|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Sometimes what nonprofits need more than anything – even more than volunteers -- is money. Yet simply writing a check isn’t always the best answer for your children, your family or the cause you’re supporting. Instead, think about sponsoring a family fundraiser. This allows you to educate people about your cause, build community and have lots of fun—while raising funds for your charity. And summer is a perfect time for such a rewarding family project. Get inspired by the Robinson family’s annual fundraising production (see the Family Story below), and then enjoy creating one of your own!
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
Make a Difference... Fundraisers are effective because your friends really do want to help a cause you believe in. Use your imagination when choosing a concept. Consider a community carnival, a neighborhood play or talent show, a bake or craft sale, or a party. (Visit Youth Noise to compare and contrast the costs and benefits of different fundraisers.) Then, determine a date, a timeline for tasks, a venue and a budget. Most of all, keep it fun. Remember that enthusiasm is the key to success.
Photo: Courtesy Youth Noise
Talk About It ... One of the advantages of hosting a fundraiser is that it provides an opportunity to talk to your children about the value of charitable giving. Consider these points as your family picks which charity to target.
In a recent report, the Great Britain–based Citizenship Foundation states, “Our research shows the massive influence of the home environment. It shows that parents who lead by example, who chat about the work of charities, set the tone for lifelong giving. In this sense, charity does begin at home.”
This past June in Minneapolis, the hottest ticket in town was the front yard of the Robinson/Cuthbert home, where “Godzilla: The Play” played to packed blankets and lawn chairs. The production, staged in the family’s front yard, had painted cardboard and sheets for backdrops, a tent for the sound guy, and a stage that surrounded the audience. Perhaps most in awe of the neighborhood’s efforts was the Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR), a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving and restoring the river, which received the proceeds from this year’s performances.
This extraordinary neighborhood event started over two years ago, when 9-year-old Ian Maret told his friends, 9-year-old twins Kate and Audrey Cuthbert, that he wanted to put on a production of the Wizard of Oz. The twins’ parents, Louise Robinson and Neal Cuthbert had some theater experience and agreed to help out. Louise found a movie script and edited it down for the kids; her husband designed the sets. The three children did the casting using their friends. Families of the other cast members (about 10 families all together) attended workshops to create the sets. The parents also pitched in to design programs and flyers, provide food, and create costumes. “Everyone’s creative energies get tapped,” says Louise. “We were all amazed at how it came together and how fun it was.”
Although the play wasn’t originally conceived of as an annual fundraiser, the group quickly hit upon this idea as a way to let audience members donate to a cause. The 2004 production raised more than $800 for the arts program at the local elementary school. Last year the kids and parents did a production of Star Wars, raising money for a sculpture effort by their local park, Brackett. This year, Neal and the children authored “Godzilla: The Play,” a suspenseful story of how the evil GlobalCon Corporation polluted the Mississippi Gorge under the guise of cleaning it up. (All looks lost until Godzilla, who now lives in the backwaters of the Upper Mississippi, arrives to save the day.) Some 500 people attended the four performances, raising a phenomenal $1,600 for FMR. Later this month, the cast and their families will get to tour the gorge and learn more about how their donation will be used to make a difference.
“There is a strong camaraderie among the kids and the families, and they all have a real sense of achievement as a group,” says Louise. “This wasn’t something we set out to create, but it has evolved into something quite special and amazing.”
Photo:“Godzilla: The Play”
Jenny Friedman, executive director of Doing Good Together, has been invited to be an expert and contributing writer for the ClubMom website. Over the past seven years, ClubMom, which was co-founded by Meredith Vierra, has been a highly successful website destination for parenting advice. The site has over 2 ½ million registered members and over 1 million unique visitors a month (and this figure is growing exponentially). We’re excited about the opportunity to make family volunteering more visible to parents all over the country. We’ll let you know when Jenny’s articles begin to appear on the site.