Many birding clubs and organizations use fundraisers for a wide variety of purposes. Whether your club has just a few members or is a larger group, raising money can help the organization and be used in multiple ways to help birds, as well as raising community awareness of local birds and birding opportunities.
While a simple, local birding organization may not have many costs to consider, fundraising can help cover basic costs as well as more elaborate expenses, including:
- Office Costs: The costs of printing and distributing a newsletter, maintaining a website or doing other administrative work can be overwhelming to both large and small organizations. Other office costs may include overhead expenses for office space or chapter fees to parent organizations.
- Conservation: Birding groups that raise money can donate all or part of their fundraising efforts to local bird conservation projects, such as invasive plant removal, restoring habitat, trail maintenance and similar projects, or the money can be donated to larger conservation organizations.
- Service Projects: Money raised by a small group can be put to excellent use to support service projects for birding clubs, such as buying materials to build a bird feeding station at a school or senior center, providing supplies for a litter cleanup event or donating to a bird rehabilitation facility.
- Group Travel: Fundraising can help offset costs for the birding club to travel together to a regional birding festival or other hotspot, or even for larger trips or events that members may have difficulty paying for individually.
- Scholarships: Even a small birding club can sponsor a scholarship for a local high school or college student, ideally one committed to birding, wildlife conservation or a related field. Even small scholarships can reward students for their dedication to birds and help with educational expenses.
No matter what the money is needed for, there are a wide range of bird-themed fundraisers that can make raising money fun and easy for any birding club. Popular options include:
- Bird-a-Thons: Planning a big day, big sit or other marathon birding session is a great way to raise awareness about local birds and raise money at the same time. Sponsors can pledge a certain amount for each bird or species counted, or else make a donation based on the group's overall effort.
- Workshops and Lectures: Arranging a community class can not only raise money, but can also encourage more local birding. Topics such as feeding birds, building bird houses, bird identification and more can all be popular, and a small fee for each attendee can raise significant money with larger crowds.
- Product Sales: Club members can pitch in their individual talents for product sales to support the group. Bird-themed craft items, homemade bird feeders and bird houses, homegrown birdseed, photo calendars and other items can all be easy to sell to birders and non-birders alike.
- Native Plant Sales: Many birding club members will have native plants in their yards and gardens, and when those plants need dividing or thinning, a native plant sale can raise money for the organization while simultaneously encouraging other community members to plant bird-friendly flowers and shrubs.
- Festival Events: Any birding organization can create a local festival with field trips, lectures and other events. Whether it is just a one day event or a full week or more of activities, it can be a tremendous fundraiser that can finance many projects. Enlist the help of other outdoor groups and local vendors to enhance the festival, and include events such as a 5K run, silent auction and dinner for even more interest.
Basic Fundraising Ideas
If a bird-themed fundraiser is too ambitious for your club, any basic fundraiser can still help make money to support the organization's goals, including:
- Bake Sales: Offer homemade treats and crafts, and don't forget birdseed ornaments and pine cone bird feeders so even feathered friends get goodies.
- Rummage Sales: Use spring cleaning and closet organization to find items to sell to support the club, and ask neighbors and family members to donate items as well.
- Auctions: A live or silent auction can have great success raising money, and bird-themed items can be included as well. Gift baskets are always a hit, and ask local businesses to donate items or services.
- Meals: A pancake breakfast, barbecue lunch or spaghetti dinner can be very profitable for any organization. Offer door prizes or live music for even more popularity.
- Concerts: Organize a holiday or summer concert with local musicians or school bands with ticket prices going to support the birding club.
- Solicitations: No one likes going door-to-door to ask for money, but it's easy to leave change at a business. Ask local businesses if they will permit a bird-feeder-turned-bank next to their registers or at reception desks to collect donations.
Tips for Birding Club Fundraisers
Raising money isn't the easiest part of being in a birding club, but with the right fundraisers, it can be a lot easier than telling a Cooper's hawk from a sharp-shinned hawk or learning how to bird by ear. To make the most of your group's fundraisers…
- Keep fees and ticket prices minimal to encourage more participation; the more people who join in, the more money will be raised in the end.
- Establish a website or blog to spread word about the organization and let sponsors or anyone who has made a donation check in to see how their funds are used.
- Use donations locally; people are more apt to donate to local causes, even if the full fundraiser doesn't go to local uses.
- Contact local newspapers, radio stations and television stations to let them know about the fundraiser; if only one uses the story, it can be a huge boost to popularity.
With a bit of planning, it's easy to put together a way to raise money for a birding club. The more money that is raised, the more the group can do to promote birding and bird conservation, and every penny counts.
Photo – Money © Daniel Borman