Sherry Anderson once said, “Volunteers don’t get paid because they are worthless, they are priceless.” One of the most valuable gifts you can give is your time, talent, and knowledge. On any given day, 4-H volunteers are doing just that because they care about their communities. This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we want to thank the 800+ adults who volunteer with 4-H in the panhandle of Florida. Last year, they reached more than 13,000 school-age youth- which was a challenge given the global pandemic. Volunteers in the panhandle donated more than 12,000 hours of service, which is valued at more than $300,000!
It’s easy to talk about the impact of volunteers in numbers, but the real impact is the investment they make in young people. The 4-H program focuses on training volunteers to build the right environment for youth to thrive. This includes adhering to the eight principles of quality youth programming, facilitating sparks, and developing caring relationships. This setting provides a rich context for youth to grow socially and emotionally. This is not an easy task, and that is what makes our volunteers so special. They are willing to work hard to see youth success in work and life. Read more about the 4-H Thrive Model.
Over the past few years, we have shared dozens of stories about our volunteers and the impact they have on communities and youth. These stories are linked below for your inspiration and to show our appreciation! Also check out our playlist on YouTube for more about how our volunteers are making a difference!
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.
Keeping youth safe is the number one priority of our 4-H programs. We have both policies and protocol in place to ensure our club meetings are both physically and emotionally safe for young people. These strategies help prevent most accidents, but just in case the unexpected happens, we also have insurance to provide another layer of protection for our members. There are two types of insurance we deal with in 4-H- accident insurance and liability. This post specifically addresses accident insurance, and answers questions such as who is covered, what is covered, and when clubs might want to secure additional insurance.
Who is Covered?
Florida 4-H contracts annually with American Income Life to provide accident insurance for our club members. They have a special division just for 4-H and Extension programs and have been insurance 4-H clubs for nearly 70 years. Club members who are active and enrolled in Florida 4-H are automatically covered by club policy.
What is Covered?
This policy covers accidents that occur during club meetings. The policy does not cover independent practices or project work members engage in between club meetings. It also does not cover any damage to equipment or facilities…or things like broken eyeglasses. Club meetings need to be part of the annual club program, and have adequate adult supervision. This chart is a great tool to ensure club meetings have the correct ratio of youth and screened adults.
What Parents Need to Know
Your child’s safety is our number one priority. We are committed to making sure our faculty, staff, and volunteers are trained in youth protection and risk management. While accidents are not commonplace, when they do happen, we have accident insurance to help our 4-H families. Club policy coverage can be primary for families without personal insurance, but usually, it is treated as secondary and kicks in after the family’s personal insurance to cover things like co-pays, deductibles, and other out of pocket expenses that may be incurred. To be covered by the club policy, members need to be enrolled in 4-H and have a participant form on file. Don’t forget to make sure that your club enrollment in current in 4-H online, and that your participation form is up to date. Parents or guardians need to read and complete this form annually and keep it up to date if there is a change in their child’s medical history.
What Club Leaders Need to Know
In addition to club insurance, American Income Life also offers special event insurance. This type of insurance is recommended for special events like an end of the year party or a fundraiser where there will be lots of non-4-H members present. Event insurance is very affordable, and your local 4-H agent can help you determine if this type of insurance is needed, and handle the request. Our Pre-Event Planning Guide is a helpful tool for accessing the level of risk, and whether or not additional insurance is needed.
Check out this video about 4-H club insurance:
Today is National Trail Mix Day, and we thought it would be fun to offer an activity you can do with your club or county council to practice parliamentary procedure! Not only is this a fun learning activity, it can double as a club snack. Just be aware of any food allergies your club members have and avoid those items.
Supplies Needed (omit any items members are allergic to):
- Dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
- Candy coated chocolate or chocolate chips
- Large bowl
- Serving spoon
- Paper cups or bowls for serving
Display the ingredients and talk about the importance of using parliamentary procedure to insure a successful business meeting. Review the procedures for how to make a motion and how to vote. Alternatively, you could play these 4-H videos to cover how to make a motion, discuss, and vote on a motion. These infographics on How to Make a Motion, How to Vote, and How to Use a Gavel make great handouts for club members. It is recommended that you print and laminate these ahead of time so they can be used until members feel comfortable with parliamentary procedure.
Explain that by using the process of making Trail Mix, members will learn how to make a motion and vote using parliamentary procedure.
As members go through the process of deciding what ingredients they will put in the Trail Mix, they will need to correctly make a motion for each ingredient
they want to add. (“I move that ____be added to the Trail Mix.”)
The chair should ask for a second, discuss, then take a vote. Don’t forget to tap the gavel once to announce the results of the vote. As items are voted to be added, a volunteer should add them to the large serving bowl, mixing well after each ingredient is added.
Continue the process of making motions, discussing, and voting for each ingredient. If the group gets off topic, or out of hand, the chair can use multiple taps of the gavel to restore order.
Once the Trail Mix has been completed, serve the Trail Mix for a snack.
Permission to use the 4-H name and emblem is granted through our club chartering process. Club charters are granted on an annual basis. 4-H agents meet with club volunteers at the beginning of each 4-H year to make sure clubs meet this criterion, then the information is updated in our online enrollment system. This blog post covers each criterion and includes links to helpful resources for members, parents, and volunteers.
- First, clubs need at least two appointed volunteers who have completed the application, screening, and orientation process. If you are not sure of your volunteer status, ask your local UF/IFAS Extension agent. Our volunteers must be re-screened every five years or in the event they have had a 90 day (or more) lapse in service.
- Second, clubs need to have at least five members from two different families enrolled in the 4-H program. If you need to recruit some new members, word of mouth is a great strategy, but your local 4-H agent would be happy to help. You can also check out a previous blog post about club marketing tips: Facebook Tips for 4-H Clubs, Instagram Tips for 4-H Clubs, Club Marketing Basics
- Third, clubs must have a non-discriminatory name. You don’t want anything in the club name giving the impression that the club is not open to a certain group- such as only males or only females, or only members of a certain religion. It is also important that “4-H” is in the name of the club. For example, instead of the “Clover Bakers,” “Clover Bakers 4-H Club,” or “4-H Clover Bakers” is more appropriate. This fact sheet can help guide clubs when selecting a name.
- Fourth and finally…clubs need to have an established meeting date, time, and location with a minimum of six meetings. In 4-H, we commonly refer to this as the club program. We have several tools to help members and volunteers plan the club year. For younger youth, the Clover Planning worksheet is a great tool. For other youth, the club planning guide is a great resource. You can also download this fillable PDF from Idaho 4-H to plan and share your club program.
When it comes to club chartering, just remember 4 for 4: there are FOUR criteria to charter 4-H clubs. The process is fairly straightforward, but if you need assistance with any of the steps, check out the links in this blog, or reach out to your local UF/IFAS Extension Office– we want your club to be successful and are happy to help!