Have you ever wondered why 4-H clubs do fundraisers or what the guidelines for fundraisers are? The purpose of this post is to answer why we fundraise, how we fundraise (guidelines), and we will also include some fun ideas for club fundraisers.
Why do 4-H Clubs Fundraise?
To support a robust youth development program, you need money! There are a few different sources of funding that we rely on to support 4-H at the state, county, and club level:
- Tax Dollars– The cooperative extension service is a three-way partnership between federal, state, and county governments. This partnership provides salaries for county faculty and staff, as well as office space and meeting facilities. Unfortunately, this support does not cover all the expenses to keep our educational programs affordable for families.
- Grants & Gifts– To bridge this gap, 4-H agents and specialists write grants and work with their county association and IFAS Advancement to secure gifts and donations. IFAS Advancement works with families who want to leave a legacy through endowments and end of life gifts. At the state level, our foundation has five priority areas- residential camping, national award trips for youth, 4-H University,
- Fundraising– Fundraising is done at all levels of Florida 4-H. At the University level, we have a “Day of Giving” where alumni and friends can donate online. Our state foundation and county associations often hold large fundraising events to support state and county-wide programs. At the club level, 4-H clubs often raise money to support club activities such as club supplies, field trips, or transportation to state events and contests.
What are the 4-H Fundraising Guidelines?
Fiscal transparency and accountability are priorities at all levels of the 4-H program, therefore we do have guidelines to follow.
- Fundraising Purpose & Specificity– It is a federal policy that any funds raised in the name of 4-H must be for educational purposes. It’s not ok to raise money just for the sake of raising money. In fact, federal guidelines prohibit clubs from raising money for any purpose other than education. Fundraisers should be tied to a specific club goal set at the beginning of the year. For example, the members of a club vote to start a community garden to learn about gardening and donate produce to their local food bank to help their community. As a club, members will need to decide what equipment and supplies they need and create a budget for the garden. Their club fundraising goals will be tied to the budget for the community garden and documented in the minutes of the meeting and the treasurer’s book. In addition to providing transparency, this best practice also helps youth learn about financial recordkeeping and accountability.
- Permission– All 4-H fundraisers need to be approved by your local 4-H agent. To submit your fundraising idea, use the Florida 4-H Fundraising Permission Form. This policy is in place to protect our members, volunteers, and the reputation of 4-H. It also helps 4-H be considerate of businesses and other groups engaged in community fundraising and deters people from using the 4-H name without permission.
- Protecting members and volunteers– Some fundraisers require tax to be collected- particularly if you are selling items. Florida sales tax laws can be complicated, and there are also some weird rules such as you don’t have to charge tax for a car wash if the soap does not include wax. It is important to communicate with your agent about your proposed fundraiser so he or she can help make sure the club follows all the Florida tax rules.
- Protecting the 4-H Reputation– Believe it or not, there are people who try to use the 4-H name and emblem for personal profit. This is not allowed. The club chartering process and fundraising permission form grant clubs permission to use the 4-H name and emblem to fundraise. If you ever see a suspicious fundraiser, you should contact your local extension office immediately. Check out our previous post for information about how to charter a 4-H club.
- Consideration of Others– It is important that 4-H does not have multiple clubs fundraisers running simultaneously in the same community. Too many 4-H fundraisers at one time can prevent clubs from reaching their fundraising goals.
Ideas for 4-H Club Fundraisers
One of the questions often asked by 4-H members, parents, and volunteers is “what are some new ideas for fundraisers?” The list below is not exclusive but will provide some inspiration. If you have an idea to share, leave it in a comment below!
- Sales of products– some clubs have had success selling products like candy, cookie dough, nuts, wrapping paper, meat sticks, and other items. There are several companies that have special offers for 4-H clubs. Your local 4-H agent can provide more information about these types of opportunities.
- Seasonal fundraisers– selling seasonal items such as fruit, holiday décor, and nuts are a popular way to raise money for 4-H clubs. Some clubs also sell a flag service. For holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, and Veteran’s Day, they will put up and take down flags for local businesses and homes. Another seasonal item is Halloween Insurance- individuals or businesses can buy insurance. Should their home or business be rolled or egged on Halloween, the 4-H club cleans up the mess.
- Concessions at community events– Community fairs, festivals, and rodeos are great opportunities to raise money for clubs. Work with your local 4-H agent to develop a relationship with committees or civic groups who sponsor community events and ask them if your club can have a booth to sell water or concessions.
- 4-H nights– there are several local and franchised restaurants that will support 4-H nights. On a pre-determined date, restaurants will donate a percentage of all receipts towards a 4-H program or club. Sometimes this includes having club members present to collect receipts from customers, but not always.
- Crowdsourcing– Crowdsourcing is fundraising on social media. This is a relatively new way to fundraise for 4-H clubs. If your club is interested, work with your local UF IFAS Extension Office to set this up with support from the 4-H Business Services department.
Final Take Away about 4-H Club Fundraising
Fundraising in the name of 4-H should always be done for a specific educational purpose and must be approved by your local UF IFAS Extension Agent.