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Does your senior living community actively fundraise? No matter if you are new to asking for donations of money, time, or supplies or if you are a pro, here are a few of our favorite tips for asking for help from others.
5 Ways Donations Are Helpful
Your activity department runs with the help of your monthly financial budget, the talent of your team of assistants, and the joyful assistance from your volunteers. However, if you aren’t already in the practice of asking partners throughout the greater community to donate their money, time, or supplies, you are missing out on planning new opportunities for your residents.
Donated money, time, and supplies:
- Help you stay within your monthly budget
- Give the chance for outside organizations to see what life in your community is like
- Engaging others in serving your residents, perhaps even increasing your volunteer roster
- Give residents the opportunity to try new things that your monthly budget could not support otherwise
- Help you to plan extra special events or celebrations that you might not be able to do otherwise
5 Simple Ways to Fundraise Among Staff & Residents
You can only stretch your monthly budget so far, even with all the coupons and tricks you’ve been using for years. Fortunately, you can supplement your budget by raising money that can go to your overall monthly budget or to large purchases, like adding new tablets to your technology library.
One way you can raise money is to do fundraisers throughout the year, getting residents involved as much as you can. Ideas can include:
- Selling flowers for Valentine’s Day
- Having a garage sale or bake sale at your community
- Having staff pay a few dollars to wear jeans to work on a designated day
- Selling slices of pizza in the staff break room
- Selling greeting cards, candy, and other items from your activity room
3 Fundraising Events for the Local Community
These ideas are great, but you can make more of an impact by branching out from asking staff and family members to purchase your items. You can also ask for money from the greater community by trying these ideas:
- Host a car show and concert in your community parking lot that is open to the public. Sell tickets to the show as well as refreshments, and don’t forget to put out tip jars to make even more money for your residents
- Host a family fun fair in your community’s parking lot that is open to the public. Hire a magician or other entertainer and have residents (with caregivers) run small carnival games. Sell tickets and refreshments
- Host an outdoor family movie night by using a projector and screen. Sell refreshments and raffle off prize baskets or consider a silent auction
How to Ask for Donations from Local Organisations
You don’t have to host huge events to fundraise for your department. Instead, you can ask for money from local organizations or retailers:
- Write a letter to retailers or organizations about your community (include if you are a nonprofit!), what you are asking for money for (new tablets for our technology library) and how your residents would benefit (the coronavirus pandemic has made family visits impossible and tablets would allow us to connect residents with families via video calls).
- Send the letter and then stop by the retailer a week later for a friendly face-to-face follow up
- Local organizations, like the VFW, Lions Club, or Rotary, also generously give money. Check their website first to see if they have any requirements for requests and honor those as you apply
Always send a thank-you note, preferably signed by your residents, and tag the retailer or organization in a thank-you post on social media
6 Tips for Asking for Time and Talent Donations
Sometimes, what you really need in your community is the time and talent of others. Of course, you get joyful assistance from your team of volunteers but you can solicit the greater community to donate their time and talents for a one-time or recurring visit program with a few of these tips:
- When groups of people call to donate their time caroling at Christmastime, book them for another event in March or June before you book them for their caroling. This shows them that you are happy to have their help throughout the year, and not just during the holidays
- Actively seek a partnership between one Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop per year, where they can host their meetings in your conference room in exchange for regular volunteer opportunities
- Ask a favorite entertainer if they would consider donating their talents once per year
- Find local clubs in your greater community and ask them to plan and lead a group once per year in your community. For example, a garden club can lead a flower arranging class or a men’s breakfast club can lead a coffee chat. You might have to give them concrete ideas if they struggle to find one on their own, but finding twelve clubs who commit to one group each year is 12 new (and free!) activities for your residents
- Don’t be afraid to use social media and your community newsletter to ask for specific talents. For example, “Do you know how to make homemade ice cream and want to share that talent with our residents? Let’s make it happen! Call our community and we’ll get the details set.”
- If you have a local college or community college nearby, work with them to find volunteer student groups who may want to support your residents and community
4 Tips for Asking for Supply Donations
Finally, your department needs tangible items and supplies to use in your celebrations and groups. You can save some money by asking for donations of specific items, like craft supplies, decorations, or even food.
- Before you ask a local store for an item, make sure you know what item you need. For example, don’t just ask the craft store for a donation of “craft supplies”. Instead, ask them for “10 yards of fabric” and include what it is for (“for the residents to make memory quilts”)
- The same goes for food items, make sure you know what you need, when you need it, and why. For example, ask a local restaurant for a donation of chips and salsa for your Cinco de Mayo celebration because your residents haven’t stopped talking about it since the outing there last month.
- When possible, ask for supply donations from local retailers that already know you and your residents because you frequent their establishment. They are much more likely to give to your community if they have a relationship with you already
- Be careful asking for supply donations from the greater community via social media or newsletter, unless you are ready and have a plan for what to do with TOO MUCH of the supply. For example, I asked for puzzles to replenish my puzzle cabinet and ended up with 67 boxes of puzzles (some didn’t even have all the pieces) by the end of the month. I was drowning in puzzles!
No matter what donations your community receives - money, time and talent, or supplies - it is your responsibility to steward those resources well. Make sure you are only asking for what you genuinely need and always follow up with a thank-you note.
What is the best donation you have received for your residents?