Photo by Tannazie by permission under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License 2.0
Although it is still October, the holiday season will be upon us sooner than you think. In anticipation of this season, PTAs, charities, and religious organizations all over the country will be unveiling holiday fundraisers in the form of holiday wrapping paper, cookie dough sales, and mugs and calendars for grandparents. This is only some of the possible fundraisers that schools, religious organizations, and other community groups sponsor throughout the year.
I know as a parent I hate these fundraisers. How much gift wrap do you need? I could not eat another cheese cake or order anymore stationary for my children. How many trees have we cut down in the name of fundraisers? How much sugar have we consumed in order to supplement needed programs at our community organizations?
Don’t get me wrong. Fundraising is necessary to supplement the income of an organization, institute special programs, or provide supplies which are needed. Unfortunately, the amount of hours needed for some fundraisers and the money earned has caused organizations to rethink their fundraising strategies.
What if there were new fundraisers that were available that were fun, easy, and had an environmental purpose? With the news constantly bombarding us with global warming issues, people are trying to make a conscious effort to be aware of their impact on the Earth.
Would it be easier to market a “save the Earth” fundraiser rather than a tired old fundraiser that has been done over and over again? It is worth a shot.
Just to give an example, a couple of years ago, my school joined Staples’ Recycling for Education program, which I am in charge of. We collect inkjet print and laser toner cartridges and send them back to Staples for money.
This fundraiser is a no brainier and people drop off their cartridges in a box in the school office. In turn, our school collects $3 for each eligible cartridge and we are doing our part to keep our share of print cartridges out of landfills. (Note, Staples is now only giving rebate money now for cartridges.)
Are there any other fundraisers out there that either are as simple as Staples’ or at least parents could buy something benefiting the Earth, such as a “feel good fundraiser”?
Here is a list of the “no brainier” fundraisers where all people have to do is drop off the requested collectible in a box at the school or any community organization. Many of the organizations pay for shipping as well. I have provided a brief synopsis of these fundraisers and urge you to click on the link to read more about these programs, or visit my site during the week when I will go into more depth about these fundrasiers.
Staples’ Recycling for Education collects HP, Dell, Cannon, Sharp, and Lexmark ink jet cartridges and assorted toner cartridges, and in turn pays $3 per eligible cartridge to your organization. Note, my experience is that you are paid for about half of the cartridges that you send to Staples. Others are deemed ineligible since they may be defective. (Update 9/2008: Staples has changed their program. They only pay in Staple dollars. I switched to EcoPhones but I don’t think they pay very much. I am looking into other companies.)
TerraCycle (the worm poop fertilizer company):They collect Dannon and Stonyfield yogurt cups, 20 ounce soda bottles, and drink pouches. Many of these items end up in a landfill because either they cannot be recycled (drink pouches and yogurt cups) or people choose not to recycle them. Payments vary for each item collected.
Right now, the soda bottle brigade is on hold until TerraCycle finds a corporate sponsor due to rising shipping costs. (If you work for a large company, consider pitching to your company why they should sponsor this program.Read the link for more information.) My school is instituting the yogurt collection brigade this month.
Note, TerraCycle has a gazillion recycling fundraising options. Each month they seem to have a new campaign.
Recycling Advantage (formerly known as Phone Fund): A fundraiser based upon the collection of phones, PDAs, laptops, and digital cameras with payments ranging from $1 to $6 per working piece of electronic equipment. All nonworking equipment is recycled appropriately. Emphasis is on reducing the waste stream of electronic equipment by refurbishing and reselling such items in a secondary market.
Recycling Fundraiser (formerly known as EcoPhones): The Company collects all sorts of working or nonworking electronic waste such as cell phones, ink jet print cartridges, DVD movies and video games, laptop computers, MP3 players, portable GPS devices, digital cameras, digital video cameras, digital picture frames, portable DVD players, and video gaming consoles.
Listed below are companies that offer fundraisers with an environmental purpose, but require your community members to buy products.
Laptop Lunches: A fundraiser that will transform your child’s lunch from wasteful to tasteful and kinder to the Earth. Your average child’s lunch contains plastic bags, paper bags, aluminum, juice boxes, and plastic utensils which all end up in a landfill. Choose between the Laptop Lunch or Lunch Date systems (for adults or bigger eaters), which contain the necessary accessories to reduce lunchtime waste. In addition, each lunch system comes with a book of helpful hints to create nutritious lunches. A portion of the profits are paid to your school. A minimum of 20 items must be ordered.
ReuseThisBag.com: A fundraiser with low cost custom imprinted recycled grocery bags made out of recycled polypropylene that will help to reduce the amount of plastic and paper grocery bags that are produced. By simply saying “no thank you, I have a bag” at the check-out line of the grocery store, you will be stopping the depletion of our natural resources in order to make paper and plastic bags . In addition, plastic bags are littering our streets and oceans and a plastic bag takes 450 years to degrade. The suggested price for selling the bags is $4 with a cost of $1.50 to the organization. Show your school spirit or market your organization as well as your commitment to the Earth. 500 bag minimum order for custom imprinting.
Green Sparks Redemption Book: A new green entertainment book by fundraisinggreen.com due out in December, 2007 at a cost of $30.00. Each participating school keeps between 45-50% of what they sell, depending on the volume sold. In addition, the Company gives a further 10% of its profit to Green Ambassadorsand Earth Resource Foundation, Fundraisinggreen.com has partnered with many online vendors, to help busy families make environmental choices in their every day lives from green living products to pet food to vacations.No pre-orders are required. Simply set up an account and community members can order themselves and the same will be delivered to their home. This is a zero-maintenance fundraiser. Click here for a list of some of the online vendors in the book. This company is no longer in business.
Smencils This funny sounding product is pencils made out of recycled newspapers and scented in ten different smells. Their motto is saving one tree, a pencil at a time. There are two different programs: Pre-scented smencil buckets, which contain fifty pencils and sold by the case.There are 10 buckets in a case. Each pencil should be sold for $1 and your organization can earn a 46 percent profit.
The other program is 20 Semcil mini kits per bucket, in which ten bucket comprise one case. The Semcil mini kit contains scents that you add to the provided pencils. Suggested price for each kit is $2.00, with an organization obtaining a forty-five percent profit. Greater quantities are available with higher profit margins. Many items are not available until November 6. 2007.
So next time the discussion of fundraising is broached at a meeting, suggest the above fundraisers. These fundraisers provide real ife lessons to teach our communities about what is valuable in our lives and at the same time monetarily benefiting our community organizations. Sounds like a win-win strategy for the Earth and our communities.
For more sources, be sure to check out my newest eco-fundraising article.