"What we need is a great, new idea"

As sure as winter follows autumn, sooner or later the ugly face of fundraising will rear its ugly head for you. It's not ugly to have a desire to raise funds for a cause, it's more the feeling that one is going to have to do something that maybe doesn't particularly appeal, to get people to give for something that they don't particularly want and so give with a heavy heart. It's so depressing sometimes! No one wants to have to organise another cookie bake with parents moaning that the ingredients cost as much as they're probably going to make in sales so, "Can't I just give you twenty pounds and be done with it?" Or little Johnnie walking up and down his road with a bag of double chocolate choc chip cookies that are basically chocolate bars that have been melted, fashioned into a circle and sprinkled with baked rolled oats wondering why no one is buying. Nothing to do with the fact that he's been licking them or trying to charge a fiver for one. Then again, we know of a neighbour handing over a ten pound note not to have to take any cookies. At least she was never poisoned.

Our four fundraising rules for products are:

They must be

  • sufficiently unusual for customers not to think or say, "Oh no, not another tea towel / mug / cookie bake."

  • relatively easy to execute.

  • marketable, so no corn dollies.

  • profitable.

A trip in the summer down to Rochester gave us an idea. Rochester, by the way, is a great place for a day out. There a cathedral, a castle, a river, a museum and a poor house to name but five, all situated along or near a pedestrianised high street. We popped into an art shop to buy a birthday card and came out with a blank greetings card with an A to Z of Medway on the front. Each letter was depicted by a drawing of a local person or place. There was a bit of artistic licence with X marks the spot but fortunately for Medway fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes, was born locally. "We could do this," we thought. And we did, once we looked at our four rules which the cards more than met.

Blank greetings cards of this type are a great fundraiser. As they are hand drawn they are certainly sufficiently unusual. They are relative easy to produce and they are extremely marketable. Not only do they have local interest but they can be used as thank you cards, birthday cards or simply how are you cards. They don't cost much to make and can be sold with a huge mark up, in our case over one thousand per cent. We set to work drawing mostly people or places that were connected to our local area. We scanned the pictures into a computer, designed the cover, printed them and sold them locally. Everyone wants a piece of local memorabilia so they soon all went! Here's how to do it:

1. Research people, buildings, places. You're looking for twenty-six items - an A to Z. This will leave two boxes. One at the beginning for "An A to Z of [place]" and one at the end for "By [name of group etc.]". "X marks the spot" is a good fallback for X. For Z you could always put in "Zzzz - sleep well in [place]" or "zebra crossing" or maybe take liberties (as you can with every letter, it's that that makes this fun and original), so how about, "AmaZing [place!]"? Start with the most obvious contenders. These will be famous people, alive or dead, and local landmarks, pubs and churches are a good bet, then move to lesser subjects. Start in your village or town and move slowly out in ever-increasing circles.

2. Draw them. If you're doing this with your young people give them a letter each. Start with an HB pencil then go over with a good quality, black ink. We used a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.5 Fineliner. Fill in some of your drawing with black using a thicker nib, something like a Stabilo Pen 68. This will give great contrast to the drawings. Look at Florence Nightingale in the Medway drawing for a good example. Then rub out the pencil drawing. One of the delights of this activity is that you don't have to be brilliant at drawing as each design is going to be reduced in size, this will hide most imperfections! Use a piece of good quality white paper that measures approximately 10cms wide by 12cms long for each drawing. The Medway design includes the alphabet, the Chislehurst one doesn't.

3. Colour them. The Medway design is just black and white but with the Chislehurst one we included colour sparingly - it made no difference to the price. As with the black fill in with small blocks of bold colour, again using Stabilo Pen 68 or similar.

4. Scan them into a computer. For a drawing with colour other than black, scan as a picture with 300 ppi. For a black and white drawing scan in Gray Scale, again with 300 ppi, then adjust each black and white drawing to give minimum light and maximum colour and clarity, then save. It may be necessary to erase electronically any superfluous marks that have crept in.

5. Open an A5 page in, say, Microsoft Word. Set the left and right margins at 3mm and the top and bottom at 4mm. (Depending on the printer that you use it may be necessary to use one half of an A4 page.)

6. Import each drawing and resize to 2.9cms x 3.5cms.

7. On the back of each card we included an A to Z description of each drawing.

8. Send it off to the printers. Companies that we can recommend include Solopress in Southend-on-Sea and Tradeprint in Dundee. Both of these companies will include envelopes. If you order 1,000 cards they will cost between about 9p and 15p to print plus VAT.

9. When your cards arrive put them in individual cellophane bags that can hold an A5 card and C5 envelope. These will cost a couple of pence each.

10. Start selling! Give them to your young people to sell or with a quality product ask local shops and tourist attractions (especially if they're featured!) if they would stock them. There is VAT involved with cards so bear this in mind when setting your prices but we sell to shops at 82.5p plus VAT each and direct to consumers at £2.49 so there is a good amount of profit to be had for this project.

If you have a fundraising idea, let us know!

Collecting used stamps

However, if you don't fancy producing your own greetings cards there is an easier way - collecting used stamps. Last year a couple were convicted of buying around 700,000 used stamps and washing them before selling them as new stamps. We're not suggesting that you embark on a criminal enterprise but collecting used stamps is perfectly acceptable. They are mostly bought by dealers who will sift through them looking for stamps of value or use them for making up packs for collectors. The rest can be used for arts and crafts. Expect to receive around ten pounds for a kilo.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Scout and Scouting
Last year 1st Bramshill Rotherwick, beavers, cubs and scouts were collecting used stamps for The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. The total weight was 10.4kg and was collected by their team. They are a charity and can use the stamps to raise much needed funds. Unfortunately we couldn’t get all the group together for a photo due to Covid and time constraints. This is Evan, one of our cubs. Dan Pearce, Skip at 1st Bramshill Rotherwick


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