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How to Create a Community Fund Raising Bonanza

If your small rural community wants to earn a large sum of money for any worthwhile purpose, the best way to do it is to partner with an existing event, such as a cross-state bicycle tour, a circus, or a popular musical act that is touring your area.

It helps if your community generally agrees that it needs money and the various nonprofit groups are willing to work together to do a good job of hosting whatever event you may decide to invite.

If your town has an active Chamber of Commerce or a Grange, they can act as the coordinators for all the local nonprofits that will take part.  Any group will do, but it’s important that you’re sure they will do the job right.

Nonprofits are ideal because they can apply for grants from tourism agencies to help promote the event.

Here are the dynamics of how this works:

* Get together some smart community leaders: business owners, school administrators, city administrators, and civic group leaders

* Brainstorm what unique opportunities your town has — location, scenery, natural resources, proximity to a larger urban center

* Consider what events might fit well with what your community offers: e.g., does your state have a cross-state bicycle tour that might like BONANZAJP to incorporate your community into its annual tour route as an overnight stop?  This usually involves providing the group a place to camp and shower (perhaps on the  high school football field).

It also involves guaranteeing that you will provide dinner and a breakfast for the group.  That’s where your community makes its money primarily, if catering to a cycle tour is the event you choose.

Secondary sources of revenue are beer gardens, motel stays, incidental purchases that the visitors make.  These can be substantial.

There are many possibilities, limited mostly by your imagination, your location, and your community’s willingness to cooperate to put on a good time for the event you choose to host.

Can you handle serving dinner and breakfast to a couple thousand hungry bicyclists — and do it fast, delicious, and filling?  If so, a special event like this can earn your community $40,000 or more in a day.  Sure beats bake sales and car washes!

If you decide that a concert outdoors of one or more big-name musical acts is what you want, are you close enough to a major city that can provide sufficient audience?  (This is quite a bit more risky than the bike tour with a guaranteed meal contract — if you estimate wrong, you will lose money.  Only attempt this if you have an experienced music  promoter who will handle the project.)

Concerts also require paying the groups to play, unless you can convince them to donate all or part of their fees.  Don’t ask unless you can help them receive lots of positive PR in return.

The circus is not going to cost you out-of-pocket, but your take may be small if you can’t draw a good crowd.  You want a big success — with whatever you undertake — so that it energizes your volunteers.  No one will want to be part of a flop!

If your community decides to invite a circus, be sur



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