I have been placed in charge of a committee that will be soliciting businesses and hosting fundraisers to raise money to purchase a Thermal Imager for our FD. As anyone who works for a paid department and is involved with any aspects of budgets knows, money is tight these days with rising payrolls. Due to this,our department can afford to free little money for this large purchase, and we will be relying on our community, both citizens and businesses to help us in this venture. What I need are 2 things. The first, I need input from anyone who has taken on a similar task. I need to know how you approached your business community for funds, and what success you had. What kind of fundraisers you had that were particularly successful. The time span it took to raise the needed funds (granted, I understand this to be a thing of patience, that it will take quite some time). The second thing I need input on is what kind of imager your department has purchased, and how you feel about it so far. I would like to know why you chose that particular brand/model that you did, and if there is anything you found to be good/bad about it. This is a large purchase for this department, and we don't want to regret having bought a certain imager after the fact. So any information that can be given will be greatly appreciated.
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Thread: NEED INPUT
01-19-2000, 02:47 PM #1dch419Firehouse.com Guest
01-23-2000, 11:24 PM #2TIManFirehouse.com Guest
I had posted this reply to an earlier request, not sure if you would have seen it, so here it is again.
Consider the following options for fundraising :
Asking the citizens you serve. I know of many departments who were completely shocked when they walked into a civic organization meeting hoping for a small donation, and walked out with enough money to buy 2 or 3 units. The response you get will largely depend on the relationship you have with your citizens and how well you sell your need for an imager. Firefighters are not always the best sales people, so solicite help from the people who are, the manufacturers. All good reps have fund raising kits and can supply you with materials to help you in your quest for funds. You need not commit to a manufacturer to get a lot of this help, but you will get more help if you have done your evaluation and picked a unit. Departments who do a good job of educating the public even in the poorest of communities usually can get the money in 3 - 6 months if they really work hard at it, it is not an easy task but well worth it.
If you have a Wal-Mart in your community talk to them. They have a national program that allows funds to be donated to community projects. In my experiences their average donation is around $5,000, though I do know of at least one case where they provided the total cost of the unit.
Talk to your local or state emergency planning commission. They usually have someone on staff who is knowledgeable about grants that you may be able to get. There is also a lot of grant information on the internet.
Financing/Leasing is available and a sensible option in some cases. No question you will pay more in the long run, but you can have a unit in your hand the day you make the first payment versus waiting 6 months to year unitl you can raise your funds. Once again most reps have information on leasing programs.
Of course you can do all of the traditional things as well. Roadblocks, raffles, dinners, etc. This can take a long time, but in many cases the money you raise this way would be enough to make the monthly leasing/financing payments.
In most cases the money is out there in the hands of private citizens or civic organizations. If you do a good job of selling the capabilities of thermal imaging, the money will most likely come.
A tip, you can talk to them all you want, seeing is believing. If you can get them into a smoke trailer (fake smoke) or even a blacked out room at let them see first hand what it can do it will have a huge impact. The media can also be a huge factor. Thermal imaging is a good story and if you work with them they will help you sell your case.
Do not forget to keep the local officials in the loop. Budget money is usually next to impossible to get, but you never know, especially if you perk the interest of the community that will reelect the officials.
Good Luck, it will take some hard work, but do not give up.
I do not want to make this a Bullard issue, so if you would like any of the things I have such as presentations or videos please email me for additional information.
I know there are a lot of other people out there who have done some creative financial work, please share it with the rest of us.
Good Luck, Be Safe
01-27-2000, 11:45 PM #3cwernerFirehouse.com Guest
Yes, yes, yes!!!! Seeing is believing. If you can get local officials to a simulated smoke environment, suite them up as you do going into a fire, then let them see it both ways == with a TIC and without.
This demonstration to our City Council had such an overwhelming effect, we now have TIC's on every first due engine and truck.
Regardless of what type you choose, a TIC vendor will surely help you with getting a TIC for this demo.
As TIMan suggested, get the media involved. All of the press helps move the cause along.
Charles Werner, BC
Charlottesville VA Fire Department
"A World Class City"
01-28-2000, 12:12 AM #4S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
Our chief did basically the same thing as Chief Werner, except they just used a dark room.
First words out of the mayor we're "cool!" 2nd, "be sure to budget one in next years budget."
3 imagers later we've got one more to go then all first due apparatus will have them. 2 were budgeted and another was fund raised for.
Our second was fund raised for.
A local bank kicked it of by donating a grand. We challenged the other banks to do the same, but they chose not too.
Then we sent a fund raiser letter went out to around a hundred or so individuals, Dr.'s Lawyers, CPAs, local big business owners you get the idea. We got some pretty good donations from that.
We hit up a few civic groups.
Good ole' Wal Mart then let us have a fund raiser at their door. We did fire extinguisher training, showed off the rigs, showed off the first imager, fire prevention videos and just visited with folks. Picked up about 2K from that then Wal Mart matched a portion of that.
All the while, we used the imager on every call we could (we still do) - smells and bells, auto alarms, missing people. We didn't solicite donations on calls, but when the folks wondered what it was, we told them, let them play with it and that good stuff.
IF they asked (and they usually did) if all of our fire engines had one of these, we'd tell them the truth - "No, but we're working on it." Again not asking for any donations. They almost always ask how much it cost and if they could contribute.
The local TV station made an infomercial for us - (and they thought they had cool toys).
It took about 6 months to raise the money.
The third was spec'd as loose equipment on our quint.
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