Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A dose of reality for project sponsors.

Times have changed. Everyone is paying too much for gas. Quite a few
families are "upside down" on their mortgages--owing more than their
home is worth in today's market. Many people have way too much credit
card debt. To expect to raise as much money on a single project as
you did in the past is not realistic. To expect fundraising companies
to continue doing business "as usual" is not at all realistic either.
As the economy tightens, more and more groups are chasing fewer and
fewer discretionary dollars in the community. The cost of doing
business for fundraising companies is going up rapidly. It has gotten
to the point that certain client groups are not cost effective for a
company to keep servicing. A large number of fundraising companies
have gone out of business and more are sure to follow as the cost of
doing business eats up the bottom line and company owners can no
longer make a decent living. Those that will survive are those who
made sensible business decisions, such as grouping deliveries,
eliminating non-productive services, and limiting on-site visits to
client schools. This also includes pruning the client list of those
groups that do not make a concerted effort to succeed with their
project. This comes back to the sponsor and the members of the group
being committed to the project's success and taking the steps, no
matter how much effort is involved, to ensure success.

Here's what to expect:
• Fewer families will participate in your fundraiser. They will have
decided not to participate long before you start your sale.

• People will favor the lower priced items in your offering.

• Limitations on replacement of missing and damaged items, with

• More "hands on" work for your volunteers--unloading the truck,
organizing the delivery, handing out products

• Deadlines on turning in your orders beyond which no late orders
will be accepted

• Delivery dates based on economical transportation, including
grouped deliveries on a "route."

• Declining effectiveness of prizes, parties, and other "extrinsic"
motivation in promoting your project

• Increasing importance of getting your members, parents, or
constituents to "buy in" to the reason you are raising money.

• A call from your community for greater accountability in spending
the funds raised.

Here's what to look for:
• A product source (fundraising warehouse point) no more than one
day's delivery time from your location.

• Food products manufactured in your part of the country. Product
value does not come from higher transportation costs.

• A company able to produce a "cover letter" explaining why it is
important to each person reading to support your cause.

• Someone to "teach you how to fish" rather than someone who will
"hand you a fish." The difference is in the details.

• Products with more reasonable retail prices and lower profit
margins for your group. This is what will sell.

• The only dollars you are working with are those dollars the person
"at the door" is willing to surrender to buy your products.

• People will only buy if they want to help your group more than they
want to keep their money. Desire for the product is inconsequential.

• The fundraising product does not "give" you profit. You earn it.

• All companies are in business to make a profit for the company and
a living for its employees. If this fails the company closes and
everyone loses.