Friday, April 11, 2008

Free For All Friday: From Fundraising to Fun Packaging

And... today's letters are... (you snooze you lose...oops there gone).  For those who have no idea what I am talking about, see yesterdays post for April 10 (Whacky Whursday).  It's not to late to get in on the fun and games.

Quick Update:
We can finish the work week strong!  Yesterday 140 people visited our site, bringing our grand total to 2,855 viewers.  Let's make today the day we reach 3000.  That means 145 viewers today and 2,145 by next Wednesday.  Katie and Cassie P. are the first two readers to have referred someone to the site and gotten the newcomers to post a note, since yesterday's contest started. Welcome Emily and Samantha to our fun community.

And now to the business of the day.  Today is Free For All Friday... the day of the week when readers get to post a challenge to the rest of the group.  We submit our creative suggestions and... voila'... through synergy and the group's collective creativity, we improve the reader's idea or initiative.

Last week Melanie posted her challenge to generate profitable fundraising ideas. She is traveling with a group of students to Belize and the group needs to raise money to cover travel costs as well as loans for the Microlending program they are supporting.  All of this is in an effort to help underprivileged women in the country.  Unquestionably a good cause.  The group has already covered a lot of ground from car washes to selling concessions to seeking local sponsorships from like minded organizations in her city.  A number of our readers also weighed in, including: Tera, Treye, Patrick, Cheryl, 2 who shall remain anonymous, and the ever distinctive Anon.
The risk I run, by waiting until Friday to reply to the Free For All Challenges is exactly the problem I am running into today... much ground has been covered and excellent ideas have already been shared.  I decided, rather than compete with some of the great ideas already shared, I better carve out a special niche for myself.  That way, my suggestions won't have to compete with what's already out there.  So, my few suggestions will focus more on potentially high-dollar donations, as opposed to many of the thoughtful ways to gather a dollar here or a dollar there.
  • Frequent Flier Mile Donations:  The University assuredly acquires frequent flier miles when faculty and staff fly to conferences, etc....  I might appeal to the VP of Finance to see if he would be willing to donate frequent flier miles to help purchase your groups tickets to Belize. Along the same lines, perhaps you could post to the University's Daily Announcements.  Faculty and staff might have spouses who fly and who are willing to donate their miles.  Darn it, if I couldn't have done that last year at this time.  Richard was traveling to Dallas, so much we certainly could might have covered a ticket.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) he doesn't travel near as much and the few miles we have are being used to fly Rebecca and Allegra to TX for the Ultimate Pen Pal Weekend (See Post 3/4).
  • Mothers Helping Mothers: With Mother's Day only weeks away... maybe you could appeal to people's sense of "responsible or philanthropic" giving.  Instead of purchasing their mother a gift this year, maybe people could bake a simple batch of cookies and then donate the $15-$40 they might otherwise spend.  You develop a small card telling of the donation made in their mother's honor and send it in exchange of the donation.  I just got of the phone with my mother.  She wanted a $30.00 Martha Stewart book from Barnes and Noble, but she's willing to settle for a batch of my famous lemon bars (see 4/6, Yankee Seeking Yummy...) and a donation to Melanie's great cause. Even better... she agreed to match my $30.00 donation.  Wait... there's more....  Then, since I was on a roll, I decided to call my mother in-law.  She also agreed, instead of purchasing her a gift (of $30.00 also - gotta be fair), that we could donate the money toward your trip. Now we're up to $90.00.  The funniest part... She said, "Fine, as long as you bake me those lemon bars!!!!!"  Can you believe it... they both, within 5 minutes of each other, asked for Stacey's Infamous Lemon Bars.  Now you really have to check out the recipe.  Melanie, you work up the donation card, because a minimum of $90.00 is on it's way to you.  Anybody else?
  • Give 'til it Hurts:  I remember Rosie O'Donnell saying once that you're not really giving enough unless it hurts.  In other words, if I make a million (which let there be no misunderstanding, I DON'T), but only give $100.00 then yes, my contribution helps, but I ought to be doing so much more.  I like this idea of, "giving until it hurts" when applied to this concept....  Most people have some kind of guilty pleasure they treat themselves to on a regular basis.  This could be a fancy coffee from Starbucks (I'm guilty); dinner and a movie every Saturday night; a bottle of wine with a group of girlfriends after work one night a week; lunch out with your colleagues; a family dinner out once a week to give yourself a break from cooking; or a housekeeper.  I propose you start a campaign challenging people to "Give 'Til It Hurts" by foregoing a guilty pleasure for just ONE WEEK and then donating the money saved to you and your students.  Again, I'll give another example.  I am staring right now at my refrigerator.  There is a magnetic clip holding the same $60.00 for 2 weeks in anticipation of my housekeeper actually making good and showing up.  As many of you know (See Post 3/11), her record is spotty (at best), but her work, when she shows up, is impeccable!  My house is a mess and there is a layer of dust so thick you could make snow angels, but the silver lining?... $60.00 more dollars I can send your way.  Fifteen minutes of typing and the grand total is $150.00.  Not too shabby.
Now onto Challenge #2.  Packaging!  One of my favorite topics.  One of our official-soccer-mom-readers is looking for a fun suggestion about how she might package a creative team gift for the team coach.  The gift was her brainstorm and I think ranks right up there with among the most original.  She asked each of the six children and their parents to contribute three things to the gift (1) a bottle of wine, (2) a candle, and (3) a bottle of bubble bath.  As you are surmising, the theme of the gift idea is... r & r after a busy season of working hard.  Her question... what ideas do we have for gathering these items in one collective package.  I did a walk through of the Container store for my inspiration.  I'll be curious to see what you all come up with.

Soccer mom... for some reason I couldn't get past a green, black, and white visual.  I just picture the package being kelly green, black, and white (key colors when thinking of soccer... grass, ball, referee, etc...).  Bear that in mind as you read my suggestions.  Also, I'm practical, so I actually lean toward either making the packaging functional and part of the gift or making it something the coach will have no guilt about getting rid of.
  • Jumbo Acrylic Ice Bucket ($19.99):  This is actually clear and big enough to hold all the wine, etc....  Bonus, the coach will be able to see everything inside.  I visualize it with green shred and maybe black cellophane around each bottle of wine.
  • Crunch Can Canvas Bag ($9.99):  As noted, this is a canvas bag.  It's the right size to hold everything, though you won't be able to see the items until you dig in.  I like this container because it is functional.  The coach could even use it to hold soccer balls or sporting gear. 
  • 6 Bottle Black Wine Rack ($15.99):  This is my least favorite, but I am mentioning it because - again - it is functional.  I picture each bottle of wine sitting on a piece of AstroTurf and in the wire rack.  Not quite sure how you would incorporate the candles and bubble bath.
  • Apple Green Wine Cooler ($24.99): This is great looking (and as we know, a hot color this season), though it is the most expensive.  It is made of soft material and is insulated.
  • White Cylinder Can ($9.99):  I really like this as an option.  It is a white, Lucite garbage can. What I love about the idea of using this is that each player and parent could sign the garbage can using a marker.  Then the garbage can is functional, but also sentimental. 
  • White Picnic Box ($3.99): This is clearly the least expensive and probably something the coach would throw away after removing the contents.  It looks big enough to hold the items you mention.  It's white cardboard, so again... the players could decorate the box.
  • Black Folding Mesh Cube ($7.99): I like this container too, as it could be functional and hold balls and who-knows-what-else once the gift was removed.  Again, I see using green shred and maybe white tissue paper to wrap the contents.
  • Finally... not black, green, and red at all...  Maybe you could get five mailing tubes, paint them red, and then inside each tube place one bottle of wine, one candle, and one bottle of bubble bath.  Wrap them all together with yellow rope, so that when combined the package looks like a bundle of dynamite.  You could add fuses and say something about her being a "Dynamite Coach." 
Ok, everyone... Now it is your turn.  I should add that soccer-mom is also looking for fun "tag lines" she can add to each child's gift.  She is looking for soccer-related ways to say "get some r & r" (ie... kick back and enjoy some r & r).

Signing off until tomorrow...

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