Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Friday, May 12, 2006

If Your Fundraising Budget was $20...

Yes, twenty dollars. This is not joke. What could you do to bring in money to your nonprofit if all you had to spend on your fundraiser was $20?

That is basically the question that Reverend Michael Eden, of the Church of St. Peter & St. Mary in Stowmarket, England, asked his congregation. Eden took a £900 donation (just under $1,800) and distributed it in £10 notes to ninety of his parishioners with the request that they do something with it to increase the donation within six months.

As reported in the Telegraph, "Vicar puts his faith in a parable and harvests the profits." Yes, the investment paid off, with a total return of about £5,000. (The point of the fundraiser was to increase the repair fund for their 14th century church building).

Here are some of the ways that they increased the donation:
  • One parishioner bought ingredients to make cakes, scones, and jams. She kept re-investing the profits into more baked goods until her total raised was £410.
  • Five parishioners pooled their money to organize a barn dance.
  • One woman bought materials to knit scarves and tea cozies that she sold at a profit.
  • Another took in ironing.
  • One cooked breakfasts to sell at the church.
  • A group of children bought candy that they re-sold at a party.
  • The Reverend himself made pickled onions that brought in £35.
The more religious among my readers will recognize this as being inspired by the parable of the talents. In the story, a master gives his three servants money before leaving on a sojourn. He returns to find that two have doubled their money, while the third buried it in the ground. As Eden told the BBC, "I challenged the congregation to use their God-given talents and they responded accordingly."

You do not need to be religious, however, to recognize that there are some great fundraising ideas and practical lessons to be learned from this small news item. Personally, I am fascinated and inspired by it.

If you gave each of your board members and volunteers a $20 bill and asked them to use it to raise money, what would happen? What other $20 ideas can you come up with that would at least double the investment? I have some ideas of my own, but I want to hear from you first.

Send your $20 ideas to me at ken at - I'll compile them and post them here at a later date.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm doing something similar with my youth group. I had one boy pay a man $1 for his cans, than he proceeded to crush and recycle them, making $5. Another payed his $1 to enter a bowling contests and made $10!