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So, I like the idea of starting a company to raise funds for charities I like by organizing experiences for folks, like driving a racecar, skydiving, luxury home tours, bring your child to operate a mini-excavator, or anything else to show folks a good time.  Naturally, I have never done anything like this and know very little.  So,

1.  Is it possible to make a living fundraising?

2.  How do folks who do this get paid?  It seems unseemly to say, "I am taking 10% of the profit to run my company", but is that what happens?

3.  Anyone know anyone in this field that I could speak to?  I want to see the realities of the situation.

Thanks,

Jim

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I don't know for sure but I truly think there is a possibility to do it. I suppose it would depend on what you were selling, who you were selling it to and how much you were charging. My kids' school uses a company that makes products just for fundraising purposes. 

I know it seems unseemly to say that you are taking 10% off but technically it is not profit until you enter in the labor and business costs.  

Grace at doughraisingmom.com has made things for fundraisers as a business, I think she might know more about the process. Tell her Tamara sent you :)

I would like to note that you need to make sure that you are really comfortable asking people for stuff. Unless you own a racecar, airplane, or luxury home you will need to ask businesses to give these options away for free or SUPER cheap. It is not for the faint of heart, trust me. 

Thanks so much for the information Tamara!

As a former Director of Development for a non-profit organization, I frequently evaluated fund-raising opportunities presented to me... of which there are many!

Your idea of 10% is FAR below the number that most companies are charging. Many, if not most, of the commercially presented companies out there are offering their services at a much smaller profit to the organization; with the profits of the overpriced candies (for example) being at 10-15%! A simple search for those pricey girl scout cookies at $4 per box reveals that the troop profits between 50¢ an 75¢ per box!

There is, however, no shame in making a substantial income marketing to the non-profit sector. Fund-raising takes an inordinate amount of effort, taking time from either volunteers or what is usually a limited staff. If you are offering a service that helps an organization meet, and better yet, exceed its goals, you should be well compensated for your efforts!

When purchasing fund-raising services or coordinating fund-raisers, I had always looked for the win-win and wished for a company that would share that goal. By win-win, I mean that the activity would benefit the organization AND benefit the donor by offering them goods or services that they needed or wanted anyway, but at a competitive or reduced price point. My thinking was that if the donor was going to buy X and was able to support the organization at the same time without feeling taken advantage of, the group earned, not only its money, but good will in its efforts.

Hope this helps inspire you!! 

Yes, I very much appreciate the information.

Jim, there are MANY ways to fund raise. 

Below is an idea that I had that I never implemented.  I sure would like to do this, though.  If anyone has any thoughts, I'd welcome them.  My main issue is that it requires someone to really pump up/motivate people, and that's not my "thing." 

I wrote it on a particular forum:

I was at the gym tonight (you know - that thing that fat people love to give money to but hate to go to,) and I had just finished my 5 minutes of Stair-Master warm up. I was thinking that "Highway to Hell" and "Stairway to Heaven" could be combined into one song to describe that experience, but, I digress.

I have a particular order to my workout - I go, do 5 minutes of cardio to "jump start" my system, and then, do 10-15 minutes of muscle building exercise, and then, do 20-30 minutes of cardio. Based on my research, that's the best way to get the most out of working out.

Anyway, I had just gotten to the leg press machine, and after I put the weights on the machine and was laying down to get the most efficient fat burning muscles a good workout, I started thinking about an idea that Martin Buckley had about a week ago - called "$4800 with Auto Discount Cards." It's a great thread.

In that thread, Martin discussed going out and getting a car repair place to agree to give away a number of services, or discounts on services, in exchange for an influx of new customers. We all know that Car Repair places can typically find new things that need adjustment on cars, etc. He then goes and and tells 500 cards for $10 each, and then, after gas and expenses, makes around $4800 - in probably 2-4 days.

Great idea.

Well, I had an idea about doing the same thing, but, instead of charging $10, you charge $25. However, you go to the local high school, work out a deal with the principal, and get the students to sell them - and for each one they sell, the school gets $15. To really give an incentive, give the top 3 students a REALLY cool prize - laptop, ipad, ipod, cash, etc. If you got 300 students to go out and sell 5 each, you'd still profit $12,000 after printing and prizes, and the school would get $22,500.

Well - I had just gotten down on my machine when I had one of Don Alm's HOT FLASHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (as if I wasn't already sweating enough.)

Instead of doing it one time, (or, rather, in my mind, 3 times a year - a Fall based one, a Christmas based one, and then a Spring Break based one,) why not get the students to go out and sell a "SUBSCRIPTION" to a monthly discount program for $30 a month, and then, after taking your $10 out for your expenses, the school still gets $20. Same scenario - 300 students sell 5 each, the school gets $30,000 EVERY MONTH, and you get $15,000 each month.

Now, go with me a just a tad further.

The first month - you have a sales contest, so you spend $1500 on prizes. It costs you maybe $1,500 (Big Stretch) to have the cards printed up. Well, Your profit for month #1 is $12,500. After that - no prizes, so, $13,500 every month.

Because, what we're doing is getting new businesses each month to give discounts for holders of that card - get the cards printed, mail them to all of your "monthly supporters," and everyone is happy. You may spend $700 a month on postage, but, it'd be a winner all the way around.

It should be an easy sale, too - just sell it once per year - and realize that $30 a month - most families spend that on a good meal going out to eat, or maybe cooking in their home.

Just an idea!

Jeremy

Jim,

I agree with Keith. You will find fund raising efforts vary from organization to organization as well. What works for a non-profit for instance may not work in a for profit world.

There are thousands of profit and non-profit organizations engaged in fund raising initiatives every day. We recently had an opportunity to "sell" sponsorships for a business event we were hosting. We had someone make contact with various CEO's to solicit funding to support the event.

We gladly paid them 20% as a business development commission. Why?

1) We didn't have to hire an employee to handle the solicitation

2) The event was able to raise enough revenue through the 80%

Bottom-line it was a win for our program, a win for the sponsor, a win for the individual selling sponsorships on our behalf and most importantly a benefit for the small business owners who attended the event.

If you go down this road let me know. I have three clients currently who are looking for someone to sell sponsorships and subscriptions for their companies.

Great idea, Terry. 

Cool stuff. 

You and I briefly spoke last year regarding this idea - anyone know of a way to find a good, outspoken, motivating person that I could do a Joint Venture/Fundraising project with?

Jeremy, yes, I remember the discussion. Glad to see you are moving forward!

When you say you are looking for a good, outspoken, motivating person that I could do a Joint Venture/Fundraising project with.

Are you talking about someone that you can shadow to see how they do it?

A partner that you can team up with to start a business together?

Someone to back your business financially as you move forward?

Someone to be the "mouthpiece" that would go out and do the physical "sales" while I do design/printing/shipping.  Ideally, I'd love to be able to do some type of fundraising (or other type of marketing/advertising project) in other locations around the country, with someone doing all of the sales and relationship building in their areas, and with me doing all of the non-sales work.

I had even developed a business model - Person M in Anytown, USA does X project in his city.  Customer writes him a full check for 100% of the project, and then Person M pays me 50% for my design/printing/whatever services.  It would allow me to do something I enjoy, having people in the field selling "for" me, allow both of us to make a good income, and allow me to stay home and not do high-pressure sales nor travel.

It is difficult to get anyone to commit to a commission only position like this anymore. Most people expect a base salary plus commission.

I have three clients right now who would love to have a firm they could outsource their sales to for a commission. If you find someone to partner with and move in this direction be sure to let me know.

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