Why does your local unit fundraise?
ur unit operates a 3,000+ sq ft facility (not counting the five aircraft hangar that is attached). While the facility is great for conducting CAP activities, it is also expensive to maintain. To support our operations and the facility we need to raise around $8,000 per year (the utilities alone are $3,000/yr).
What is your favorite unit fundraising activity?
My answer to this is split between two answers: One answer is our annual Airport Open House because of it's nexus with aviation and it doubles as a recruiting tool. The other is our annual "Family Ask" because it's so easy and the return on investment is great.
What makes them your favorite fundraising activities?
The Airport Open House is my favorite because it allows us to open the world of aerospace/aviation to our community. We serve as the central organizer for an open house that involves all the stakeholders of the airport, as well as other aerospace related organizations. Since we are the ones doing the "heavy lift" we are able to hold a pancake breakfast as part of the open house. We have airplane rides (not through CAP), a 5K race (also not through CAP), fire safety, astronomy clubs, RC model aircraft, and more. We've held this event twice.
The Family Ask is my favorite because for the cost of $15 in stamps and paper we can raise $700-$800. The risk is low and the return is high. We've done this four times.
How do you measure if you are successful?
For the Open House we have three measurements: 1) how much profit did we make 2) how many people attended the open house and 3) what does the survey of airport stakeholders tell us about how they felt about the event.
For the Family Ask we measure: 1) how much money was raised and 2) how many families gave.
What logistical considerations did you have to take into account? i.e. personnel, location, cost, etc.
The Airport Open House is a big lift. We will start planning this year's event this month even though it's not until August. It requires all members of our squadron to help and takes up an entire Saturday for the most part. It also requires a lot of coordination with the airport stakeholders, airport managements, the TSA, and the FAA. It also has risk. The pancake vendor requires a minimum sale of 300 plates at $3.80 per plate. That's a $1,140 minimum charge. To mitigate this risk, we put together a placemat where local companies and vendors can donate to support the event and receive recognition on the placemat. The placemat usually generates enough income to pay for the minimum order.
The Family Ask's beauty is the complete lack of logistical considerations.
Do you have any fundraising lessons learned that you want to share?
Make sure you like your food vendor and that they are good to work with. The first year we used a waffle vendor who was difficult to work with for the event. The second year we used a pancake vendor who was absolutely awesome.
Also don't fall victim to planning bias. However long you think it will take to plan, double or triple that. We now give ourselves eight months to plan and ask for money.
What recommendations do you have for others who might want to try this?
The more stakeholders you engage the better. For the Family Ask, ensure your letter (we send hard copy letters) have lots of photos integrated into them. Also, be sure to offer an online donation method/option.
>>Note from NHQ Field Fundraising Team - Review 173-4 for regulations regarding fundraising. Always seek approval for fundraising activities through your chain of command.<<