Fundraising: Case Study – Family Fundraiser

Alan is one of our Student Leaders and he was written an excellent blog below about his recent trip home and how it used it to do some fundraising, from one big family fundraiser meal Alan raised £380 in one night! Read below to find out how it went and for advice on how to set up your own event…

Laying on a feast for your extended family can prove to be a fundraising hit long after the washing up has been done… Any fundraising target can be daunting and it is often difficult to know where to start. I decided to keep it close to home (quite literally) for my first VESL fundraiser and recruited my Mum and sisters to help me put on a royal spread for some of my extended family last Saturday night.

The idea was simple – make a few one pot dishes, get a few bottles of wine and knock up a few desserts to serve to your invited guests and turn your dining room into a make shift restaurant for the evening. What could be simpler? What could be more enjoyable than the company of your nearest and dearest?…

A drop, a splash, a bottle…

The planning for the event began around about two weeks ago as I told my mum that I would be coming home from Glasgow and that I would like to do a family based fundraiser. Expected to be met with alternate plans she had been arranging for that once in a blue moon time when I make it across the North Channel to my home just outside Belfast I was pleasantly surprised with her reaction. You see me and my Mum had a rare ‘great minds think alike moment’. It turns out that the cogs in her head had been turning with greater speed than mine and she was well ahead of me. She had already provisionally sketched a menu and a list of guests that we could invite for the Saturday night that I was home. She even had an exotic twist on the bog standard raffle too but she was keeping that close to her chest. She had all the bases covered and I just had to sit back and relax. Not bad I thought. I could get used to this…

When the big day arrived it was a different story with all hands on deck in the kitchen. My sister Cathy was busy making her famous one pot Katsu Curry with torn roast chicken – (trust me, it tastes every bit as good as it sounds) – while Jennifer was copiously adding red wine to the Spaghetti Bolognese, which was already stinking the kitchen out with garlic and onions. Meanwhile I was overseeing operations as a deep lying playmaker in the living room, checking the results of the football. Don’t worry I wasn’t skiving. No no. I was pumping up 50 balloons. This balloon frenzy was actually a part of Mum’s ‘exotic’ raffle. We had little slips of paper in each balloon with a prize or a sorry written on in. The contestants would prick their balloons to reveal their fate. When probed as to how she came up with the idea she simply looked at me wryly and tapped her forehead with the balloon pump she had wisely invested in…

The first guests arrived at around 8 and like all family get-togethers it was awkward at first but then resumed that familiar pattern of catching up that has you saying later on “We should have Uncle Sean and Aunt Rose over more often!”… We had left the donations open, suggesting £10 per head but often receiving much more, and before we knew it we had raised £380 by the time the last guests took leave. But in between then it was so much fun and a really worthwhile fundraiser.

Having a fundraiser with your extended family allows both they and you to discuss your motivations, hopes and expectations for your volunteering experience. This way they can get a better sense of what exactly it is you will be doing and what you need their money for. Most people will then tell you they would love to do it if they could, while others will simply give you encouragement, but all will leave better informed, more likely to spread the word of your volunteering and fundraising to other members of the family, and extremely interested in the results of your trip.

The Exotic Balloon Raffle

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the balloon-bursting raffle. It raised the levels of excitement and laughter and created a real party atmosphere. Some guests were left disappointed that their balloon contained no prizes, while those balloons that did gave bragging rights to their lucky owners. With prizes ranging from toiletries sets, to necklaces,and even Aunt Gerry’s delicious homemade chicken and ham pies, the balloon raffle went down a treat and our Family Feast Fundraiser carried on into the wee small hours.

Read on below for some tips on setting up your own event.

Family Fundraising 101:

  • Depending on the size and geographical spread of your extended family, family fundraising may not be the best option for you. But, if like me, you have a rather large family all within a relatively small geographical area it can really draw people (and money) in. Family-based fund raising offers much more than just money!
  • The donations are just a small part of the family fundraising experience, as most of your extended family become increasingly interested in the good work you intend to do and even think of ways that they can help you raise fundraising awareness among people you would never consider, such as their neighbours and colleagues. Explaining your motives for fundraising and discussing your expectations with your relatives creates a lasting feel-good factor you can carry into your everyday life and makes you a more enthusiastic fundraiser too.
  • I cannot recommend family fundraising enough but that’s because my own circumstances make it an easy and rewarding way of generating donations. Even if it’s not for you the message is clear: the way to reach your VESL fundraising goal is closer to home than you may think. 

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