Raising Money through Discount Card Fundraising

by Joe Garecht

We’ve all seen (or been asked to buy) one of those “Entertainment Book” fundraising cards (and the accompanying phonebook-sized discount directories).  Perhaps you’ve even wondered whether or not you could go it alone and hold your own discount card fundraiser, catering to your own small corner of the world.  The answer is yes… many schools, churches, and charities have found great success creating their own discount card fundraising programs.

The Basics of Discount Card Fundraising

At its heart, discount card fundraising is a simple process: your non-profit goes out to local stores, restaurants, retailers, etc., and asks them to join your fundraising effort by offering a discount of 10-50% to anyone who presents your discount card to the business.  Your non-profit then goes out and sells the discount card for anywhere from $5-$50 to raise money for your group.

Discount cards are a win-win for all parties involved: local businesses get to help your non-profit and generate extra business without taking out expensive advertising, your supporters get to make a donation to your organization and save money at businesses all over town, and your non-profit raises much needed funds in a fun and energizing way.

Five Tips for Success

Discount card fundraising can be a great method for raising money, particularly for small and medium-sized charities, as well as for large schools and churches.  Be forewarned, though, that this is a time- and volunteer-intensive endeavor.  Follow these five tips to maximize your overall return:

1. Delegate – To be successful with this method, you’ll need to use tons of volunteers… not only to sell the actual cards, but also to go out to local businesses and ask them to offer a discount to your card holders.  Start a discount card committee to work on this effort on behalf of your organization.

2. Look Professional – There are a ton of companies that can create great, professional looking high-quality discount fundraising cards for you at a competitive price.  Look them up online, and use them (or a supportive printing company) to print up high-quality booklets listing the participating businesses to hand out along with the cards.

3. Know Your Break-Even Point – Before you begin, work with the card company and your printer to figure out what your cost per card & per book will be and how many you have to order.  Then figure out how many you will need to sell in order to make your money back (break even).  Then, look at how many volunteers will be helping you sell cards and how many you think they will sell.  Decide whether or not this endeavor will be profitable for you before you begin.

4. Set a Time Limit – Discount card fundraising works best when you set a limited time period in which to sell your cards… three to six weeks is a good guideline. Set a definite end to your fundraising campaign, and be sure your volunteers and everyone who is selling the cards for you knows what the last day for sales is.

5. Go One Step Further – To raise even more money, you can also sell ads in your discount book promoting some of the businesses who are offering discounts, or (for a fee) offer to include additional promotional materials (like brochures or refrigerator magnets touting the discount) along with each card/book combo that you sell.

 Take some time to review your volunteer base and your fundraising goals, and see if discount card fundraising will work as part of your non-profit’s fundraising plan.

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