Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Putting the Fun in Fundraising for Summer Mission Trips & Internships

Summer is the time for baseball, hot dogs, apple pie….and fundraising for summer mission trips and internships. Here's a pic of our daughter, Bethany, preparing for her summer internship at Trans World Radio. My hubby and I are the parents of seven, and we’ve raised money for all kinds of non-profit programs to include the National Youth Leadership Forum, Rotary Youth Commission, the Young Continentals, mission trips to Mexico, China & Thailand and an internship with Trans World Radio. Hopefully, the following ideas will help you raise the funds you need so that you or your kids can help make the world a better place.

The Benefits of Fundraising

I recently had a friend whose daughter wanted to do some work so that she could raise money to go to a mission trip to Mexico. After the mission trip was over, she told her mom that the fact that she had to work hard to get there (and work even harder once she got there) changed her life forever. Working to fundraise is part of the gift to the people you will be serving. It also seems to mean more, when you have to work for it (rather than mom and dad writing a check). Finally, another value of fundraising is that it’s good resume fodder for college applications and future internship work—it shows that you know how to be a servant leader when you care enough to contribute. For the donor, there is usually a tax deduction benefit if the organization is a non-profit and they provide proof of the donation (a letter or receipt).

The Bill – Can I Afford to Go?

I like to say that “if it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill.” But there’s a difference between faith and presumption. That’s why it’s important to crunch the numbers and take a hard look at any internship or mission trip. I.e., if it costs $5,000 to go to Austria for the summer and you start fundraising in May with no money saved and few prospects, then you probably need to try again next year. Figure out how much you will need, divide that by the amount of time you have left to raise funds, then look hard at how much you’ll have to raise each month (and week) and make an thoughtful and informed decision. For example, an August trip to inner city Los Angeles, cost is $300, you start in early June, that’s $300 ÷ 10 weeks or $30 per week you need to earn.

The Beginning – Where Do I Start?

You’re going to start with a lot of prayer and a really good fundraising letter. But before you write the letter, look at how much you already have toward the trip (in your savings) and decide on other fundraising activities. Are you going to sell chocolate from door to door in 90 degree temps and 90% humidity (like I did as a twelve year old to pay for camp)? Will you babysit, have a garage sale, wash cars, clean houses, host bake sales, get a part time job, etc? Include the following in your letter:
• Tell potential donors what the trip or internship is all about & who it will help
• Share your passion for what you’re going to do for others & why you want to do it
• List the fundraising activities that you plan to do in addition to sending the letter
• Keep the letter to one page, 12 point font, with 1.5 line spacing (easy on the eyes) and send them via snail mail—otherwise, they’ll get lot in an inbox
• Ask for funds toward the beginning of the letter—be up front about what you need
• Send them to friends, family, your Christmas card list, doctors, teachers, lawyers, co-workers, neighbors—anyone who knows you personally & may want to partner with you
• Indicate if the donation will be tax deductible
• Add a photo of the group you are helping (or of yourself) to personalize the contact
• Tell them where to send the funds (or include an Addressed Stamped Envelope)
• Send these out ASAP and keep a master list with phone numbers & email addresses

The Big Follow Up

Two weeks after you send out the letter, make contact with everyone on your list to find out if they received it. You can make follow up contacts via phone (BEST OPTION), email or facebook. Have a plan when you make the contact and develop your own script so that you won’t be nervous. Here are the things to say in the follow up:
• Mention their name early in the call
• Use positive language
• Give a one to two sentence description of your mission trip or internship
• Ask if now is a good time to talk
• Ask them if they have any questions
• Ask them if they can help out financially (don’t beat around the bush)
• Thank them for their time, even if they do not commit to a donation

Another part of follow up is to send thank you notes to every person who sends in their support. Send these within a week after receiving them. Don’t just send a thank you via email, but physically mail them a thank you card. Once the trip is over, contact your donors with a one page letter (including photos) of what you did and how it changed your life and the lives of others. Your donors will see how their money made a difference and what their partnership means. It also paves the way for them to contribute to other projects in the future.

Happy Fundraising!
You're Making the World Better
Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saving Money at the Pump This Summer!

The good news for Joshua, the youngest Kay Kid - he inherited the 'Burb!
The bad news for Joshua, he inherited the 'Burb!

With gas prices rapidly approaching $5/gallon here in sunny southern cali, he may have to park that beast, before he ever gets a chance to drive it.

But there are ways to save at the pump, if you are strategic. Here are my tips:

Plan – AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator ( helps you plot out the most efficient route. You can also put in the year, make and model of your car and it will compute what you’ll spend on gas.
Prices – Get the app or go to sites such as , , or and find the cheapest price for gas both at home and enroute. Find the app called Gas Buddy or AAA”s Trip’Tik Mobile iPhone.
Pace Your Driving - Jackrabbit starts and constant speeding up and slowing down cost precious gas mileage miles. Instead, pace yourself.
Pushing It Up! -- Will only speed up your fuel consumption. According to the Department of Energy (DOA) it takes a lot of energy for your vehicle to push the air out of the way as you speed down the road. Driving the speed limit of 65 versus 75 can save as much as 15% on fuel consumption because of the energy needed for higher speeds.
Puhleeze Give Me Some Air -- At speeds of 40 mph or greater, it costs more to leave the windows open (due to drag) than it does to run the air. In a place like Palmdale, CA where the summer temps reach 110 degrees that's good news!
Pitch the Junk! -- Take your golf clubs, soccer chairs, Salvation Army book donations and all the other JUNK out of your TRUNK. Otherwise, you're paying more to haul it.
Pressure and Maintain - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-in-four cars have under inflated tires by 8 pounds per square inch. By getting the right amount of air in your tires and taking a few minutes to change the air filter, you can increase your gas mileage by 3.3%! A tuned engine can save an average of 4% more and detected problems, like a bad oxygen sensor can help your mileage by 40%!
Pool it -- Car pool whenever possible, and let everyone pitch in with their dough!
• Premium, Schmium -- According to AAA, only 5% of vehicles in the US require the premium gas--it does not help your vehicle for you to pay more for it. Buy the regular stuff and have no worries.
Peak no More! – Plan trips, if possible, during off peak times to avoid traffic jams.
Pay up! -- Make teens pay for gas when they aren't driving for sanctioned raod time (such as school, work, running your errands, etc). It's amazing how much less miles they will put on the car!

Happy Driving, Joshua!

Love Mama,
aka America's Family Financial Expert (R)