Halloween is a great time for fundraisers, because usually people don’t have family or travel commitments on this holiday. There are different ways to use a Halloween favorite – the pumpkin – to raise funds for your organization:
You can purchase pumpkins in bulk from a local farmer and sell them in a location where people might not have easy access to pumpkin farms. Farmers will typically sell to you at a discount if you purchase the pumpkins in bulk, so it will be easy to mark them up for a profit.
To run this fundraiser you need a piece of property on which to display the pumpkins, signs and volunteers. Then, advertise, and schedule your pumpkin patch hours. Be certain that you have enough volunteers to cover the shifts. Volunteers are required simply to collect payments once visitors have selected a pumpkin for purchase. Use wax pencils to write prices right on the pumpkins or simply group pumpkins of similar size together with a sign indicating the price for this size group.
About location and timing:
If the location you pick allows you to “lock up” any remaining pumpkins overnight then you don’t have to arrange for storing pumpkins at the end of each day of the event. If you do have to move pumpkins at the end of each day, make sure you have someone available with a truck and volunteers to move them.
If you carefully time your event, considering back-to-school, or other pumpkin sales for example, and advertise it accordingly (reminding people not to buy their pumpkins at the grocery store), you may be successful by running your pumpkin patch for only one day, which would greatly reduce the need for volunteers and also eliminate any overnight storage issues. You could also partner up with the owner of an existing pumpkin patch and organize your event alongside it.
Another fun pumpkin fundraiser is a pumpkin carving event. This event works similar to a pumpkin patch and could be planned alongside a pumpkin patch, if you have enough volunteers available. Visitors select a pumpkin and carve it into a spooky jack-o-lantern on the spot.
For this fundraiser, you’ll need pumpkin carving tools and patterns in addition to the pumpkins. You’ll also need volunteers who can assist families in choosing and rendering their jack-o-lantern designs. This fundraiser requires a few more supplies, since you’re providing the tools and patterns for the jack-o-lanterns. However, the advantage is that you can charge a higher price – or ask for higher donations – for your pumpkins because you’re providing all the implements to make a jack-o-lantern on the spot. And the cost of the tools is minimal, since you’ll use the same sets over and over. In fact, many pumpkin carving patterns can be downloaded off the internet for no cost.
In addition to pumpkin carving, you could also offer pumpkin painting. This may be a great option for younger kids and would be safer than carving. Be sure to cover the ground with a tarp or newspapers, provide wet paper towels to wipe any dirt off the pumpkins and set up an assortment of brushes, markers and poster paints to work with. For extra special decorations, you can also provide glitter or glitter paint, or anything else that sparkles, items to stick into or onto the pumpkin, like small branches (for arms or hair), or fake spiders and spiderwebs. You’re only limited by your imagination!
In general, working on pumpkins seems to be easiest when they’re about ‘room’ temperature. Chilled pumpkins are harder to carve, any condensation makes them slippery and the paint may not stick well. Also, try to keep the stems dry to keep the pumpkins fresh longer. Once you’re done decorating your pumpkin, it is a good idea to keep it chilled, or in a shady spot, so it stays fresher longer.
With any of these fundraising events, consider adding other amenities to attract more visitors, like a moonwalk for the kids or a haunted house. You can also have a concession stand selling candy apples, popcorn and other fall favorites!