by Marty Peak Helman, District Growth Chair
District 7780 Rotarians met recently (by Zoom, naturally!) to talk about fundraising options in the age of COVID.  Generally speaking, the group agreed that:
  • Any fundraising project can be done virtually or with social distancing – it just takes creativity and maybe some downsizing. 
  • Good givers will continue to give, even in the tough times.
  • A club should think about its traditional sponsors.  If they are a restaurant or other establishment hard-hit by COVID, this is not the time to approach them.  If they are an insurance agency or utility or other organization that has not been hard-hit, by all means reach out to them.
  • It’s critical to advertise, advertise, advertise events and activities on social media and wherever possible.  People are feeling cooped up and are looking for fun things to do.
Clubs in District 7780 are currently planning exciting fundraisers
The Bath Sunrise club is selling $10 (some higher) gift certificates from local businesses that have supported the club in the past.  The gift certificates also include “fun” things such as toilet paper.  The club has acquired a raffle wheel, and they hope to sell 200 gift certificates, with the plan to pull winners at the local farmer’s market through the summer. In addition to raising money for the club, by keeping the certificates at the $10 level, they know there’s a good chance that whoever wins the certificate will probably spend more when they redeem it, offering income to the local business that has been good to the club in the past. FMI:  Bob Reed,
Saco Bay Rotary is planning a virtual road race.  There will be an entry fee, and participants will be tracked via a GPS app.  They will have a certain number of days to complete the race.  Swag bags can be picked up at a pre-determined location.  FMI:  Jason Webber, who says that “it’s all there – except the excitement of race day.”
Raffles are still very possible, with ticket sales online rather than at community events.  Zoom bingo and Zoom trivia are also great options.
The Bridgton-Lake Region club has held a highly successful drive-by community kettle.  Club member and caterer Nicholas Orgo served barbecue – pulled pork, chicken, coleslaw/beans.  The meals were served in individual boxes and delivered to the cars in a parking lot.  Social distancing guidelines were strictly observed.   The club served 125 meals -- twice as many as they typically do at the community’s open lunch, but even so, they ran out of food! They had a suggested donation of $10 and people gave that or more – the club raised about $950, of which about $550 was profit.  FMI: Carol Madsen,
It’s possible to hold a “non-event.”  This is when invitations go out for a fancy dinner and donations asked for what would have been spent to go to the event – only you promise the donor that in this case, they don’t have to dress up and actually go! FMI: Lorraine Faherty, Damariscotta-Newcastle,  A COVID-related version of the above is to have all the speeches and charge accordingly– but do it all on Zoom without banquet or venue expenses.
Duck races are a perennial favorite.  Clubs can sell the ducks online, and do the race as always, but run it on Facebook live.  Alternatively, it’s possible to video the race and make it available afterward on the club’s media pages.
And at virtual meetings, don’t forget to:
  • Ask Rotarians to donate funds saved from meals not eaten and send to The Rotary Foundation or the local food pantry.
  • Create a VENMO or PayPal account for “happy dollars.” Alternatively, ask the sergeant to keep a running total of everyone’s happy dollars with payment to come either when return to physical meetings or as current donations to the local food bank or polio eradication.
Watch for more innovative fundraising ideas from Clubs in District 7780!!