Spotlight on Blue Heron Discount Cards — Part 1

Blue Heron Discount Cards

Blue Heron Discount Cards strives to put together a discount card that contains quality offers that make the cards easier to sell. Each year, we attempt to make our clients a better card than they had the previous year. We want a card that people can use over and over again, not one that has offers that are not valid in the clients market.

Last year, we had the opportunity to speak with Pete Reed, the owner of Blue Heron Discount Cards.  His fundraiser caught our attention because of the humanitarian work he has been doing. We contacted him recently and asked him to send us any updated information he has about his fundraising program.  Here’s what he sent back.

Blue Heron has been producing community based discount cards since 1995. At the time we started, discount cards were actually in their infancy. Over the years, we’ve improved our product constantly by changing our graphics personnel and our card suppliers. We’ve gone from a boring one color card to exciting multi-color logos and offers.

One thing that hasn’t changed is our care for our clients. We strive to put together a discount card that contains quality offers that make the cards easier to sell. We’ve been fortunate to have been able to build good relationships with many of the same businesses over the years, but we still strive for new business offers at the request of our clients. Each year, we attempt to make our clients a better card than they had the previous year. We want a card that people can use over and over again, not one that has offers that are not valid in the clients market. This requires a bit of extra work on our part, but it’s all part of the value we give to our customer, along with a high profit margin.

Pete didn’t really talk much about custom vs. generic discount cards. Most discount card companies are going to the mass produced, generic discounts, but Blue Heron is still providing custom cards with custom offers and there are some benefits to custom cards.  More information about that in Part 2.

Fundamentals of Event Fundraising

Fundamentals of Event Fundraising

Following these fundamentals, you should be able to do many fundraisers to help you raise the money you need.

The thought of doing fundraising events for your group or organization can be downright scary, if not totally off-putting. Please don’t despair, however.

Doing fundraisers is not as daunting as it appears to be at first blush.

The whole process of fundraising needs to broken down in to a series of highly doable steps that lend momentum to the planning and conduct of the fundraiser.

Gather Participants and Create Passion

Bring together a group of people who are passionate about the project or service for which you’ll be raising the money (1). Additionally, ensure that they’re willing to do the careful planning and implementation work which will be vital to the success of your fundraiser, or fundraisers. Ideally, over time, as you do fundraisers, have experienced members of your group train those who join your group but have no experience in raising money.

Thorough Planning

Meet Regularly, Weekly if Possible

During the planning phase of the fundraising event, try to hold weekly meetings to foster accountability and to maintain the morale and forward momentum of the group. It is important that the meetings have a very clear focus and that they last only 15-20 minutes, as people’s time is extremely valuable.

Be organized and plan each part of the fundraiser: goals, how the money will be used, who will be invited and how invitations will be extended, what will happen the day of the event, and evaluation.

Set Clear Goals

During the planning stage be sure to set forth clear goals in terms of how much the group wants to raise and what resources will be needed to achieve those goals (2).

Determine Exactly How the Money will be Used

Clearly set forth exactly how the money will be used once it is raised. Make sure that all your participants and supporters will be in agreement.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. Look at Others’ Efforts

Don’t be afraid to study fundraisers that other groups have done in order to learn from their successes or lack thereof. Be sure to share with your group successes that other groups and/or organizations have enjoyed so that they (your group) are motivated. This encouragement can make group members feel empowered which may generate better fundraising results.

Inviting Attendees

Start with Who You Know (“Warm” invitations)

Encourage members of your group to invite people they know to attend the fundraiser before they reach out to those outside their circle of family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances. In so doing, individuals in your group will gain confidence in inviting people to the fundraiser and bridging into inviting people they don’t know.

Avoid “Cold Calling” Unless It is Necessary

“Cold-call” invitations should be avoided whenever possible. Unforeseen invitations are often refused, and, however politely the refusal is made, this can erode the morale of the group.

Do the Event

Your planning should make the event easy. It will still be work, but with good planning you have no need to be nervous. Just follow the schedule that you create, and it should all fall together.

Evaluate After the Event

Be sure to evaluate the fundraising event that you’ve just conducted. Several questions should be raised to this end (3):

  1. What things at the fundraiser worked, or went well?
  2. What things did not go well? Analyze why those things didn’t go well? How can the same mistakes be avoided in the future?
  3. What was the fundraising goal versus that was actually raised?
  4. Were the objectives of the fundraiser broken down in to easily manageable steps?

In Summary:

Plan well, invite your “warm” supporters, do the event and evaluate. Following these fundamentals, you should be able to do many fundraisers to help you raise the money you need.


 

About the Author

Dave S. Morse is a freelance writer/editor in Knoxville, Tennessee who also serves as a volunteer community advocate. Dave holds Master’s degrees in Christian Service and Management/Public Administration from NW Christian College (now NW Christian University) and the University of Phoenix Online, respectively, and has a strong passion for social justice.


 

Sources:

1. http://www.justfundraising.com/fundraising-101/
2. http://www.tripointfundraising.com/4-super-easy-processes-for-raising-more-money/
3. http://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/Young_Member_Groups_-_New/YM%20Webinar-Fundraising.pdf

Image used with permission. Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

How to Choose the Right Fundraiser
Part 1: Match Your Group

How to Choose the Right Fundraiser: Match Your Group

How do you know the best fundraiser for your group?
Read this series to learn more.

Every person, group, or organization who does a fundraiser wants it to be successful. One of the most important parts of fundraising success is choosing the right fundraiser.  But how do you do it?

There are many important factors that you should consider if you want to meet or exceed your goals, as you compare the various fundraisers available to you. One of them is the fundraiser you choose must match your group.

What motivates your group members?

Is it about the goal?  Some groups do very well with fundraising simply because the members are motivated to reach the goal. I know one teen right now who is motivated to raise money (and is doing it very successfully), because she wants to go on the trip with the Madrigals choir in which she sings.

Is it about material prizes? One recent elementary child told me that he was going to win a particular prize by reaching a fundraiser goal. He was determined, and he sold with gusto. He didn’t wait for sales to come to him. He went and got them.

Is it about the social scene? Some groups enjoy event fundraisers like car washes, because they enjoy doing the events together.

Get the idea? Figure out what motivates your group and then focus on fundraisers that fit that motivation.

Will your members support your choice?

I know of a small school in East Tennessee that “missed out” on raising an easy $1000 a few years ago. There was a fruit fundraiser available to them. If each family in the school purchased just one box of fruit, they would easily have made $1000 for the school and had some awesome citrus too!

I spoke with the parent in charge of fundraising and learned there was a reason that the school passed on the opportunity.  The parents and students never did well selling products for fundraisers. They simply didn’t want to sell (other than a school coupon book that everyone wanted). They focused on fundraisers that did not involve selling. They wisely passed on what seemed like it would be an easy fundraiser, because the fundraiser coordinator knew her group.

Is the fundraiser appropriate for your group?

In elementary school (forty years ago) I had grand ideas about winning great prizes by selling the most spice grinders. However, I remember thinking, “Why does anyone need these?” Though I wanted to win the prize, I think I only sold 2 grinders, because I didn’t understand how to sell them.

Be sure that your fundraiser fits the majority of your group members. For example, groups with younger children shouldn’t sell large items or products they don’t understand. Everyone loves cookies and kids understand that easily.

Go with what you know

Bands and FFA groups are known for selling fruit, and they typically do well.  Elementary schools do well with cookie dough and Christmas shops. If you have a track record doing a particular fundraiser, and you’ve done well with it in the past, that just might be perfect for you. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


We would like to know what works for you. Tell us in the comments below about what fundraisers you have done and whether or not they worked. What works best for your group?

Origin of Christmas Wreaths

Merry Christmas wreath from Christmas Forest Fundraising

Merry Christmas wreath from Christmas Forest Fundraising

In our series about Christmas Wreath fundraising, Christmas Forest has been fantastic. They provided us with an overview of their program, tips for choosing the right Christmas wreath (your customers will need these tips), their history, and also about how their method actually helps sustain and improve the growth of the trees that they use.  We thought it only fitting that we share the origin of Christmas Wreaths as provided by Christmas Forest.

Origin of Christmas Wreaths

The Christmas gifts sit under the tree all aglow – tucked in neatly with ribbons and bows. There are Christmas decorations placed about, and Christmas wreaths adorn the door. It’s that wonderful time of year again when mysteries are unveiled. So, why do we give Christmas gifts during this holiday season? Have you ever stopped to wonder about the history of gift giving? When did Christmas gifts become the highlight of the season and why? The idea of giving gifts most likely originated when the Three Kings brought offerings to baby Jesus upon his birth. Throughout history, there is documentation of gifts being exchanged during Three Kings’ Day as well as on Christmas Eve.

However, gift-giving as we know it today began in the early 19th century when some of the first few ads were posted in newspapers by store owners. By the late 19th century, giving gifts at Christmastime was in full swing as large retailers such as Macy’s began leaving their doors open late on Christmas Eve. Today, Christmas Day wouldn’t be the same without gifts under the tree. Another item you won’t want to leave off of your list when it comes to Christmas is one that’s as popular as gift giving itself – a fresh evergreen Christmas wreath.

The Christmas wreath is another tradition that has been around for a long time and was initially created from fresh evergreens. Since evergreens are green year-round, they were the obvious choice during the winter months. The word ‘wreath’ is derived from an English word meaning to twist, such as in a circle. Some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory.

In Christianity, the Christmas wreath was used to symbolize Christ. The circular shape, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or life never ending. The wreaths were typically decorated with four candles, three on the exterior and one in the middle. The middle candle was lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the arrival of the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. A tradition began in the early 19th century to lay evergreens shaped into wreaths or crosses on graves to honor the dead. Family members would bring them home to use as part of their Christmas decorations during the holiday season.

At Christmastime, it only makes sense to combine two of the most symbolic icons together, giving wreaths as gifts. Who wouldn’t love to display the beautiful colors of the holiday season upon their door during this festive time? Christmas wreaths come in many styles and designs. There are traditional wreaths with velvet red bows adorning noble fir branches speckled with berries to the more regal choice such as gold satin bows atop pine boughs embellished with juniper berries.

So why doesn’t everyone have a Christmas wreath hanging on the door as part of their Christmas decorations? Many people simply don’t realize how much a Christmas wreath can illuminate an entranceway and provide festivity and cheer to visitors both old and new. As well, it can be hard to find the time to do the extra things that make the holiday season so special. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to share such a rich holiday tradition with your friends and relatives when selecting their Christmas gifts this year? And while you’re deciding which Christmas Forest wreath to send their way, shorten your holiday to-do list by purchasing one for your door too.

Share this story with your supporters when you do your wreath fundraiser this holiday season.

Christmas Forest has a great fundraising program that works for both large and small groups (or even motivated individuals). Click here to read our review of their program.  If you think you might want to even consider doing a wreath fundraiser, please get the information now.  Don’t wait. Your fundraiser needs to be set up in early fall and it’s already October! And after you do your fundraiser, let us know what you think of Christmas Forest.