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Fast Cash, Not Fast Food

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:12am

You drive by any of the area schools and you see the same thing--big signs out front advertising that week's fundraisers at a variety of fast food restaurants. It sickens me that the PTAs don't see the insidious ways that these junk food advertisers have infiltrated the schools and are reinforcing habits that harm the kids. Perhaps I'm just naive, but I believe children are not for sale to the highest bidder, with no consideration of the content or in tent of that bidder.

And so I'm starting to get excited about the growth of new fundraising options that move us away from fast food, non-recycled wrapping paper, and trans-fat cookies (even though the label says zero trans-fat--if it lists partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients, it has trans fat, and all those ingredients too-little-to-count on the Nutrition Facts label add up).

Two companies in particular are offering "green" fundraising products-- and Has anyone tried either of these for fundraisers? What did you think of the products? Did people want them? How did your sales compare to other fundraisers you've had?

The fundraising opportunity that excites me the most, however, is the one is offering. is a nationwide search engine for finding local service pros. Besides photos and videos and detailed descriptions of what each company does, its big benefit is reviews from folks who've used the company. I don't hire any service company anymore without first checking its profile on It is particularly robust here in Atlanta, but also has a foothold in San Diego, Las Vegas and all of Arizona, and has recently expanded nationwide. I love that by hiring local serivce pros, I keep money in my local community and I help what usually amounts to small family businesses thrive at a time when many small businesses are struggling to survive.

I do some work for (I wrote the Green Guide, no surprise there, and I interview a lot of the small business owners--their stories are consistently very moving). The general manager, Tom Bates, is an old colleague and buddy of mine--worked with Katherine-from-the-church-steps-and-the-yogurt and me, in fact (although I don't think he ever joined us for the yogurt). He does pop up on that conga line on my wedding video, however! He's a funny, smart guy with a family and a first-hand knowledge of school fundraising challenges.

So Tom decided to offer fundraisers on for any community group--school PTA, place-of-worship group, sports team, civic group, neighborhood association, etc. You register your group for your own special fundraising URL (it's free). You invite your members, plus whoever else wants to participate (friends, relatives, neighbors, anywhere in the US) to post reviews of local service pros they use. And you get 75 cents for every review posted. Oh, and don't worry about writing something that's maybe not so flattering. Just be honest. That's what folks count on when they go to this site to search.

Get paid 75 cents for simply throwing in my 2-cents-worth--and help businesses I trust grow at the same time? Love it. This, I can do.

Let's look at this simply. If 500 parents post three reviews of companies they already use--their dry cleaner, their hair stylist, their pediatrician, for instance--that's $1,125 bucks, boom, like that, overnight. And that's another advantage to this fundraiser--it makes it easy for busy parents to participate at a time that's most convenient to them. Anytime, 24/7. No door-to-door. No order forms. No deliveries. No money collection. No guilting the relatives into giving. Set a goal of ten reviews per person (these reviews take moments to write--we're talking just a few lines here) and you start really raking in the bucks.

Check it out. Give a shout-out to Tom and tell him Pattie sent you. And forward this to all those tireless community-group presidents who run the clubs and causes closest to your heart.

Now, if we could only figure out a way to raise money from conga lines . . .
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