Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising is all about getting out the word – raising awareness. Your trip shouldn’t be a secret. Give friends and family the opportunity to be involved in your excitement and to contribute towards helping a family in need.

You aren’t asking for money as much as you are helping meet the needs of people….the need of those to give AND the need of those who will be receiving. We often think that the people receiving the house are the ones "in need" - but aren't we all in need at one level or another? I know for myself that the act of just going on the team is filling a need of mine. Working with a homeowner fills a need. And for those who can't go on a team, giving towards those homeowners or a team member fills a need of theirs.

Whether those you ask actually donate towards your trip and the work of Habitat or not, they STILL will know more about what Habitat is doing to help eliminate poverty housing in our world. And that’s cool too.

Set an "awareness-raising" goal along with a "fund-raising" goal - see how many people you can make aware of the housing need in this country along with how much money you raise. And no matter what, make it fun-raising as well!

Awareness/Fundraising is a big challenge for some individuals. But once you start you may find, as many previous team members have, that the response is enthusiastic and supportive. Don't limit yourself or your sponsors - there's no harm in going OVER your goal!!

Ready to start raising? Start reading, and get going!!

These ideas are ones that other team members in the past have used and willing to share. Pick the ones that suit you the best. And if you come up with something totally different, let me know so that I can share that as well.

I, personally, "sold houses" last year. I sent out a message to a lot of people - a LOT of people - just about everyone in my address book, with the idea of them "investing in real estate in Mozambique". I sold the houses for $1000 each, and much to my surprise I sold ELEVEN houses!! And most of them were by people who were a complete surprise to me - I was expecting perhaps a $100 donation, not $1000. And for those who didn't buy a whole house, many did donate an amount that was appropriate to them. I am posting a copy of my "House for Sale" letter at the end of this posting.

TOP fundraising idea used by many former teams members: It's the most often used, the most successful, and easiest. “The Letter” – sent by email and/or snail mail.
I don’t know what else to call it. But it works. Has worked over and over and over again. The response to it always surprises those who use it. Below, there is a sample letter. You will obviously have to make changes to personalize it. But you get the idea. Some folks have made this letter quite humorous, entertaining, and certainly educational. Be creative - use as much of this sample letter as you want, but make sure it has your "voice" so it doesn't sound like some form letter. Just come up with your own style, personality, and then send it off. You will be amazed at how well it works!!

We once had a team member join a team very late… she only had two weeks to raise money and pack! She didn’t have time for the usual “letter”, and just sent out a quick message to everyone in her email address book explaining briefly what she was doing and ended with “I don’t have time to explain any more right now, but you know Habitat, you know me, so send money NOW….I’ll fill you in when I get back!” And, she had her whole $2000 promised or sent within 48 hours!!!

As Millard Fuller, Habitat’s founder, once said, “I’ve tried asking and I’ve tried not asking. Not asking never works. Asking usually does.”

The sample letter has two important points for you to consider about your own letter:

1) awareness/education: it tells a little bit about how HFH works, the team, and how the monies will be used.

2) the process: it also gives specific information about how they can contribute.

Additional Tips:

a If you’re sending letters or cards by regular mail instead of email, it is a good idea to include a self-addressed stamped envelope - that helps make sure they have the correct address and that they send the check to Habitat for Humanity International's GV Department, not the general fund (it takes forever to locate a mis-designated check!) They can also call the office or go online with a credit card donation. People really like personalized letters in the mail. It costs more in time and stamps than an email, but they are very well received, and get results! There is a greater chance for delays in sending in donations by mail or even for them to get lost in the mail, so it would be better if they actually make their donation online or over the phone. But if they would prefer to send a check, make sure that the instructions for coding the check are accurate.

aIf you use the GV website (see the post called "Setting up your GV fundraising web page") for sending out an email request, you can use this same letter, and those you send it to can access the online website for donating right from a link that is sent along with your letter. They still get their tax-deductible receipt. You are also notified immediately, by email, that a donation has been made so that you can keep track and write to thank them.

aIn addition to or instead of, consider alternative giving for an upcoming graduation, birthday, anniversary or retirement. Put your letter into your announcement, asking for support for this team in lieu of a card or gift. Let colleagues know of your plans after retirement and suggest a monetary donation to Habitat instead of the usual plaque or watch.

More ideas listed below after this sample letter!

Sample Letter

January 2009

Dear friend, Greetings from under an umbrella in Oregon!

What an amazing community I live in, and what beautiful friends and family encircle me. I would like to share something wonderful and exciting that is happening with me.

The upcoming holiday seasons are for giving thanks for our multiple blessings, and to be reminded of the hope that we have for peace in our world. Hope, however, is difficult in the hearts of those who struggle daily with the affects of poverty. Living in leaky, disease-ridden shacks in unsafe environments is not how parents want to raise their children. They, like all of us, want their families to be healthy and free of danger. Part of that is having a simple, decent, affordable home in which to live.

I've been invited to participate in a Habitat for Humanity short-term mission trip this summer. As you may know, Habitat sends mission teams all over the world to help build houses for people in need. And I've been invited to go to Mozambique!

All the team members are raising funds for building materials and the expenses to make this all happen. Once we get to Mozambique, we will be working side-by-side with future homeowners and others in the village to build "emergency housing". This is a special program where Habitat is partnering with other non-profit agencies to address the phenomenally growing number of children that have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. There are over 500,000 orphans in Mozambique alone! What makes these homes that I will be building even more special is that they will house children under the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)Program.

You can read more about this amazing program at our team's BLOG site:

There will be 16 people from the US and Canada on this team, including me!! My personal challenge is to raise awareness of the great need in Mozambique, and to raise the funds that will be used to cover the expenses of the trip (insurance, housing, travel, meals in the village, etc) , as well as a minimum donation of $500 for building materials towards the houses and Habitat for Humanity's housebuilding program.

I am asking for your support in this endeavor. Any amount would be appreciated and you will receive a tax-deductible receipt. You can even charge it to your credit card!! Instructions on how to donate are at the end of this letter. As always, even if you can’t support the team financially, we ask for support through your prayers and well-wishes.

I will be happy to share stories and pictures with all my supporters when I return so that you can hear about all that we accomplished. Thank you for considering "joining" this team through your "investment" in me and the children in Mozambique.

By the way, for you folks that can make it, I’m hosting a wine & cheese tasting party at my house, Friday night, 7pm. Good music, as always. Your donation for this opportunity will go to the Mozambique fund. Give me a call if you can come so that I’ll have plenty to share! In partnership and with great hope,

Your name

How To Donate:

Y Please make out checks to Habitat for Humanity International, put my name, my ID# xxxx-xxxx, & "Mozambique GV 10xxx" in the “memo” portion at the bottom, and mail it in the envelope I have provided to Global Village. Make sure your current address is on the check because that is where your tax-deductible receipt will be sent.

Y Or, you can call the Habitat-Global Village office at 1-800-HABITAT, extension 7530 to give them your credit card information. Make sure you give them the trip event number (GV815) and my name and ID# xxxx-xxxx.

Y Or, you can donate online. Go to Click on the words to the right, "make a donation in support of a Global Village trip". Fill out all the information, including my event number and ID# (above). If you do not receive your tax-deductible receipt in the mail within a few days, let me know.
encl.: self-addressed return envelope


Here’s a few more that other folks have used. Check out #1 – it has worked very successfully, and it’s fun. Some of these ideas can be incorporated in your informational letter as a way of raising money and awareness. Also, don't keep all the fundraising fun to yourself - ask family, friends and co-workers to choose one of these ideas as a way to support you - they may especially like #7, #8, #9, #10, or #11.

1) Sell “shares” of love or “shares” of hope. This works well with business or professional folks. They sell the shares for whatever they think will work: $10/share, $1/share, $100/share… whatever appeals to you and your “investors”. Folks can buy however many shares they want. You can even make up a “share certificate” to give to them. Then promise all of these “stockholders” that you will have a stockholders' meeting when you get back and give them a report on their “investment”. This “report” can be delivered at a dinner in your home, and/or can be mailed out. The report might include photos of the houses you worked on, the new homeowner families, things about your trip, how Habitat has brought hope or love into the lives of those involved, etc. Sometimes team members serve an actual dinner or dessert at this meeting that represents where they have been – like sourdough pancakes from Alaska or kiwi fruit from New Zealand, or whatever you like to do to make it fun.

2) Some people like something more tangible. “Sell” items for building the Habitat house, such as $10 for a bag of cement, $25 for window shutters, $50 replaces some worn out hand tools, $100 concrete foundation. One former team member even sold her pains! (“$10 will help me not think about my hammered fingers, $25 will help me smile even with a sore back, $100 will want to make me sing instead of complain about my aching muscles”).

3) Challenges: for example: “Every dollar you donate will be a nail I’ll pound at our local affiliate, or "for every $10, I'll bring a plate of cookies to the office".

4) Sell your "talents" - "when the office raises $250, I'll sing at lunch", "when my basketball team raises $500, I'll host the pizza party", etc.

5) Ask for sponsors in your self-designed “thon” of some sort (I’ll be walking a mile, swimming a lap, etc for every $xx donated)

6) Promise other groups, (your church, Sunday school class, civic organization) a presentation upon your return in exchange for a "hope offering" now. (this is somewhat like selling “hope shares” and having a “stockholders meeting” when you come back)

7) Non-Bake Sale Bake Sale - This one is FUN and EASY to do for those of you who like to bake/prepare a specialty item (breads, pies, tamales, sushi, etc), but don't like bake sales: Tell your friends, neighbors, office workers…put in your church bulletin… that you are going to be baking on a certain day and what you will be making. Set your price, take orders for that item in advance and let them know when they can pick it up (or when you'll deliver). For example: "I'm preparing some of my infamous sushi platters this Saturday (or every Saturday in January) for $25/platter. If you want to enjoy the best ever made while also helping eliminate poverty housing in Mozambique, please place your order with me by Thursday. You can pick it up at my house any time after 5pm, or I'll meet you at the grocery store parking lot at 6pm for an extra $5 delivery charge." And remind them, they can CHARGE IT!! (they go to the website and donate online or do it over the phone at Global Village). By taking orders, you already have your market, you know exactly how much to make, you make only the kind of delicacy you want, and you don't have to stand around at a bake sale table in front of the grocery store! If you want, especially if you are making large quantities, you can deduct your costs from what you bring in and donate the profit. This kind of fund raising is also very enjoyable to do with family & friends who would like to help you do the baking/preparation as well. Hey, do you have a Valentine cookie or candy recipe that you want to sell in advance?

8) Along the same line, there are those that have a "specialty talents" in other areas: offering house repairs for a few Saturday afternoons, cleaning, foot massages, sewing a specialty design, raffling a quilt, etc. Sometimes the project doesn't have to be complete before the trip. IE: sell raffles based on the quilt design, and tell them when it will be done (before Christmas!); or, the house painting you do may not be until you get back, but you could receive payment in advance; or your babysitting, housecleaning, plant care may start now and continue on when you get back - but you get paid for it all in advance. We all have marketable talents, so figure out how to sell yours!

9) Host a dinner, dessert, or wine & cheese tasting, in your home with your family, friends, co-workers. Tell them you are asking $5, $10, whatever you think is reasonable for your crowd to donate to your trip fund. If you like, you can deduct the costs of your food, and then donate the remainder, or you can donate all of it. If they give you cash, you will then write a check for all the cash your receive and send it in and you will get the receipt. If someone in attendance wants to donate and wants a receipt for themselves, that can be done as well. They just have to write the check to HFHI and you send that it along with other checks you receive as donations (code each check correctly as per the directions). The hosting of these parties can be a weekly or monthly event if you like. People look forward to your parties! Have others in your office or family host the parties at their home as well. Make sure you have handouts available on information about what your team is doing.... something that explains the need. Maps, all helps.

10) Host a holiday (Valentine's, Easter) cookie decorating and/or baking party. Tell participants that you are asking for a donation – you set the minimum amount. You can supply all the pre-baked cookies and decorations, or ask them to bring some of their favorites as well. The information in #8 as to what to do with the funds is the same for this situation.

11) Host a garden tea party. Sell your plant starters, bulbs, cuttings. Knowing it's a donation for your team will usually bring a better-than-usual price. They can give cash, or write a check if they want a receipt.

Be creative – be YOU. And share your ideas with others on the team - everyone is looking for some way to make this work.

Below is a copy of my "House for Sale" letter that brought in ELEVEN $1000 donations as well as several smaller ones. You are welcome to use it if you like - but read over as it may need updated. I used this one in 2008.

Houses for sale! Interest free!

Want to buy your spouse a house for an upcoming anniversary?
How about you kids, don’t you want to buy your mom a house for Mother’s day, or one for dad for his birthday?
Or, bathe in luxury, and buy yourself a “second home”!

For only $1000 this could be a dream-come-true!

You can truly buy a house for only $1000, and children in Mozambique in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program will have a home, attended to by a caring adult from their community or family. They not only will have a decent, healthy, and safe house, but they will receive an education, and have access to medical attention. Their caretaker will also have access to medical attention and will hold deed to the property.

These houses are being built by Habitat for Humanity Mozambique in partnership with local, national, and international organizations that identify and care for vulnerable families through food, training, advocacy, health and educational services, prevention and basic social support.

Donors like you enable them to build more houses to address the problem of the growing number of children defined by OVC as children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS or children who have sick or dying parents. There are currently over 500,000 orphans of parents who have already died from AIDS in Mozambique. Without a home, without a caring stable adult in their lives, these children are vulnerable to manipulation, disease, and bondage. You may have read in the newspaper recently where a truck with about 40 young Mozambican children were in the back, headed across a border to be used for who knows what. No one would have ever missed them. This is not only morally and ethically unacceptable, but it leads to certain political and economical disaster, not only in Mozambique but the entire region.

We are leading an all-volunteer Global Village team from Habitat for Humanity International and we will be building with Habitat Mozambique for two weeks in July 2008. The volunteers are raising funds for their own expenses, but also for at least 8 houses ($8,000) We’d like to raise enough money to build twice as many!

Can you help with that goal? Maybe you can’t buy an entire house yourself, but perhaps go in with others in your family, work place, neighborhood, or church to buy one house? Or just make a contribution for any amount that you can, and perhaps all of us together will reach our goal of 16 houses!! And to top it all off, you get a tax-deductible receipt for the full amount!

You can do this using your credit card - where else could you buy a house on a credit card??!!

Simply call 1-800-HABITAT ext 7530, Mon-Fri 8am-5pm EST, and give the representative your name, credit card info, and the amount you want to donate to the team fund of GV8125 Mozambique.

You can also go online to On the right side of that page, click on the “make a donation in support of a Global Village team”. Fill in the information, and at the end where it says “please apply this donation towards”, click the third button (“The Global Village team indicated below”) Enter the event code: GV 8125.

If you want to write a check, you can do so by making it out to HFHI (Habitat for Humanity), putting GV8125 in the memo section and mailing it to:
Bob and Leslie Bell
868 6th St.
Springfield, OR 97477

We will then submit it with all the other checks. You still receive a tax-deductible receipt, but it will take more time to process than with a credit card donation.

When we return from Mozambique, you will be sent pictures of the home you helped to build, and the children being helped by the OVC program.

Thanks for caring,

Bob and Leslie
GV team leaders

PS – more details and information on this special Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program can be provided upon request.

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