Fundraising Activities

General Considerations

(1) Be as open as possible about your group's finances. Have monthly expenses and donations posted where everyone can see them. Announce donations and expenses at meetings. People in your group are more likely to help raise money if they have an accurate idea of the health of your group.

(2) It's a good idea to do the same events repeatedly. It's easier to plan and execute fundraisers that you've previously done. When you do an event for the third or fourth time you have a pretty good idea how much you're going to make, what to do, who to contact, etc. It's far easier to spread responsibility around evenly after you've done an event a few times.

(3) Don't rely on one event to make you tons of money. Do lots of events and be conservative in your estimates of what you'll make.

(4) Keep your costs low. Nothing debilitates a group like losing money on an event.

(5) Consider teaming up with other groups. Working with others can expand your social networks, reduce your workload, allow you access to new resources, etc.

(6) Politicize your events. Lots of groups get sick of fundraising because it takes time away from activism. To counter this you can have speakers, set up literature tables, announce direct actions, etc.

(7) Form a temporary collective (disintegrating task force) to carry out the event. Spread responsibility around. Share knowledge so that everyone in your organization can plan benefits.

(8) Figure out a target audience for the benefit (vegetarians, teenage punks, anarchists, environmentalists, etc.).

(9) Plan stuff way in advance. Pay attention to detail. If you're going to do all the hard work required by most benefits you should do all the easy stuff like putting up fliers. Call DJs at college and community stations. Get the event into newsletters, zines, tabloids, etc. Ask everyone in your group to call 10 friends not involved with your project.

(10) Have fun!!!


Stuff We're Doing

Pledges: Theoretically, the easiest way to keep various projects afloat is through small monthly pledges from those involved. Regular donations of ten to thirty dollars could minimize or alleviate the need for most fund raising (or allow the money to go into real projects instead of just survival). Most fund raising yields a VERY LOW payoff relative to the amount of time put into it. But, because our projects are often populated with people who have more time than money and because fund raising can be fun and good outreach, the pledge system does not work as well as it could.

Auto-Deposit Programs: Most Banks have an Auto-Deposit (AD) program set up for churches, etc. ADs take money out of an individual's account and transfer into your group's account each month. We currently receive one hundred dollars a month from Ads and we have been promised completed forms by some older anarchists in the area.

Subletting: If you have a space you have a valuable resource that can generate money for your projects. Offering rehearsal space to bands at a price below the market is a great arrangement for both parties. We receive $75 a month plus use of a sound system for shows from a band that rehearses early in the morning (3am-6pm). Other spaces in the US have rented space for living, office space to well-funded radical/progressive groups, etc. You can also rent your space to people doing shows/raves/etc. and let them handle everything.

Collective Wage Slavery: Everyone go and do short-term odd jobs, weird opportunities for money exist in all cities, just keep your ears open and use your imagination.

Canvassing: We have never tried this, but from experiences with other groups I can attest that this is a good outreach/money maker. If you can get five or ten people to canvass for a few hours you can make a lot of money. To get started you might:

(1) Get a license from the city (or not).

(2) Come up with a rap to lay on the people whose houses you invade: "I'm from the A-Zone. We work on... here's some literature... $$$.

(3) Get a clipboard.

(4) Pick a neighborhood and get busy.

Many will make a donation to get rid of you. Some will give money because they support you and most people will give you nothing. When I was in high school I canvassed for a progressive environmental outfit called Ohio Citizen Action//Toxic Watch. I was horrible. In a six hour day I usually raised only $50, mostly from people who talked to me about other things and then gave me $10 to be nice. Good canvassers were pulling in $200+ in six hours. If you can get 10 people to canvass for a day or two you'll make tons of money.

Have a Plasma Drive: Or take part in some lame experiment. I've tested antacids, done stuff in the education college, been on mock juries, etc. There is big money for this stuff.

Music Benefit: I imagine everyone is familiar with this type of fund raising so I'll be brief. We do benefits at bars on Sundays. We usually raise between $250-$1000 per shot. I feel it's better to do lots of little shows instead of putting tons of time into one big show. Four bands for $3-$6 is easy to set up. One of the best times to do shows is on the Sundays before holidays. Usually there's nothing going on, but people want a diversion. We do shows on the Sunday before every holiday. Get the bars to do publicity for you. Ads in music magazines really help. We occasionally do all-day festivals at a Unitarian Church with workshops, music, food, games, drumming, etc. This is a good way to make money and get people interested. Always let the owner offer the terms. If their offer sucks you can always turn it down. Many times we've set the terms and have been stuck with just the money from the door when we could have gotten a percentage of the money from the alcohol our friends consumed.

Dinner Benefit: If you have access to a commercial kitchen and a big dining hall, you might consider putting on a dinner for the vegetarian crowd. Warning: these types of dinners are an enormous amount of work for the money you'll raise, but the work can be made fun. Hint: don't spend a lot on ingredients. If you don't have access to a large space, you can have a dinner at someone's house and charge $5 or whatever.

Coupons: One idea we are about to try with an independent record store is circulating coupons for them. If people make a purchase with coupons circulated by the A-Zone we get a donation. Here's how it works: normally the record store has $3 off coupons. We will be spreading $2 off coupons. Each time a purchase is made the customer gets $2 off, we get $1 and the record store gets the same amount of money as if the person had used a $3 off coupon.

Anything-a-thon: We did a bowl-a-thon which was a modest success. These kinds of events are cool if you get widespread participation from your group. Otherwise they suck. For some reason people are willing to give money if you're doing something cheesy like bowling.

Rummage Sales: These are easy and fairly lucrative.

Bake Sales: Usually these are not worth the trouble, but we use them to lure sugar fiends to our literature tables.

Selling Other Stuff: T-shirts, manic panic (hair dye), stickers, etc. Manic Panic = $3/bottle in bulk, $9-$12 retail. Get the address off a bottle. (Emma Center did this for a while).

Miscellaneous: Our big project for 1996 is an Ani DiFranco show that we have tentatively booked with her agent (if Ani approves we'll do the show). We got her agent to cut her fee from $10000 to $2000 plus 15% (after we recover our costs). We have already received tremendous support from the feminist community. The women's studies department at the University of Toledo has gotten us the Student Union Auditorium for free. If we get this show we figure we'll make between $5000-$7000 which we'll put towards buying a permanent anarchist center in Toledo.

Speaking: If you know people involved at a college get them to set up a paid speaking engagement for your group.

[From Fundraising by Mike Szuberla]

<<Fundraising and Non-Profit Organizations
<<Back to Table of Contents