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Grassroots Fundraising:
Santa's Helpers

by Doug Nash


Christmas is a time of good cheer and sharing, a good time for fundraising. People are in the mood to spread their good fortune and what better way to spread their good fortune than to help your worthwhile cause? Here are some ways to help people celebrate the Yuletide and assist your organisation in their fundraising efforts.

SANTA 1: VISITS

This activity depends on your membership having four or five members who are willing to donate their time to being a happy, jolly Father Christmas'. You may start out with just one Santa and slowly increase your numbers.

All you need are the volunteers, the costumes and some advertising.

In the pre-Christmas period let the public know that you are available to do children's parties, office parties, kindergartens or place a Santa in a shopping centre.

For a modest donation, kids get to give Santa their wish list or tell him in person what they want to find under their tree. A good idea is to have a bag of lollies to hand to children.

At office parties, the boss might want a Santa to hand out end-of-year bonuses or gifts and then mingle within the staff to add a bit extra of the season's wonderful atmosphere.

Think carefully on whether to charge per person or on a simpler one-cost party basis. Another factor to consider is the circumstances of those wanting to make a booking. The person taking the booking must understand exactly what latitude they have when it comes to making variations in booking fees, times and any other unforeseen circumstance that may arise. Careful consideration is essential when choosing booking staff as well as who acts as Santa.

Always have only one central phone number for bookings to save on confusion. Having one person, two at most handling the booking calendar also saves on possible double bookings. The calendar is filled out immediately a booking is taken. It is a good idea to try not to have a mobile number, as it might put some people off making a booking.

SANTA 2: PHOTOS

For how many years have you seen professional photographic companies set up in local shopping centers to take photos of Santa with kids? A question to ask yourself is, can my organisation do this? The answer is 'YES". A little planning goes a long way.

How can you compete with a professional outfit is the first question to answer. There are two immediate responses .... price and no waiting time.

To be competitive you have to be creative. Most photographers have a week or so turnaround for you to get your prints, you then use a Polaroid camera and hand them out on the spot. The client is happy with the immediate result and the volunteer taking the photo can see the result and improve each shot until happy with the result. Be adventurous and instead of having a camera on a fixed mounting, try taking photos by hand.

The second is that you work on a high turnover low profit principle. That is you depend on taking a lot of photos at a small profit per photo instead of a large profit on a smaller number of photos. Study what is happening in other locations and beat the competition. The advantage to have here is to have a sponsor in regards to the film and camera.

Sponsorship is the key. There are several lines of sponsorship to try. First to be able to operate in a shopping centre for free. Approach a camera or photo developing shop to subsidize or even better supply for free the camera and film. The shop should be as close as possible to the area where the photos are taken. Approach a toy store in the shopping centre to provide props and toys to help create a jolly Christmassy atmosphere. Prominently display the names of the shops that help you in your endeavour.

The large factor in your favour here is that this is the time of year that shops spend 'big' to be noticed and noticed in the best possible light. Helping your organisation out meets this criteria.

SANTA 3: SIGNS

Have ever noticed the explosion of Santa and Christmas signs leading up to December 25th. Wouldn't it be great if you could have a dollar for each sign? Well this isn't the place that will tell you that, however there is money in Christmas signs.

During the year, so to spread out the capital investment, make signs with various Christmas themes. Make some saying 'MERRY CHRISTMAS', others with a picture of Santa: build up a wide variety of signs.

At the beginning talk to shop owners to find out what kind of signs they would like. There are several advantages to this: Knowledge of the market, so you know who and what you are aiming at, creating a market by letting your prospects that you are about and creating the niche market of being able to make customized signs: signs that are specifically asked for. Also you have the chance to presell, lowering your initial capital outlay.

When you see the first signs of the Christmas advertising push, canvass local businesses to purchase or rent your signs.

SANTA 4: MEALS

Meals, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, are used to raise funds for political campaigns, to launch books and simply raise money, so why not have a Santa Supper to help your fundraising requirements?

These meals can be aimed at grown ups and kids alike. Apply a theme that is applicable to your area, membership and organisation.

SANTA 5: STREET APPEAL

The idea here is to have a Santa volunteer on the back of a vehicle ringing a bell while driving slowly around neighborhoods. This to attract attention and help spark off a Christmas atmosphere. Kids really love seeing a Santa cruising through their neighborhood, even more so if he is handing out lollies. Beside the car you have several volunteers walking with collection buckets.

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About the Author:

Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share a fundraising idea with us every month. Although many of the ideas aren't new, each of them has a unique flair that comes from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at http://www.home.gil.com.au/~dnash/ for more fundraising ideas.



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