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Magazine » September October 2012 Issue » Turn your Fund-Raising into Fun Raising

Turn your Fund-Raising into Fun Raising

Jean Tauber
Date Published:
August 31, 2012

Every chapter has a wish list of projects – from children's ballroom dance classes to NQE's. But those projects require–ugh–FUNDS. Fund-raising can be one of the biggest challenges a chapter faces. With limited time and resources, the thought of having to pull off a successful fund-raiser can send board members quick-stepping right out the back door!

To help with ideas for your fund-raising bag of tricks, we plan to feature a successful fund-raising idea in each edition of American Dancer. A successful fund-raiser must accomplish two goals: 1) Raise Money, and 2) Raise Awareness–in keeping with our mission to "increase the quality and quantity of ballroom dance".

The first successful fund-raising project comes from MASSabda Chapter 3002 President, Jim DeCecca and Secretary/Project Chairperson Mary Wallace. Having completed the second successful year, this is a partnership with an area Barnes & Noble bookstore.

It all started when a Boston-area TV celebrity/investigative reporter by day and novelist by night, Hank Phillippi Ryan, was scheduled for a book-signing. Mary approached the store's outreach coordinator about a partnership. Little did Mary know, but this well-known nation-wide retailer has an established non-profit partnership program in many locations. Here's how it works: The non-profit organization (must support education) signs on with the store for the book-signing event including the week following and receives a percentage of profits from book sales–in store and online–and café purchases. Qualifying purchases must be made using the special code assigned to the non-profit for that week only. And, the more money that comes in, the higher the percentage of proceeds to the charity!

It is easy to see the non-profit is responsible for getting people in the store or shopping online to increase sales. How did the chapter get the word out? They designed and printed flyers, and chapter officers delivered them to area chapter dances and dance studios. Regular "count-down" email blasts were sent to members, who were encouraged to invite friends and family. About two weeks prior to the event, the store displayed posters.

The first year's book-signing was a success, but the second year was even better! Mary reports that planning for this second event began three months out. She worked with the store's outreach coordinator to recruit competitive ballroom dancer, CEO and author of Becoming Ginger Rogers, Patrice Tanaka. Ms. Tanaka spoke about getting her start in dancing at the age of 50 and how dancing made her a better CEO. The chapter arranged a salsa exhibition, and a dance lesson followed.
About $2,500 was raised from the latest book-signing event, and the funds will go toward The Kids Ballroom Dancing Program in thirteen Massachusetts schools as well as the chapter's upcoming New England DanceSport Championship NQE. Did they accomplish both goals: Raise Money and Raise Awareness? They certainly did!

So you think you might give the Barnes & Noble partnership a try? Here are some tips: Visit a local Barnes & Noble store and talk with the store manager, better yet, the store's outreach coordinator. Share this article with them. Schedule your event during holidays–November through March. Delegate: you will need a project coordinator/store liaison, someone to design and distribute flyers, and ALL of your members to get the word out. Plan ahead–at least three months lead time.