Strange Fundraising for Strange Times—What’s your story?

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Fundraising for local projects is definitely one of those things that reflects the sensibility of the the local and/or organizational culture from which it emerges. So it is, I believe, with this nugget, which was in the newswires this morning: Local sheriff signs up to be tased in return for cash.

I have not watched the video, but I imagine that it has drama and action—and I can imagine that there was probably a bunch of people who might have wanted to tase the sheriff. The guy was either sorely disappointed or extremely relieved when only one donation at the required level came in, but that donor got the thrill of two full seconds of sending an electric shock through the local law.

Plus now the donor can sing “I shocked the Sheriff but I did not shoot no deputy” until his friends tell him to shush.

This reminds me of another story, which a friend from West Memphis told me a few years ago, about one of those cow-flop raffles gone terribly wrong. They probably should not have replaced the cow with a bull.
All this gives me ideas about using a bit more creativity in our own fundraising. To seed our thinking and that of our other colleagues, I would ask you to share with us some of your own experiences with unique fundraising ideas that bombed or succeeded past your wildest dreams. If you send us a few hundred words, we may be able to knit a story together. Feel free to use an alias if need be.
While you sift through your own fundraising stories, here’s one of mine. In the 1970s, at the height of the “movement” phase of the battered women’s movement, a few brilliant friends who were on the finance committee of our statewide battered women’s coalition and I decided that casino night would be just the trick to boost up our budget. It was not all that hard to get the activists trained to run the tables, but we ended up feeling bad for the players, who were clearly spending their rent in some cases. So we had to stop. (In case you aren’t clear, this is an example of a fundraising idea that kinda bombed as a sustainability strategy but it was a bonding and learning experience for sure and it brought in some money in the short term!)
Please tell us your stories. Let’s tell our his/her story together!

  • Dylan Nord

    Great piece and point. There certainly isn’t any harm in trying things like this. This actually reminds me of a campaign that Poverty Resolutions ran a few months ago. Their founder and 4 others agreed to be shot with 21,000 paintballs to represent the 21,000 children who die everyday due to poverty. It made for an attention grabbing video, and at best made us think about just how many live poverty claims and how big of an issue this is. Numbers rarely create an emotional response, but 5 guys getting pelted certainly does.