Fundraising no matter the size of the club.  From the January 2009 Rotarian
 
There is an art to successful fundraising no matter the size of your club. First, you need an idea that has universal appeal so that Rotarians and non-Rotarians will show up. The Rotary Club of Tucson, Ariz., USA, a large club, holds a yearly classic-car show that attracts thousands. By contrast, the Rotary Club of Arusha, Tanzania, is tiny, but held a successful Bollywood Oscar night party. Each raised a great deal of money, and each has some useful advice.
This big club gets big numbers
There's more to gain from a signature fundraiser than money. The Rotary Club of Tucson, Ariz., USA, put on its first annual classic car show in October 2007, attracting 20,000 attendees and featuring more than 500 classic and collectible cars, plus live music, food, and sponsor exhibition booths. The event netted $93,000.
More than 95 percent of the club's 263 members were directly involved in the effort. "Our fellowship and camaraderie shot through the roof as a result of that car show," says Arnie Jacobsen, the club's 2007-08 president and the event committee chair.
Founded in 1921, the Tucson club is the area's oldest and largest. In 2005, club members realized they needed a signature fundraising event to support their centennial project, a literacy library, for the years to come, so they set out on an 18-month development process to strategically define and plan the event.
Based on their experience, here are some suggestions for creating a large fundraising event:
Get the buy-in of all members. The Tucson club's members first defined eight mandatory criteria for the event. Among them: It had to be fun. Members then developed three proposals that fit the criteria and chose their favorite.
Provide a lot of opportunities to get involved. Members who didn't have time to serve on the organizing committee could sell tickets, staff concession booths, distribute fliers, or pitch in during field preparation and clean-up.
Mine your membership's resources. One of the club's members owns two local radio stations; both broadcast live from the event in 2007.
Ask for outside help when you need it. Tucson organizers sought out car show enthusiasts to serve as advisers during the planning stages.
Develop partnerships. The Tucson club encouraged Rotary and Rotaract clubs in the area to sell event tickets by offering them half of the proceeds from their sales.
Raise money by diversifying. The Tucson Classics Car Show raises money through combination admission/raffle ticket sales, sponsorships, exhibitor entrance fees, and sales of concessions, T-shirts, and hats.
Document your efforts. The event committee created an owner's manual, a 3-inch-thick binder that details all the steps to put on a show, along with notes for possible changes and adjustments.
Create a succession plan. The club created a special-event chair position, similar to that of club officers. Both the chair and the chair-elect serve on the event committee.
Evaluate your efforts. Event organizers solicited feedback from all club members immediately after the event and also collected evaluation forms from attendees and exhibitors at the show.
At press time, the 2008 show was expected to feature more cars and raise more than $100,000 for the club's Reading Seed Center, a literacy library where more than 2,000 children in grades 1-3 improve their reading skills with help from 1,000 reading coaches. "We've gone out of our way to make this an all-club project," Jacobsen says.
This little club raises big bucks
Small clubs shouldn't fear a small bottom line in the proceeds from their Rotary Foundation fundraisers. Here's how the 28-member Rotary Club of Arusha, Tanzania, which holds its annual Foundation fundraiser in November, made its 2007-08 event its most successful. Inspired by the club's 50th anniversary, the Rotarians remembered to:
Give the fundraiser a theme. Bollywood Oscars Night, featuring an Indian band and Indian-style cuisine.
Book the event early. The club signed up at the Arusha Hotel six months in advance.
Kick off ticket sales. The effort was aimed at club members and their families, friends, and employees. A kickoff was held three months in advance, with a fireworks display and a Rotary family dinner.
Encourage members to sponsor a corporate table. The club also sold raffle tickets and credited their contributions toward Paul Harris Fellow Recognition.
Arrange to award prizes. In addition to door prizes, the club gave awards to the best-dressed attendee, best dancer, and contestants in other competitions.
Plan an auction. The club put out a call for donated sales items.
Alert the press to the event. More than 250 Rotarians and guests helped make Bollywood Oscars Night a hit, netting US$24,500 for the Foundation. Among the proceeds: $800 fetched at auction for a pair of scissors used in 2005 by Benjamin Mkapa, who was then president of Tanzania, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurating Tengeru Market, a service project taken on by a number of Rotary clubs, including the Arusha club.

"We had full-page coverage in the Guardian (an East African newspaper) and in the Arusha Times, and [the fundraiser] was even broadcast on the African television network ITV," says Mohammed Jaffer, who, at age 25, served in 2007-08 as the club's youngest president.

"The best part about this club is that we are a family," Jaffer says. "We have 12 different nationalities. We enjoy being together, and we make sure that every new member becomes a part of our family."
 
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