the door, "Welcome to Bourbon Street" or "Entering the French Quarter".

    Music by a Dixieland Jazz band will keep the Mardi Gras spirit going strong. Make sure the host/hostess or band leader parades the guests throughout the room at least one or twice during the evening. A fiesta limbo to music is always entertaining. A DJ is always a viable alternative nowadays. Make sure the DJ has appropriate music. You can always purchase music appropriate to the occasion and lend it to the DJ.

    A photo opportunity is always welcome by guests. Provide feather boas, sparkling sequin Mardi Gras bow ties, tinsel wigs, glitter top hats, leis, sequin Mardi Gras glasses, tiaras and crowns, and fancy masks for guests to wear for the photo. A fortune teller who interacts with the guests can also be a treat. Both are a good opportunity to raise more money.

    Traditional party favors include Mardi Gras plastic beads, dabloons, party horns, Mardi Grass tattoos, and glow bracelets and necklaces. Bead and dabloon throws are good crowd entertaining events.

    Choose a King and Queen. They can be the guests with the best costumes or the "Guests of Honor". Reward them with the first dance or the honor of handing out dabloons or necklaces. Celebrity judges are a good way to insure a good turnout and media coverage.

    If your guests can take the heat, make your menu a taste of New Orleans. Samplings of different dishes is a good way to avoid culinary tragedy. Traditional food for the occasion includes:

    • King Cakes (an oval shaped pastry, a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry) decorated in the traditional royal colors of purple, green and gold. In the past such things as coins, and pecans were hidden inside each King Cake. Today a tiny plastic baby is the common prize. At a party the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the "baby". The person who gets the "baby" prize is crowned "King" for the day.

    • Crawfish Bisque, Crawfish stew, Shrimp Creole, and Crawfish tails with wild rice, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice.

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

  • 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 Mardi Gras party or as a stand alone event. If your community's calendar is crowded at other times of the year with these events, Mardi Gras can be an opportunity for your group to secure an open spot on the calendar.

Mardi Gras Resources

These online resources will help you with your party and it's fixings (don't forget your local party specialty stores and bakeries):

Food Recipes, party favors and decorations, masks, and a little bit of everything else
http://www.usacitylink.com//mardigr/entree.html

Links to everything at Mardigras.com
http://www.mardigras.com/

Mardi Gras beads, decorations, masks, dolls and other items http://www.accentannex.com/acatalog.html

The Mardi Gras Board Game
http://www.usacitylink.com//mardigr/99001.html

Masks, wigs and hats
http://www.avistaweb.com/umpm/catindex.html


St. Patrick's Day

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 the celebrating on St. Patrick's Day. It's an opportunity to wear green and drink something green.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to St. Patrick's Day there are a lot of benefits:

  • St. Patrick's Day isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • 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
http://www.fourleafclover.com/fund.html

Oriental Trading Company- jewelry, stickers, shamrock lights and green silk carnations
http://www.oriental.com/


Vernal Equinox (First Day of Spring)

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to The Vernal Equinox (Spring) there are a lot of benefits:

  • The Vernal Equinox (Spring) isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • The Vernal Equinox (Spring) is a uplifting day that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for The Vernal Equinox (Spring)

  • Spring Clean-Ups - Garages Sale

    A garage sale is a great way to turn junk into money for your group. If you make this a yearly event it will grow in size (and money) every year.

    To make your garage sale a successful one your group will need to make it as large as possible and promote it to the entire community.

    Pick a date for your garage sale on a Saturday. Make sure there are no other large community events happening that weekend. Plan an alternate rain day if you plan to hold your event outdoors.

    Pick a central location in your town that is on a well traveled road. A large parking lot of a professional building is ideal because they won't be using it on the weekend. Call and ask permission, then get it in writing. If you can secure an indoor location, all the better. A vacant building that is up for sale is ideal because you will be able to store items ahead.

    Take ads out in community newspapers advertising the sale, place, date and alternate rain date (see if the paper will donate the ad space). Make large signs to mark the event site for the day of the sale.

    Make two flyers. One advertising the event, date and place and asking for donations from the community is posted on bulletin boards in grocery stores and other stores that will allow it to be posted in their windows. List a number to call for pickup. Have a parent with a pickup truck volunteer to pick up donations and store them until the sale day. The second flyer goes home with your groups members asking for donations from their parents and for delivery on the morning of the sale.

    Form a phone committee and divide your groups telephone list among them to phone. The first phone calls should be 4 weeks before the sale and then weekly until the sale date. Ask your groups members to start pricing items the week before the event. Keep your prices in $0.25 increments to keep making change easier.

    A couple of days before the sale have your groups treasurer get $50 in change ($1 bills and a roll of quarters).

    The day of the sale start setting up at least an hour early. Have your members bring as many folding tables and saw horses with plywood as they can muster. Post your large signs identifying your sale and parking areas. When your sale ends arrange to have the Goodwill or Salvation Army pick up any unsold items.

  • Spring Clean-Ups - Servants for Sale

    This idea is great for springtime, but also works great in summer and fall.

    The goal is to hire the members of your group out to the community as servants to perform jobs with the money earned going to your group.

    Pick a Saturday as the actual work day. Sale hours should be from 8 to 11 a.m.

    Pick a place to hold the sale. A business or school parking lot is ideal.

    Make a flyer advertising the event details, date and place of the sale and post it on bulletin boards in grocery stores and other stores that will allow it to be posted in their windows. List a number to call for those that want to call and reserve a servant.

    On the day of the event assemble your servants at the sale site and wait for your customers. The kind of work the servants can do may include: cutting lawns, trimming hedges, running errands, doing homework, baby-sitting, cleaning house, washing cars and boats, and other general tasks. Make sure the person purchasing the services of the servant understands the guidelines and that they must not abuse, embarrass, shame or mistreat the servant. Make sure you set a fair hourly rate for the servant and the owner.

  • Selling Flowers and Bulbs

    With the promise of spring in the air it's a great time to do a seasonal product fundraiser with flower bulbs, plants and seeds. These are things which everyone buys for themselves or can easily give as a gift to a loved one or friend. They are presold from order forms so there is no waste or left over product at the end of the sale.

    Fresh daffodil sales can be successful if planned right. Be careful you don't end up with leftover flowers.

  • Dances

    Spring is the time when a young man's fancy turns to ..... well you get the idea, it's a perfect time for a dance. Play on those pent up romantic feelings and harness them as a fundraiser for your group. From a high school dance to a formal affair, everyone feels spring in the air. 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.

  • Run/Walk Events and Golf Tournaments

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

The Vernal Equinox Resources (Spring)

These online resources will help you with your Spring event (don't forget your local party specialty stores):

Touch of Nature- flower bulbs and perennials
http://www.touchofnature.com/Fundraising.htm

Dutch Mill Bulbs- flower bulbs and perennials
http://www.dutchmillbulbs.com/

Walters Seed Company- flower, vegetable, and herb seeds
http://www.walters-seed.com/


The Oscar's

Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds their official Academy Award Presentation of the Oscars to honor those in the film industry who have done an outstanding job. It's a big shindig in Hollywood, CA and is broadcast on TV. It's a wonderful opportunity to host a fundraiser with an Oscar theme.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to The Oscar's there are a lot of benefits:

  • The Oscar's is trademarked but there are ways to utilize the event without infringing on the trademark.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • The Oscar's is a light hearted affair that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for The Oscar's

  • Galas and Parties

    In keeping with the style of the awards ceremony, a more formal affair is usually called for. You will want to have several large screen TVs for your guests to watch the awards ceremony on (have a local store donate the use of them, with a sign attached crediting them of course).

    To avoid infringing on any trademarks Do Not use the following term for your event in any way: Oscar Night. If you use the following terms make sure you include the copyright symbol as they are the trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: OSCAR®," "OSCARS®," "ACADEMY AWARD®," "ACADEMY AWARDS®," "OSCAR NIGHT®.

    The invitation should read:

    On the outside- And the Oscar goes to ...

    On the inside- You, (guests name here)! You are invited to attend etc.

    Decorate the entry way and walls with silver and gold colors using Oscar statues and cut outs, streamers and balloons, and a framed official Academy Award poster.

    The highlight of the evening will be the naming of the best film, best actor and best actress, but you can fill the slow times with some entertaining games.

    A "guess the winners" contest can be used to generate funds. Sell each guest a card (or include the card free if your admission price is high enough) and have them record their guess' for the winners of the top Oscar categories. The winners will each receive prizes (donated I hope) at the end of the night.

    You can also have a contest among your guests. Have local celebrities judge the event for maximum media coverage. Give awards to your guests in the following suggested categories:

    Actor Look-a-Like
    Actress Look-a-Like
    Female Casual Attire
    Female Formal Attire
    Hair
    Male Casual Attire
    Male Formal Attire
    Most Outrageously Dressed
    Most Sequined Outfit
    Most Uniquely Dressed
    Non-Hair
    Shoes
    Tie
    Trendsetter

    A unique idea for food is to create menus around the themes of the movies nominated for best movie. Make it a sampler dinner or buffet and have a different restaurant create each movie menu and serving table decorations.

    Make sure you have a photographer in attendance to take pictures of guests. A celebrity look alike to pose with the guests for a donation would be great.

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

The Oscar's Resources

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

Get ideas from FilmAid 2000 Oscar Night America Gala in Seattle
http://www.filmaid.org/filmaid.htm

Purchase an official Oscar Poster
http://www.oscar.com/store.html

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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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