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Knocking for Funds

To try something different and efficient, student-athletes in Costa Mesa, Calif., went door-to-door to raise money for their teams.

With political campaign experience under her belt, Costa Mesa (Calif.) High School Board member Katrina Foley decided to try a similar approach for a high school football, cheerleading, and seventh-grade basketball fundraiser. "We had the kids go door-to-door in a couple of neighborhoods and simply asked for donations," she says. "I had done that in a past campaign and it worked, so I thought we could try applying that strategy to a high school fundraiser."

The student-athletes were split into 23 groups, with each covering three streets. The entire fundraiser lasted about an hour and a half, during which approximately 100 homes were visited, raising $3,400.

"We've had an additional $1,700 come in following that evening," Foley says. "So we were able to raise quite a bit of money very easily."

Due to Foley's past experience, the preparation time for the fundraiser was minimal. "We created a script for the kids to ad-lib from, printed football game schedules to hand out, and had maps with the neighborhoods the kids were going to. We also gave the kids envelopes to put the donations into," she says. "We notified the police department that we would be out in the neighborhoods for this fundraiser, so they would know it was official and not a scam and I talked with the homeowners associations in the neighborhoods that have them."

To help the community members feel assured about the fundraiser, the student-athletes wore their football, cheerleading, or basketball uniforms. They also had their school IDs with them, and were prepared to talk specifically about what the fundraiser was supporting--lockers for the football team, a camp for the cheerleaders, and equipment for the basketball players.

"We had the kids first introduce themselves, talk a little about their position and sport, and offer a schedule to come to their games," Foley says. "Then they asked if that person would like to give a donation to support that team's specific need."

Although the student-athletes hadn't had experience with this type of fundraiser, careful planning from Foley and their coaches helped assuage their nerves. "We sent them in groups--two football players and two cheerleaders, or in the case of the basketball players, we sent four of them with one cheerleader--and each group had a team leader," Foley says. "Before the event, I talked with each of the coaches to identify kids who would feel comfortable being the team leaders.
 
"The kids were nervous at the first couple of houses, but by the end, they were enjoying themselves and had fun meeting everyone in the neighborhoods," she continues. "There are a lot of alumni moving back to the area who were happy to see the kids out supporting the school."
 
There were also about 20 parent volunteers who helped with the fundraiser. "Some drove or walked with the kids," Foley says. "Others were on hand at the school to collect the envelopes with donations when each group finished their route, and some helped with the food since a local rib restaurant donated dinners for the student-athletes."

The event went so well that Foley is planning another door-to-door fundraiser for the end of July. "The only thing we're going to do differently is that we're targeting a specific neighborhood this time," she says. "It's all about promoting our school and helping raise funds in a way that isn't burdensome on our time and resources, since they're both limited."


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