Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member
Fundraising can sometimes feel like a daunting task. After 10 Buddy Walk® events (not to mention my other fundraising endeavors), I know this all too well. We want to find ways to not only support our cause, but to engage our donors on more than one occasion, via different means, to help drive our efforts through the Buddy Walk® season (here in Columbus, OH, that is March-September!).
Several years ago, I discovered that holding supplemental events leading up to the walk is a terrific way to boost your team’s totals. These events can be as simple as a restaurant fundraiser, or more complex, like a wine tasting or silent auction. This year, Team Alex hosted a kickball game to raise money for our Buddy Walk® team. We held our first game two years ago (last year was sadly rained out), and had just as much fun this year. Here’s how we do it.
Planning the Event
The great thing about a kickball game is that there is very little planning to do ahead of time; this is definitely an advantage for busy parents! My son has played Miracle League baseball for eight seasons, and that organization is more than generous in allowing us to use the field for our game. This location is great for us because there is an adjacent adaptive playground and a covered picnic area. Best of all, we were allowed to use the facilities free of charge. Once we had the date settled, I launched a Facebook event and sent out an email to alert our family and friends of the upcoming game. We decided that we would ask for a $10 donation for adult players and $5 donation for kids; this donation could be made ahead of time via our online fundraising page, or at the event. This year, we picked up water and snacks before the game (although in the past, a local market kindly donated those items to us; it never hurts to ask!).
This year, I also decided to pursue some support from the community, and applied for volunteers from our local Kohl’s stores. I wanted more help at the event, not only to ensure that it went well but also to free up my own time to enjoy the game and thank supporters. Reaching out to the community provides the assistance we need, and also helps build relationships and awareness for what we are hoping to accomplish with Buddy Walk® events.
We invited all the kids to take the field first, to give them a chance to play without the intimidation of playing with adults. They had a blast, and after their game they retired to the nearby playground, where I had assigned several volunteers to act as playground supervisors. This allowed the kids to keep busy while their parents played kickball, which was great for all involved. The adult game was friendly, yet competitive, and it was definitely a good time.
During the games, those attending could enjoy refreshments and browse the cute bracelets made by my eight year old daughter (the Jr Captain of Team Alex), to help raise money for our team. She was thrilled to collect $31 from sales of her bracelets, and even more excited to add the $9 she had at home to bring her total contribution to $40. More and more kids are getting involved in fundraising efforts, which has great benefits all around. This was a terrific way to empower my daughter and show her that kids really can make a difference. She has the pride of helping raise money for her brother’s team, and she is gaining confidence in her ability to lead and help others.
After we receive the contribution from Kohl’s (they attach a $500 donation to their volunteer efforts!), our final total from the 2014 Team Alex Kickball Game is $1,741. This will give our team total a tremendous boost, and will help us earn great incentives for Team Alex at our Buddy Walk®.
Anytime you can host a fun, easily planned event and tie in a fundraising aspect, I highly recommend it. We had a great time, and friends and family are already planning to attend next year’s kickball game. The “formula” we used to plan and execute our game could easily be applied to other ideas: whiffle ball games, bowl-a-thons, or golf outings. We’d love to hear about all the great events you are planning for your teams!