Hello, I'm a firefighter at a volunteer department in Northeast Pennsylvania. I have been actively involved for four years now. I feel as if our department has tried at every fundraiser. We just built an extension for our building to accompany our trucks, and we just signed a contract for KME Rescue Pumper for $754,000. Can you give some ideas of fundraisers? Unique, normal, it doesnt matter, just some ideas from around the country?
One fundraiser that we have conducted, is selling rural address signs. If you have an area, in your jurisdiction, that has rural residents or businesses, these signs can be placed out along the road/highway.
We purchased aluminum blanks and the adhesive numbers and assembled them ourselves, when an order was made. We delivered them to the purchaser.
If you have houses and businesses off the road, these signs along the road are a time saver, when trying to find the location for EMS calls.
While I do not know what your jurisdiction is like, this may be a fundraiser, as well as a means to get your community with better address signage.
In most jurisdictions, you can place these signs on the mailbox posts. As long as the sign does not block of the view of the mailbox "pickup" flag from either direction the sign can be placed there. Check with your local Postmaster to be sure.
My #1 POC FD does 2 kinds of fund raisers every year.
We run a Saturday Brat Fries along the main highway through town. We usually do at least 2 of these a year. We cooks brats, hot dogs and sometimes brugers on the grill, sell them with chips and soda. Minimum amount of work, minimum amount of time, usually about 4 hours, and on a good day we can make around $500.
We also run a Haunted Hill Spook Walk. What this is path through the woods made up of spooky, scary props, people dressed up as whatever scary creatures you can think of. We usually make around $3K for 4 weekend nights.
My #2 POC FD runs a Sportsman's Banquet. We sell tickets for dinner, there is beer sales, and we have raffle tickets for guns and other items. This year we made around $9K.
One thing that some FDs do, and I agree with, is sending out donation request letters. I have land up north in Wisconsin and the volunteer FD that protects that area sends out an annual donation request letter that contains a letter that talks about the accomplishments of the year and how they utilized the money they received the previous year.
We do a letter each year asking for donations and outlining our accomplishments as stated above. We put in the letter what we are going to use the money for and what we did with the money from the last mailing. We usually make between $10,000 and $12,000 after expenses. Be careful though if you are planning to include raffle tickets as they cannot legally be sold through the mail, Federal law prohibits this.
We have a Gold Member Club in which anyone who donates $100.00 or more becomes a member and receives a sweatshirt, polo shirt or whatever we decide for the year. It is amazing how many people will send a sizable donation for the pride of wearing around a dept. item. We use a different color than what dept. members wear.
We have about 3 main fund raisers. We send out donation letters every year and we sell Christmas trees between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both are relatively low manpower efforts.
Our other big fundraiser is our summer concert series. During the summer, we host up to 3 concerts in the field behind our station. It's a lot of work between booking the bands, setting up the stage, chairs and tents as well as manning the gates and concession stands. We don't usually have too much problem with people though at the concert itself though as everybody seems to enjoy working those.
My POC dept has several things they do.
Donations at the Halloween openhouse
The Pancake breakfast is probably the easiest to do, and makes good money. We tie that to events like a community yard sale so more people are in town.
If you just added on to your station and then signed a $750,000 contract, and are just now trying to figure out how to raise the funds; I might suggest that you may want to have a serious organizational meeting and find out what your department is trying to accomplish and what your true financial standing is. There have been too many reports of reposession of trucks due to departments buying more than they could afford.
I may be a little off though as in the entire 56 year history of the department, we have not spent that much on trucks, gear, radios, and equipment combined.
One of my fundraisers I do which can be very lucritive is a Battle of the Bands.
Here's what you do. Go on craigslist and post that you are having a battle of the bands. get some band interest. Investigate and sign up 5-10 bands that draw a crowd. Get demo's or a myspace/facebook to make sure they are legit. If your station is big enough host it there to keep down cost down but make sure you can accomodate 300+ people. The bands sell the tickets not you!!!! Give them a certain number of tickets that must be sold in order to perform. For example: if you have 5 bands and the ticket price is $15 and each band must sell a minimum of 20 tickets, that $1,500 guarenteed. 20 tickets per band should not be difficult since each band usually has 4-6 members so that less than 5 tickets per person in each band to sell.
Make sure you have the sound equiptment. I'm in PA too and if you need sound gear I'll be more than happy to lend a hand. Get judges that are worth a damn. ask local radio shows, music stores, etc. Sell food and do raffles (like a 50/50). Food and water are where you will get the most profit since the spectators will be there for hours. Salty foods are good because it makes you thirsty and then they buy more drinks haha. Offer a Cash prize based off of what you bring in. And add ticket sale incentive. If a band sells the minimum give them $2 per ticket, if they sell 50-75 give them $3 per ticket, 76-100 give them $4 per ticket, and 101 and over give the bands $5 per ticket. If they know they are making $$$ just for selling tix and showing up thats a plus for them to hit the pavement.
Pass the boot during the show!!! Make it known that this is a fundraiser for the Fire Dept. You will need all hands on deck to make sure this goes off. Have your bigger members handling security and taking ticket money. If you have a ladies aux. have them do the food, raffles, etc. I would also suggest making sure you have a few people designated as on site EMT's in case of any accidents. Put a disclaimer on your tickets when they are printed that "By purchasing this ticket I understand that the Fire Dept and Staff are not liable for any personal injury, illness or death while in attending this event." or something like that. The first year I did this I raised $2,000.
Too much work for only $2,000.
We just did a Beefsteak dinner...had a company come in and do the cooking and serving. All we had to do was sell tickets. Made $1500 on that.
Normal fundraiser's are 3 a year.
1) Annual letter sent to property owners (about 2500 letters) nets us about $24k.
2) Harley Motorcycle raffle. Limit to 2500 tickets, $20 per ticket. $50k minus whatever the bike costs and the rest is yours (we average $25k)
3) We run a fishing flea market. Doesn't make a lot, but we've been doing it so many years we continue it.
On a side note....$750k for rescue pumper? We just did one with seating for 7 under $630k equipped. What the heck are you getting?
We do a mailing for our fund drive. We also set up a Paypal donation link on the Dept. website, this has worked out fairly well actually. It's very "time efficient" and once it's set up it's set up forever.
We just put in service a new Pierce Rescue-Engine and while I don't know the exact price, I'd be surprised if it were only $750k! And that's with moving most of the equipment from the old rescue over. It's huge. I thought it was overkill at first but it's growing on me. I like that its an engine as well, nice to have water on the first truck in at those MVAs that need it.
Originally Posted by Bones42
The truly sad part is that we're holding bake sales to buy fire trucks...
One of the key selling points when we formed a fire district here was that the FD's would no longer have to fund-raise, although we could (and did).
Letter drives are usually pretty productive.
This is ours....
Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive
630 included all new hose, new Holmatro equip, etc. We did move SCBA's over from truck it replaced.
We started out more than 40 years ago with a "Coin Card" where the citizens could put quarters in slots and then after 20 weeks firefighters would walk all the streets and roads knocking on doors to collect the cards. This has evolved into an annual letter that highlites what we have done with the previous years donations. Significant purchases, fire runs, loss history (include value saved), training hours, and a heads up on what needs replaced in the coming year. The letter and a return envelope are mailed to citizens based upon an extensive mailing list that gets updated annually. This years expenses included 80K in air pack replacements and 40K+ in repairs to the training tower. Currently working toward an engine replacement in 2014, so that was included in the correspondence. Toot your horn... like 2040 hrs of state training for the year. Keep all correspondence positive and factual. Good service gets you good P.R. and results in great donations.
Would any of you fine people be willing to help a brother out and email a copy of your fundraising letter to me so I can get an idea of what you all put in yours? I am seriously considering this if you are all seriously getting that kind of revenue return.
Thanks in advance,
Gibbon Vol. Fire
If we didn't have money from property taxes, we'd still be using trucks from the 70's and 80's. And we would be still running a couple of trucks out of an old lawn mower repair shop. I glad we don't have to spend all that time fundraising, we can use the time for training. The only fundraisers we do are for the Fire Association, which does some charitable donations and some smaller equipment. Tax money pays for the station and all the big ticket items. We do a fish fry, calendar sale, golf outing, halloween open house, and some pancake breakfasts.
Originally Posted by tree68
I wish I could talk my department into it, but a close department does a 50/50 with 200 tickets for $100 each. They get $10,000 and 1st place gets $7000, 2nd $2000 and 3rd $1000. Minimal work especially since they have been doing it for over 20 years. They only have to announce that they are having it and the tickets sell out quick.
We do many fundraisers each year. We do a Beef and Beer around the time of Saint Patty's day. We usually get the beer donated along with food at a discount.
We also do a lot on 4th of July. The fireworks are set off across the station so we get money for parking and selling glow sticks and food and drinks. We get about 3000 from this 1 day. Most of the food and beverages are bought at BJs or are donated. The glow necklaces are bought offline. A few guys go out in each direction with a ton of glow sticks.
This year we are hosting a car show and classic fire truck show. We will see how well this does.
Each year we have a carnival on the grounds of the firehouse. We have it for a week or 2 and make around 20,000 from that.
We also do a breakfast with Santa at our local applebees. They do a pancake breakfast for the community if you go to them. The members will serve the food while members of applebees makes the food. This year we made about 600 from that which isn't bad for like 4 hours of work.
This year we had our first Halloween party that brought in some good money.
We send out a fund drive each year asking for donations.
We do the occasional tag days.
When we go out to hand out candy canes each year some people donate money to us then. We make about 100 from this each year.
You just have to put time into it and see what works best for you. Also you need to go out to your local businesses to try and get them to help you out.