Fundraising Best Practices: Going Beyond Bake Sales

Activities in the year of a typical Phi Theta Kappa chapter often include fundraisers to help support its goals. Whether the money raised will be used to start or contribute to a scholarship fund, cover expenses for regional or international travel, or simply offset operational costs, one thing remains the same: the fundraiser must be successful.

The promotional poster for the Rain City Rock concert hosted by the Alpha Chi Zeta Chapter at Seattle Central College

Many chapters know what fundraisers work well for their college and community. They know what their peers respond to; they know what will bring in the money they need.

“Smarty Pants” sold by the Kansas Region

But sometimes, a chapter goes beyond the bake sale, the 5K, the raffle. When the risk is big, the reward often is as well, as two chapters and one region have recently found. Heed their advice as you plan your yearly fundraisers, and be inspired by what they were able to accomplish.

Rain City Rock

The Alpha Chi Zeta Chapter at Seattle Central College in Washington does a yearly fundraiser to help fund scholarships through its school’s foundation. Several of the chapter’s officers and members in early 2014 had experience playing in, booking, and/or promoting a band. So, as they planned their fundraiser, a rock concert seemed a natural fit for the group.

“Rain City Rock” was held on Memorial Day 2014 in the Nectar Lounge, a local hangout off campus, which donated the space. Five local bands were booked – each of which donated their time – and the concert was open to all ages. Tickets were $8 pre-sale and $10 at the door.

In the end, the chapter raised more than $3,000, said chapter advisor Nada Oakley. Combined with previous, smaller-scale fundraisers and a matching gift from the school’s foundation, more than $6,000 was donated to the scholarship fund.

“Advertising in the community, ticket sales in the community, planning the event in the community, I think that made all the difference,” Oakley said. “We needed a large fundraiser to support our scholarships, and this brought a lot of visibility to Phi Theta Kappa and to our chapter.”

Smarty Pants

Everyone loves good, nerdy gear, as the Kansas Region has found through the sale of its Smarty Pants. Kansas Region Alumni Association President Lucus Drake designed these pants in 2012 when he was an officer in the Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter. They were sold on campus at Butler Community College but were discontinued when he transferred.

Two years later, the Kansas Regional Officers needed to raise money for scholarships and programming. They reached out to Drake, who approved their selling. The proceeds are split between the Kansas Region and its Alumni Association.

Kansas Regional Coordinator Tammy Fuentez said when the first shipment of pants came in, she posted a picture of them on Facebook. A Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters staffer saw and shared the picture on the alumni Facebook page, and “the started selling like crazy,” she said.

“We shipped from Washington to Florida to Massachusetts, including 15 pairs to a chapter in South Carolina,” Fuentez said. “It’s been a great way to help us support Phi Theta Kappa awareness as well as raise money to continue to provide scholarships for our regional members.”

Important note: the design is copyrighted and cannot be used by another group. Contact Tammy Fuentez for more information.

The $27,000 Honors in Action Project

In 2013 the Chi Nu Chapter at Eastern Florida State College’s Melbourne Campus chose to work with Air Mobile Ministries, a local charity that provides water filtration systems to disaster areas and areas where clean drinking water is in short supply. It was their Honors in Action Project, and the chapter raised more than $27,000.

The chapter held a fundraising gala at the home of the couple who own Air Mobile Ministries – a home that had recently been featured on the show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” This added to the appeal of the event and drew many from the community.

“There were probably over a hundred people that actually showed up, and there was a donation box set up in the main house,” said chapter advisor Maureen Groome. “(The homeowners) had also procured some items for a silent auction that helped to contribute to the total amount.

“When I found out the total amount, I was stunned.”

Sponsors covered the cost of food and flower arrangements. The home was decorated with artifacts from the homeowners’ travels with their organization. The college and local churches donated tables and chairs, and a local tent company donated tents for outdoor seating and entertaining. A jazz band from a local high school provided entertainment.

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