Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The fall fundraising season showed some trends

The fall 2007 fundraising season is almost history. We have one
program to deliver and that happens tomorrow. Now it's just collect
the accounts and pay the bills, plus do any adjustments and order
corrections that are needed.

Some trends started to appear or become clearer this fall. Sales of
gift items, candles, cards, wrapping paper and other "hard goods"
have continued to decline, as people have less disposable income. On
the other hand, sales of frozen food items continue to increase, with
strong sales in pizza, cookie dough, and desserts.

A disturbing trend is that every organization is doing more and more
fundraisers with less and less return on each one, mostly caused by
market saturation. The traditional advice "do one big fundraiser and
maximize your profit on it" is still true, but more and more
organizations are not following that plan. The result is parent and
community burnout.

Product sales continue to be the strongest source of funds for
schools, sports leagues, daycares, and youth organizations. Some
organizations, however are going into projects in a way that
guarantees defeat. The organizers believe strongly in the cause, so
expect every member of the organization to believe in the cause,
which will never happen. Promotion, prizes, and incentives are
necessary. Enthusiasm created by kick-off pep rallies is essential
to success. Over emphasis on time-on-task in schools has caused many
organizations to eliminate the incentives and pep rallies, resulting
in decreased sales, resulting in more projects, resulting in
community and parent burnout.

The recipe for success is still... do one project, do it well,
promote it heavily, thank everyone, and give everyone a rest until
next year.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sine qua non

Sine qua non or conditio sine qua non was originally a Latin legal term for "without which it could not be" ("but for"). It refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient. In recent times it has passed from a merely legal usage to a more general usage in many languages.   Back in high school I learned it as "without which, nothing." 

So what is the Sine qua non for success on a brochure fundraiser? People have to look at the brochure long enough to find something to buy. The current "shopper" brochures with wrap, food, and gifts have so many items on a page that it's almost overwhelming. The average "look time" per two-page spread is three seconds. Three seconds, turn the page, 3 seconds, turn the page, 3 seconds turn the page, etc. and then say "no thanks."

But.... if there are only 3-4 items per page or only 3-4 pages, people will spend 20-30 seconds per two-page spread and will look long enough to find something to buy. Simple, isn't it? 

I guess you have figured out that our programs meet this test.  That's why our client groups raise more money.   How's this for a simple path to success?

Want to give it a try.... email me and we'll start a conversation that may increase your fundraising success. 

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Meeting of the minds

This coming weekend, June 22-24, fifty fundraising professionals
representing 25 independent companies will meet at a hotel in the
Washington DC area to discuss current trends in fundraising.... what
works, what doesn't work, how to address the new wellness policies,
changes in consumer purchasing patterns, and a number of other topics
that will affect what each company does in the coming year.

Moody Associates is pleased to be the co-host, along with AGI
Fundraising, for this conference.

Many of the successful new and innovative ideas we have brought to
our clients came from this conference over the past several years.
Attending will be owners of small regional fundraising companies from
Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, California,
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington, Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, New
Jersey, and other states. We have one member in the group from any
state, and none of us compete with each other and none of us are

You will not read of any of the new ideas in this blog, because we
keep them confidential. Only member companies and our client groups
benefit from the results of this annual conference.

Although each company is small and regional, you as our client will
have the benefit of many years of fundraising experience in a similar
market to ours.

Contact us after June 24 and set up a program for your organization.
You will benefit from the latest trends and information from the best
minds in the industry.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Band trip accounts.

Over the years I have supplied fundraising programs to quite a number
of high school and middle school bands, most of which were raising
"travel money." I have one pair of bands... a middle school band
feeding a high school band... that is particularly successful in
fundraising, in member retention, and in competition results. Having
committed and talented teachers plays a major part in their success,
of course. One idea that they developed was to let the kids start
fundraising for their trip accounts from the very first year they
were in the program, and to let them carry their account balance with
them from middle school to high school. This has resulted in some
spectacular fundraising successes and also has, as a byproduct,
increased the percentage of kids that stay in band all the way
through high school. While having "money in the account" isn't a
major reason for staying in the band, it might just be the "tipping
point" for some kids that are "on the fence" about staying in band or
trying another subject.

The bands that are the most successful in their fundraising are using
our Food Court or Simply Delicious line of Zap-A-Snack microwaveable
pizzas, cheesecakes, cookie dough, and other frozen food items.

The ones with the high success rate also have a combined middle-high
school band boosters or music boosters, and often do combined band/
choir/high/middle projects. This results in one sale instead of four
sales, and generates more dollars for the entire program.

The ones with the most success also "apportion" the fundraising
profits between the kids' trip accounts and the boosters or band
general fund. The percentages vary from 40% to the trip account to
90% to the trip account. Half and half is the most prevalent split.

Some directors just use Excel or AppleWorks to keep their trip
records, while others use a dedicated band administration software

If you would like more information, just email me, or give me a call
on the phone.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pay attention to your community.

All sorts of groups are raising funds in your community. School PTA
and PTO groups generally do a fall and a spring sale. Church youth
groups are busy right now raising money for mission trips. Girl
Scouts have finished their annual cookie sale. Baseball Leagues are
either right in the middle of or have just finished their annual
pizza sales. AAU teams and Junior Olympic teams that have won the
opportunity to move on to the next level are busy raising funds.
Youth football and soccer leagues are planning their fall drives.

Whether these groups are selling from a brochure, selling chocolate
bars, hosting dinners, doing car washes, or just asking for
donations, they are busy in your community. The impact of other
groups raising funds on your fundraising success is inescapable.
Timing is everything.

To maximize your income on your fundraiser, pay attention to what is
happening in your community and develop your own niche market and
market timing. In today's economy, selling frozen foods like pizza
or cookie dough might be your best choice. People will order these
grocery products from their grocery budgets. Frozen food products can
be sold over and over in the same community by a variety of groups
because people buy food every week. With good timing, careful program
choice, and an organized approach you can continue to reach your
fundraising goals, even in a time of rising gasoline prices and
declining discretionary spending!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chocolate is a food. So is Pizza.

Here are some important facts about food in fundraising.

Fact #1 All school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program must have a "local" school wellness policy in place. THIS FEDERAL MANDATE DOES NOT RESTRICT THE IN SCHOOL SALE OF CHOCOLATE BARS FOR FUND RAISING.

Fact #2 There are no federal or state restrictions or prohibitions on food products offered as a part of a school fund raiser when the sale of products is intended to take place off the school grounds and after the end of the school day. CHOCOLATE BARS ARE CONSIDERED FOOD.

Fact #3 The federal law that mandates wellness policies at the local level only instructs local school boards to address what children eat during the school day.

Fact #4 Current USDA regulations for food of minimal nutritional value do not prohibit chocolate bar sales in schools. CHOCOLATE IS A FOOD, NOT A CANDY!

Fact #5 Many chocolate bars, including the "One Dollar Bar" which we offer, exceed the minimal nutritional standards established by the USDA.

Fact #6 PIZZA IS A FOOD. It exceeds the minimum nutritional standards, and is an excellent vehicle for fund raising.

Fact #7 CHOCOLATE BARS ARE FOOD. They are excellent vehicles for fund raising.

We offer the best quality chocolates in our catalogs... direct from The Wisconsin Cheeseman. We offer quality French Bread pizzas from Better Baked Foods... the inventor of microwaveable French Bread Pizza. We offer Pizza Kits from Little Caesar's.... a national brand that will sell well in your community.

As always, you can trust Moody Associates to bring you top quality products for fundraising, at prices people will gladly pay, so that they will ask you to sell again.

As always, our mission is to help you reach your fundraising goals easily, over and over, year after year.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another "external influence"

There has been a lot of "buzz" in the past couple of years about
declining sales on traditional catalog "shopper" fundraisers. There
has been, within the fundraising industry, quite a bit of "the sky is
falling" rhetoric which question the products and programs put forth
by the industry, and lots of hand-wringing about the future. The
industry has also, at the same time, embraced frozen foods, like
cookie dough, pizza, cheesecakes, and desserts--with excellent results.

Some of this may have merit, but much of it ignores outside
influences that have absolutely nothing to do with products,
programs, prizes, or anything else put forward by the product
fundraising industry.

I wrote several days ago about two external influences--people being
over-mortgaged and excessive credit card debt--which reduce the
available "discretionary spending" money in the family.

Today's "outside influence" is particularly unpleasant. There is a
"shadow economy" based on drug addiction that is bleeding off the
economic resources of many if not most communities in our country.
(Of course the human toll is devastating, but that's another
subject.) Our region has been heavily impacted by the drug trade,
particularly "crystal meth." A program by a court officer for my
Rotary Club yesterday brought this home to me in graphic detail. In
other areas of the country the "drug of choice" may be different, but
the economic result is the same.... less discretionary money in the
local economy. Everyone is impacted. Some people are the victims of
theft--home, car, business break-ins, etc.-- but everyone is impacted
by rising prices caused by shoplifting, gas station drive-offs,
unpaid medical treatment of addicts, and a myriad of other "domino
effect" issues.

Do I have any proof of this? No. Do I see trends that support this
supposition? Yes. In particular, over the past 3 years, groups that
are closest to the interstate highway have had the greatest decline
in fundraising sales, while those far removed are staying steady or
are increasing in sales. This particular interstate highway is a
known "drug corridor." I suspect that some real estate and credit
card issues are also in play, but the correlation between drug
activity and sales levels is striking. It's almost like fundraising
sales are a "leading economic indicator" which can spot increased
drug activity before other indicators pick it up.

So, if you are having trouble raising enough funds to do the things
you want to do for your community, check with your local authorities
and see if you can arrange a program for your organization about the
drug problem in your area. (Yes, I am assuming it's there, because
it probably is, even though you don't want to admit it.) This
activity will be a "drop in the bucket" but if there are enough
"drops" there will be an eventual impact. Putting the "shadow
economy" money back into the "legitimate economy" will benefit your
children and grandchildren. And it will help stem the tide of
destroyed lives that the drug trade leaves in its wake.

If you, in fact, find that there is an economic impact from the
"shadow economy" in your area, and you need to raise more funds
through product sales than you are currently achieving, change to a
frozen food product for your project. People need to buy food, and
will gladly spend some of their grocery budget on quality frozen
foods--if they are offered at a reasonable price. Those with no
"discretionary money" in their pockets--whether from home mortgage
expense, credit card debt, or rising prices caused by the drug trade--
will still buy food.

It has been said many times... "find a need and fill it." People
need to eat.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Five Key Objectives on a take-order project

When you raise funds by taking orders for products from a catalog or
a brochure, there are two key "numbers" that you need to consider
carefully--the percentage of group members that actually take orders
and the number of items sold by each participating member. The
higher these two numbers, the more money you will raise.

We suggest that, for an elementary school, middle school, or sports
league that there are five objectives that are essential for success:

1. Get the brochure packet into the bookbag, backpack, or gear bag on launch day.

2. Get the brochure packet out onto the kitchen table that night.

3. Get Mom to buy 3 things the first day. (Hint: the brochure needs
to include 3 things that Mom is going to want to buy.)

4. Make it attractive for parents to sell at work.

5. Get everything turned in on time.

If you are collecting with the order that's about it. If you are
distributing and then collecting at the end, add a sixth-- get all
the money turned in on time.

Now that you have your objectives, the next "job" is to devise ways
to promote each of these objectives or "behaviors."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Frozen Food is the way to go!

Several "external influences" have greatly affected product
fundraising in the last year. One is the large number of families
that have refinanced homes, cashing out equity, only to find their
property value in decline and that they are "upside down" in their
equity to debt ratio. The second is the ever-increasing credit card
debt of families, and the third is the high price of gasoline and
diesel fuel, which has pushed prices of all consumer products to
higher and higher levels. All three of these factors have reduced
the available "discretionary spending" money, resulting in a decline
in fundraising sales of historically strong items like wrapping paper
and shopper catalogs. The exception to this is the frozen food
category, because people perceive it as "groceries" and buy it from
their grocery budgets. In general programs with cookie dough,
desserts, and some sort of "main course" such as microwaveable pizza
seem to do the best. In some instances, combining a non-food
product, such as flags, flower bulbs, or wrapping paper, with frozen
food gives an even better result, but this tends to vary with the
local economy. We are seeing increases in our groups selling our
Food Court brochure, at a time when the entire industry is
complaining about declining sales. Some organizations hesitate to
try frozen foods because they think that people won't pick up their
products on pick-up day. We have found that this is almost never a
problem if the project sponsor follows our project management plan.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Why raise funds? This is the most important question to ask yourself
before you start planning how to raise money. Define the need. Why
is it important to you? How much money do you really need to
accomplish what you want to accomplish? Always do this part of the
planning first, before you consider HOW you will raise funds.


My clients call me "Mr. Money" because I help them reach their fundraising goals over and over, year after year. I have been in product fundraising as a company owner for 20 years, and was a sponsor of projects as a high school band director for 23 years before that. My web site is www.fundraisingcentral.net and you are welcome to have a look through the site.

My plan is to share some of the "little things" as well as "big things" that make the real difference in the amount of money you raise on a project and the amount of effort you have to put forth.