Making fundraising fun
This past weekend Kansas Farm Bureau leaders from across the state gathered for our annual meeting. It is great to catch up with friends, gain new insights and take part in the grassroots policy process that makes our organization so unique.
A highlight of the weekend was a fundraising dinner with a Cousin Eddie theme from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. The event, hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, was in support of the End Hunger Campaign, that aims to address and eliminate food insecurity across the state.
This was no black-tie affair. There were moose mugs, people in bath robes and all kinds of fun accessories. Donations were taken for holiday punch, bingo cards for the movie, and a dessert dash after the traditional Christmas dinner. The after dinner entertainment was an interactive movie experience complete with reciting the pledge of allegiance as “grace” and wrapping it up with a sing along of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. One of the highlights of the evening was the best dressed contest, where the crowd voted on people who had done the best job of dressing like characters from the movie.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, do yourself a favor and watch the movie; it really is a true Christmas classic.
It was one of the more enjoyable fundraising dinners I have attended. This wasn’t a fancy event for high-dollar donors but it also wasn’t a home-cooked meal type held in small towns almost every weekend. I was impressed to learn that the night of festivities raised close to $20,000 with only a few hundred people in attendance. Caught up in the experience, I found myself giving more than I normally would.
In the last few years, giving money to organizations has become a higher priority for me. It makes sense that as a more established professional, I am in the financial position to start giving money. But it is more than that. A few years ago an experience philanthropist shared advice with me to “give just a little bit more than is comfortable.” He went on to say that giving can teach us what we are capable of, and he has never known anyone to regret giving to good causes.
I had never thought about giving as a stretch goal before. Giving back to organizations I have benefited from has always been on the future to do list. It always felt far off like someday when I make lots of money, I will give back. The idea that I can and should be giving now, as much or as little as I can, was an eye opener. Generosity in a moment of need and giving what you can is more meaningful than giving what you don’t need, when it is convenient for you.
The foundation’s dinner was the kind of event that empowered people to give money at whatever level they could and made it fun to join in the giving.
Start today and build the habit of giving what you can, when you can. Give a few bucks to the Salvation Army bell ringer, buy a toy for a tot or help stock your local food bank to spread holiday cheer. Send your favorite nonprofit an end of the year donation whether it’s $5, $50 or $500.
It’s time to stop imagining and see all that you can do.