Fundraisers provide good opportunities for youth

Designing fundraisers creatively can provide many opportunities for youth to develop life skills and bring together the community.

In 4-H, we look for every opportunity to use a teachable moment to teach youth life skills. Life skills are just that – skills that youth will use for a lifetime such as organizational skills, responsibility, time management, accountability and others. Fundraising for non-profit organizations can be one of these teachable moments designed to raise funds and at the same time provide other opportunities for the community and for youth and adult volunteers and families.

Parents everywhere may cringe when they receive the fundraiser packet from their school or their local youth club. Selling candy or other things that may cost a bunch may make friends and family run the other way, even though there are many wonderful companies that help organizations raise funds. Organizations may want to try fundraisers that incorporate fellowship and fun, so it’s sure to be a winner!

Recently, the Branch County 4-H Leaders Council held a benefit meal and pie auction. In its fourth year, the event is outgrowing the facility with 200 tickets sold. Generally, 4-H is known for having great bakers and the Branch County council members and other volunteers are no exception. The council consists of youth and adult volunteers who work to further the 4-H program in Branch County. Youth as well as adult volunteers are learning teamwork and the leadership skills it takes to plan a project from start to finish. The Branch County group made about 20 pies to auction off to the highest bidder. The council made a good profit for an evening’s worth of work, but the real reward? The real reward might have been a night of fellowship over a spaghetti meal with some great music from a former 4-H member and her group that brought a community together around 4-H. Families celebrated 4-H while youth served in leadership roles to carry out the fundraiser before, during and after the event.

Other side benefits of organizing a special fundraiser can be leadership opportunities for youth and promotional opportunities for your group. The community is usually supportive of such endeavors with the right promotional information before the event. The newer and older traditional 4-H families come to support and enjoy spending time with other 4-H families as well as their own. Families not acquainted with 4-H join in the fun to support others and learn about 4-H at the same time. Community businesses will sometimes support the efforts by donating to the overall group as part of the fundraiser.

Other ideas Michigan State University Extension recommends for fundraisers involving more than just raising money include food mixes, pie auctions, silent auctions and meals at restaurants that donate some of the profit to your group.

Fundraisers will always be needed in the world of non-profit organizations. However, with a little creativity, fundraisers can be a group- and community-building event designed to give your organization much needed funds and offer many other opportunities.

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