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One Group's Adventure in Fundraising

Desirée Lenard
Wenatchee WA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, p. 93.

I am a Leader in Wenatchee, Washington, USA. Our Group has been in existence for about three years and maintains regular meetings with a small core of mothers and a handful of members—three of whom are now Leaders. We have flyers in new mother packets at Central Washington Hospital, but our attendance has remained relatively low and the sale of a new membership is infrequent.

Last year, our Group discussed the idea of going into debt with LLLI to purchase several copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to sell at our meetings and in our community. Not being fond of debt, I was hesitant, but our Group consensus was to incur the debt with hopes to not only pay it back, but to be a little ahead of the game with our finances.

Last October, I completed my application for LLL leadership and fervently joined our longtime Leader in the efforts to draw more mothers to our meetings. Having spent much time on the LLLI Web site, I already knew once I finished my application, I could then access the "Leader Only" pages. To my delight, I found several fundraising ideas that were worth exploring. I brought ideas to our next Enrichment Meeting. We decided to expand an idea contributed by Conni Sowin, Illinois, USA. It was a success! We organized the Women’s Spring Boutique, scheduled for Saturday, May 8—the day before Mother’s Day.

Considering this was our first attempt at a fundraiser and we pulled it together in about six weeks, we were very uncertain about the possible outcome of the event. We had 12 vendors confirmed and at the last minute someone called responding to a flyer in the community and asked if she could also be a vendor. After talking with sales representatives who have participated in bazaars and craft fairs, we decided not to require a flat fee for vendors’ tables, but that it would be reasonable to ask that they contribute 10 percent of their sales (a minimum of $20 US) to LLL Wenatchee.

I am happy to report that the fundraiser was a success! Our event ran from 11 am to 3 pm with about 60 people attending the event. At the entrance, we had an LLL table with information, books, meeting notices, and a bake sale. In addition to the debt we had incurred with the purchase of copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, we also ordered copies of Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book on credit to sell at the event. We had all but two vendors pay us right away and we’re not only out of debt with LLLI, but we’ve got about a $90 (US) cushion. We’re also expecting money from two more vendors.

While there were three vendors who did not sell anything at the event, which was disappointing, two have indicated that they hope to be contacted to participate again next year.

Being a relatively new and small Group, having a "balance" to speak of is an achievement on its own. We are definitely interested in continuing this as an annual event. We’re hoping that as the event becomes more of a community expectation, attendance and profit will increase for our vendors and for us. We made some positive connections with vendors and will surely talk about what we can do to make it more of a success in years to come.

Author’s Note:
Thank you to Connie Sowin in Illinois for sharing your idea on the Web site and thank you to my teammates Darcy West, Annette Mueller, and Gretchen Coker for making this event happen.

Desirée Lenard and her husband, Frederick, live in Wenatchee, Washington, USA with their daughter, Karin (2). Desirée has been a Leader in the growing Wenatchee LLL Group for one year and works full time as a bilingual teacher. Desirée can be contacted at drmlenard at fibercow.com (email) for more information on this fundraising project.

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