The Bucket Brigaide Plan

by Jesse Carter

Here's a way of raising money that's as old as the hills....or I should say, "streets".

For as long as there have been streets, there have been peddlers and people asking for your loose change.

And why not!  It works very effectively.  However, in this more sophisticated age the Bucket Brigade has lost its appeal even though it is still a great way to raise money.

Let Me Tell You A Real Story

Allow me to tell you a very real story that raised thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a very worthy cause where the funds really did end up getting to the intended recipient.

I was talking to Mr. Kenny Jones, Fire Chief of a small Volunteer Fire Department in Mer Rouge, Louisiana.  Kenny told me of their efforts to raise money to help buy a fire truck.

This was not just any fire truck mind you.  It was a state-of-the-art fire truck that would be donated from the people of Louisiana to New York City as a way of saying "we care" after the tragic incident and loss of life at the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.  

This truck would be called the Spirit Of Louisiana and would cost approximately $250,000.00.  Volunteer firemen all across the state helped raise money for this special truck and ended up with around $350,000.00.

Mer Rouge Volunteer Fire Department

The Mer Rouge Volunteer Fire Department wanted to be a part of this special fundraiser to send the Spirit Of Louisiana to the people of New York City. 

They donned their steel toe fire department boots and stood out on the street with
buckets and "coffee" cans to collect the loose change of motorists.  They collected close to $3,000 in 7 hours with 8 men working.  Four men worked at a stretch and then traded out with the other four men.

Their secret was to work the main street on opening Duck Hunting Day.  A small town less than 10 miles away from Bastrop, Louisiana collected approximately $8,000.  Wow!

Can You Hold Up Your Can

For obvious reasons, this can be a dangerous kind of fundraiser, because of the fact that you are in the midst of traffic as you collect donations.  At no time should children or teenagers engage in this type of fundraising activity.  This is for adults only.

I get upset to see groups of young ball players or cheerleaders working busy intersections where speed limits are in excess of 45 miles per hour.  What's even worse is to see the supervising adults sitting at a safe distance from the traffic watching it all.

If you are going to conduct a fundraiser like this, please don't put any child or teenager in harm's way.  If you wish, set them up holding their bucket or can at the entrance of a shopping mall or store.

Also, check with city, parish and county officials to determine if it is OK to conduct this type of fundraiser.  There are some areas where this type of activity is against the law.  One good example is the Fort Worth Ordinance against solicitation on traffic medians and sidewalks.

While you're at it, make sure that each volunteer has insurance and signs a form that you should create which states that you and your organization are not liable for any adverse action that could occur.

The Parking Lot Approach

This is the way to do it if you have lots of youth or children.  Working outside of a supermarket or mall to raise money for a specific event can easily be done from the parking lot. 

I would advise not to encroach on the seasonal solicitations of the Salvation Army since they do a valuable service to our society helping many needy persons.  Great alternate times would be the days sometime in Spring or Fall.

Secure the permission of the store manager or restaurant manager before you make plans to hold your one day Bucket Brigade Plan.  An alternative would be to hand out flyers showing your Website Donation Page instead of collecting loose change.

The Do's And Dont's

*  Have at least two people to cover each door of the supermarket. 
*  Do not block entrances since this will cause people to leave or avoid you all together. 
*  Do not pester people.
*  Do be pleasant and conversational.  Thank everyone who makes a donation.
*  Do have well made signs explaining what you are raising money for.
*  Do not allow children to be unsupervised.
*  Do wear your outfits or uniforms or something that identifies you with your specific group or club.
*  Do have plenty of different monetary denominations to make change.
*  Don't ever be rude or argue with any pedestrian or motorist.
*  Do make sure that you alert law enforcement officers and/or store security to what you are doing.  Don't assume that the store manager will do this for you.  And for safety, perhaps have your group in front of the security cameras.
*  Do allow rest periods for your volunteers and times to have a snack and lunch.
*  Finally, do have fun making a huge pile of funds for your organization.
Fundraising Ideas - The Bucket Brigaide Plan
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