The following fundraising events have been particularly lucrative for many Chapters. Always remember to use your imagination and do not feel restricted to these examples. Chapter members can always dream up better innovations using their own local resources.
La Purisima Audubon Society is a small Chapter in rural California. It convinced local merchants to donate furniture for its Chapter auction. The $5,000 generated by the auction was used for building a nature center and placing Audubon educational materials in the school system. Northern Shenendoah Valley Audubon Society in Virginia holds a silent auction as part of a member meeting. Members arrive before the meeting to make their bids on items. The bidding closes when the meeting program begins and members pick up and pay for their new possessions after the program. In addition to being good fundraising vehicles, silent auctions have become a good way to attract new members to the Chapter.
The Madison Audubon Society of Madison WI. Holds an annual Art Fair featuring about 100 artists displaying and selling photography, painting, printmaking, weaving, glass, drawing, fiber, ceramics, jewelry and a variety of sculpture and mixed media. The chapter holds a silent auction at the fair and offers food on site. In 2007 the Fair netted $14,727!
Bike for Birds
Audubon North Carolina Board Member Lena Gallitano of Raleigh NC participated in Cycle North Carolina's Fall Ride from Elkin in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Carolla on the Northern Outer Banks. She challenged sponsors and supports to make contributions to her Bike for Birds Campaign and raised over $7,800! Lena says, "I did a lot of birding by ear while riding my bike...The birds made my training rides more pleasurable, and I've been an Audubon memeber for many years, so that's when it clicked: I could make the ride a fundraiser and call it Bike for Birds."
Bird House Building and Sales
Siskiyou Audubon Society of Grants Pass, Oregon, raised money for Audubon Adventures by building over 500 bluebird boxes for sale and distribution throughout the community. The Chapter credits a local timber operation for selling used materials for the nest boxes at reduced prices.
Bird Seed Sales
Chapter bird seed sales are another tried and true method by which Audubon chapters raise money for their programs. Some chapters find that they can increase their profits by obtaining pre-orders for bird seed. By advertising the sale and taking orders for specific types of seed well in advance, a chapter can order just the amount of seed it needs, and avoid wasting large amounts of seed. Once the total seed order is collated, most chapters order their seed from a distributor. The seed should be delivered to a central location and chapter volunteers should be ready with a list of individual orders. While bird seed sales do require a cash investment, many chapters have been able to raise substantial funds through their sales.
Amos Butler Audubon Society in Indiana grossed $12,300 on a $9,000 investment in bird seed sales. The chapter advertises the bird seed sale in its newsletter and takes out ads in the local paper, enabling the chapter to pre-order only the amount of bird seed that has been ordered by members and other customers. Customers pick up their seed directly from the distributor’s truck, freeing the chapter of warehousing and inventory problems.
Greater Wyoming Valley Audubon Society in Dallas Pennsylvania offers an incentive; customers who purchase $100 of seed/suet receive a free suet cylinder feeder.
A number of Chapters hold a series of weekly “Beginning Birding Seminars” or “Master Birding Programs.” In addition to identification, field trips are generally part of the sessions. With the appropriate tuition, birding seminars can be extremely popular, educational, and lucrative for the Chapter. These classes are promoted in the Chapter membership and throughout the greater community. North American bird identification slides are available from Cornell University’s Ornithological Research Station, Sapsucker Woods. Sapsucker Woods maintains an extensive collection of slides that are available for sale. To order a brochure, contact: Sapsucker Woods Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850.
Business Customer Donations
Check with your local businesses to see if they have a means (e.g., through a service like eScrip) for their customers to donate to your Chapter with every purchase they make at that business. This is a nice way to receive a steady stream of income throughout the year, with minimal effort.
This idea comes from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (CA). They offer 2 different calenders for sale each year. One features pictures of birds donated by local photographers. The chapter sponsors a Wildlife Poster contest for local students. The top 12 picks are featured in another calender.
Host parties around holidays such as New Year’s Eve, April Fools Day, John James Audubon’s Birthday (April 26), and the Fourth of July. For a real money maker, throw in a bingo game, special door prizes, or a few party games.
The house meeting can be an occasion to get friends and neighbors together in someone’s home, tell them about Chapter programs and ask them for financial gifts to support these programs. You might organize a house meeting around the premiere of an Audubon television special, serve dessert, and ask friends and neighbors to sign-up for a Chapter membership with a small donation. It is always best to ask for money for a specific project the Chapter is currently pursuing.
Native Plant Sale
This idea comes from The Grand Rapids Audubon Club (MI). Chapter members donate native plants from their yards for sale.
Tri-Moraines Audubon Society in Ohio brought in $5,000 by processing a quarter million pounds of recycled material through its “Project Recycle” program.
Rummage and Garage Sales
Prescott Audubon Society in Arizona and Boulder Audubon Society in Colorado hold annual rummage sales netting $2,000 - $3,000 each. What a great way to make money and turn your unwanted items into someone else’s treasures!
This idea comes from The Grand Rapids Audubon Club (MI). Does your chapter have T-shirts, mugs, kids apparel or other swag? Sell your chapter's merchandise worldwide and provide a convenient way for locals to get your goods. View an example from The Grand Rapids Audubon Club here.