Over the past 20 years I have done a lot of fundraising for Little Sprouts. I have built a playground with impact material, bought outdoor equipment, tricked out my art supplies, built an AMAZING garden expansion, and purchased a ton of toys, games, and supplies for my childcare home. Of the profit I make each year, I would like some of that money to go towards giving my family a better life and not all of it to go back into the daycare. I bring in money, but after spending $7,000 on food throughout the year on just food for the kids alone, the profit margin is small. Several thousand dollars for supplies, a few thousand for art materials and toys, extra water, electricity, trash, and the list goes on and on. This job is definitely a labor of LOVE!
I still want to give my kids the very BEST I possibly can. I want to include as much learning and as many experiences as possible for them to get the best education as they can. So how can I take a small amount of profit and turn it into a great learning environment? Raising money for improvements!
How do I do it? Here are my best and most successful ideas for raising extra funds to make improvements.
- Grants! DHS used to give out improvement grants as did some tribal agencies such as Cherokee nation. I have gotten much of my equipment through grants from DHS and one from Cherokee nation. As education continues to be cut, the grant programs were cut as well, but there are other grants available. Research grants online and apply. It’s not that hard to write a grant, you just have to be detail oriented and follow the directions carefully. I received one small grant for my garden expansion and will be reapplying for it this year to try to get additional plants and supplies for the garden in the spring. It can’t hurt to try.
- Donations! You can ask the parents and grandparents you serve to donate for something you would like to purchase. Choose the specific items you would like. Write a letter to the families you serve explaining what it is, how much it costs and why you would like to get it. Include a picture for the best results. In my experience, most families are willing to participate to give their kids something great to play on or learn from.
- Online campaign. When I was doing my fundraising for the garden expansion, I asked on Facebook for discarded materials as well as did a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I raised almost $1,000 of what I needed plus got most of my used fencing and some wood and other materials donated. People don’t know what you need if you don’t tell them.
- Photos. The most successful fundraiser I ever had was Antiquities portraits. I set up a place in my garage for the photo shoot and in my living room for the outfits and props for people to choose. It was chaotic, but I raised over $800 in two days. The families and I sold tickets for $10 for the sitting fee and Antiquities made money from selling the portraits. We sold more than 80 tickets and kept all that money so no matter what people ordered, we kept that.
- Fundraising Flyers. There are hundreds of fundraiser sites online that offer candles, cookie dough, wrapping paper and you name it to sell for a percentage of the profits.
- Candy Bars. You can go to a warehouse store and get cases of candy bars and have your families sell them at work for a markup.
- Homemade fundraisers. I have sold homemade frozen cookie dough, baked cookies, breads, pies, and cakes for fundraisers many times. I have my parents take orders at work and then make whatever they get orders for. I choose a day for each person’s orders and have them all ready for that person to take Monday morning. Choose a few of the best things you make and make up and order form. It’s a lot of work, but we have always made a good profit. Some people are still asking for cookies from that. J I have done a fundraiser for my family’s vacation with cooking as well. We made homemade dinners that could be frozen or cooked right away. People loved having dinner ready for them.
- Multilevel Marketing Companies. Companies like Pampered Chef, Scentsy, and Celebrating Home have fundraising opportunities. All you have to do is find a consultant, and they will fill you in on what the percentage of profit is and give you order forms. It’s just like having a catalog party, but your parents can help you sell the products and you get cash to use toward what you’re raising money for.
- Raffle. Try to get something donated that you could sell raffle tickets for. It could be a bicycle, or whatever or even something homemade like a pie.
- Have a special “babysitting” evening or Saturday. With Christmas coming up, it could be a shopping day for parents. Offer a set time and fee and see if any of your parents want a night out or some time on a Saturday.
- Yard sale. Have your families donate their unwanted items and price them to sell.
- Penny drive. Ask parents to bring all the change they can find. Change adds up faster than you think! If you did it once a month, they could save their change and over time you should have enough to get what you need.
Do you have any great strategies to raise funds? I would love to hear them.