Fundraising for your FRG (Family Readiness Group) can seem like a daunting task and a whole lot of work, but with a solid board and volunteers, you can plan some very successful and fun events to beef up that bank account! Whether your FRG has just formed to support a newly commissioned boat or your FRG has been around for years, these ideas are sure to help you raise some money.
First, why is it important for an FRG to fundraise?
Having a healthy bank account will allow your FRG more options and flexibility when it comes to planning events and activities geared toward supporting the family and friends of sailors attached to your boat. Examples may include a family picnic, a wine/paint night, a spouse brunch, a night out at the movies for the kids, a day at the water park for families to enjoy….the possibilities go on! Even during times of COVID-19, you can plan creative events such as a socially-distant drive-in movie, virtual paint and sip nights, and more. The point is, your FRG can plan some pretty fun activities, and the more effective your fundraising, the easier it is to cover expenses.
Here are five ideas to help get you started:
Design and Sell Apparel
Partner with 16 Submarines to design and sell apparel featuring your boat’s name. Click here to see an example of a fundraiser the USS Asheville is currently running. In addition to hoodies and t-shirts, you can also design Christmas ornaments, ball caps, cutting boards, and more! By partnering with 16 Submarines, your FRG will receive a percentage of all sales! You do not pay anything out of pocket to get this going and the level of effort is very minimal – all you need is good, clear communication and it is pretty much smooth sailing through this one! You’ll receive a link that you can promote across your social media channels and send to all your family & friends. This is also a GREAT fundraiser to run leading up to the holidays since these make great gifts. Contact info to reach out to 16 Submarines can be found here. Keep in mind timelines and deadlines, as the holidays are a popular time to fundraise.
Host a Garage Sale
Surprisingly this was one of our most successful fundraisers to date with my previous FRG! In fact, we raised just under $1,000 between the hours of 8am-2pm. However, there was a lot of dedicated work-up involved to ensure this was a strong success, here are some suggestions that I have seen work well:
- Start collecting items for your sale a couple of months out. Let the families in your FRG know you’re planning a garage sale and looking for donations. With families set to PCS and purge their items, you’ll be surprised how many people are looking to pass items along!
- Identify a collection zone where donations can be dropped off and organized ahead of time.
- Prior to the day-of, schedule a time to organize all of your donations! You want items to be categorized, priced, and easy to “shop.”
- Be strategic with your pricing – yes, you’ll have some “big-ticket items” that you’ll want to price higher (ie: TVs, some furniture, etc), but be careful about charging too much for kitchen gadgets, clothes, shoes, books, etc. The lower the cost, the more people will load up on!
- Plan your date for a warm time of year so that you can set up and spread out outdoors.Perhaps a good idea for spring cleaning?
- Get volunteers signed up to help in shifts.
- Start early in the morning on a weekend.
- Have a plan for what to do with leftover items.
Partner Up With a Restaurant
Reach out to local restaurants in your area to see if they offer any fundraising opportunities. For example, our FRG frequently partnered with Panda Express where we got to collect a percentage of sales during a certain time frame on a specified date.
Sell Calendar Squares
In preparation for deployment, many FRGs organize an auction/sale for calendar squares. Family, friends, and spouses are given the opportunity to decorate a piece of paper (typically 8.5” x 11”) for a specific date. The FRG collects and assembles these into a calendar to give to the boat to take underway with them. On each day during deployment, the calendar square is displayed in crews’ mess, and then at the end of the day, the sailor gets to keep it. Popular days include birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. It is totally up to you how you choose to price them and how you allow spouses to request particular dates. I recommend pricing the holiday dates a little higher since they tend to be a hot commodity. An auction is always an option too! In fact, boats have successfully run some virtual auctions!
Sell First Kiss/Hug Tickets
These are a great way to drum up a little extra cash for your FRG bank account. Again, up to you how you want to price. Tickets for first hug and kiss typically go on sale soon after a deployment begins and wraps up days before the boat’s return. The lucky significant other who gets their ticket drawn for first kiss gets the privilege of being the very first to greet their sailor off the boat at homecoming. First hug is for the lucky kid(s) who get to greet mom/dad off the boat first at homecoming – I’m not crying, you’re crying!!!!
How has your FRG fundraised in the past? Share below!