Fundraising Ideas: How to Make and Sell Calendars
Images of Pine Mountain 2008 CalendarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Images of Pine Mountain 2009 CalendarClick thumbnail to view full-size
If you have a digitial camera and a desire to raise money, put your camera to good use. I capitalized on the scenery in my community, and took these photographs and compiled them into a calendar. The calendar was then sold for $10 each and the money donated to the local firefighters in my community. It was challenging, but fun. And it was very rewarding. Here's how you can do a similar project of your own:
Finding a Vendor to Print the Calendar
In my line of work I often used the same vendor for photocopy and other related projects. I didn't know if I had a favor to cash in, but what was the harm in asking. They agreed to produce the calendars at no charge which meant if I could sell 100 of them, I could raise a whopping $1000 for the local fire department. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a $10.00 photo editor/newsletter type software called "Print Shop." Print Shop did everything I needed to as far as producing a basic calendar goes. I had to download the holidays and moon phases from the Internet and manually insert them into my calendar in the desired fonts and size. I had a slight problem with the moon phases as I was able to download clips for some, but not all of them. I was forced to do a reverse image to get all the phases but it worked!
Print Shop enabled me to choose from a myriad of calendar options. I designed and cover and a back and the calendar was done. After hours of labor inputting the calendar information and choosing the pictures, I printed the entire calendar in color and had the vendor print out a trial run. It looked great after a couple of tweaks.
When looking for software for projects like this, avoid the big ticket items. There are many free for the download programs and programs under $25 which will do the same thing, just without all the bells and whistles. In fact, you will frequently find there are much more user friendly.
Advertising the Calendar for Sale
Next I ran an ad in the local newspaper. Most newspapers will run the ads for free if they know the proceeds are for a local fundraiser. Newspapers may need some verification that your project is a legitimate fundraiser, so contact the recipient of the proceeds first and make sure they are aware of your efforts and are willing to endorse your efforts with the local newspaper. If the newspaper will not run the ad for free, then consider the cost of the ad when pricing your calendars. I probably could have sold my calendars for as much as $12 or $15 but opted to keep the pricing as low as possible. I even sold them at a lower price when sold in bulk. In that way, I encouraged others to help me do my selling for me.
I was able to sell 75 calendars my first year ($750) and even more the second year. My second year, however, the printer got wise to me and charged me about $2.25 each to produce the calendars. This was still astronomically low. The prices for calendars through Wal-Mart and the drug stores that carry photo editing equipment run about $15 - 20 each. I got quotes from other printers who would print the calendars for $8 or 9 dollars each. This would mean having to raise the price so it pays to shop around. You can negotiate a lower production price by convincing the printer of the volume. Take orders in advance of your sales and you are in a better position to negotiate.
Make sure your project is entirely non-profit as mine was. In fact, I had to bear some expense in preparation which I was not able to re-coup from calendar sales and that was a tax deduction for me, personally. Color ribbons are very expensive! Alternatively, you can opt for burning your photos to a CD and providing them to the printer, but you will have to work on the calendar date entries from another angle. Some printers have software in-house and if you are lucky, you can find one that uses the same or a compatable software. If not, I don't think there is anything illegal about letting them use your software CD to produce the calendar.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I was overwhelmed by the positive responses I got to this calendar. Some folks even donated money outright. The folks in the community viewed the calendar as a keepsake of their life on Pine Mountain. They were anxious to see next year's calendar. However, there were also the nay-sayers. I guess it is human nature to distrust people and to believe that people actually want to do good to help their communities anymore. Maybe you can avoid this pitfall by approaching the group you want to raise money for and telling them about your intentions. Get others involved. I didn't do so because I wanted a solo project and I didn't have time for the burden of a committee.
The most discouraging event was when I received a call from the owner of a cow. Please note the February photo has been omitted! While there is nothing illegal about taking a picture of a cow, there can be illegalities with certain photos without their permission. This was not such a case, but the cow owner was nonetheless, outraged. I think he perceived I would be putting money in my own pocket based on a single picture of his cow. I was only able to calm him down when I informed him the calendars were strictly non-profit, but not before he got to the the local convenience store which then refused to place them on their sales counter.
The moral to this story is that there will always be nay-sayers when you are trying to do something good. I've heard it said that if it was your idea and it was a good one, then there will be those who are jealous because it wasn't their idea instead. I don't know, but prepare yourself for the unexpected negativities. Your heart and mind may be in all the right places, but it seems that the skeptics always try to find a way to try to debunk and dishearten. If you are prepared for that and can handle that, then the rewards and successes that stem from seeing your project through, will far outweigh the negativitity of the nay-sayers.
- Know Your Rights as a Photographer or a Subject of Photography
An article explaining rights of photographs and the subjects of photography in the U.S.