Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Hot New Halloween Fundraising Idea: Using Halloween to Benefit Your Charity or Cause

Some people love everything about Halloween; decorating the house is not a chore for them, while costumes are spooky, whacky, or comical, and not stupid, stupid, or boring. However, if you’re either an obsessed business geek or a die-hard charity-goer (two labels that both happen to describe me), every special day on the calendar is a chance to fundraise. Halloween is no exception.

For years, UNICEF has partnered with elementary schools to encourage kids to ask for spare change along with the traditional sugary treats. They call the campaign "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" and they even provide little orange boxes for kids to carry the donated coins in.

And recently “Free the Children” has followed in UNICEF’s footsteps. The "Halloween for Hunger" program pushes teens to say “Trick or treat, and food to eat,” asking for canned food to donate to the less fortunate.

However, there’s a new business model that I’ve thought of. What if an organization asked people to pledge to donate a portion of their candy to some sort of worthy cause? This would incite some serious enthusiasm, simply because there’s no hassle for the homeowners who are already giving candy (they already have the candy ready), while no money is involved either.

After this, they could sell these candies at some sort of community event for, say $0.25 each to generate a nice profit for a good cause.

And honestly, who knows what level this idea can be taken to? What if a food bank created a campaign like “Trick or Treat for the Hungry” or “Trick or Treat for an Orphanage”, where participants would give their candy to those less fortunate who don’t get a taste of these yummy sweets every day?

Just think about how easy it is to make someone’s day, especially a kid’s. I know a Kit-Kat or a Caramilk can quickly brighten my mood; think about how it could make an orphan feel.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Effectively Organize a Fundraising Event: Learning from Free the Children's We Day

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending We Day, Free the Children’s annual kick-off party in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. As a result, not only was I able to skip school, but I was blessed to be a part of such a feverish and inspirational event. Around 18,000 youth leaders set their alarms for 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, to cram themselves into the Air Canada Centre by 8:30. And even so, they had the energy to scream, sing, and do the “We Day Dance” throughout five spectacular hours of inspirational programming.

The scene seemed more like a Justin Bieber concert than your old charity event. But the amazing thing was that teens― yes, hormone-filled, good-for-nothing teens― screamed for world- renowned philanthropists, inspirational speakers, and newspaper editors rather than pop stars with obscenely high-pitched voices.

Simply put, each year, We Day is a feat in humanity’s collective quest to make the world a better place.

So how did Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of Free the Children create such a successful event? Well, it’s a combination of two crucial things:

Remembering the Target Audience

Ask any successful speechwriter, business owner, or marketing manager; remembering the target audience is crucial. The basis of Free the Children’s outreach efforts is young people. Thus, We Day was made to cater to young people in every way possible. Down with Webster and K’naan, two hugely popular Canadian musical acts were invited to perform, while the atmosphere throughout the ceremonies was designed to encourage teens to scream and project their enthusiasm. We gladly participated in the usual “how’s-it-going―good―I can’t hear you― good!” routine, then moved onto stunts like a simultaneous photograph with flash on and an empowering chant of “Freedom!”

Setting a Good Example

So remembering the target audience pumped us up during the event. But what’s going to keep us pumped up for the rest of the school year is the example Free the Children set. Every inspirational speaker talked about dreaming big and following through in a youth-friendly way. Above all though, Free the Children exhibited what we can accomplish if we put our minds to it just by the kick-off party’s extravagance. Seeing everything that they were able to achieve with We Day inspired me to think about what I can achieve.

Now, if you’re running a fundraising event, just apply these two principles that Free the Children has perfected, and you’ll be seeing results in no time.