Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fundraising in a Small Town


      Yes, raising funds for a particular need is much different in a small town area.  There are several different approaches.  Sometimes a church group or a club will attempt a big city plan and hold a car wash or sell candy bars.  The car wash doesn't get many customers, because we here in this stretch of the woods really don't have shiny cars to begin with.  Washing them just takes away the grime that hides the rust and the expired licence plates.  Candy bars are great, but once everyone sells them to their relatives, the whole town is covered and you can't sell anymore.
     Now, a small town area takes some ingenious thought to getting into that pocket to get the funds you need for some project or deficit.  A lot of times people take the direct approach.  Because of this, about once or twice a year, the traffic on my side street becomes unbearable. Those are the days that I know to avoid the four-way stop in town.  The four-way stop is an intersection in the middle of town.  Of course, there are 4 stop signs and each direction must stop there.  It gets humorous when all 4 stop at the same time we have to try and figure out who goes first, but that's another episode entirely.  But, someone a long time ago realized that they could make a profit off of this opportunity. It is usually the fire department guys or the ambulance workers who gather 5 gallon buckets and stand in the middle of the road at the 4 way stop and solicit funds right there. They are always dressed in their particular uniforms.  It reminds me of when I was in South America and the people would sell you some trinket or wash your window right as you were stopped in traffic.  I don't know how effective this method is.  I do know that a lot of people avoid the area when they are there! 
     And then there is the indirect approach.  I call it "Fattening for Funds".  At least once a week the sign at the 4 way stop announces some kind of fundraising dinner to be held at the Senior Center.  It will share the menu, time and who the funds will go to.  Often it will be announced on the radio as well, giving such information as: "free will offering" and "homemade pies".  This must be a rather effective way of raising money as often as they are held.  It goes back to the long held belief  that the way to a man's wallet is through his stomach.  Those who hold these meals have to get rather creative to draw a big crowd.  I'm sure they feel that their menu choice is of utmost importance.  Occasionally they will advertise "homemade noodles" or "liver and onions", seeking to entice a particular crowd. 
     The local high school has come up with some unique ways of raising money too.  Of course, we get the usual orders for fruit in the winter, cookie dough in the spring and candy bars the whole year through, but they came up with a new way a few years ago.  They advertised in the paper that they were taking donations for their  band trip to Hawaii.  Those that donated would receive a Hawaiian flower painted on their driveway, sidewalk or front curb.  And, for added incentive, each flower represented a certain amount.  So, it became a matter of pride.  Each business proudly displayed their collection of flowers out on the front sidewalk, loudly exclaiming their amount of monetary donation!  Those flowers are still visible in town, even after several years.  They have been joined by pictures of Indians, alligators and footballs, each designating different causes that were given to.
     Finally, there is the most effective approach, just plain need.  When a family has a tragedy or medical need or if their house burns down, the whole community joins in one accord to help in any way they can.  The method does not matter, whether it is a coffee can on the grocery store counter, a yard sale or just a clothing drive, we all chip in because we have seen the hurt first hand, or have been there ourselves. We are all familiar with the pleas for money that we are bombarded with daily.  We have our emotions toyed with; we are fed some sob story about someone who needs help. Our mailboxes teem with pleas for funds to be sent to hospitals, cancer patients and wildlife preserves.  Yet, when it comes to someone we know, our hearts are moved even more, because we have seen the suffering and the need first hand. We know that the gifts we are giving will really go to that person and not just to some corporate office.  This is a community of friends and family, and when one of us suffers, we all suffer........but you'll get that in a small town.

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