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Fundraising Makes it Happen

by the AFRDS

Real People Making a Real Difference in Pensacola, FL

Before Hurricane Katrina, there was Hurricane Ivan. Ivan roared ashore in the middle of the night on September 16, 2004 – leaving parts of the Florida panhandle in shambles. Pensacola was hit especially hard, with more than 10,000 homes destroyed and $6 billion in damage.

Schools were closed for weeks after the storm, roads were blocked with fallen trees, and phones were silent. But by the time Christmas arrived, the ingenuity of a local fundraising company had helped rebuild the community.

Tim Tidwell, who owns a fundraising company headquartered in Pensacola, says he spent the days following Hurricane Ivan brainstorming ways to help his community get back on its feet.

“All we had to offer was our primary product – coupon books,” Tidwell said. “We knew people wanted the books to save money. We knew the schools needed funds now more thanever, and we knew that restaurants needed to get the word out that they were still in business and re-opening. An idea began to form, and we went to work.”

Tidwell’s company made phone calls to the school superintendents, the local ABC TV affiliate, and several banks in his community. With the approval of school administrators, WEAR Channel 3 produced a community public service announcement publicizing the damage at dozens of schools. The PSA encouraged viewers to visit one of 50 local bank branches and purchase Gulf Coast Savings Books to help the schools rebuild.

Tidwell says the synergy between the schools, the TV station, and the banks paid off in a big way.

“We raised about $5,000 in school profits,” Tidwell said. “We ended up writing a check to nearly every school in our two-county area!”

Tidwell says principals at most of the schools used the money to buy basic items like books, desks and backpacks – but at least one principal spent the fundraising proceeds on underclothes and socks for children at the school.

But perhaps more importantly, Tidwell’s company became part of the solution – and illustrated how businesses and schools can work together even in times of crisis.


About the Author: This article is from the Spring 2006 issue of the Fundraising Edge, an online publication of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers and is reprinted with permission. Visit their web site at for more information and a look at the complete issues of the Fundraising Edge.
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