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  • Bowling for Dollars: A Bowling Fundraiser

One attractive and relatively easy way to raise needed cash is a bowling fundraiser. One of the advantages of this approach to fundraising is that you don’t need a lot of money to start out with to hold the fundraiser. Smaller organizations that don’t have an operating budget to draw from for overhead costs may see this as a very big advantage.

Another advantage is the fact that because this fundraiser is a service, rather than goods-oriented, there is no leftover product at the end of the fundraiser. A third, no less important factor is the fact that at the end of the event, there is no clean-up to be done, as there might be with other types of fundraisers. Finally, there’s the weather factor: it’s not likely your event will be rained out, unlike, say, a walk-a-thon could be.

The key to a successful bowling fundraiser – like most fundraisers – is planning. A well-organized plan for volunteer bowlers and sponsors will assure that everything goes smoothly. Depending on which method you choose below, you will also need to publicize the event well ahead of time to your community, so that lots of folks come on the day (or night) in question.

bowling fundraiser

So, are you ready to go for it? Here’s how:

Three Ways to Hold a Bowling Fundraiser:

1. The first is to make arrangements with the bowling alley ahead of time, so you’ll be able to charge a flat fee to the bowlers and then donate a percentage of the profits to your group. For example, if each person pays $15.00 for bowling and shoe rental, and the bowling alley agrees to give 50% of the profit to you, then your organization would receive $7.50 per person. Depending on how big you’re planning for this event to be, you could advertise through mass flyer distribution, internet, radio, or TV. Make sure everyone in your group or community knows about the chance to help you and your organization and have fun at the same time. This could be an all-day event, a ‘bowl-a-thon’. A word of caution with this method though: if the cost of bowling will be different or more than usual, make sure this is clearly stated in your promotional materials.

2. A second way is to go out and get sponsors or pledges before the bowling fundraiser. Either ask for straight donations in return for an ad or a mention in your group’s newsletter or website, or a promise or ‘pledge’ to pay a certain amount per pin knocked down (f. ex. 25 cents per pin). Make sure you arrange for enough volunteer bowlers to bowl through your assigned time! Keep in mind, that when collecting pledges, there is a bit more work to be done after the bowling night, when your volunteers have to go back to collect on the pledges.

3. A third possibility is oriented more towards businesses or other larger groups. Offer them the chance to rent the lane for the night for flat fee, pay the bowling fees out of that, and your group gets the rest. The disadvantage here is that it may squeeze out single or couple bowlers.

Of course, you can always use a combination of the above three choices if you like more than one. Perhaps advertise to your community using option # 1, and include in that the option to rent a lane for those who want to do so.

Tip: on the day of the actual fundraiser, make sure you designate at least one volunteer as the go-to person, who can direct people to where they need to go, or help them when they have problems with their lane.

>> Have you already done a bowling fundraiser? Please share with us in the comments (below) how you did it!

(Image: istockphoto/philipdyer)

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  1. Our bowling lanes charge a flat rate per lane… for example one lane for 6 people max with pizza and soda, shoe rental, and bowling for 2 hours is $67. We are preselling “tickets” so we have an exact number so we know how many lanes to reserve so there is no waiting. We are also doing a silent auction, pledges for strikes and spares and arranged to recieve 10% of concessions in that 2 hours.

  2. Good point Barb! Regardless if it’s an all day event, or for a shorter time frame, tickets should be sold for staggered start times. The last thing you want is people having to wait in line for hours.

  3. If you are planning a fundraiser, offer pre-registration for staggered start times. This will help avoid too many people showing up at the start of the event and you running out of lanes. We ran out of lanes 15min before our event started and people had to wait 2 hours before they could get a lane.

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