Creative Fundraising Ideas

Thanks to Laura Ketcham, Coordinator for the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies, for the ideas presented in this post. Thanks also to Belle Long of the Joel Lane House and John Love of the Belmont Historical Society for their contributions.

Historical organizations, like many other non-profits, have had to get especially creative with fundraising ideas during these tough economic times. A few groups have ventured beyond the well trodden realm of special dinners, concerts, walking tours, and silent auctions. They are trying to address community needs and harness local resources while building their own capacities.

Making rag dolls is one of the possible birthday party activities.

Two years ago the Joel Lane House in Raleigh began offering its site as a birthday party venue. Features include dressing up in period costumes, an age-appropriate guided tour of the 1770s house, a choice of one of 4 staff-led colonial craft activities, and games. Parties last one hour and can include up to 15 people. The Joel Lane House charges $10/ person for this event. Curator Belle Long reports that this continues to be a successful fundraiser.

A view of the Stowe Park Special from a vintage postcard

The Belmont Historical Society, just west of Charlotte, has joined forces with a local business to raise money for a special project. As an ongoing fundraiser, Pace Recycling (between Mt. Holly and Stanley) channels revenues from metal scrap to the Belmont Historical Society upon the individual deliverer’s request. The Society then directs these funds toward restoration of the Stowe Park Special miniature train and one passenger car and the renovation of a shed as a “depot” to house these vehicles. Stowe Park, a popular entertainment destination in Belmont during the mid twentieth century, is an important part of the community’s cultural heritage. In four months the Society has raised $100 as a result of recycling and, in combination with other fundraisers, it is about a quarter of the way toward its goal of $30,000 for the train restoration project.

Sometimes fundraising benefits extend beyond the actual dollar amount raised. The Belmont Historical Society’s project is also raising awareness about the community’s past and encouraging members and visitors to recycle. The Joel Lane House’s idea not only builds on its educational mission but also provides a service to families with school-aged children at a reasonable cost, while reaching out to that important demographic.

What unusual fundraising projects has your organization tried? Were the results successful, whether financially or otherwise?


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on November 2, 2012, in historic houses, historic sites, museums, public programs and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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