A popular way to raise funds is to offer patrons of a store or restaurant the opportunity to purchase ‘cards’ for a minimum donation (usually one dollar) that are then placed on display. Usually the cards are in color and in the shape of something related to the organization, or a symbol such as a four leaf clover if the promotion is around St. Patrick’s Day.The person who makes the donation is usually asked to sign the card before it’s put on display. However, there may be people who would be more motivated to make a donation if they were able or encouraged to do so in someone else’s name. There could be a place on the card that says “In Honor of” and this could be circled and the donor could then write the honoree’s name.

Placing the emphasis on honoring and memorializing others can also play a part in increasing the number of donations received. If when the cashier asks the customer if they “would like to donate in honor or memory of someone”, the customer will naturally think outside themselves. Placing the emphasis on the honorees also reinforces what the donations go for.

This honoree option for gift cards is especially applicable to causes that affect a large number of people, such as cancer, heart disease, or military “support our troops” type organizations. I can personally think of several people in each of those categories that I could honor with a donation. Many other groups could adapt this strategy as well. For example, a humane society could sell “paws” and the honoree could be the donor’s pet.

The gift card displays are excellent ways to raise additional money and create awareness of your fundraising event at the same time. For example, if you are holding a 5K run, ask an area business or restaurant to solicit the card donations on your behalf and have brochures to sign up runners and walkers at a cashier stand display. The more cards are sold, the more aware other patrons will be of the event. When an entire wall is filled with little running shoes, everyone will notice!

One organization that has created their own card program and been very successful with it is Homes for Our Troops. This organization builds or modifies homes for service men and women who have been wounded in military service. The group has partnered with the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant for this and several other fundraisers.

Homes for Our Troops provides a great example of a card fundraiser. First, you don’t have to get cards at many locations to raise a lot of money. Just find one business who’s really excited about helping your cause!

Secondly, combine the card promotion with another fundraiser. One of the Texas Roadhouse locations celebrated their one year anniversary with a concert and outdoor BBQ with all ticket sales benefiting Homes for Our Troops. The card donations combined with the concert and a raffle raised $37,000.

With a little creativity and the right business partner, your organization can hold its own card fundraiser program.

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Posted on 25 April 2006

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