Foment a Fun and Fast Fundraiser

That’s how firefighters in the town of Toluma got a badly-needed but expensive piece of equipment, a deluge gun, without asking their cash-strapped city council for a single dime.

Here’s how. Business was slow all over their town. The firefighters were getting nowhere when they asked for donations from business owners experiencing a weak economy.

Yet when they approached the manager of a Pizza Hut he said he didn’t have the authority to donate money, but he had a better idea. “Here’s what I can do. We can pick a Wednesday, say four weeks from today for an “Our Community Cares” day here. I make $500 or so on Wednesdays. On that day, after we sell $500 worth, every dollar after that I’ll split 50/50 with you. So if you inspire enough people to buy a pizza on that day, you can raise more money than you just asked me for.”

The firefighters loved the challenge. They prepared banners and asked the local supermarket and gas stations to put up on their outside walls. They had signs and announcements printed for free by the local copy shop with a bright red *donated by* credit line to the copy shop on them.

The headline on the signs and flyers read, Eat at Pizza Hut. Save a local life. They visited offices complexes, even those with signs that read “No soliciting.” (Who’s going to kick out the volunteer fire department, right?)

They went to apartment complexes, video rental outlets, grade and high schools. They put flyers and signs everywhere. Once people heard about their cause, handing out flyers was like giving away candy. The local radio and newspaper gave them free coverage talking and writing about their inspirational community story.

When the Wednesday came around, the place was packed. They made enough money to get the Deluge Gun. Most importantly it was a fair partnership because everyone contributed, so participants are likely to want to work together again.

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