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Saskatoon Swimmers Take the Fundraising Plunge

November 1, 2010

Today we’re talking with Pam Stewart who’s in charge of the fundraising effort for the Saskatoon Goldfins swim club.

FundScrip: Hi Pam, as you know we have a blog at which is a collection of best practices from a fundraising through FundScrip perspective; and what it’s designed to do is help folks out that are just starting out with a new program with FundScrip or assist people that have an existing program improve the performance of it. So, maybe the first thing you could do is let us know what the fundraising project you’re involved with is all about.

Pam: Sure, so we are a competitive swimming club. Of course costs are high for any sports groups I’m sure; so how we use FundScrip to our advantage is that people purchase the gift cards, and then with that it becomes part of their fundraising commitment that they need to either pay off or work off. Some people choose to just pay it flat out, because for some it’s just easier if they don’t do any of the extras, while others do very well in this program.

So suppose a member earned $50.00 [with FundScrip], we do an 80/20 split with our members, so 80% of that 50 would go into their ‘credits’ as we call it, and the remaining 20 would be put towards our sports club.

FundScrip: Ok, so what is it exactly that you are raising money for?

Pam: Oh, for keeping our costs down for the most part, otherwise it’s paying for swim fees, paying for our pool, paying for our coaches and so on.

FundScrip: So what made you specifically get involved?

Pam: Well we have to go back to the beginning.We were initially involved with another scrip company along the same lines. There was another gal that was in charge of the program and it worked well for us at that point in time; however we had some issues that arose out of that program… So my sister-in-law in Battleford actually used FundScrip. So she was always talking about FundScrip; and the other gal that was doing it before, her kids are no longer swimming, so we joined the program; and because I enjoyed the card company fundraising end of it, I took it over.

FundScrip: Oh, I see – so what kind of issues were you experiencing with the other company?

Pam: Well with the other company we were having a lot of problems with the cards not coming in… I think they called it “back-ordered”. So I mean somebody would order $1000 worth of cards and get you know maybe $200 of the amount they paid for. And you know what, that’s money that’s already been spent. And yes, the cards eventually came in; but for sure they’d be at least a week later. And you know what? — that’s people’s money that you have. And then we were waiting and waiting and I think there was also some issues with the money coming in from the company as well. It would take a month to two months or three months.

FundScrip: Well that doesn’t sound good at all. So how has your experience compared with FundScrip along those lines?

Pam: FundScrip has been smooth; there have been no problems at all. You have a gal out here in Calgary, Shauna Trainor; she is wonderful. She’s really on top of her game. When I first contacted the company I think she phoned me in 10 minutes – which I so wasn’t ready for. The program was easy enough to get up and started with. It’s been smooth and simple. Getting the cards… even the courier I can pretty much time it to within two hours of when they will drop off the cards at my house. I know there were some courier changes that they [FundScrip] did, but again, that was all smooth at my end. There’s never been any issues ever that have arisen.

FundScrip: That’s great! So it seems there is a fairly stark contrast between the relative experiences.

Pam: Yep, it’s been very smooth.

FundScrip: So how long have you using FundScrip in total?

Pam: Well FundScrip we started in June of 09; so, 15-16 months?

FundScrip: I see; and how many people do you have fundraising for your group?

Pam: You know we only have about 40 families that take part in it, and we probably have about 70 families in total; but again, some people choose to, and some people choose not to. Out of those 40 that do, I’d say a solid 20 are doing a decent order every month; and some of them are only [participating] at Christmas.

FundScrip: Sure, so do have an idea of how much you’ve raised?

Pam: Well, yes I do. Since the beginning in June we’ve raised $6000.

FundScrip: Wow that’s excellent!

Pam: Which I think is very good. I’m very happy with that. Even the cheque I got back this last month – I got a $1000 check that came from FundScrip.

The other thing that works well with the program is that everything comes in their own individual envelopes. I mean, how much easier can that get? So I show up at the pool with my 15 envelopes and pass them out.

FundScrip: So your supporters mostly do their own ordering online themselves or do they pass their orders to you to process?

Pam: You know I try and get everybody to do their own, my reason being is that then they know what they are purchasing right? – and they know exactly what the percentage is. There are a few that aren’t that computer literate; but I had one grandma that actually contacted me here and she got into the program within the day. I wasn’t sure if she would be that computer literate, but then it was apparently very simple to her.

FundScrip: Have you tried any other fundraising methods in the past?

Pam: Well we have done a few in a sense, but that’s small potatoes. I know when we first started the club, we were new and I wasn’t in lead… there were always chocolates which people try to stay away from… spices… you know what? – that doesn’t fly for very long. It doesn’t last. It might be something you do once in a season; it’s not something you can do continuously.

FundScrip: So if you were to compare these other methods with FundScrip, I guess there’s not much of one from what you’re saying.

Pam: No. Nope. Nope. Nope. There sure isn’t. I don’t know what else there would be available. I look at the schools and they do their magazine sales once a year right? The only other stuff you can do for fundraising is once a year and sometimes it’s a lot more effort to do them too. At our swim meets we do have a raffle table set up, but that only brings in a couple of hundred dollars and that goes right to the club.

With FundScrip, when I was talking about that 80/20 split earlier, you’re still purchasing it for you. For the 80% that you have in your own funds [credits mentioned above] you can spend on your kids for something to do with swimming… it’s not yours to take out; it’s something that you have to buy through the club – whether you’re buying swimming suits, going to swim meets and using that for travel… that’s how we use it.

FundScrip: So what’s the feedback been like from your supporters? You say you’ve tried other things but they’re kind of one-offs. Given this is a continual fundraising effort, what have your supporters been saying about it?

Pam: Well because you have enough variety [in gift cards available] I think it’s very positive in that sense. But it’s through their word-of-mouth that really is how the program stays going. There are some parents that are there [at the pool] 5 to 6 days a week; and when I’m delivering the cards, that’s how you get the conversation going. It’s good, smooth, simple – I think that’s probably the easiest thing to say.

FundScrip: So you’re saying that in terms of promoting the program, your fundraisers are involved as well just by word-of-mouth.

Pam: Yep, for sure.

FundScrip: That’s great! So keeping in mind that this is for people that are starting up a new program or people that are trying to make improvements on their existing program, do you have any final thoughts?

Pam: Again, I’m going to have to come back to it’s so simple. It sells itself. That’s all there is. I don’t know if I can give you much more than that! You know you can put so many hours into some of those other programs for nothing in terms of money sometimes. This one is simple, sells itself, and you get lots of cash!

FundScrip: Well that’s excellent to hear. So it looks like we’re coming up on our time limit here so I’ll thank you again for your participation and we’ll post your comments up on the blog for our community to share. Thanks a lot, and best of luck in your continuing fundraising efforts!

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