[MSAR] Fund Raising

irvin lichtenstein ilichten1 at verizon.net
Wed Feb 22 00:48:47 EST 2006

Check your state laws first. In Pennsylvania there are strict initiations on
fund raising expenses versus what is spent on programs. There are several
letter writing companies around. The volunteer fire companies use an outfit
called Municipal Marketing-- they send an appeal letter out to every
residence in the town (jurisdiction) and prepare the mailing from your copy.
You pay them a fixed fee based on count.  The use of boiler rooms (telephone
solicitors) is strongly discouraged because of the cost. They usually get a
percentage against a minimum and if the campaign does not do well you can
owe them money.

If you do your own fundraising you can often avoid the filings with the
state. In PA you are supposed to file with Office of Charitable
Organizations annually with an audited report of your
operations and fund raising costs if you use outside marketers or exceed the
percentage allowed for expenses. The filing fee used to be $75, but the cost
of the audit is on you as well and a full GAAP audit is expensive.

You can draft your own appeal letter and target businesses or residential
areas by buying a list or generating one from the local advertisers. Grant
applications are usually easy to write for small grants from private
foundations.  Be careful about matching funds or buying stuff and then
expecting to have a grant pay you back.  In many cases you can get quotes or
bid the equipment but not pay for it until the grant money is approved and
the item is delivered. It is rumored that several fire companies used
federal money to buy apparatus and paid in full in advance for a discount
and to avoid having the delivery bill come after the grant expired. And the
dealer went south with the money. This leaves the grantee with two
problems-- they didn't get their truck, and they have to pay back the grant
because they didn't get their truck. The new rules are you can't spend more
than 20% down with federal money unless there is a bond in place. Matching
money is now real money too. Used to be you could count donated labor or
materials as match but the feds killed that too in 2005, real cash on hand
when the application is filed is now required.

SE PA SAR sent out targeted letters to recruit and / or solicit cash and
stuff. Careful targeting
resulted in $355 and 12 members for about 156 e-mails and around 50 first
class letters which is extraordinary results for direct mail.  Response was
about 15% viruses the usual 1-2%. You must also carefully build up your
image and not get any other groups angry at you. SE PA is volunteer fire and
ambulance territory so you don't want to cut in on their fundraising efforts
with a general mailing or telephone solicitation. They are the people who
call you out and hurting their efforts to support themselves is suicidal.

When operational we will try to get paid for "training" at public events
like rides, jamborees, or other large scale events where the organizer must
provide emergency services on site. Fortunately, PA Act 45, requires an
emergency plan for any event and many sanctioning bodies require on site
safety / EMS / rescue. With ambulance squads charging $150 an hour for a rig
and 3 person crew we can compete effectively. The ambulances are using
overtime crews so they don't really care about the revenue.

Irv Lichtenstein

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