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Hee: Fundraising 101: Tell a friend to bring a friend and then make friends

Fundraising is hard to do in this town without a large amount of businesses here carrying a big burden and funding many of the events in town. Shoot, we have five major festivals in town now.

Over the years, I have noticed there is a lot of competition out there, with different organizations looking for funds in a pool that seems to shrink every year.

This means that organizations have to be smart. They have to adapt and change their ways and they have to be nice about it and not too pushy. Yes, I found over the years that some organizations are too pushy.

One observation is that the high school had stepped up its efforts in fundraising last year. I truly liked the way the football team sold banner ads. That was good thinking. They also do my favorite fundraiser, that will probably be returning this year and that is the spaghetti dinner. This one draws from an old playbook that I love, feed them and they will donate! It works and it is fun and not pushy and the families are great people.

Many of the organizations now depend on social media to spread the word and I think that’s how organizations will reap more benefits in the future, but I think low-tech works too. Special Olympics uses all platforms well but they also know how to do it the old-fashioned way – they actually talk to people.

Case in point, Special Olympics has a good core of parents that spread the word. These parents get the word out. Yeah, that’s right, they “reach out and touch someone,” to use an old slogan. In this last Torch Run on May 14 that they had, they got the word out early and came away from it with $3,000.

They sold T-shirts, but the big money came from organizations that heard they needed this money to send their kids to Reno for the Summer Games. One of those organizations was the Knights of Columbus, who donated $1,000.

This Torch Run is a great event for the kids in Special Olympics, but also for donors to get to know the organization. I used the low-tech method and invited fitness instructor George Arceo and MMA fighter/karate instructor Andrew Gonzalez to run with me to get to know the organization. Both had a great time. We just ran with the kids and had a ball doing it.

“I am going back to the organization that I work for, the NyE Communities Coalition and will see if I can bring more people next year,” Gonzalez said.

See, talking to people works.

Jim Soltz and Don Briskey, both with Special Olympics, said this is the way they hope to slowly grow the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

“We want more people, so invite your friends to run with us,” Soltz told me. “The idea is for those people go back to their organizations and raise about $100, but we don’t require it. Just come out and have fun with the kids.”

I like this approach. It’s not heavy-handed and I even made a friend named Larry Yates, a Special Olympian with a big heart and a love for running. He welcomed me with open arms and even remembered that I had run last year. What a great group.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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