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Service projects can provide a way for a group of volunteers to donate their time to raise money. While the returns from this kind of fundraiser are typically pretty modest ($500-2,000), they can be good community builders for the volunteers involved. Service projects also tend to be low cost compared to other kinds of charitable enterprises. Volunteers typically only need to bring themselves, keeping costs low.
Service project example.
What does a service project fundraiser look like? Here’s an example:
A member of my Knights of Columbus council hosts a summer BBQ for all his clients. It’s a large enough affair that he would have to hire people to setup, cook, and clean up afterwards. Since he’s only doing hot dogs and hamburgers, he doesn’t necessarily need to hire an expensive caterer. Instead, he hires the Knights of Columbus to come serve and makes a donation to the organization with the money that he would have spent on hiring caterers.
The time spent serving provides good fellowship for the Knights, who enjoy what has become an annual tradition. The party host likes being able to invest his money in an organization that he supports. It’s a classic win-win.
Other kinds of service projects.
Other kinds of service projects can include:
- Providing servers for weddings or other big events. Setup and take down especially can use lots of hands.
- Doing home repair work like roofing or carpentry (works with skilled volunteers).
- Big cleanup projects like emptying out an old house or cleaning up a vacant lot.
- Yard work for businesses or individuals.
- Providing drivers for a shuttle service at an event.
- Car washes (a classic for high schoolers). This kind requires more marketing than the other types.
You’ll notice that these kind of projects tend to be low skilled labor. Volunteers without special training should be able to participate.
Key ingredients for successful Service Projects.
To raise money with service projects effectively, you’ll need a few important things:
- Leadership – Someone needs to be the person who speaks with the project host, corrals the volunteers, collects the money, and communicates the plan to volunteers.
- Volunteers – You can only do service project fundraisers if you have supply of dependable, cheerful volunteers. The donors are counting on your team showing up, and the donation will only come if your team performs according to expectations.
- Clear expectations – For this to work for everyone involved, your team needs to understand what is expected and how the plan needs to be executed. For instance, volunteers need to know what they are doing, where they are doing it, if they need to wear special clothing, and when the project starts and ends.
- Good communication – The volunteer leader is responsible for signing up volunteers and making sure they know what they need to know. Especially important is sending reminders the day before the project. The project host is counting on your team being there on time.
- Proper materials – The host of the project (who will be making the donation) will be responsible for providing the materials necessary for the project. Volunteers can help pick items up, if necessary.
- Marketing – Your organization will need a way of telling people that you are available for service projects. Often, if you are in the habit of doing this kind of fundraiser, the members of your organization will bring projects to your attention. Whether you like it or not, you’ll get a reputation if you do a lot of these. The kind of reputation you get depends on your volunteers.
Serving for a good cause.
Service projects can help raise a decent amount of money and build camaraderie in your volunteer teams. They work well for student groups, as long as the team has sufficient adult supervision. The opportunities are limited only by the imagination of organizers and the needs of the donors.
If you’re in a faith based ministry, make sure that you take the opportunity during the service project to bring the group together at the beginning for a pep-talk and a prayer. Keeping God at the center of things elevates the whole experience for everyone.