Ideas from Florida branches
Want to raise money for your branch? Tech Trek? AAUW Funds?
Here are some ideas that have worked for other Florida branches. Contact the branches for details and support. Good luck!
Many of the fundraising ideas below involve social gatherings that educate us, strengthen the bonds of AAUW membership, and raise funds for AAUW Greatest Needs, Tech Trek and local scholarships. Even though we need to be physically distant, we can be socially connected. Perhaps you can ask volunteers to make baskets, post the photos on your website and conduct a virtual raffle. One advantage of online activities is that you may get more people to participate than would attend an event. You can also use conferencing software to conduct a panel discussion and or book talk. Do what you can to raise funds for the AAUW Greatest Needs Fund, Tech Trek and local activities. The need is still there!
Please let me know how your branch is adapting to the new normal and share your fundraising ideas with other AAUW Florida branches.
501(c)(3) Status. The best thing the AAUW Weston branch did was to establish a fundraising arm of the branch (AAUW Weston Supporting Foundation, Inc) with 501(c)(3) status. The branch Board appoints the Board members of the Foundation. A local lawyer charged us a reasonable fee. The same lawyer was involved in the establishment of AAUW FL Supporting Foundation, Inc. He is willing to assist other branches.
Honoring Local Women. Each year, the AAUW Weston Supporting Foundation selects a local woman to honor at a Sunday brunch. It makes money by finding sponsors at $1,000, $750, $500 and $250 levels. These brunches gives visibility to the branch, AAUW FL and AAUW through a slide show.
STEAM Conference. The Branch’s STEAM conference for 5th-grade girls has been funded by grants and other non-member donations to the Greater Naples AAUW Charitable Foundation, Inc for the past few years.
MLK Author Lecture & Dinner. Our MLK day author lecture dinner event, described in a flyer, featured a talk by one of our members who published a biography last year about an African-American monk who founded a university and was active in the civil rights movement. That event was sponsored by a local retirement community. We had 67 registered attendees; about half registered via Eventbrite. Because the event was sponsored, our Greater Naples AAUW Charitable Foundation, Inc. netted approximately $3700 on tickets priced at $55. We plan to hold another relevant lecture event next MLK Day. And we learned to pass the cost of registering via Eventbrite to those who use it, rather than eating that cost which was about $5 on a $55 ticket. These is a cheaper Eventbrite option if you don’t need multiple ticket levels.
Equal Pay Day Panel. This is an event with outreach to the Greater Naples community. An employment discrimination lawyer will talk about the gaps in the existing legislation, a professor will talk about the causes and effects of the gender pay gap and the co-chair of our Public Policy Committee will talk about what AAUW is doing to close the gap. We recently obtained a sponsor to fund the catering. Next year, we want to have business leaders speak about what businesses can do toward solving the gender pay gap.
Holiday Bonus. We also add about $5/person to the cost of the Greater Naples holiday luncheon and we conduct a limited silent auction during the luncheon, which together generated $710 for the Branch.
50-50. The Greater Naples Branch conducts a 50-50 raffle at its five non-luncheon membership meetings. This generates $150 or so each season for the Branch.
Scholarship Luncheon. The Greater Naples AAUW Charitable Foundation holds a scholarship awards luncheon each April, which benefits the Local Scholarship fund. $5/person is added to the cost of the luncheon and free will donations are solicited. Last year’s Scholarship Luncheon generated about $213 for the Local Scholarship fund.
Luncheon & Entertainment Plus Baskets. AAUW Sun City Center combines a luncheon buffet from a popular caterer with either fashion show, book and author, Woman of Distinction Ceremony, etc. Recently we have ‘hired’ a local acting group to put on murder mystery shows or a comedy show including skits and songs. The tickets to the event have been $30 for several years now; about $15 of that goes to the caterer and if using the acting group they charge $5 per person for their own scholarship fund. After other expenses, there is $10-15 profit. In addition, raffles of donated baskets have been very popular and raised a lot of money. We have volunteers who make up baskets that might include gift cards, wine, etc. The volunteers are donating the cost as they are not reimbursed by the branch. The baskets look cheery and always have an easy-to-read card in front of them listing all components of the basket. The raffle tickets were priced at one for $5, three for $10, eight tickets for $20. We raised enough in February of 2020 on just the baskets to cover a whole $1000 scholarship at the local community college. We will be using basket raffles for many years to come!
Red Stocking Tea. AAUW Gainesville arranges for the Red Stocking tea to be held at an unusual and beautiful home, a home with fabulous landscaping, or home belongs to someone famous. The tea is held in early December on a Sunday afternoon for 2 to 3 hours. We send out printed formal invitations that are reasonably priced thanks to a supportive local printer. The invitations specify our particular goal for that year, eg. TechTrek.
As the guests arrive they sign-in and then put their donation in a little red felt stocking with which they decorate our Christmas tree. They might also select a little blue felt dreidel or a little green felt Kwanzaa candle in which to tuck their donation.
Refreshments include fruit punch, coffee, tea, cookies, tea sandwiches, nuts, homemade chocolates, fruit cake, a fruit platter, cheese and crackers, etc. The refreshments are attractively served on/in decorative platters, silver tea and coffee pots, crystal punch bowl with matching punch cups, etc. Refreshments include fruit punch, coffee, tea, cookies, tea sandwiches, nuts, homemade chocolates, fruit cake, a fruit platter, cheese and crackers, etc.
Entertainment is provided by branch members or local friends who are musicians or actors. Once we had a kilted piper who piped guests in from the parking lot and then put on a show in the house. We generally get around $3,000 at the tea or mailed to our treasurer by those who can not attend.
Senior Expo. AAUW Vero Beach put on an exposition for seniors in March 2019 and sadly had to cancel the one in 2020. We had 14 sponsors (from $250 to $1,500), 54 booths and 266 seniors attend. The Platinum ($1,500) Sponsors each gave a 1/2-hour presentation in a separate room, and the 54 vendors were arrayed in a large gymnasium with pipe and drape to delineate each booth space, so the gym looked exceptional. Almost all of them brought give-aways, many of them brought prizes, and our emcee announced prize winners and presentation times. AAUW volunteers wore T-shirts and welcomed people in, gave out thermal-lined bags (donated from a sponsor), helped people with logistics and helped vendors when needed. The event yielded $5,500 for scholarships, grants and programs for women and girls in Indian River County. While we returned money to some sponsors and vendors due to the 2020 cancellation, many of them asked us to keep their money for the 2021 event, so we are way ahead of all the planning for 2021.
A Play in February. For 37 years, we held Book Author Luncheons, but the ability to find an interesting author for little money became difficult, and the event — though elegant with a full auction — yielded less and less over time as other organizations held author luncheons. So we have moved on to having a play in February at a local theater. in 2019, Jane VanBoskirk played Eleanor Roosevelt to a sold-out (300) crowd. A sponsor treated all to appetizers and wine before the show, which made the atmosphere very friendly. We auctioned off a VB bracelet from a local jeweler. And a few sponsors took out ads in our playbill. Here’s the reason to have a play — we made $8,800! And it was less work than a Book Author Luncheon! We have scheduled Bill and Sue Wills for February 2020; they will play two of the presidential couples from their 34-couple repertoire. We’ve chosen John and Abigail Adams and Herbert and Lou Hoover because of the strong First Ladies, and we will advertise highlighting the First Ladies.
Play the New Card! — A Mah Jong Fundraiser. Though many groups put on Mah Jong fundraisers in our county, we have the “new card” spot in April. We host it at a lovely golf club that has delicious food, served buffet style. We play Mah Jong from 10:30 to noon, eat the delicious food, and then play again until 2:15 when we find out who the winners are, and the winners pick the prizes they want from an array of Mah Jong-related items that members donate. We advertise that the proceeds will be used for a specific purpose. In 2018, it was for a film and journal we were creating for middle school girls. In 2019, it was for the same purpose. In 2020, it was a scholarship for an LPN going through an intensive program. The event had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus, but 70% of the women asked us to use their registration ($50) as a donation to the LPN program. In 2021, we will let the group know which woman we supported and dedicate the proceeds to another LPN/RN. This event yields $1,500.
Gold and silver buying event. The AAUW Naples Gold Rush party netted approximately $3480 in 2020 – more than in 2019. It is an easy event to organize and does not require much space, plus only light refreshments are necessary. We Invite The Gold Lady to assess and make offers to buy platinum, gold and silver from members and friends. She paid 75 percent of the buying price to the members and 25 percent to the Branch and gave the Branch another 10 percent. Her offered prices were higher than most jewelry stores offer and some members donated the whole amount to the Branch. People show up at different times during the advertised window of about three hours. For Branches with seasonal members, one of the keys is to encourage members to pack up their unwanted precious metal items and bring them south when they return. Contact Gayla Boss the Gold Lady (972-768-4497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) She is willing to travel two hours, perhaps more, to other branches if they have a reasonable number of participants. This is a members and friends only event as it would be dangerous to publicly advertise the presence of precious metals and cash. AAUW Greater Naples Branch Laura Candris, President (email@example.com)
Vinos & Views events. Last season, the Greater Naples Branch Foundation held two Vinos & Views events, one in January and another in early May, which together raised $4,800 for our Local Scholarship Program. These events were held in members’ homes in the early evening hours. A home with a view is a special draw! Members donated the food and wine and procured silent auction items, primarily gift certificates, but also some other things, like jewelry with semi-precious stones, and art. We also solicited goodwill donations. Because everything was donated, we were able to keep the ticket price down to $35. About half of the proceeds were generated by silent auction sales. These events were attended by members and some spouses and friends. We had about 40 attendees per event. Aside from fundraising, these events provided welcome opportunities for members to socialize. AAUW Greater Naples Branch Laura Candris, President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Talks & Tours. The Greater Naples Branch holds three Tours & Talks each season. Our Public Policy Committee organizes one-two of these outings. Our VP program organizes the lunches and the other outing(s). These are outings of Branch members and guests to places of interest, such as iTech Immokalee Technical College, the Supervisor of Elections or a play about women in astronomy. Generally lunch is included and about $5/person is added to the cost for the Branch. These generate $700-$1000/year to the branch. AAUW Greater Naples Branch Laura Candris, President (email@example.com)
Time, Talent and Treasures. This fundraiser raises over $10,000 each year. We have three lovely venues on the island to hold our event and are able to keep the ticket price under $50. We make a few dollars from every ticket. We have a silent auction with about 100 items that raises about half the money. For this, members and friends donate items like décor, kitchenware, dishes, pocketbooks and, a favorite, jewelry. We make baskets with smaller items and give each a theme. (We don’t cover them in plastic since items are moved from basket to basket at the last minute!) After the silent auction there is a live auction with about 10 items. Most of them are dinner parties. What fun to buy a fancy dinner at the auction, gather friends to bid on it, and have a dinner party that helps a young woman succeed. We have themed dinners like Italian, Greek or French. They are multi course and a small group of members and often their friends contribute their homemade specialties to the dinner. They are amazing and go from $300 to $900 for 10 guests. We are a group of about 70 older women and one big event is all we can handle; several smaller events would be too much. AAUW Marco Island Lynn Tuttle, Director of Development (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bites and Bytes. Our first Tech Trek fundraiser was a late afternoon tea/cocktail party. No one drank tea and we raised more than $2,500. We invited members and friends to share a glass of wine and have a bite to eat and hear about our summer camp for girls interested in bytes. Our Tech Trek coordinator spoke and a few members also spoke to give people an idea of the impact of their donation. While this first event was mostly members, our goal is to begin to solicit funds from people outside our membership. AAUW Sarasota Ellen Roche (ellen.roche.AAUW@gmail.com)
Food and Fundraising. Instead of raising dues, we treat ourselves to brunch and raise funds from a white elephant sale. We raised over $1,700 the year. Members donate new or like new decorative/useful household items, purchased gift cards for restaurants, bottles of wine, themed gift baskets, culinary contributions, jewelry, lessons and services – anything of value. We enjoy the event and keep our dues low to encourage membership. AAUW Sarasota Ellen Roche (ellen.roche.AAUW@gmail.com)
Lunafest. St. Augustine Branch held their first Lunafest, a one-evening film festival of films by and about women in September, 2019. The branch made approximately $6,000 in sponsorships, ticketing, raffle items with less than $800 in expenses. The makers of Lunabars offer this opportunity for women filmmakers to get exposed to new audiences. Non-profits hold the festival with the provided films which come with a toolkit for $300 donation in addition to ticketing through Eventbrite. Members provided dessert items for an intermission event in addition to soliciting raffle items and swag bags for each participant. We partnered with an art theater’s foundation to have low cost access to the theater, so they received some of the profits. Different film line-up each year. See lunafest.org. AAUW St. Augustine Karen Zalkin (email@example.com)
Turn Out for Tech Trek – Eat, Socialize and Raise Money. Create your own event to raise money for Tech Trek. Click here for more ideas on how to get started. AAUW Florida Ellen Roche (ellen.roche.AAUW@gmail.com)